Doping. Currently a bit of sore point in other sports. After the continuing clusterfuck in cycling and Russian athletes having to take a temporary... Do Supplements Make You Faster?


Doping. Currently a bit of sore point in other sports. After the continuing clusterfuck in cycling and Russian athletes having to take a temporary seat on the naughty step, even doping in football – the UK’s sweetheart – has been brought into question. But what of motorcycle sport?

The Haga saga and his dietary pills were well-documented, but I’ve had a few mates who’ve worked in various world championship paddocks, one of whom used to handle an extensive range of needles and other paraphernalia for a world-class rider. Given the fact that it was supposed to be an entirely clandestine affair, it’s safe to assume not everything was hunky-dory.

During racing season, Twitter timelines are often occupied with racers lamenting dawn raids on hotel rooms and ensuing random drugs test. Some escape frequent violation, others aren’t so lucky – maybe they look dodgier. Racing among the upper echelons is all about marginal gains, extracting that minuscule additional quantity to succeed. If talent is apparent, the sport is largely dependant on mentality – among other variables – which is why many pilots train their titties off to know they’ve done all they can before straddling their steed.

But there’s something relatively new and beautifully legal creeping into the sport. While athlete supplements and ‘feeding’ has been around for yonks in other forms of athletics, only in recent seasons have the concoctions been readily available. Top-shelf racers such as Josh Brookes (it worked for him), James Ellison and Robbie Brown (it worked for him too) are just a few names on list of Physique Design’s books. And we’re not talking generic, over-the-counter organic enhancements from Holland & Barrett. Or Monster Energy.

At the final round of BSB this season, I was invited to sample some supplements over the weekend, willing to give anything a crack after a season of colossal underachievement. Physique Design is run by Brad Howell, himself an above average national pilot who fled the money-spunking nest that is racing, who now offers a range of extra curricular supplements developed specifically for motorcycle competition. I’m not going to lie. Certainly in the latter stages of my racing, I’ve been guilty of excess pleasuring. You know, drinks, parties and generally enjoying life as training took a severe plunge, so any supplementary help must be a winner.

The weekend began with a massive box of goodies arriving in the motorhome (pictured at the top) and one that I wasn’t initially comfortable in my possession. If the fuzz had caught me driving to Brands with this, I would have been whisked off to the nearest police station with all orifices searched. The basic gist is a 40-minute pre-session blend, some anti arm-pump powder, another pre-session mixture and a hefty post-ride mix all accompanied by water in a drinks bottle. Repeat before and after every session. What’s in these supps? The first rule of supps is….

Of course, without full-body datalogging suits, there’s no method of quantifying the results other than a tangible escalation on the timing sheets. Only real-time actions, sensations and benefits would act as barometers. Before Friday’s free practice and following the first batch of supps, I thought trouble was brewing. Honestly, I’ve never been so close to shitting myself. I nipped up on several occasions as my stomach attempted to turn itself inside out. “The two go hand-in-hand,” said Brad before the weekend at Brands, commenting on the essential diet plans (pre-weekend and over the course of a race meeting) that I neglected. With press launches and an addiction to kebabs, it was never going to be possible, though I greatly advise eating well…

There was a mild sense of euphoria, a lightness in my body and a spring in my step – and not because I needed a poo. I had an overwhelming itchiness in various places and adrenaline levels were sternly boosted. With free practice and qualifying sessions staged in cataclysmic rain, there wasn’t the opportunity to assess stamina or arm-pump remedies. What was palpable was heightened mental strength and concentration, the senses sharpened, which was a good thing in those conditions.

With the weather improving slightly for Saturday and our first race of the weekend, there were better prospects for analysis. By this time, my body was managing the pre-session supplements in superior fashion. The buzz was still there, I felt edgier (in a good way) and up for the fight. I was in a grander mental state, for sure.

And what of showtime? I’ve always suffered with arm-pump, even on a trackday. That arm-pump was undoubtedly eased by the Physique Design concoctions, as was general fatigue over a 20-minute race and for the first time in years, I was praying for extra laps to move up the leaderboard. Although I minced around mid-pack and the results were a bag of wank, I felt lighter on the bike, focus levels and alertness increased, and generally more up for the job in hand. If you have chronic arm-pump issues, supps aren’t going to remedy the job but do go a long way to alleviating the pain.

Regardless of ability or level, give Brad and the guys at Physique Design a shout if you’re after that little extra. It works, trust me. I just wish I’d tried it sooner. Next up: the bedroom test…

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