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Do You Have It In You?


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Do you reckon you have what it takes to become a world champion, provided things were laid out for you and we take for granted that you have the basic talent required?

 

In order to become a world motorcycle champion, you would have to be willing to train a lot endurance stuff, eat properly, reflexes, ride motorcycles hard almost daily to hone your skills during the off-season, be willing to push to the limit and beyond with the risks involved, do tons of promotion, work for hours on end on minute details regarding both your own riding as well as everything from tyre pressure to electronic settings during race weekends and practice sessions ad nauseum. Basically, your life would revolve around finding hundredths of a second and do whatever it takes to find those fractions.

 

Personally, I could never have done it. Not in any sport, I reckon, because it is about more than just working hard at it - the devil is in the tedious details. For me, it would be exhausting and my life would feel pretty meaningless. When you see someone who loves their job, like Rossi and Marquez, they can do amazing things. But I think for many, it tend to become too much work for too little return. Most will just lower their standard to a level where they have a job, but where they cannot quite reach the peak. Others will quit early, like Stoner, in order to focus on - for them - more important aspect of life.

 

So again - is it within your personality to become a world champion?

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I'll bite. :)

 

I think the "ability" lurks inside of everyone and it's merely the environment that shapes the truly best riders. It really comes down to several factors.

 

1. Physical Attributes. Good reflexes, Vision, Balance and sense of speed.

2. Passion. You have to truly want it and be willing to give everything to achieve it.

3. Resources. Bikes, Gear and track time cost money. It's not cheap.

4. Time. The more the better. Many of the best of the best started riding very early in life.

5. Training. Even with all the items on this list completely covered your not likely to discover some of the nuances of riding by yourself at random.

6. Luck. Being in the right place at the right time. Getting noticed by the right people. Making the best business decisions.

 

Eirik. It sounds like your lacking on #2 a bit from your own admission. I also share that fault as well as #4 since I discovered motorcycles late in life. Not to say we don't have passion. We just don't have "as much" as others might. Many other people who have the passion fall down in other areas such as resources or luck.

 

This of course does not prevent us from wanting to improve the skills that we have. You don't have to be a world champion to enjoy riding and enjoy improving. The really cool thing here is the Superbike School trains ALL riders regardless of their potential. It's very rare opportunity in life that you get the same caliber of training that "the best of the best" do.

 

Of course that list does not cover the X factor that many of the truly talented people have. That X factor gives many people an edge and sets them apart from everyone. Although he's an F1 driver Aryton Senna personifies that X factor. Being able to control an 1000hp F1 car in the wet and sense the traction like he did could be described as insanity and luck or a superhuman ability. Personally I like to think of it as superhuman ability. :)

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Not me, and here is how I know: I used to show horses, and I competed in Open Jumping. One year the timing was right and I had the right horse so I decided to get serious about it. I set up a whole plan to make it to national competition, followed through with all the training and competitions and fitness and time investment, and I got there, and in my first (and my horse's first) A level national competition I got sixth place out of something like 120 competitors - a pretty good showing for a first-time-out low budget operation. Clearly we had the ability to really compete at that level.

 

But I learned something very important - I didn't like it. At that level it was no longer about riding, or horses, or the sport of it - it was about MONEY. I felt like I was the only person there riding my own horse, everyone else was a professional rider or trainer on someone else's high-dollar prospect. At local and regional shows, the horses are the riders' pride and joy, their pet and their partner; but at that national show the typical rider just got off the horse and handed it to a groom and walked away to go ride the next one; it was all business, very serious, and suddenly I wondered why I had worked so hard to get there; it was really not a very nice place to be.

 

Being a world-champ motorcycle rider would mean having to bend to many other people's motivations; it might mean compromising your own goals for others, and possibly representing things that mean nothing to you; it could mean having to ride under great pressure on a bike you don't even like. I would enjoy all the hard work and preparation and competition required to GET there, but I don't think I'd like the responsibilities and pressures and obligations to be faced once that world-class competition level is achieved.

 

I like riding for it's own sake, competing on my own terms, pushing my own limits; I wouldn't want to have to do it for the money, or to satisfy OTHER people's ambitions.

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Do you reckon you have what it takes to become a world champion, provided things were laid out for you and we take for granted that you have the basic talent required?

 

In order to become a world motorcycle champion, you would have to be willing to train a lot endurance stuff, eat properly, reflexes, ride motorcycles hard almost daily to hone your skills during the off-season, be willing to push to the limit and beyond with the risks involved, do tons of promotion, work for hours on end on minute details regarding both your own riding as well as everything from tyre pressure to electronic settings during race weekends and practice sessions ad nauseum. Basically, your life would revolve around finding hundredths of a second and do whatever it takes to find those fractions.

Were the opportunity offered to me, then yes I would be willing to put in the volume of work you describe, although for just how long I don't know. Heck, I bet even now we could find guys/gals who would do, or already do, almost that much work just to be better track day riders. If I ever win a big lottery jackpot (which is quite unlikely since I almost never play) then I'll start my own race team and give it a try :)

 

Perhaps more important to me is, would all that effort translate to a championship? Realistically, for me, I think not. Good results, maybe. I honestly lack the "killer instinct" when it comes to competition. I watch guys like Marquez and see the willingness to do pretty much anything to complete a pass, even purposefully colliding with the opponent, and I know that just is not in my character. If I were granted the golden opportunity, I suspect I would lose not because I lacked the physical skills/attributes and equipment to win but because I'd lack that extra edge of doing whatever it takes to get in front of the next guy.

 

 

I think the "ability" lurks inside of everyone and it's merely the environment that shapes the truly best riders. It really comes down to several factors.

 

1. Physical Attributes. Good reflexes, Vision, Balance and sense of speed.

2. Passion. You have to truly want it and be willing to give everything to achieve it.

3. Resources. Bikes, Gear and track time cost money. It's not cheap.

4. Time. The more the better. Many of the best of the best started riding very early in life.

5. Training. Even with all the items on this list completely covered you're not likely to discover some of the nuances of riding by yourself at random.

6. Luck. Being in the right place at the right time. Getting noticed by the right people. Making the best business decisions.

I've seen similar comments such as this, either online or in print, but with additional comments suggesting you must have them all to achieve a true world championship. You might be able to win a lower level championship of some sort without all those characteristics, but missing even one would likely destroy any chance of being the champion at the highest level. I don't know that such assertions always are true but I think it's fair to suggest it probably is more often than not.

 

 

Hotfoot makes a great point about how competitions have the potential to turn into not being fun anymore. For those of us who merely daydream of MotoGP rides and championships, it very well could be that the potential shift from recreation and fun to profession and work would in fact kill the dream.

 

I don't know if it'll ever be known or accepted with certainty but I've often considered that this is what happened to some extent with Casey Stoner. Despite the potential incentives/rewards, the "job" aspect simply became unappealing...

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Not me, and here is how I know: I used to show horses, and I competed in Open Jumping. One year the timing was right and I had the right horse so I decided to get serious about it. I set up a whole plan to make it to national competition, followed through with all the training and competitions and fitness and time investment, and I got there, and in my first (and my horse's first) A level national competition I got sixth place out of something like 120 competitors - a pretty good showing for a first-time-out low budget operation. Clearly we had the ability to really compete at that level.

 

But I learned something very important - I didn't like it. At that level it was no longer about riding, or horses, or the sport of it - it was about MONEY. I felt like I was the only person there riding my own horse, everyone else was a professional rider or trainer on someone else's high-dollar prospect. At local and regional shows, the horses are the riders' pride and joy, their pet and their partner; but at that national show the typical rider just got off the horse and handed it to a groom and walked away to go ride the next one; it was all business, very serious, and suddenly I wondered why I had worked so hard to get there; it was really not a very nice place to be.

 

Being a world-champ motorcycle rider would mean having to bend to many other people's motivations; it might mean compromising your own goals for others, and possibly representing things that mean nothing to you; it could mean having to ride under great pressure on a bike you don't even like. I would enjoy all the hard work and preparation and competition required to GET there, but I don't think I'd like the responsibilities and pressures and obligations to be faced once that world-class competition level is achieved.

 

I like riding for it's own sake, competing on my own terms, pushing my own limits; I wouldn't want to have to do it for the money, or to satisfy OTHER people's ambitions.

 

Very good analogy. I have had similar experience with my own career path. I had a passion for it when I started but many issues similar to yours have slowly sucked the passion I had out of it. Money truly does change everything.

 

I love riding motorcycles as well and would never want to compromise that passion for anything. I have seen other riders at track days so obsessed over lap times they don't look like they are having fun anymore. It's great to try to improve yourself and have fun in the process of course but when it's not fun anymore what's the point? Why are you doing it?

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Obsession can go a long way to drive people to do things they do not like because they are driven and need to achieve the goals they set themselves. Many, many have worked their a$$es off in order to become a CEO and make lots of money despite hating the job, for instance.

 

If we stick to motorcycles, you will see that the motivation vary from one rider to the next. Doohan, for instance, didn't love riding or even racing - he loved to win. No, he absolutely hated to lose. When he could no longer be sure he would be able to fight for the win every race, he quit.

 

Rainey said that he found no pleasure from winning his championships and that he felt worse with every title. Still, he could not let up, he had to win, thinking another title would fill the void he felt.

 

Rossi loves the racing. He'd rather come third after fighting for victory the whole race than winning by 30 seconds. Very different to Doohan, who wanted to demolish the competition and win by as much as he possibly could. Marquez seems to be very similar to Rossi in many ways.

 

Jorge seems more like the Rainey type. From what I have read, he is totally consumed with racing and how he can improve his performance. He doesn't fool around like Rossi. Instead, he seems to spend every woken minute thinking about what he can do to improve. He is very driven, but it doesn't seem like he really enjoy himself.

 

Of course, I do not know either of those personally. But you can the difference in those who love their sport and those who love getting results when they stop competing. Johan Olav Koss became Olympic champion in speed skating and never skated or competed again. Oddvar Braa won tons of national championships but only a single World championship race. He was active between 1972 and 1989, but continue to ski a lot to this day. In riders, we see some, like Doohan, who hardly every turn a wheel again, while others, like Schwantz, still ride and compete today.

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I guess it all comes down to how competitive you are. Many people are driven just by the competition itself and become obsessed. Whatever they are competing for is immaterial to the ability to compete against others.

 

Personally I'm not a very competitive person. For example if you offered me the opportunity to race against similar skilled riders or have the entire track to myself I would pick the private track every single time. My interest is the track itself and the internal battle against myself and my own fears rather than how that compares to others. People driven by competition would probably want the race and would be bored out of their minds left out on the track by themselves.

 

This may sound strange but traditional racing has always bored the heck out of me. The battle for position and other details just don't register as interesting to me. Time trials however are immensely fascinating to me. IOMTT with people riding flat out on an insanely dangerous road is mesmerizing for some reason. When I watch TT races I don't have interest in the times at all. It's that moment when a bike screams by at 180mph and you know the person on it whoever they might be is doing everything they can to the best of their abilities to go fast. Makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck even on Youtube. :)

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"So again - is it within your personality to become a world champion?"

 

 

Since it is phrased as personality not as talent, patience or physical ability, then I would have to answer yes.

I am that competitive, not as competitive as I was 20 or 30 years ago, but

I have that drive to work as hard as I have to in order to succeed, if anything given past failures this drive has grown stronger not faded away. Although I can secumb to disappointment and doubt just like anyone, usually that despair as it is will get refocused into more drive to work harder.

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