Justin Veivers is a regular presenter on Australia’s Channel 7 network and has more than 20 years experience in all areas of TV and Radio.
He is also responsible for Chris Vermeulen’s PR activities in Australia and for the content of the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP star’s website.
Now Justin’s expertise is on offer to you in an exclusive interview with Vermeulen, his fitness trainer Rob Crick and Suzuki’s Team Physio Dean Miller.
The four discuss how the new brand of MotoGP stars are making their own fitness as important as the performance of the bike when rider and machine take to the track!
In the high paced, high energy and extremely high cost world of MotoGP Racing, it’s the small things that can sometimes make the biggest difference.
The days of riders just being able to show up and hop-on are long gone. The men that straddle these 800cc powerhouses are highly trained and extremely fit athletes.
18 rounds of gruelling racing in 15 countries, on four continents take a massive toll on the body. A MotoGP racer needs to be at peak physical condition for all the racing and testing as well as the intense travelling to and from events.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen is the perfect example of the new wave of stars that are gracing race tracks around the world.
The young Australian has ridden bikes for his entire life and fitness has always been a big part of his make up, “You know the level we ride at takes a lot out of your body, you’d be foolish to think you could ride these things and be competitive, if you’ve cut any corners and are not at your peak physically you’ll soon be found out.” Chris added.
Testing the bikes is an important part of improving the riders’ performance, but the twenty four year old puts his body under the microscope as well.
Vermeulen has recently been wired to Garmin’s new Forerunner 305. Primarily for runners, the GPS enabled heart rate trainer delivered some interesting figures.
Dean Miller is Suzuki’s Team Physio and he knows from 30 years of experience in the industry just how important devices like the Forerunner can be. “We’re looking at matching the technology of the rider with the technology of the equipment. A lot of what happens to make these bikes quick doesn’t happen on the race track it occurs in labs and it’s the same with the modern day athlete.”
Miller added, “To be able to have a global instrument pattern to that heart rate is important for us and for him, in perspective of timing when he goes to train; he has a better direct goal of what he needs to do to be at his best.”
The man who’s been responsible for Chris’s fitness for his entire career, Rob Crick, was a keen observer when the data was downloaded. “His heart rate was higher then what we thought it might be, but it confirmed for us that the training we do with Chris is on track. We do a lot of interval work, so he trains constantly in a higher heart rate zone. We push him hard to 190bpm, but 160 to 180 are what we try to maintain.”
Taking a rider’s heart rate is nothing new. It’s the software and amount of information the new technology delivers that’s interesting.
As Dean Miller said, “The riders analyse the data off their machines, now they are able to see and identify what’s going on with their own bodies.”
“It’s funny that my heart rate peaks in the twisty sections of the circuits. I am able to start recovering in the straights when we are doing speeds up to and in excess of 300kms an hour. So at top speed my body is having a rest, that’s incredible.” Vermeulen said.
Crick added, “The software is great, we can pinpoint where his heart rate rises and falls on a map of the race track. We found out it’s not so much the speed of the bike but the physical nature of the race track which has the biggest bearing.”
The data proved a rider’s body goes through an amazing workout every time he suits up. Chris’s heart rate hit a top mark of 179bpm, but was constantly over 160. Put that into the context of a race that lasts, 40 to 45 minutes, it’s an enormous amount of stress on the body.
“The thing is you are working hard physically but also making split second decisions at extremely high speed. Garmin might be able to design something to help me out on the brain side of things!” Chris joked.
The GPS heart rate monitor was also able to give Chris a speed read out, distance covered, terrain and a course layout. One thing measured in the software, that Suzuki doesn’t record, is the gradient levels.
An animated Vermeulen said. “I really found it quiet enthralling to go and download my information, whilst the mechanics were doing the same to the bike. Seriously though, I look for every edge. It confirmed the sort of training I do is working.”
The high speed arena Chris works in is light years away from the world of runners, but the “Forerunner” performed extremely well.
Miller said, “These are the finest motorcycle riders and bikes in the world bar none, so the best are riding the best, when you get to this level the separation can come down to 10’ths and 100’ths of a second , each year the cutting edge becomes much, much sharper. We say about footballers, what an athlete, and wow look at him move. At the same time try and do that with a varied centre of gravity in relationship to the machine, travelling at 300kms an hour , then slow it down and flick it into another corner and then change that centre of gravity almost instantaneously. I think they rate right amongst the top athletes in the world.”
So next time you sit down to watch a MotoGP race, keep an eye out for Chris Vermeulen. You’ll know the amount of effort that’s gone into getting the bike and rider to the peak of their performance!