Lessons From an Unlikely Teacher

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06/15/2005| 0 comments
by Jim Lehman

Lessons From an Unlikely Teacher

The interesting thing about being a coach is that you often assume the role of the teacher.

As a kid you are always told you never stop learning, or at least that you should never stop learning. The interesting thing about being a coach is that you often assume the role of the teacher, as I thought I would prior to meeting with Ben Bostrom, World Superbike rider.   While working with him on the finer points of endurance training and nutrition, I was pleasantly surprised, as you may be as well, to learn there were several similarities between the demands and factors for success in racing motorcycles and bicycles.


Over the past few years I have become more and more involved in motor sports, particularly motorcycle racing. I began working with Benin 2004.   For those of you who are not familiar with Ben and the superbike world, these guys ride machines that are capable of reaching speeds of nearly 200mph, with only a thin shell of kangaroo leather for protection.   It is truly a thing of beauty to watch them guide their machines through a series of technical corners.   In fact, it looks a lot like watching the Tour riders navigate the twisty descents of the
Alps and the
Pyrenees.  Perhaps it is that love of two wheels that has drawn me to the superbikes and inspired the superbike riders to adapt to training on bicycles.   


Racing, in any form, requires intense focus and dedication. In the past, cyclists have taken a more relaxed approach to the winter and often didn?t ride their bicycles for two or three months.   As the bicycle racing has become more competitive, this trend has started to change and ironically it reflects the approach motor sports take. The motorcycle rider and his team work nearly year round to develop the optimal machine and set up.   Typically the season ends in the fall, but this doesn?t mean that everyone has the winter off.   In fact, these guys are back on the track within few weeks so they can test next year?s equipment, and they keep detailed records of these tests so they can monitor progress.   This process continues right up until the first race of the following season, and during the weeks between races, they are at home training so they are physically ready for the demanding race schedule.   They work with amazing focus throughout the year, with virtually no time away from training or testing.   In order to succeed in either the modern cycling or motorcycle world, there cannot be an off-season anymore.   


As in cycling, there?s a great deal of tradition in motorcycle racing and each generation continues to learn from the previous one.  However, there are some very progressive aspects to the sport as well, and the willingness to experiment with new approaches is common among all the great riders.   For example, Ben has been racing motorcycles since he was a little boy and he is one of the smoothest riders in the paddock.   Through experience he has developed his own style


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