MCN’S 20 QUESTIONS
‘Cows crossed the road as we roared past at 90mph’ Van den Goorbergh
Q1. What are you riding?
At this year’s Dakar, I decided not to go for a Factory Rally bike, instead opting for a 450 EXC that I built up to ride in the Malle Moto class [in which riders are allowed no assistance at all]. I think the Dakar KTM is too heavy, around 144kg without fuel, and it’s powerful too so it’s a real handful. Even adding on the 15kg of the nav tower and the extra tank, my EXC only weighed 119kg.
Q2. Which living motorcyclist do you most admire?
In my early days Freddie Spencer was always my hero and in the last couple of years I’ve been very lucky to do some events with him, including riding some factory Suzukis at the Sachsenring.
Q3. What’s your worst habit?
Back in the Netherlands we sometimes go off-road in places that we shouldn’t. We sometimes see the police and have to turn around and escape.
Q4. If you could have one riding super skill, what would it be?
Ah you know I’m pretty happy with my riding. I guess it would be nice to come in the top 10 at the Dakar, as that’s a completely different skill that I haven’t totally mastered.
Q5. What’s the fastest you’ve ever gone on a bike?
That was on the Honda RCV1000; that thing was a rocketship. In Shanghai we were easily doing 350kph [217mph]. The power was immense.
Q6. When were you last scared?
There was a lot of dust in this Dakar and I found that scary. You can be doing 100mph and then there’s a thick dust cloud and you can’t see for two or three seconds. Yeah, that’s scary.
Q7. How many miles have you done in the last year?
I did around 8000km [5000 miles] offroad to prepare for the Dakar.
Q8. What’s the highest mileage you’ve covered in one day?
Definitely a Dakar day – around 850km [528 miles] I think. Such a long day.
Q9. What irritates you most?
Animals! This year there were cows crossing the road while we were doing 90mph.
Q10. You’ve got two weeks off: where are you going?
I’d really like to discover a new country – to travel a full circle around Australia one day.
Q11. Got one pearl of wisdom for new riders?
Get a good teacher. My first riding teacher made me do trials riding and I think that really helped my skills later on.
Q12. Ever fallen off in a car park (or somewhere equally embarrassing?)
No, but I remember watching a fellow racer drop a GP bike in a parade lap around a town because he ran out of steering lock. I was actually a little embarrassed for him.
Q13. Do you have one indispensable item of kit?
My road book.
Q14. Which four people would you invite on a Sunday morning blast?
I just love riding with my local friends, as funnily enough they include some former Dakar riders. I love going out with them because we all know what we can do.
Q15. Do you have a tool you couldn’t live without?
My survival knife. I take it everywhere, just in case.
Q16. Do you adjust your suspension?
Yes, I tune it quite a lot on new bikes, the first day especially. I know a bit from my road racing career, so normally by day three I’m happy with my setting.
Q17. If you could have one of your old bikes back, which would it be?
I would love to have the Proton KR3. I loved how it was made by Kenny Roberts. It was nice and fast, although it still broke down a little too much.
Q18. What would you never buy?
I had a Supersport Ducati from 2004 and I didn’t like it. It never rode right.
Q19. Which road would you have built on your desert island?
I’d love to have a dirt track like Rossi has now, up in the mountains.
Q20. If you ruled the world, what new law would you pass?
That we can ride motorbikes anywhere without being stopped.
‘We sometimes go off-road in places that we shouldn’t’