Your bike is nicely in tune. How about that body sitting on top?
Pump it up, or how keeping fit can improve every ride you take.
Bikes are not cars, thankfully. Instead of sitting in them, naturally we sit on them. In lieu of smooth power steering, we manually operate a vibrating handlebar connected to the front wheel. Rather than swigging a caramel macchiato at the stoplight, we spend our idle time balancing a top-heavy machine weighing 300 to 900 pounds. And if you’re a dirt rider or vintage geek, you may have to first kickstart an engine, old-school style. Yes, riding is a physical task—and like with any sport, you’ll get better if you prepare for it. “Mobility is the main thing,” says Peter Park, whose company Platinum Fitness trains SX/MX racers Ken Roczen, Blake Baggett, Christian Craig, Adam Cianciarulo, and Chase Sexton. “Even people who used to be athletic lose mobility from sitting and being inactive. Their joints get tight, and they can no longer sit down in a ‘squat pattern,’ the safe position on a motorcycle.”
This isn’t just an “old guy” problem, Park notes. “The generation coming up is way worse, with all the hours spent on computers and texting. We're now seeing ‘computer posture’ in young kids; they have movement patterns of people 50 or 60!” Here are four riding-specific workouts that riders can use to boost confidence and control—and thus safety.
BUILD THE FOUNDATION. Park’s training starts with creating a strong foundation, a.k.a. your “core.” This means strengthening the midsection and improving flexibility. “Think of your core as a chassis,” Park suggests. “With a weak frame, even the best engine and suspension is useless.”
ACHIEVE CARDIO FITNESS. Run, hike, swim, or cycle moderately for 30 to 45 minutes, three times per week. “You will make a lot fewer mistakes when fit than tired,” Park notes. “This means you'll be safer on the motorcycle.”
IMPROVE GENERAL STRENGTH. You don’t have to conquer every machine in the gym to improve your riding. “To start, focus on core muscle building by doing squats, dead lifts, pull-ups, and push-ups,” Park says. “Even twice a week will build valuable strength.”
OPTIMIZE YOUR POSITION. Watch what the best guys do,” Park says. They all ride with their hips back and a flat back—not slouched. “With good posture, all your power can go into controlling the bike.”