Motorcycling and Fitness: Preparing for Adventure Riding: An Interview with Jamie Robinson
Motorcycling and fitness? Those two go together? Oh yeah, you know the saying “its not just the machine, it’s how you ride it”? Well this thought holds true in motorcycling. In fact, many of you that drive cars probably don’t know that throwing a sport bike around a track or running trails on a dirt bike is one of the most physically demanding pursuits one can engage in.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have very little off-road riding experience so it was of much excitement to be invited to learn from some of the best. At the end of January, I will embark on an intense 2 day off-road / on-road motorcycling training course followed by a 2 day, 390 mile off-road expedition with RawHyde Off-Road Adventures. After performing a little research about what I was going to be put through, I discovered I might be in a bit of trouble...physically.
I am in good shape as it goes for a 20-something year old but I quickly recalled an experience earlier this year at the American International Motorcycle Expo, when I spent 20 minutes tearing around the outdoor dirt track on an ATV traversing gravel spans, tabletops, moguls, raised curves, uneven muddy terrain, logs...really anything you could expect from a roving the forests to running a track. I had a blast but the next morning i was noticeably sore because I was using a whole different set of muscle groups to compensate for the mass of the ATV. Unlike a motorcycle, lateral gravitational forces are far more prevalent due to a lack of being able to lean the machine into a turn. I found myself utilizing my legs, core and arms to absorb impacts from every obstacle that came my way.
Now 20 minutes is far from 4 days of intense training and an ATV is different than a motorcycle but I figured I may as well preemptively strike and get my body and mind ready. To do this I sought out someone I genuinely admire who knows a great deal about street and adventure riding, Jamie Robinson. For those outside of motorcycling, Jamie Robinson enjoyed an eventful and challenging career in the world of motorcycle racing in British and World circuits, afterward he went on to compete in the Isle of Man TT before hanging up his leathers and heading out to explore the world as an adventure rider. He currently lives in Los Angeles and is the founder of MotoGeo, one of the best motorcycle channels on the internet devoted to the passion and love of motorcycling.
I spoke with Jamie just after he returned from his Colombia trip and here is an amended transcript of our conversation.
LiveMotoFoto: Hey Jamie, thanks for taking some time to talk with me, your Colombia trip looked epic as many gleaned from the MotoGeo instagram feed. I cannot wait to see some of the footage. Beyond that, venturing into my world as someone eager to absorb anything and everything about becoming a better motorcyclist, what should I expect as I make the transition from everyday commuting and canyon carving to adventure riding? What would you say are some key tips I should endeavor to embrace right away?
Jamie Robinson: Colombia was epic and we will have some video to show our fans soon. Regarding your adventure, riding off-road is a lot more work, that’s for sure. You can make it as hard as you want but certainly when you going off road, the best thing to do is stand up. The reason you want to do this is because as the road gets rough, your legs and body can become an extension of the suspension, as a result you will find yourself having more control of the bike in the event the bike begins to slip, skid, hit a big hole and move around, which it will. No doubt about it you can expect to use your whole body to navigate the terrain when riding off-road and plus if give you better visibility because you are higher up than when you are sitting down. If you get tired then you can sit down but you’ll feel the bumps in a totally different way, it’s best to juggle both methods of riding.
Staying relaxed and as loose as possible is also well advised. Because you will be riding in a foreign environment you might have the urge to tense up and you’ll be like a deer in the headlights, this won’t help you at all mate. Try and stay loose, let the bike move around a little bit and keep your head up. Look as far ahead as you can and don’t get stuck looking over the front wheel. These tips will take a bit of time to get used to but once you develop them they become second nature and everything will fall into place.
LiveMotoFoto: It sounds like off-road riding is an entirely different beast than riding on a smooth bit of highway. It is far more physical but what about the mental nature of riding off road? What something that really throws people off?
Jamie Robinson: You know, a big thing to remember is that, unlike tarmac, the road beneath you is always moving beneath your tires, there is this feeling like the bike is always skidding or is unstable, you cannot do the same things on dirt as you can do on tarmac like lean the bike over as sharply when going into a turn and you cannot brake as hard. Its important to be gentle in your actions. Also, there is a huge difference when it comes to speed when riding in the dirt. You travel slower off-road but strangely that slower speed can feel quite fast.
LiveMotoFoto: With off-road riding being so physically and mentally demanding, I have to ask, How do you feel after a long adventure ride like your recent skip through Colombia?
Jamie Robinson: I have been riding motorbikes for all my life and when I come back from an adventure, I am still surprised at how fatigued I can be. Its a real workout. In fact, even though I am fatigued when I get home I feel like im in better shape because I have been riding for days. Overall, riding a bike off-road is more physically demanding than riding on the street and that is something you will realize immediately but you’ll come to love it, it's such an amazing feeling.
LiveMotoFoto: So the big question is what can I do to best prepare my body for adventure riding? What exercises would recommend to give me the best advantage?
Jamie Robinson: Well honestly, if you look at any off-road racer or the riders competing in MotoGP you will notice that most of them are pretty slender and lean guys. What sets them apart is that they have excellent stamina, a strong core section and are flexible. My recommendation would be to condition your stamina above all else, followed by a lot of stretching and core exercises. I used to do heavy training and built up some muscle when I raced and I found out that all muscle mass i gained made me tighten up when on the bike. It just made it more difficult to ride the bike properly. This is why i think it is so important instead to stretch thoroughly and build your stamina. Building muscle might make you look and feel good but it doesn't have a place when being amazing on a motorcycle.
LiveMotoFoto: All of this is monumentally helpful, thanks Jamie for taking a moment to chat. I look forward to rapping with you a bit more after my own adventure and ride on man.
Jamie Robinson: Right on. You’ll have a great time and thanks for reaching out. It was a pleasure talking with you, man.
The Men of LiveMotoFoto and MotoGeoOur excitement for motorcycling, if quantified and made into food, could end world hunger.
The Training Begins:
This interview was done just after January 1st and in that time I have already begun hitting the gym. My training cycle consists of 4 days on 2 days off.
Everywork out begins with 30 minutes of stretching, 45 minutes of intense cardio (treadmill, Zumba class, BodyCombat class, or swimming), followed by another 20 minutes of stretching.
Most importantly I have begun altering eating habits. My diet consists of grains, yogurt and coffee in the morning, a burrito or rice bowl for lunch and a strict veggies and protein dinner.
Follow my Instagram feed for photo and workout updates in prep for my adventure:
Keywords: Adventure Motorcycling, Adventure riding, Jamie Robinson, get in shape, motorcycle, motorcycle Fitness, off-road riding, ride a bike, street photography, travel
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