“Motocross by far requires the highest level of combined fitness of any sport on the face of the earth, bar none.” He continued, “I’ve spent 5 tours (Tour de France) with Lance Armstrong and Lance is no slouch. But Lances’ overall general fitness doesn’t even compare to the overall fitness of a motocross racer.”
My thesis would take one of the following threads:
1) This is a very aggressive statement. Is this a suitable source?
-Dr Spencer was not technically Lance Armstrong's trainer. He was his chiropractor. Chris Carmichael was Lance Armstrong's trainer for 15 years. Now Chris's training company CTC has worked a little with Motocross (example: Timmy Ferry, second overall at 2002 Outdoor Nationals) so there is some crossover there as well but their main focus is adding aerobic training to their regimen. Dr Spencer has worked with many more motocross athletes (amongst others in other sports if you check his website) but he is also paid for those services. Is that a reliable source when he would be promoting himself at the same time to other motocross riders? He does have that crossover with other sports but would Lance's trainer have said the same thing? Would another trainer without any connection to either Lance or Motocross say the same thing?
2) Is there research to back this up?
-I can't find any on motocross specifically although one motocross article stated that one of the top riders had a VO2 Max in the 70s. Below is a chart from one study:
VO2max Values For Elite Athletes
Cross country skiers
Middle distance runners
Motocross isn't even mentioned and that is one of the problems. The fitness sports like swimming or cycling are analyzed to death. VO2Max, Anaerobic Threshold, Lactic Acid Buffering. Like it or not, motocross is still primarily a skill sport. The training is what puts the person over the hump but it's not the entire reason for success. In other sports where you use your whole body and fitness is the primary reason for success, you will get fitter athletes. Good luck in finding the research to refute that.
3) What's the general feedback on motocross compared to other sports?
-ESPN did an article and motocross wasn't even ranked for the toughest sports to train for. Here is a response to some motocross fans:
There was recently an article on ESPN debating which sport was the most difficult and they had a long list of sports activities along with their ranks of difficulty. Among this list included auto racing, table tennis, cheerleading (seriously), fishing, horse racing and baseball to name a few. Motocross did not even make the list! To view the entire list here is the link: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/sportSkills
. Then there was a follow-up article written by Jim Caple of ESPN which I found quite disturbing, as I found this atrocious quote coming from the Senior Editor: ? Oh, and a note to all those motocross fans who organized themselves to flood my email with comments about what an idiot I am for leaving your sport off the list: I did not choose the sports for the list. But even if I had, I would never, under any circumstances, have included motocross. You're relying on a motor, for God's sake.? - Taken from ESPN.com http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...e=caple/040506
Here was a funny response from a motocross person:
No seriously, I?m not saying horse and auto racing shouldn?t be on that list because both necessitate some degree of skill and athleticism. But put those drivers on the seat of a motocross bike and see how long they last on the track before they pull off due to exhaustion or until their legs, back and arms go numb. And that?s riding at a beginner?s pace. Studies have shown that a motocross athlete?s physical stature is among the greatest of all sports figures. One way of comparing physical ability is through a VO2 Max test, which is a test that formulates the maximum amount of oxygen you can use in one minute per kilogram of body weight. So the fitter you are, the higher your VO2 max will be thus enabling you to exercise more intensely. A certain privateer we all know recently took this test at the University of New Mexico and he wielded the VO2 Max value of 70 ml/kg/min. What does that mean? If we compare those numbers to other highly touted sports, statistics reveal that cyclists and endurance runners hold the highest VO2 Max values with an average of 70-75 ml/kg/min. Mainstream ?stick-and-ball? sports such as baseball boast values averaging 45-50 ml/kg/min, while football and basketball players weighed in at 55-60 ml/kg/min. Okay, enough with the scientific formulas and ratios, let?s see some hard evidence. Realistically, the only way Jim Caple will ever understand how physically demanding the sport motocross really is would be for him to get on a bike himself and experience the hurt. If you think keyboard and pencil arm pump is bad, then you?re in for a shocker Mr. Caple! But this will never happen and I?ll tell you why. It is because Jim Caple is one of those homegrown good ole American boys who were raised on peanuts and baseball while rooting for the home team from the base of his buttocks on the comfy plaid couch. People like Caple are afraid to venture beyond the mainstream sports field and discover a whole new world of physicality. I personally find it hard to accept words coming from these sports journalists, as the only athletic ability they possess would be running their mouths. I know it sounds like a case of ?my dad can beat up your dad?, but by the looks of it, I am willing to bet a lot of money I can hit a baseball harder, throw a football longer, drive a golf ball farther, run a mile quicker, ride a bike faster, do more pushups and bowl a better game than Jim Caple. But he might have me beat on that Cheerleading stuff, I don?t know. TAS
4) Can we compare motocross riders to cyclist by picking a sport halfway between the two?
Yes we can. Mountain Bike Riding. Current AMA 250 Supercross and National 250 Motocross Champion Ricky Carmichael (Honda) and 2003 US Open of Motocross Champion Chad Reed (Yamaha) will exclusively ride & train aboard Specialized bicycles and equipment in 2004, the one brand they both agree on. Both racers have embraced cycling as a primary training method, and have selected Specialized road & mountain bikes as their cycling brand of choice for the competitive edge in the hyper-physical sport of professional motocross.
Both Ricky and Chad are riding daily. Their S-Works E5 road bikes will play a pivotal role in their fitness training as they ramp up for the 2004 Supercross and Outdoor National season which kicked off January 3, 2004 in Anaheim, CA (which Chad won, by the way).
But do we have any head to head results between motocross riders and cyclists on the mountain bike? I didn't see any but I did see that Lance races on the mountain bike very now and then. Would he beat Chad and Ricky?
4) Last but not least, can we compare Lance Armstrong specifically to the motocross riders ?
-Lance was a former nationally ranked triathlete and more people covered his training regimen than possibly any other athlete. There is no comparison without hard data from the motocross side but I would argue that Lance would have taken every measure.