Last Thursday at Assen, Jorge Lorenzo had an epic 148mph crash, revieving a displaced fracture of his left collarbone. Ouch. See the inconveniently unembeddable video. On the Friday he was flown to Barcelona, had the bone bodged together with some titanium, and flew back to Assen in time to take part in the warm up on the Saturday morning, and was medically cleared to race.
He started 12th and eventually finished 5th, looking uncomfortable throughout the race, and once he passed the chequered flag is was apparent from his body language that he was hurting badly.
She who is mine was not impressed at all was most vocal about this, particularly when the commentators were discussing how full of painkillers he might be. I’m fairly sure most of the really good painkillers suggest avoiding the operation of heavy machinery. Granted a MotoGP bike is pretty light, but it’s still enough to kill someone if it hits them. I share a similar disapproval of operating motor vehicles in a chemically altered state.
So why did Jorge ride? Because he could. Cal Crutchlow resorted to lying to medical staff in order to ride at Silverstone. Becasue he thought he could ride, and ride he did. I’m not going to link to anything about Bradley Smith’s finger, because it’s really gross. But this is what athletes at the peak of their career do. Because not riding is the hard thing to to do.
I can only imagine the physical effort required to ride a race bike like you mean it. My 535 is quite a soft ride, it only made 46 horses when it was new, and currently has a bit of paper from Fi International telling me it makes less than 33bhp and has shit fuel economy and will continue to do so until December 2014. A Yamaha YZR-M1 makes more than 200 more horses. Still a 60 mile trip through the twisties, averaging no more than 40mph for me is enough to be agony when I get off. An hour of dual carriageway or motorway speed? Plan on not getting out of bed the next day. Longer than that, well for a start that’s time to get petrol (535 tank is ten litres before reserve, reserve switch is unreliable) and take break. I’ve simply not done a trip where I’ve used more than a tank of fuel yet. Occasionally I will refuel leaving and arriving as that is where the petrol stations happen to be, but this is usually on shorter trips where I want a full tank and no messing about the next day.
But the days I can, I’m riding. What else would I do?