Help me fit motorcycle racing into my training

Hey all! The motorcycle track day in racing season have finally begun here in Utah, and I have a good schedule set for the season.
I have unofficially retired from cycling racing but I’m still training 10 to 15 hours a week on the bike plus strength training and flexibility on the side. I’m wondering how to estimate, calculate, and quantify the physical and training load of a weekend of motorcycle riding. For anyone who has spent time at the track you know how incredibly demanding it is, but I don’t have nearly the same metrics available to quantify the effort involved like I do when riding with a power meter.
Does anyone have any tips or advice on how to fit those into my overall training schedule and to plan nutrition? Obviously I could just dump everything down the hatch as though it was a hard training day, but I don’t want to necessarily be downing thousands of calories if my expenditure doesn’t require that. But I have no way of knowing what an equivalent cycling session it might be like!
And as of now I do not have any major a cycling events, but I’m still. Rising my training and I’m in a steady build phase right now, so the answer of just don’t worry about the bike on race weekends doesn’t quite apply.
Anyone have any tips? I figure @Jonathan might know thanks to your Motocross background :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Interesting question!

My first thought would be to use a heart rate monitor. Clearly there are concerns here, both in terms of comfort/ safety on the one hand and meaningful data on the other. Back in the day my race leathers were skin fit so I’m not sure how much I would have enjoyed a chest-strap HRM. And obviously there might be a safety worry in putting a potential pressure point over your sternum. Not big worries, though.

More of a concern would be whether HR is a good place from which to extrapolate energy expenditure/ work rate, both generally and in this specific case. Leaving the general case aside, the problem here is how to factor out the effect on heart rate of the wash of adrenaline and other catecholamines that will be flooding your system once your properly on one.

As far as guessing what the energy expenditure might be, I suspect it’s less than you might think, given how tiring racing a motorbike is. Here in the UK track days usually run to a 6 by 20 minute schedule. That’s very roughly equivalent to 90 minutes of continuous exercise, during which time even Tadej Pogačer won’t burn a huge number of calories. For the rest of us maybe 1500 kcals if you’re really working, for the sake of argument. But that’s cycling; I would think a better comparison would be with gym work, in which case you’re looking at maybe one third of that. So even if you assume 1000 kcals for the day, thats not really enough to justify ‘feeding the work’. Certainly I never had the stomach for breakfast or much during the day when I was racing and never felt lacking in energy as a result.

Lastly, with respect to integrating a weekend into your training program, here again I would be thinking in terms of strength training. Maybe a rest day or recovery ride only on the day before a weekend’s racing and I would not have enjoyed a training ride after a weekend on the race track either! YMMV, though.

Hope that hepls

1 Like

Interesting that you’re putting this much thought into this… but my first thought is: that you’re overthinking it. :slightly_smiling_face:

Wearing an HRM will provide the best analytics but when I started wearing one while riding my dirt bike, I was shocked at how high of an HR I would maintain (190s for 20min motos) without feeling winded. Chalk it up to the adrenaline, I suppose.

I would treat a track day as another fitness session and vary the taper/recovery based on the relative intensity and duration.

From a training standpoint, I always thought rowing machines had the greatest similarities to dirt bikes, so if you wanted to estimate your expenditure better, you might use one for the same duration to see what kind of data you get.

Also, in the pro motocross/supercross pits, those guys are hydrating all day and there’s a lot of chicken and rice being consumed.


Oh I have no problem hydrating LOL. The calorie burn figures make sense, and I could probably treat it like a Z2 ride for an hour and a half total. The heart rate is definitely sky high, but it’s still a novel stimulus for me and racing adrenaline is real!
I’m torn because I don’t want to effectively do a recovery week or taper for each race weekend, but at the same time I’d be too exhausted doing a hard session before it.
Maybe treat the stimulus like an interval session, and prepare for it beforehand with some endurance pacing but not an all out recovery ride on the trainer. I’ll play around with those options and fuel accordingly to see how it goes this weekend!

And cyclist overthinking nutrition and training? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

1 Like

As a bit of a nerd, who also does track days (well, on the kart track mostly), so I wear a heart rate strap and my watch.

I don’t over think it. But I’m definitely sore afterva good day of riding.

1 Like

You can get a hell of a workout on a dirt bike. I rode a dirt bike in high school, and my arms, shoulders, back, and legs were a lot stronger. I gave it to my brother when I moved out. Then in college I got another one, and the workout took its toll, everything hurt from lack of use. I was able to build back pretty quickly. That bike died, and I didn’t replace it. In my mid-50s I got another one, and found out that the weight workouts I was doing really prepped me for riding it. It became more about speed at that point. The guy I was riding with had a bad crash** and gave his up, so eventually I sold mine too.

But if you can avoid crashing, it is a hell of a great workout, and can be a great cardiac stressor too. I’ve been thinking of getting if road bike, if I can sell the wife on the idea.

But a crash on a dirt or road bike could mean a lot of time of the bicycle. Be careful, but have fun.

** His crash involved catching a root by his boot, yanking his foot down, wrecking the boot, and breaking a lot of his foot. His wife put her foot down, and he quit his job at the local power sports store, sold off his bikes, tools/kit: gave it all up. I quickly lost track of him as his wife apparently forbid him talking to the knuckleheads that would probably get him back into it. I do miss it but places to ride continue to disappear. For riding bicycles, I drive about 8 miles away, for the dirt bike I’d have to drive 2 hours away. Sad…