When news came in that Valentino Rossi had broken his leg riding an Enduro bike while training, the eternal discussion kicked off among fans about why MotoGP riders are allowed anywhere near an off road bike outside the track. The question is doubly relevant, as this is the second Italian race for which Valentino Rossi has managed to injure himself riding a dirt bike.
The simple answer, of course, is that people whose job it is to race motorcycles need to practice riding motorcycles to do their jobs. And riding a bike off road is a lot safer than riding a bike on the road (crashing at 70 km/h on dirt doesn't hurt as much as crashing at 200 km/h on asphalt).
Fans, however, are impervious to such arguments. So instead of journalists explaining why MotoGP riders ride dirt bikes, here are a bunch of quotes from MotoGP riders, explaining in their own words why they ride off road.
Location: Mugello 2017
"I always ride motocross, also after 2010, because I like. I enjoy a lot and I think it's the best training, physically and mentally. "
"Of course you understand all the parts, but you know, Valentino, me, other riders, at home on the sofa? You don't improve. You must train, you must do some things. Looks like Valentino didn't crash on a jump, but I don't know. But even when you ride with a bicycle, you can crash. When you ride, there can be many things in life. But on the sofa, sure it will be easy and good, but then you can't improve. So if something is going to happen, it will happen but I will keep riding motocross."
"It is not on the same spectrum but I think everyone has been injured in every sort of sport going. Guys have been injured mountain-biking, dirt-track, motocross and on the track itself. Nicky [Hayden]’s situation happened like it did: what are you going to do? It is the team’s decision: if they want to wrap the riders in cotton wool then go ahead and do it but it is not my job or your to point fingers and say what motorcycle racers should do. You will not go to a manager of a football team and say “you are not doing the training the right way”. At the end of the day I always trust professionals to make a professional decision as much as possible. Someone like Valentino has been around for so many years so if he wants to ride motocross then let him ride. It is down to him to learn whether it was a mistake or just life in general."
Location: Motegi 2015
(Question, on injuries to Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez, who were hurt riding a road bike and a mountain bike respectively): How much of a benefit is training on a minimoto, motocross? Do they need to be riding at the limit training?
"It doesn't mean they are riding at the limit, Márquez crashed his bicycle, I don't think he was at the limit. He crashed earlier on in the year on the flat track bike, which everybody does all the time on a flat track bike, it's part of it.
"But honestly, I don't know what people want, because you're always going to get people saying 'Idiot! He crashed a motocross bike!' But how do footballers train? Kicking a ball! How do tennis players train? Hitting a tennis ball! How do runners train? They run! How do motorcyclist train? Well, you're not allowed to ride a motorbike.
It's stupid, so when you do ride a motorbike, sometimes unfortunately, these things happen. But like I said, people say, oh, the manufacturers might put a stop to it or the manufacturers say 'no, you shouldn't do it.' But they give us the motocross bikes, so they don't mind us doing it. They know that riding a motorcycle is riding a motorcycle, it's unique. I don't a lot, to be honest, I bet I've ridden six times all year on a motorbike outside of a race track. But that's just me, I'm completely different, I'm the complete extreme to they other guys."
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