MotoGP Stars Enjoy Ride With College Cycling Powerhouse In Indy
MotoGP World Championship riders accustomed to rocketing around racetracks on their powerful 1,000cc motorcycles had the opportunity Thursday, Aug. 15 to ride two-wheel vehicles using a different mode of propulsion – their legs.
Seven World Championship riders joined with members of the powerhouse cycling team from Marian University, located in Indianapolis, to learn the finer points of road and track bicycling at the Major Taylor Velodrome in Indianapolis. The event took place as a kickoff for the 2013 Red Bull Indianapolis GP weekend Aug. 16-18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Each stop on the international MotoGP circuit presents a “cultural” event leading up to the race weekend. In that event, a handful of the MotoGP riders participate in an activity that is part of the area’s culture.
Coach Dean Peterson and members of the Marian University cycling team tutored American Ben Spies and international riders Marc Marquez, Scott Redding, Pol Espargaro, Sandro Cortese, Alex Rins and Arthur Sissis. The Marian Knights are the 2013 national collegiate champion in road racing, BMX and cyclocross. Among their many accomplishments, the Knights have won seven consecutive USA Cycling Division I collegiate track cycling national championships and four straight collegiate road championships.
One of the unique aspects of this event was the 28-degree banking on the Major Taylor Velodrome, which is something Marquez and the other MotoGP riders had never navigated.
“I enjoyed it a lot,” Marquez said. “It’s a new experience because I’d never ride with a bicycle like that. I didn’t know you could be so fast because of the banking in the corners. I really enjoyed it.”
Spies is an elite-caliber bicycle racer who owns an American professional team, Elbowz Racing. He appreciated the opportunity to try a different form of cycling.
“It’s fun.” Spies said. “I have a passion for cycling, and I’ve never got to ride in a velodrome before. It’s interesting and a fun thing to do. I’m a rookie at this, and I really enjoyed it.
“Once you get going the banking doesn’t really feel that steep. So it’s a quite different feeling because you know how steep it is, but when you’re on it, it doesn’t feel like that at all. It’s a little bit different, but I was getting used to it and having more fun every lap.”
The more time Spies spent on the Major Taylor Velodrome, the more his racing instincts took over and pushed him to pedal harder.
“I wanted to go faster and faster,” Spies said. “After a couple of laps I was kind of wanting them to pick up the pace and get moving. It was something totally different, but also something I’m quite used to, so it was a lot of fun.”
Following his time on the track, Redding appreciated the similarities between MotoGP riders and what the Marian University Knights do racing bicycles.
“You’re still racing, and you still want to win,” Redding said. “You have two wheels that you have to control and you’re riding close. I mean, if these guys crash it’s going to hurt, and for us, we’ve got leathers that are straight on our skin, you know, and I’ve done it before (crash), and I won’t be doing it anytime soon, so I have respect for those guys doing that.”
Standing in the infield watching the action, Peterson saw a fellowship and appreciation emerge between the two different but similar groups of athletes.
“It’s absolutely great to watch them interact, our athletes and the MotoGP riders,” Peterson said. “They shared their interests and you could hear them talking and riding, and you could see it all happening. The synergies between the two groups were really fun to watch unfold on the track.
“All of these kids were chosen to be a part of this because they have a real interest in MotoGP, and they’re really some of our top riders and graduates of the program. It’s just a fascinating thing to blend these two groups together and just watch it happen.”
Coryn Rivera, a Marian junior and a 47-time national champion in the disciplines of track, road and cyclocross, enjoyed the opportunity to get to know the MotoGP riders.
“We’re all athletes who race and train on two wheels, so there was definitely some common ground there that we could touch on,” Rivera said. “I think we’re all speed freaks, and we like to go fast on the velodrome and they like to go fast in racing, so we all definitely have the same mentality when it comes to speed.”
2013 tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2013 Red Bull Indianapolis GP MotoGP event. Visit www.ims.com/tickets, call (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700 or visit the IMS Ticket Office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.
Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are available. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.
Information on camping at IMS during the Red Bull Indianapolis GP is available at www.ims.com/tickets. Hotel package information can be found at visitindy.com/redbullhotels.