MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
MotoGP: no one — not even Márquez — gets to ride the magic carpet for free
Marc Márquez’s injury struggles shine a light on the dangers faced by motorcycle racers and remind us of the painful journey taken by another Honda superstar
A motorcycle cartwheels down the track and into the dirt. Medics arrive on the scene. They lay the injured rider on a stretcher and load him into an ambulance. Sirens wail. The crowd’s attention returns to the racing.
“Is he hurt pretty bad?” asks a woman.
“I dunno,” her photographer husband replies. “Somebody said he broke his back.”
“My, how’d he do that?”
Another racer has overheard the conversation. He sidles up to the woman. “Cycles is a mean toy, lady,” he says and walks off.
We all know motorcycles can be dangerous – whether you use them as toys, modes of transport or tools of your trade – but here we are.
The latest medical interventions to save Marc Márquez’s career have focused attention on this reality.
Most of us have been there, to a greater or lesser degree. If you ride motorcycles you will fall off. That’s pretty much the law. And if you fall off you will most likely get hurt. This is the contract we all sign somewhere deep inside our subconscious, however much our conscious tries to convince us that it will never happen to me.
The subconscious deal we make goes something like this: yes, we may fall off and, yes, we may get hurt but, you know what, that’s okay, because no one gets to ride the magic carpet for free.
Moving rapidly through space on a motorcycle does something to you that driving a car doesn’t. You are not separated from reality by the vehicle, you are part of reality. That’s the thrill and that’s the risk, right there. And of course you can’t have one without the other, that’s the deal.
I accept the physical risk because the psychological risk might be greater. Riding a motorcycle, even down the shops on a sunny day or off to the airport on a rainy day, makes me happy. Everything about it, from controlling the machine as well as I can to controlling the risk as much as I can involves me totally. You have no option but to be in the zone, because the price of being elsewhere will most likely be more than you want to pay.
Motorcycle racers sign essentially the same contract, but there’s more pain in the small print. Bike racers 100 per cent know they are going to get hurt. Repeatedly. Because you can’t live on the limit without going over the limit now and again. Simple as that.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.