(This was written a few years ago)
I saw Nick Hayden in Daytona when he and I sat alone in a DIS radio room to record his recent Soupkast audio column. Sitting there, watching each other, we played a familiar little game.
I looked at him I saw how thin and compact he was, he looked like he was wearing a 26 inch waist from Levis, I saw that there was not an ounce of fat extra on his body and I asked him, “How much do you weigh?” “.
I ask him this every time I see him.
Hayden just smiled in response, not saying anything. After a few moments, he changed the subject, “How’s the family, Deano?” How are these boys? Are you busy? “.
He sat there and smiled.
âYou know, if all you’re eating right now is Styrofoam shipping peanuts,â I said in a lame line, âI have two big boxes of them in my desk. I could ship them to OWB and you could eat for about a month â.
“Come on, how much do you weigh?”
Hayden weighed somewhere in the region of 165 pounds when he won the AMA Superbike title in 2002. He was meaty at the time, and raced part-time on dirt track.
More smile came from Hayden.
“How about that weather this winter up in Minnesota?” Was it cold ?, he asked.
The former MotoGP world champion knows a sure way to the eternal damnation of the Midwest is to ask anyone who lives in northern Illinois how cold it is lately. Since I’ve played it a few times before, I quickly broke up, gave it a two-word curse ending in “you” and moved on to the next topic.
I had seen his older brother, Tom, on the Chris Carter radio show the night before and noticed that he too had lost a few pounds in the off season. I asked him what he weighed. He said guess. I said 156 pounds; to which he replied that I was very high. What I took as my guess was far from being.
Most of these guys are getting smaller and smaller. After an off-season cycling race in Texas, in which Ben Spies raced, reports leaked through that the Spies, too, had lost considerable weight in the offseason. And in these circles, when runners are already considered slender, “considerable” means a few pounds.
A few years ago, I had a set of Nick Hayden leathers in my office for a few weeks. These were from the 2006 MotoGP season and smelled of champagne, so I guess he had worn them in a race and on the podium somewhere that year. They were lying on the floor near my desk, having fallen from their hangers hanging over the door.
As with most world championship level skins, they were beautiful, crisp, hand-sewn in places. Large parts of Hayden’s Repsol Honda leathers were made from a single piece of leather. AlpineStars called them leathers, but in reality they were a work of art.
My 15 year old son John, who is admittedly quite tall and muscular, decided to try Nick’s leathers. He slept most of his life with a Nick Hayden Repsol Honda poster in his bedroom, so it was going to be a little exciting for him to try on a set of leathers worn by one of his heroes.
Only they wouldn’t come home. And it wouldn’t fit, I don’t mean they were a bit too small at the shoulders.
He couldn’t wear them because they were too small everywhere. He was unable to even put his calves in it. Okay, he had played ninth grade football that year and was in good shape – but he couldn’t slip through the lower part of Nick’s leathers without fear of tearing the liner.
Later, his younger brother, Kipp, then ten years old, tried them out. Besides being very long in the arms and legs, the way they fit him was surprising.
So what is it; What’s going on here? Is it Pedrosa / Stoner Syndrome where all runners are now trying to reduce their body size to the absolute minimum possible so as not to give up any advantage to the slim or almost strangely shortened Australian stature of the Spanish runner?
Or is it a by-product of almost every top rider with a hobby career if not racing bikes and then using one to train?
I feel like it’s a racing thing. These guys use the definition of ultra-competitive as a benchmark for what they think about competition. They don’t want to announce anything that might give them an advantage, or better yet put them on a par with the guys who win races. Rossi cannot be described as slender, but it is a special case. Lorenzo, who is still not a daily threat to others as his 2009 run and title race indicates, looks quite normal for a 20-year-old adult male.
Stoner, however. He’s fast and he’s back. And he weighs 127 pounds. This shows other runners that they don’t necessarily need to be the biggest or the strongest or have superior grip or shoulder strength to run up front. Plus, Pedrosa, (112 pounds) can roam the MotoGP grid in a way that almost brings back memories of Wayne Rainey. And he’s not tall – nowhere.
I thought I would call Colin Edwards II and ask him what he weighs now, but I didn’t. He looks the same as in 2002 at Imola when he won the World Superbike title. And I don’t really need to ask him what he thinks about this minimal tendency of MotoGP riders. Not a guy who said very seriously once that if they ever added beer to the FIM banned list he would retire the next day.
Back to the question of what does all this mean? Probably nothing. The skinniest motorcycle racer I have ever seen was Kevin Schwantz, who in his late 1980s glory wore a mid-size Yosh t-shirt and he battled loosely against his chest when the wind blew. .
It was no wonder to me that Schwantz frequently broke his tiny wrists in crashes, it was amazing that he hadn’t broken them – so thin they looked like porcelain – in everyone’s life. days.
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