Thursday, July 19, 2007
In the old days (the 1800s), the primary job of a cowboy was to look after a herd of cattle. A herd could number from 100 to 15,000 cows and the distance traveled in a week was often more than 1,000 miles. The kind of quads, glutes and endurance required for such quests was Olympian.
Old-time cowboys, then, were great athletes by definition, but for the majority, fame never came. Their athleticism, however, persists – no other athlete in the world dares to engage opponents with three times their body and muscle mass, let alone to ride them or rope them. And there is no greater athletic feat than knowing how to fall – ask any world-class football player, snow-boarder or gymnast, whose falls have nothing on even the most amateur bullrider’s.
Though the course is known and the road is smooth, there is massive, largely untold wear and tear on the body that comes with riding a super-fast machine around a track for 500 miles, muscles tight and clenched the entire time. The fact that medics are available on the sidelines or that the riders have leathers and helmets to help to protect them offers little comfort.
At speeds easily exceeding 150mph, keen concentration and lightning-fast reflexes make the difference between the healthy life of a MotoGP rider and serious injury or even death. For as long as the sport of motorcycle racing has been around, skill and athleticism have always been part of the deal.
ADVANTAGE: • COWBOYS