Travel notes following the championship
We set off for the last tests before the start of the season here in Portugal; to set off again means to become more and more aware of the facets of a season of travelling and transfers with the issues that can arise beyond control, such as a sudden strike.
This time we were lucky, we had all the time in the world, but these are elements that must be truly considered when planning trips; the train finally leaves and this time I am joined by a doctor with great experience in first aid and emergency medicine who will accompany me on some stages of this season.
We leave on the plane together with the Ducati team, a few greetings since we met each other at Sepang, but, for the moment, we remain a foreign body compared to the world of technicians and mechanics travelling on this flight.
In the car on the way to the hotel we have a pleasant exchange with a guy from the team, who tells us about his past as a rugby player in the youth national team, his experience as a young lawyer and then how he started working in this field, and now, after a few seasons in the minor categories, he is on board one of the best teams in MotoGP.
I think of his parents, of a son who has chosen an impervious path, made up of constant transfers, confirming that true passion can steer people’s destiny towards a total challenge in another field of work!
Time to finish my reflections and we arrive at dinner with the team and here comes the first pleasant surprise, as their approach changes radically from the first time, to warm hugs and greetings: we are ready for our adventure!
As soon as I wake up, I reflect on how important it can be to act promptly for the whole team but in particular for the drivers considering the physical stress they have during the track laps.
This year there will also be sprint races on Saturday, which will increase the fatigue, physical and mental stress of the race weekend.
Consider that 2000 calories are lost on average during a race and that the weight loss is around 2 to 3 kg. It is estimated that a motorbike racer does at least 25% more workload than a professional rugby player. Let’s not even talk about the cardiac stress, which is characterised by a rhythm constantly above 150 – 160 beats per minute, reaching peaks of over 180-200, so you can imagine how important it is to preserve any athlete from all the issues that can be caused by a trivial flu or a bad diet.
On the first day the two riders fall and we have evidence of how small details can make the difference in these situations; one falls on the last bend before the straight, an extremely difficult corner, very hard for the bike and the rider. The bike is practically destroyed, the rider returns in perfect condition and restarts immediately. A whole different story for the other one who falls and in sliding has the misfortune to hit his heel against the kerb reporting a severe contusion. Luckily there is no fracture, so he continues testing after applying some ice.
My first thought on what happened is that we need to understand the type of driver as he may have a very high pain threshold and therefore, we need to consider his perception compared to clinical objectivity and therefore the possible existence of injuries.
The second is the ability to listen in order to grasp all the nuances concerning the clinical situation and the correct function of the body district concerned.
A crash has great repercussions on the team and to see the conditions in which a bike returns is intense; when it arrives at the pits it is taken over immediately, cleaned, disassembled and will be the cause of a very long day’s work.
It may seem impossible that it can be put back together, but within a few hours, the bike will be ready to go again.
Our activity is gradually expanding, people are finding the confidence to ask for advice, to expose a problem such as a young guy who comes to us because he is totally weakened by the flu and has gastrointestinal symptoms.
Debilitated he falls asleep and I wake him up before our departure, he leaves with the classic phrase that is somewhat the beginning of our dialogues ‘DOC I feel better, thanks’.
Another topic to mention is nutrition. I saw great attention to food i.e., in the morning yoghurt, lots of fruit and little consumption of foods such as eggs, bacon typical of Anglo-Saxon tradition; this makes one think that there is a good basic dietary education. It is a different story on the circuit and, apart from coffee, typical of the Italian tradition, I never see excess and even small snacks are useful in a moment of relaxation, for those who toil all day.
The time to return home has come for us all, and we are all the quieter and certainly more tired, we have seen the number of our patients grow, we have seen the interest in our professional role increase, which I think will increase even more when the competitions take place.
We arrive in Bologna at one o’clock in the morning, quick goodbyes but already with our thoughts projected to the Portimão event, basically ready to race!