Photos/Words | Casey Davis @air_d617
The 2017 MXGP series is well underway, as riders are now preparing to head South for the MXGP Of Leon in Mexico, which has brought many of the top contenders to Southern California to further test and prepare for round four. Among those riders is 2015 MXGP class champion Romain Febvre who currently sits seventh in points after a few mistakes in the opening rounds. This morning, we caught up with Febvre in between motos at Cahuilla Creek to discuss his 2017 season thus far and to hear about some of the challenges these riders face when traveling across the world to race.
Romain, it looks like you’re out here putting in some last minute work for the MXGP of Leon with Ryan Hughes. What’s it been like training with Ryno?
Yeah, we are actually leaving for Mexico today. It’s been great working with Ryno because it only makes sense to work with trainer that was actually a professional racer. I’ve followed Ryno on Instagram for quite some time, so I’m familiar with him and his particular training regimen, but we actually met about two years ago. I came out to Southern California to prepare for the final GP at Glen Helen, and that’s when we met. The opportunity arose to work with Ryno during my stay here in So.Cal, so he’s been helping me prepare for this weekend. Ryno’s whole program is great and we even have his access to his gym, as well, which has been extremely helpful. After a day of training at the track, we typically go for a mountain bike ride or something of that sort. Ryno is still very in tune with anything two wheels, so he can offer a lot of insight when it comes to technique. He’s in great shape, as well, so he’s the type of trainer that will do a workout or bike ride with you. He leads by example!
Talk about the first three rounds of the series through your eyes.
The series hasn’t gone quite as planned, for me. Prior to the GPs though, I raced the first three rounds of the Italian championship. I was riding really well, but I crashed and I ended up hurting my neck. The healing process took quite a while and it was very painful at times, so that set me back when Qatar rolled around. We did some testing and came up with a few settings that didn’t quite work in the long run at Qatar. I actually finished third in the second race though, so that was good. We went back home to test a little more then headed to Indonesia. Everything was going good in Indonesia, but then I made a mistake and fell in the mud with two laps left in the race. Argentina was nice and I really enjoyed the track. I was feeling pretty fast that weekend, but unfortunately I got a bad start in the first race. However, I was able to bounce back by finishing in fourth. I wasn’t exactly happy about my results, but I was happy with my riding and my speed. Everything is finally starting to head in the right direction! I think at the beginning of the season I was expecting too much out of myself. I was expecting either podium finishes or wins at every round, so let’s see what happens this weekend.
MXGP riders like yourself do lot of traveling throughout the year, so what kind of challenges does that pose for you?
I actually think that a little too much is required from us as far as how much racing we’re doing. It’s a lot for the rider, the mechanic and the rest of the race team. That’s our primary reason for staying here in California. Otherwise we would have to fly back home and then fly back, which is a lot of unnecessary travel. Again, I think it’s a little much, but we have to follow what the promoters put on.
When you travel to certain countries, maintaining a strict diet can’t always be easy, right?
Right! This weekend in Leon isn’t bad at all though. A few years ago in Thailand, I was only able to eat at McDonald’s because everyone kept getting sick from the other food options. At least with McDonald’s I know what’s in the food that I’m eating even though it isn’t ideal for a professional athlete (laughs). Other places that we travel to like Indonesia, you can’t drink the water unless it’s in a bottle. No drinking from the sink, no drinking from the faucet, no ice, no salad because of the water in the lettuce, etc. The first year of traveling around with the MXGP circuit is hard because there are so many unknowns when it comes to what you will be able to eat in each country, but after a few trips you’ll have your go-to places.
Do you specifically stay in Southern California for the wide variety of motocross tracks?
Exactly! The weather always seems to be perfect here, too. Yeah, it gets a little warm, but at least it doesn’t snow. Ryno is based here in So.Cal, so that was another reason for me to stay in this area because it was a good opportunity to get in some training before the fourth round.
The MXGP class seems more stacked than ever. Would you say that’s an accurate observation since you’re the one actually lining up with those guys?
The talent pool in the MXGP class has always been deep, but it seems even more competitive this year. Now, every rider on the track is fit and capable of pulling off a win. Injuries typically begin to play a role at this point in the series, but everyone is healthy and really fast. I think it’s going to be a good year though!
Was it hard to defend your 2015 MXGP title with all of the added attention that a championship brings?
Not necessarily. Everyone told me that it was going to be harder to defend my title than it was to attain it in the first place, but that wasn’t the case. Winning the world championship only gave me more confidence heading into the 2016 season. However, my crash at the MXGP of Great Britain put an end to my season. That’s all in the past now though, and I’m really hoping for a good year!