Some people might question the claim that motorcycle riding is the second most physically demanding sport in the world.
Someone who doesn’t is top Queenstown rider Scott Columb who’s been selected to captain New Zealand at the Motocross of Nations in Latvia on September 27 and 28.
“I guarantee there’s a lot of fit people in Queenstown and any of them who have ever ridden a motorcycle can’t believe how tough it is to ride [motocross],” he says.
“You’re constantly doing pushups, squats, your arms are going, your legs are going, you’re standing on one leg, you’re jumping over a jump that may be 10 metres in the air.
“She’s a wild ride.”
Columb, 30, says for a 40-minute circuit ride, averaging 50kmh, your heart rate is constantly in the red zone.
He likens it to the challenge that surfers face.
“They get slammed and they’ve got to get back up and go again and motocross is the same.”
The Yamaha rider says his 10-year professional career, including seasons based in Europe, has been character-building.
He’s had four surgeries, including both knees, and long layoffs.
However, though winning only one New Zealand title, in 2013, he was on the podium 10 years running till suffering bad luck this year: “I had two mechanicals and I got collected by a tree branch.”
Asked what he likes about the sport, the Yamaha rider cites “the speed, the adrenalin, the noise and it involves an engine”.
“When it goes good, it’s great, and when it goes bad, well, it goes bad but it was still great.”
Columb also rode for NZ at the Motocross of Nations in 2008 in England and in Italy the following year.
NZ placed eighth and 11th, respectively, those years, and Columb’s best individual result was 12th.
For Latvia this month, where the course is very tough and his two teammates are less experienced, he says: “If we were top 10 to 15 in the world, then that would be great.
“For me personally, I’d like to be around that 15th to 20th mark in the races.”
After a month’s break in Europe, Columb – who says he’s only semi-professional these days – will prepare for the next NZ season, starting Labour Weekend.
“I may have another five seasons in me, but I may have another one, who knows, it’s how I’m enjoying it and how my results are.”
But having gained so much experience in race tactics and the like, he doesn’t want to throw it away lightly.
Asked his main strength, Columb says apart from fitness and discipline it’s his determination.
“There’s so many times that I’ve hit the deck and been run over with broken hands and what not, and I still get up. I won’t give anyone satisfaction that I’m hurt or that I’m going to throw the towel in.”