By Christian Tiburtius
An exclusive interview with James Ellison, in which the Milwaukee Yamaha star talks in depth about his racing career in MotoGP, BSB and the AMA...
I guess you're in sunny Kendal at the moment?
No, I'm in Heysham, my mum lives in Kendal and that's always been my home and business address. I haven't actually lived in Kendal for a long time. The last 3 years before Heysham we were living in the motorhome because it just depended on where we needed to be. We based ourselves at a campsite sort of near J36 of the M6 but the majority of time we were on the road sleeping at service stations in the UK and Europe.
We moved back this year and wanted to get a house so we rented one. I didn't want to be too far from my mum with us losing my dad last year, but I didn't want to live in Kendal either because it's so grey and rains all the time, and it's very expensive. I'm close enough to family, I've got cousins who live here and it's perfect for us because we're very active and are always out on the bikes. My wife's into fitness and training too but she needs to calm down a little at the moment because she's five months pregnant.
Given your obsession with fitness, would you say that a motorcycle racer is a biker or an athlete?
The amount of training that goes into it is ridiculous. People don't understand that it's a full time job if you consider the training, food preparation and so on. The kind of food you have to eat is bloody expensive as well. I have dieticians that have tested my blood groups and blood samples. I've had to take samples to Germany to figure out what my body reacts to well and what foods it digests better than others to optimise energy levels.
My current trainer/dietician is Brad Howell, he's an ex racer who got into training, he did a couple of transformations like in 'Supersize me'. After he finished racing, he put on a lot of weight and one day woke up and thought 'sod this' and trained until he was absolutely ripped. He then put all the weight back on again by eating pizzas and stuff and then lost the weight again so he could document how he did it.
He ended up with the RPT (Realtime Physique Transformation) program which I've been doing for the last four years now. It's a combination of food and exercise designed to make sure your body gets the right nutrition. In winter I do that particularly strictly for a couple of months to make sure I'm fit for the season. During the season you step it back a notch because you wouldn't be able to sustain that and you need a certain amount of carbs for a race meeting. I'm starting the carb loading now for Brands, my whole training and diet regime is built around the Sunday race.
Another reason I'm so keen to be prepared is the mechanics, they work a lot and often longer hours than the rider. I know they're putting the work in on the bike so I have to make sure I put the work in myself. If I got to a race meeting, hadn't trained all week and we got a bad result, I'd know it was down to me. If I've done everything I possibly could then you can always walk away with decent results.
I think if I hadn't been a racer, I might have been another type of athlete. When I was at school I had some records and I used to do the javelin, 100 and 200 metre sprints. Also I played rugby and did the Javelin and 200 meters for Kendal, I had to stop all that though because it was getting in the way of my racing which was turning into something I wanted to do for a living.
So you were never into bikes when you were young?
Only because my dad did it. I liked to go and watch him. When I was at a young age I more enjoyed just being active around the paddock with my brother playing on pit bikes and the BMX. He used to do classic bike racing at club level and it was some time later before we appreciated what he was actually doing. I didn't really get into watching the bikes probably until I was about 14. It was between watching Kevin Schwantz and my cousin's ideas that got me into bike racing. My cousin's really close to me, we're like brothers really, and he's one of the main reasons we've moved here now.