20 January 2014
MotoGP Q&A - Chris Vermeulen
The thing I am enjoying is the chance to be more relaxed. When you're racing, everything you did was to be faster on a motorbike and that keep you permanently focused. You have to be on a strict diet but now if I want fish and chips, that's what I have. Life has become more enjoyable but I don't get to ride those wonderful motorbikes.
Did you consider yourself a biker or an athlete?
When I was asked, I always said that I was a motorcycle racer so I guess a biker, but now I'd say I'm neither!
Are you doing any dangerous activities such as mountaineering to replace the thrill of racing?
No, not really. I was never a thrill seeker and didn't need the speed to keep me excited. I just enjoyed being able to do something really well and the challenge of doing better. One of the things I enjoyed so much about the GP bike was the development side and that fitted in to that ethos.
That was one of the reasons I stuck with Suzuki for so long because as a factory team you have a lot of involvement in that side of things. I found the work of making the bike go faster was really exciting at an academic level. That's what I got out of it. I'm not some kind of adrenaline junky who has to jump off buildings and stuff like that. I wouldn't do it anyway because I'm scared of heights! The truth is that I like riding bikes fast because I'm good at it, not for the speed.
In the triathlons, I'm not necessarily good at it but I still get that same thrill of trying to improve and to achieve targets.
So honestly, if Ronald ten Kate phoned up tomorrow and asked you to ride the WSBK Honda, what would you say?
I'd have to say no. It's the travel and leaving home that I wouldn't want to do, I'm happy at home. I've often said that if I could do the world championship and stay in Australia then I'd do it, but putting my life on hold because of the travel isn't an option now. It's not just about me anymore, I have to consider the family.
I don't even think I'll get involved in racing at an international level such as running a team. I wouldn't necessarily say never but I don't think so. I'm a silent partner in a couple of motorcycle dealerships here selling BMWs, Ducatis, MV Augustas, Bimotas and Benellis and that keeps me busy and connected to the industry. I also do a bit of work for BMW in Australia at ride days they do and I enjoy that. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to ride a factory GP bike but that isn't available any more.
At a fun level, I'm also doing some dirt bike riding such as the Troy Bayliss Classic and that keeps my hand in as regards racing. I actually did three or four last year and I'm gradually getting better at it.
Were you able to do the TB Classic 'just for fun' or did the competitive spirit kick in?
No, I did do it for fun. I tried my best and rode my hardest but definitely not the same as when I was racing. There were some guys there who were ultra-competitive, who'd trained and done a huge amount of preparation.
I still ride reasonably well though, I qualified for the main race and in a field that includes six world champions from all different fields of the sport I came seventh or eighth overall which isn't too bad. I don't take it too seriously though. Riders there included Troy, Jason Crump and Karl Muggeridge.
Isn't Karl Muggeridge a watchmaker?
Yes, that's his profession and that's what he's qualified at. He used to do that before he became a professional rider. Karl actually owns a large bike dealership with his brother now.
When you look back at your long career, do you have any 'what ifs' or frustrations?
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