Thursday, 15 January 2015

European Motocross testing enhances students' learning

Our programmes offer students the opportunity to enhance their career prospects by gaining 'real world' experience.

Master's students Misha Murtagh and Joe Wood recently accompanied a professional Motocross team to Spain, where they conducted a series of research tests on the riders.

Misha and Joe have kindly provided us with a blog about their trip:

We travelled to Lloret De Mar for a few days to conduct some basic testing and profiling on high level Motocross riders. The riders included Max Anstie and Mel Pocock (Dixon Racing) and Reece Desoer (Preston Docks MX).

The testing had begun in the Physiology Laboratory in Darwin Building, where we tested the riders’ VO2 Max and monitored the effect that incremental increases in intensity had on their blood lactate levels in correlation to heart rate. When we went to Spain we recorded their heart rate and blood lactate in a setting more specific to the demands of the sport.

During our stay we visited two different tracks, both of which placed different demands on the riders. We worked the best we could on the side of the tracks as these tests are generally conducted in clinical laboratory settings, so we had to adapt to the environment and find ways around any problems presented. With the cooperation of the riders we were successful – they were fantastic to work with and really showed an interest in what we were doing.

This trip gave us the opportunity to apply the theory learnt at UCLan into a practical setting, where we had to adjust the protocols used to fit in with the unique scenario we experienced.

An example of this is that we had the riders stop as if it was a pit stop every five laps to take results, but the time it took would vary dependent on the smoothness of each lap, the speed of the rider and the other riders on the track.

During testing even if we staggered the start times of the riders there would still be a chance of two coming in at the same time, so we allotted each other jobs and planned how to cope if two did come in at once. This only happened one time and was dealt with fluently causing minimal disruption to the training.

The testing links in well with our course and career opportunities as we were testing elite athletes in an extreme sport where little research has been conducted in these conditions.

We showed the ability to assess the physical demands of the sport and aim to identify areas in which their performance can be improved in the future - both of which are vital components of working in an elite sporting environment.

We'd like to thank John Desoer of Preston Docks MX and the Steve Dixon Racing Team for inviting us along to their training camp and taking good care of us while we were away, and Max, Mel and Reece for allowing us to test on them. It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip.

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