Bumming with Bostrom: E-Boz Interview
American Superbike Eric Bostrom Profile
This is why 90 percent of New Yorkers are in shape, I tell Eric Bostrom as we approach the escalator at the Javits Convention Center.
The unhealthy apparatus is shut done, and by the time we’re halfway up the steps, I’m telling Eric about my knees, how they ache after I run. I tell him I started using a stationary bike, the one with the huge-ass flywheel, to keep my physical condition prime for future amateur road racing.
This sets him off, and he begins a monologue about how cycling repairs the knee, sprinkling bits of medical jargon throughout the response. This conversation goes on as we’re walking to a Food Depot two blocks from the Javits Center, which was hosting the NYC International Motorcycle Show in the midst of a cold January winter.
I am joining Eric, AMA Sportbike rider JD Beach and Aimee Reece of Kawasaki for lunch, hoping to grab some insight on the upcoming AMA Pro Racing season and the new ZX-10R. But much more is exposed, and "E-Boz" offers in-depth thoughts on more than just motorcycle racing.
After the 34-year-old California sits with a salad that contains more colors than a bird’s eye view of an American Superbike grid, he’s talking physical training.
Bostrom explains part of his regime: "The bicycle is my favorite tool, and as I get older it’s the most important. Also as I get older, it seems more and more important to keep up the cardio.
"You want all fit to be based around strength for a motorcycle. I don’t use weight training…motorcycles naturally keep the upper body strong (motocross training), and the bicycle keeps you lower strong. And building a strong core is key. The core is really important for not only racing, but for one’s well being."
Well being is almost always a concluding statement regarding any subject. This arrives from Bostrom’s philosophical approach to everyday life, which directly impacts his approach to motorcycle racing. Take Bostrom’s idea of unwinding at the end of the day through stretching.
Bostrom analogizes this stretching as a concluding entry in a journal: "I enjoy taking that time to myself. I’m most limber at night, and it just makes sense to stretch. But it’s more…it’s like my daily journal without the writing. Stretching time is for processing everything that happened in the day."
Eric says most of this outlook comes from his older brother Ben, who signed with Michael Jordan Motorsports for the 2011 AMA Superbike season: "Ben’s like my life coach. He assists and guides in every way possible."
Ben’s also Eric’s biggest competitor, one of many that E-Boz will contest against aboard the all-new ZX-10R Ninja. And Eric loves this machine…the technology designed into the Kawasaki immediately impressed him from the very first ride.
Eric Bostrom says: "Kawasaki did it right; they nailed the bull’s eye. The whole ZX-10R package is unbelievable. The electronics are the single biggest time gainer for me as a racer…it’s the next biggest gain you can achieve just short of going from hard to soft tires.
"The electronics keep the chassis from getting upset; it all works together to make you get from point A to point B the fastest. I do believe that our bike is the most advanced bike on the grid. The motor is strong, and with the electronics you’re allowed to put the power down. It’s very well-rounded."
Eric’s feedback is fresh, considering he arrived in NYC immediately following the AMA Pro Racing Dunlop tire test at the newly paved Daytona circuit. This test was needed; Eric says he and the Cycle World Attack team need every minute possible on the ZX-10R so they can obtain proper setup before the first race of the AMA Superbike season at Daytona March 10-12.
Eric Bostrom says: "Setting up the electronics of bike is very time consuming. Before electronics, most of the setup time was spent with the engine and chassis. But nowadays, you pretty much race the bike how it comes. So you just end up improving the electronic settings. I laugh when I think about what’s emphasized during setup. It’s almost like motorcycle racing went completely 180 degrees regarding setup."
When Eric says "before electronics," he’s referring to the generation of bikes he raced, although it wasn’t that long ago. His last full season in AMA Superbike was in 2008 while competing on a Yamaha R1, when electronics were not nearly as intense as they are today.
Eric, who is a 15-time AMA Superbike winner, and earned four AMA Championship titles (Harley 883 Dirt Track, Super Twins, Formula Xtreme and Supersport), didn’t race professionally in 2009.
But he returned last season when he was offered a ride on the Cycle World Attack team. The team, spearheaded by CW’s Managing Editor, Matthew Miles, competed in the last four rounds of the AMA SBK Championship aboard a Suzuki GSX-R1000; Eric’s best finishes were a pair of sevenths, one at Laguna Seca, the other VIR.
Besides electronics, other things have changed in the series, like the ongoing restructuring of AMA Pro Racing. He says since Daytona Motorsports Group (DMG) took over in 2008, the paddock side of the series is much happier.
When asked on what he thinks the AMA could do to further progress the series Bostrom responds, "that’s the most difficult question of the day."
Eric Bostrom continues: "The first thing was to get the racing good, which was already achieved. Second is to get the fans back into it…to bring that enthusiasm back. Third, get more sponsors. I wish it was as easy as saying it, but things are heading in the right direction."
Eric is part of this direction, especially when it comes to influencing future AMA stars. He has natural instructing skills, and many can learn from him, even a journalist such as myself.
In the past year, I became fanatical, almost neurotic about my working-out strategies to improve my performance at the track. I got a late start in motorcycle competition, and even at 31-years old, I’m still taking another year of mental/physical preparation before competing in WERA.
I explain this to Bostrom, which is very unusual for me. When interviewing a racer, I would never mention my personal agendas towards competing. I’m here to gather information for public consumption about his or her motorcycle-racing life, not my own.
But through the sheer congeniality of Bostrom’s outlook, we somehow get on the subject of my minimal endeavors in motorcycle racing.
Eric Bostrom says: "You may be getting a late start, but it may just the right time in your life. This may be the best thing for your overall well being at this point in your life, regardless if you can never be the next Rossi or Spies. If it makes you happy, keep working, and if you work hard enough, something is bound to happen, even if it’s only for your well being."
This well-being talk just may be why Eric’s path led him back to the AMA Pro Racing scene. Through his philosophical approach on such a competitive sport, he can teach the younger generation of racers a path that may lead to much success in AMA Pro Racing.
And along the way this younger generation is bound to learn a bit about well being, something Eric naturally exhumes through his philosophical style, a calm style that will help achieve not-so calm speeds across the AMA road-racing circuits in 2011.
Images from Daytona Tire Test, courtesy of Kawasaki