Not only does John McGuinness still race the Isle of Man TT at the age of 43, he still wins it, racking up his 23rd victory at this years’ event. So what is so special about John McGuinness that makes him still able to challenge for victory at the world’s most dangerous motorcycle race? Apparently, it’s his nerves.
More accurately, his lack thereof. IT company EMC, semiconductor firm Freescale and Alpinestars partnered together recently to analyse what makes him so successful. Using a specially equipped bike and suit — fitted with sensors measuring over 20 different aspects of both McGuinness and his bike — they captured body position, bike position, biometric, and mechanical data.
They took to the Circuit Monteblanco in Spain along with journalist Adam Child as a comparison. Biometric data included heart rate, breathing rate and calories burned along with bike data such as speed, yaw and lean angle.
McGuinness hit a top speed of 268 kp/h to Child’s 266 kph but the negligible difference in velocity was in stark contrast to their respective heart rates. Despite the immense speeds ridden, McGuinness’ heart rate never went above 146 beats per minute – and for much of the lap was below 140. For someone his age, the target heart rate for moderately intense exercise is between 88-149 beats per minute. For McGuiness not to even break that upper limit given the speeds he is reaching is incredible.
Journalist Adam Child’s heart rate peaked at 174 bpm and for most of the lap sat around the 170 mark. While Child might not be in the same league as McGuinness, he’s not a hack when it comes to riding bikes either. While more data on more people would need to be collected, it’s possible to infer that being cool, calm and collected not only prevents crashes but allows for consistently fast lap times.
EMC, Freescale and Alpinestars aren’t finished though, Next year they intend to do further testing, this time at the Isle of Man TT – a race certainly not for the faint-hearted.