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What made Joey Dunlop so good?

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Crazy Courier



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PostPosted: 13:38 - 12 Jun 2020    Post subject: What made Joey Dunlop so good? Reply with quote

I've been thinking about this for a while. I remember being told when I was a kid that if you out a 1p on his line in a corner he'd hit the same line every time. So I guess track knowledge, bike control, consistency would be aspects. Perhaps also longevity. But I don't really know what made Joey Dunlop (and other riders) so good.

By contrast, in another sport I'm into, football, I could tell you that what made Wayne Rooney so good was his strength from a young age, calmness on the ball, close ball control, creative mindset, passing range, shooting accuracy and power, determination, pace, and the fact he was able to adapt his game as he got older and traded intelligence for agility.

You hear people in the footballing world talk about footballer's qualities a lot, you don't seem to hear the same in the motorcycle racing world (or I don't). So, yeah, what characteristics made Joey Dunlop (or Rossi, Hailwood, etc) so good?
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Suntan Sid
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PostPosted: 00:34 - 30 Jun 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

What made Joey Dunlop so good.
Joey was king of the roads, that's what he liked doing, riding scary bikes on scary courses, it's what he wanted to do!
If you ever see or hear interviews with him, he always said he knew where he could push it and he knew where to take it steady.
One advantage that he did have was he rode all the great "roads" courses in all the classes, 125's, 250's. 350's, 500's, 750's F1 and the first Superbikes!
Other than that he was just very good at what he did.

He was an unassuming, humble, family man, who insisted on spannering all his own race bikes, even when HRC signed him up, if HRC had said no you can't prepare our bikes, he would have walked!
That and winning 26 TT's are what made him a legend!
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PostPosted: 11:08 - 30 Jun 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure that fully answers the question though. I know he won 26 TTs etc etc. I know all about who he was. But what specific characteristics enabled him to be so successful?

You've said "he knew where he could push it" so I guess track knowledge is one thing, and that he "insisted on spannering his own bikes" so I guess mechanical ability is another. But I assume he brought many other peak qualities since just being good at two things wouldn't have out him head and shoulders above the rest.
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recman
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PostPosted: 11:34 - 30 Jun 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its got to be a combination of feel, attitude, judgement and dedication along with determination.
Physically he wasn't anything special so it's all in the mind.
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Freddyfruitba...
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PostPosted: 11:59 - 30 Jun 2020    Post subject: Re: What made Joey Dunlop so good? Reply with quote

Quickly wrote:
I could tell you that what made Wayne Rooney so good was his strength from a young age, calmness on the ball, close ball control, creative mindset, passing range, shooting accuracy and power, determination, pace, and the fact he was able to adapt his game as he got older and traded intelligence for agility.

See, I know absolutely nothing about football. But doesn't the above just mean 'he was good at football'? If not, what traits did he not have that would have made him even better?
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PostPosted: 12:25 - 30 Jun 2020    Post subject: Re: What made Joey Dunlop so good? Reply with quote

Freddyfruitbat wrote:
Quickly wrote:
I could tell you that what made Wayne Rooney so good was his strength from a young age, calmness on the ball, close ball control, creative mindset, passing range, shooting accuracy and power, determination, pace, and the fact he was able to adapt his game as he got older and traded intelligence for agility.

See, I know absolutely nothing about football. But doesn't the above just mean 'he was good at football'? If not, what traits did he not have that would have made him even better?


That's a fair comment. The above definitely means he was one of the best attacking football players of his generation. There was little that he didn't have as an attacking player, although you could perhaps say he was lacking height and temperament (he got sent off in a number of important games). He was also probably lacking a bit in skills such as tackling and positioning which you would need as a defensive player and I have no idea if he was any good as a goalkeeper. But they're different jobs - it's a bit like asking Joey Dunlop to ride a sidecar like Dave Molyneux.

I guess I could rephrase my question. If Joey Dunlop was a "complete" road racer, what attributes make up a complete road racer? And was he totally "complete" or was there anything he was missing (e.g. strength).

There's already a good few answers coming through.
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Bhud
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PostPosted: 01:31 - 01 Jul 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

Athletic talent is probably the invisible ichor at work here. What is it? Not sure, but I would say it's some sort of hard to define gift of physicality and coordination. Not strength or speed or endurance as much as getting the senses and the entire body under control, without having to consciously break any particular set of patterns down into parts. Getting started in early childhood is just the basic foot in the door in many sports, including motorcycle racing. What you get with humans is a normal distribution of athletic talent: some have more and some have less, but most people exist somewhere in the middle. There are a few outliers who have little chance at winning (e.g. people with dyspraxia), and some who have a markedly stronger chance than average (e.g. very tall people playing competitive netball/basketball) but the outliers are few and far between. In the case of these racers who win a lot at these difficult sports, there are 2 factors that can account for their clear record of success:

1) They are in possession of some "outlier" physical attribute that can't be seen as clearly as the very tall basketball player. This is a possibility, as in the case of, for example, some competitive weightlifters from eastern Europe who have been found to have a genetic trait where their muscle fibres aren't dead straight but twisted, so as to allow them to have a greater volume of muscle fibre. In the case of the successful motorcycle racer, it's difficult to look for where this might be, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. For example, they may be able to pick up complex new movement patterns much quicker than average people, or have unusual cortex development enhancing hand-eye coordination.

2) We are not seeing a true reflection of racing talent in these figures, because of some selective, exclusive process that keeps giving us the same, limited selection of eligible participants. One of the reasons for this might be that the nature of the game (and by that I don't mean a participation trophy but actually standing a chance at winning) is exclusive to those people who are willing to take much greater risk exposure than others. This may be in the case of the TT, which, for example, Barry Sheene only participated in once, citing the risks he found unacceptable. Or it could be the Tiger Woods/Williams sisters effect, in that the requirement to start off with a huge investment in time and money at an early age is screening out people who could present us with a very blinkered picture of what's really happening. This has happened in fencing, golf and tennis, and, I would argue, in the modern world of car racing as well. The Dunlops all have a background in enduro riding from an early age - this requires a bike and a place to ride it off road, as well as someone to show you the ropes. At a stroke, this rules out most people in this country from getting a foot in the door. Accordingly, we might not have yet seen a Tiger Woods of the TT, or even of MotoGP, despite its long history. Imagine a hardy medieval peasant wanting to become a cavalier - no matter how strong and resilient he might be, it's a tall order to play catch-up vs someone trained at great expense in horsemanship, archery and all sorts of war games and strategy from childhood.

These are just my thoughts. I don't know if it's one or the other or a combination of both. I am sure that there are hidden gifts - athletic talents which are probably latent in these repeat winners, which can only be accessed by means of psychological conditioning from an early age, and exposure to certain experiences. I am also sure that the pool of players to begin with isn't particularly big.
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wr6133
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PostPosted: 07:41 - 01 Jul 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's nurture not nature. All the "attributes", listed for Rooney are things he developed, learned.

You truly desire to do something and focus on it enough from a young age (or get pushed by parents), you will rise above any layman.

Dunlops, multi-generational. They didn't come out the womb knowing what a GP shift pattern was. They were stuck on bikes from as young as possible and surrounded by successful racers.

Rooney, playing for teams (so a lot of dedicated training) from the age of 8 or 9? Barring physical defects if anyone gave up any pretense of academic achievement aged 8 and focused heavily on a single sport, you would expect that they become a real master of that sport.

Hamilton, not the poor little black ghetto kid he likes to play dress up as, bankrolled in an very expensive sport by his father. Was on Blue Peter as a kid for racing Karts, Roman Catholic Schooling, Private 6th form college. Daddy pushed him and bank rolled him from a young age starting at R/C cars, then Karts. Think he was racing Karts from the age of 8, that's alot of time to perfect your craft.

Think about it, if you were handed a motorbike aged 5 or 6 and taken every single weekend to rag the thing round a circuit, gradually getting bigger faster bikes as you get older (and not worrying about money). By the time you are an adult you should be near the top of the game or at least good enough to break in to the game. Replace "motorbike", for GoKart, Football, etc
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chickenstrip
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PostPosted: 21:47 - 01 Jul 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think one word: passion.
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Diggs
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PostPosted: 07:27 - 02 Jul 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two more words: riding intelligence

He knew how to string bends together to be consistently fast over a given distance, rather than even faster over a shorter distance then a cock-up.
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chickenstrip
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PostPosted: 11:13 - 02 Jul 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think all that comes after the passion. Without the passion, you don't learn to get that good. Most of the top TT riders had it at one time or another, but with Joey, he never lost it, right to the end. How many TT riders would have bothered with the obscure little race where he was killed? Especially at his stage of the game.
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Rebel
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PostPosted: 12:21 - 02 Jul 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

An intimate familiarity with the track and machine are a prerequisite, but I think the special ingredient is the spatial coordination that connects the two. i.e. the ability to be at the right place on the track, at the right speed, attitude and time. Add fast reflexes and fearlessness and what everyone else said and there you have it. Smile
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Confusion
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PostPosted: 13:26 - 02 Jul 2020    Post subject: Re: What made Joey Dunlop so good? Reply with quote

Quickly wrote:
....what characteristics made Joey Dunlop so good?


A lot of skill, bravery and riding talent.

A lot of practice on the bad roads around Ballymoney.

Sheer bloody-minded determination. Joey's brother Robert was
also a very determined individual. Michael Dunlop is one of the
toughest and most determined racers ever. The late William was
a very fast rider with many race victories. I don't think he had quite
the same level of bull-headed determination as his brother.
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Howling Terror
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PostPosted: 16:25 - 02 Jul 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

This.

A slip of a lad at the age of 44.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/northern-ireland/45621280
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Pigeon
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PostPosted: 00:24 - 03 Jul 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howling Terror wrote:
This.

A slip of a lad at the age of 44.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/northern-ireland/45621280


Fantastic video! Just absolute perfection everywhere. Knowing when to short shift, hold a gear a bit longer, changing down to use revs, or leaving it in a taller gear even though the revs have dropped because the road drops later.

He spanered his bikes and got the best from them. He knew the circuits blindfold. Latterly he worked on his "off season" fitness too.

Talent, determination, attention to detail and single minded passion.

20 years.
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Howling Terror
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PostPosted: 16:26 - 03 Jul 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

^^^He never went wide...the bike didn't get out of shape..took it real 'steady' at the beginning. overtakes were measured.

Yeah, all the signs of man at relative ease with his work.
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1claire
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PostPosted: 03:12 - 08 Jul 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

He is one of the best motorcyclists of all time. He's unselfish act of kindness to the orphans he supported is purely amazing.
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recman
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PostPosted: 07:53 - 08 Jul 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howling Terror wrote:
This.

A slip of a lad at the age of 44.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/northern-ireland/45621280


Anyone recognise who got past him on the mountain section?
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truslack
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PostPosted: 09:35 - 08 Jul 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

recman wrote:
Howling Terror wrote:
This.

A slip of a lad at the age of 44.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/northern-ireland/45621280


Anyone recognise who got past him on the mountain section?


Looks like Bob Jackson on the Mcadoo bike?
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Easy-X
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PostPosted: 11:48 - 08 Jul 2020    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd be curious as to the state of his corpus callosum - the nerve fibres that join the two halves of the brain.

I read an article where a scientist was interested in whether successfully concert pianists were mostly left or right handed. They didn't really find any difference (i.e. handedness reflected similar numbers to the the rest of the population.) What they did find is that the corpus callosum had a much bigger impact and classified it as either "same-" or "different-handedness."

If you look into handedness everyone will bang on about left vs right and then after that maybe mixed, ambiguous and ambidextrous. However thinking on same vs different is whether you can use both hands together on a task or independently.

For a piano or guitar you'd want independence as the hands are doing different things. For a saxophone or flute you'd be better off with same handedness.

Could it be that Mr. Dunlop was same-handed? It would imply that hand to eye co-ordination in each brain half were more tightly integrated...
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