The body can take quite a pounding when you are a speedway rider.
So what better way to prepare for the new season...than training in a boxing gym.
Former world title contender and European champion Ryan Rhodes is putting Sheffield Tigers daredevil Simon Stead, team-mate Josh Bates, from Barnsley, and Sheffield born Scunthorpe rider Ashley Birks through their paces. It is giving a new lease of life to Stead, who suffered a “horrendous” ankle injury which blighted last season.
Speaking on video at thestar.co.uk, Stead explained why he has turned his hand to boxing.
“The injury knocked me about a bit. I needed the right kind of physical training to enable me to be back to full fitness. Competition is getting more and more fierce and I really want to up my game this season. The physical aspect of boxing is going to be a massive help.
“I wanted somebody who knew what I did and could relate to me, and it was a no brainer to ask Ryan.”
Rhodes thinks the two sports can compliment each other. “Training and fitness wise there is nothing better than boxing” he said. “I have never ridden speedway but I have ridden motocross and the amount of pressure that the bike puts on your arms is unbelievable.
“With the boxing training, we build strength and power with the arms; it is only going to benefit a speedway rider. If you are physically fit, it helps mentally as well”
Stead, who recently returned from warm-weather training in Australia, said he’d encouraged Birks to join Rhodes’ gym. And Bates, who has just signed for Sheffield Tigers, was also benefitting. “He is a 16 year old lad, who is keen and committed.
“I wish I’d done this sort of thing when I signed my first professional contract, at 16. Unfortunately it has taken me a little bit longer to see that the physical aspect of the racing and the work in the gym pays so much dividends. I am getting stronger and still have over a month on my side to get even better.”