Motocross is widely seen as one of the best all-around ways for MotoGP riders to stay bike sharp and maintain their physical fitness while away from the grand prix paddock. Not to mention the fun factor.
But the Australian called time on Motocross training after suffering a wrist fracture in the run-up to pre-season testing at Sepang this year.
It was the second time that Gardner had been bitten by his love of Motocross, after suffering multiple leg fractures in 2018.
The latest big name to be caught out while Motocross training is Gardner’s friend and rookie Moto2 race winner Pedro Acosta, who was forced to miss the recent Assen round after breaking his left femur.
“I spoke to him. He’s alright, he’s in good spirits,” Gardner said of Acosta.
“Motocross, in the end, is dangerous and I can’t say that I haven’t done it [been injured]! I’ve been there twice already with Motocross, so I’ve actually left it, I’m not doing it anymore, until I’m out of racing I guess.
“Unfortunately, it’s dangerous. It’s good training and super fun, but Motocross is a bitch sometimes.”
The 24-year-old now uses “lots of Enduro and Trials” instead, explaining: “Not fast Enduro, Hard Enduro for physical training.”
Hard Enduro uses machinery very similar to Motocross. But while Motocross is about riding fast laps on jump-laden tracks, Hard Enduro involves overcoming steep hills and (mostly) natural obstacles to get from A to B.
That means much lower speeds and, while Motocross is about how quickly you can finish, the first priority in Hard Enduro is simply to reach the finish – riders often have to physically manhandle their 110kg bikes just to make it through the toughest sections.
“I think it’s much safer than Motocross, because with Motocross you’ve got speed, jumps, I’ve hurt myself many times in motocross,” Gardner said. “Hard Enduro is all first gear kind of stuff, pushing the bike up rocks.
“I guess you could fall down and slip or whatever. One day maybe, but I think it’s much safer. At the moment I’ve got no injuries from it.”
But like any motorcycling activity, safety is relative.
“I was going up one of these big hills in second gear and I’d been told ‘make sure if you can’t make it, you throw the bike [away from you]’.
“So when I was about to fall, I just [launched the bike away] and it went all the way down to the bottom. So yeah, I sacrificed the bike before myself!
“But it’s good training. Physically, Hard Enduro is one of the hardest types of training you can do. Just watch the guys at Erzberg.
“We’ll go out and do like 5 or 6 hours. And I am dead. I take 2 litres in the camelback and when we get back I’ll drink another litre and a half of water because I’m just dehydrated. Especially now in summer. In Spain, it’s like 35 degrees.
“It’s pretty gnarly…So I do a lot of that [Hard Enduro] and some Trials and Dirt Track. And with the little bikes, the Ohvales, a bit of training with those as well.
“But I’m not touching a motorbike for two weeks [of the summer break]. I’m going fishing!”
Gardner has scored nine points during his opening 11 races in the MotoGP class, for Tech3 KTM.