Interview: Alessio ‘Chicco’ Chiodi on still racing competitively at 50 years old
Three time world champion, Alessio ‘Chicco’ Chiodi clearly still loves the sport as he still rides very competitively at 50 years old and runs the Ceres 71 Yamaha race team as well. The Italian was at Maggiora and contributed to the legends parade lap which was cool to see.
We caught up with Chiodi at the event to get his thoughts on the sport today and his secret to still being so fast at 50 years old.
GateDrop: Alessio, a former world champion, here you are watching this amazing sport at Maggiora GP and you even got to contribute doing the legends parade lap. What was that like? It must have brought back great memories…
Chiodi: Of course, many good memories, I have raced here many times at Maggiora. The Maggiora name is at top of the world, everybody knows Maggiora. Especially today with the World Championship and I did the legend lap with the 1995 bike, the replica bike. It was really good emotions because of the crowd, there were so many people and they say welcome to Maggiora again after many years. I am very happy to be here.
GateDrop: The atmosphere here has just been amazing this weekend, I am sure you’d have loved to be racing out there in your prime!
Chiodi: Of course, Italian track, Italian riders, Italian team and the Maggiora name is really really good.
GateDrop: 50 years old, you are still racing and still racing competitively, what’s the secret? I am sure a lot of riders wonder what it is to still be so fast! At the last Italian championship you won the fast class and finished eighth overall in MX1…
Chiodi: Yes, I won that overall but my license, I don’t race so I am a step down from the elite. The fast isn’t really my class but I finished eighth overall in my class on the day. Happy, so happy with it. I just have fun on the track and that is my secret. I still enjoy the track.
GateDrop: When you stop racing as a professional is it hard to just go out there to ride and have fun? Especially with it being such a tough and brutal sport…
Chiodi: It is difficult. It’s difficult because even though it’s not my job anymore, my mentality is to be at the top. That is a little problem for me sometimes because when I want to go riding, I want to push to improve also my speed. That is a problem because I have to tell myself to stay calm because my career has finished. Now I have to stay calm and just have pleasure when riding.
GateDrop: You had an amazing style, I really loved watching you ride and you still have the same style now. Zach Osborne, I am not sure if you saw his tweet but he was saying you’ve still got an amazing style after he seen you ride again at Foxhill, it must feel good to still have that amazing style that helped you win world championships…
Chiodi: I think I have improved a little bit my style.
GateDrop: At 50 years old?!
Chiodi: Yeah, it is true! I watch kids and the new generation, I need to study everyday. I need to improve, my style I think is a little bit better than before. My technique, not speed! No scrubs then but I do try to scrub now (laughs).
GateDrop: What was it like racing the Foxhill Vets des Nations racing against a host of legends, is it something you really enjoyed?
Chiodi: It was a really good day. Especially with the atmosphere, there were many many people. It was just like a GP in 1999, so it was a really good day.
GateDrop: The sport these days, how would you describe it? Things have changed, bikes are faster, suspensions are better but the tracks still get gnarly and the level is very high…
Chiodi: The bike improves every day as well as suspensions but the riders too. They use more the new technology to improve the body. The tracks, they stay the same so they need to move a little bit in the same way. The level is so high, when you see the top rider riding like in the condition we seen today, it is really really fast.
GateDrop: You run the Ceres71 team as well, any plans for next year yet? Obviously Nancy van de Ven got injured this year but you got to win a WMX title with her last year, that must have been great to be part off…
Chiodi: I am so sorry for Nancy, she broke a leg at the beginning of the season… Now the plan, we need to have discussions next week. I will stay with the Ceres71 team to follow the girls, that is the plan and after we will see what Nancy has decided to do.
GateDrop: And next year will you still be racing the Italian Championship? No retirement year?
Chiodi: Me? No, no… next year we will see but now no, no retirement.
GateDrop: How many more years do you think you’ll be racing?
Chiodi: I don’t know but when I am fit, I will race. When I enjoy it and I am fit, I will be racing. That is my passion so that is why I want to race.
Interview: Andy McKinstry
Image: Ady Cowshall