Note: I wrote this up for a motorcycle racing site that I work on. Most of the odd name references you'll see are for tracks on the circuit. I think the rest should make sense.
The racing that happens on the weekend? That's just half the action while following the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series. The U.S. is an amazing place. Here's what went on during the week when I wasn't driving, working on content, or keeping an eye on the forum. <p>
This was the sixth lap of the country for the Fun Finder, and the second lap for the Toyota Tundra. To get ready for this time around, I stripped off the graphics from the trailer. They'd faded and cracked in the sun, and it was quite a chore. After a bit of polishing, it was looking pretty good to start the summer. I also did the usual round of new tires for the trailer. Knock on wood, but over six seasons, I hadn't had any problems with tires, axles, etc.
While up in Hangtown, I usually meet up with Shawn Ralls (left), and Eric Phipps (right), from Works Connection for some mountain bike riding in the Sierras. WC is just up the hill from Hangtown.
Here's a cool panoramic shot from the hills at Glen Helen. I always dig shooting panos with my iPhone, because it gives you a totally different view of wherever you're at...and without having to haul out the heavy-duty gear.
Yep, road trips require road tunes, and this Stevie Ray Vaughn double album makes for good road cruising. It was cheap (maybe $12?), and I picked it up at one of my frequent stopping spots...Wal-Mart. My girlfriend also always makes me a CD that becomes a bit of the summer soundtrack.
The Specialized Camber Expert Comp 29er is my companion for the summer. It's pretty easy to get in a quick ride (I tried for three a week), and you get a better sense of the places that you stop in. I bypassed Moab this year to try Fruita, Colorado, and I'll stop in again here for sure. That's the Colorado River in the distance, and getting off and on I-70 is easy. For a bike shop I'd suggest Over The Edge Sports (where I ran into a Vital MX fan), and for food? The Hot Tomato Cafe had some great post-ride pizza.
Watching Chad Reed wrestle with what to do with his team was one of the bummers of the summer tour. Here's hoping that what he has next will make him happy year-round.
After the Lakewood round, there was a pit stop at the Coors Brewery Tour in Golden, CO. The funny part is, I don't actually drink a lot of beer. But it's fun to see something local, that's free, and that has beer at the end. You can sample three different ones here at the end of the trip through the brewery. You could tell who was interested in the actual brewing on the self-paced audio tour, and who was just sprinting for the end.
Sorry, Kansas folks, but I finally found a reason to get excited about crossing the state. Wilson State Park has some epic singletrack (20 miles worth), and it'll be a regular stop in the future.
On the way across from Thunder Valley to Muddy Creek, I stopped in St. Louis and did another brewery tour, this time at Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser). This one covered the Clydesdale stables, brewery, and history, and had one sample during the tour (fresh), and one sample of your choice at the end.
Going through Nashville, it was a perfect time for a dinner stop, and a stroll down Broadway to check out a few honky-tonks.
After Muddy Creek, there was a run to Charlotte, where we checked out Club MX, the JGRMX shops, a Wednesday night mountain bike race that a lot of the NC-based riders competed in, and a trip to the Hendricks Motorsports Museum. Rather than some of their current cars (Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson), the cars of Terry Labonte, Tim Richmond, and one of Jeff Gordon's sprinters caught my eye.
Driving from the races week-to-week, you almost always run into one rig or another along the road. This one was parked in a Wal-Mart parking lot after the conclusion of the High Point National.
After High Point, I picked up a 3DR Solo to try out. I've used quadcopters in the past to capture aerial images, and this one far surpasses the one that I had in the past, both in performance and ease of flying.
Here was one of the first test shots I took with it, over the West Virginia Mountaineers baseball stadium. No, I don't fly over live events, and I do my best to fly responsibly. There's enough drone hysteria out there without behaving badly.
I caught this shot in Pittsburgh, during a thunderstorm there. Yep, burst mode works really well on iPhones. (There's your photo tip of the day.)
Following the High Point National, there was a weekend off, and I used it to travel to Canada to see my son, Gabriel, graduate from high school.
I also went home for a few days to check in with my girlfriend, Toni. This is her, and her younger daughter, Chloe.
The Budds Creek National? That was memorable for its massive rainstorm before the final 450 moto. DC shot this one, and is mostly notable because of how slippery the logs were, and that I was standing about 20 feet over the starting gate.
After Budds Creek, I stopped by the 911 Memorial in Shanksville, PA. One of the rangers there did a great job of telling the story of Flight 93. It's worth a visit.
Brandon Anderson caught me lurking around his bike at Red Bud.
With another weekend off after Red Bud, I went hunting for mountain biking in Norther Michigan...WAY Northern Michigan. Copper Harbor makes for a great destination, with camping, sightseeing, and relaxing. This is Fort Wilkins State Park, which was an old Army outpost. That's Lake Superior on one side, and Lake Fanny Hooe on the other.
The State Park is a living history type park, with people playing the roles of residents from back in the day.
There's also some killer mountain biking in the area, with miles of cool trails. I got my fill before heading towards Minneapolis, and then Millville. That's Ayrton Houk, who I ran into along with his dad, Kevin. He's a little ripper.
North West Company Post in Pine City, MN, is a cool way to see how fur trading posts worked back in the day, and how the voyageurs lived and worked.
I stopped in to shoot some photos and work on an article with Christian Craig, and this was a private track he was riding. It was rough, fast, and nasty...perfect for training for the Nationals.
Chasing Christian and his crew over some of their favorite trails? Fun stuff indeed.
Going through Rapid City, SD, after Millville, there was a quick stop in Bear Country, USA. It's a drive-through wild animal park with different animals in various sections. I made eye contact with this wolf, and grabbed a shot.
The people in the motorhome behind me were chuckling after we exited the park, and they showed me the photo that they'd grabbed. After I drove by, he must have been bored, because he tried to remove my spare tire cover.
Going through Sturgis, they were getting ready for Bike Week (or month). This is from the Sturgis Bike Museum. After grabbing a burger in the Sidehack Saloon, it was back on the road.
One of the common questions I get is whether I'm worried about leaving my mountain bike in the back of the truck. Not particularly. The chain goes through the frame, and through the center of the back wheel.
Voodoo Donuts in Portland is a local landmark, and well worth a visit. I limited myself to one maple bar. They have some that are, um...more creative than that.
About a block away from Voodoo 2 is the See See Coffee Motorcycle Company, and it's definitely worth a trip, both for their brew, and the collection of bikes, helmets, and other coolness that abounds inside. I picked up a t-shirt from the motorcycle side, which said, "Racing is easy, and nothing ever goes wrong."
They do some really creative bikes at See See. Check them out at www.seeseemotorcycles.com
Toni joined me in Portland, OR, after the Washougal race, and we did a bit of sightseeing on the run home from there. A friend and Vital MX member offered up a place to stay at his home in Bend, and you can see part of his private track that's on the property. He's a lucky guy.
Toni had never done off-roading of any kind, so we hit the Oregon Dunes and grabbed a rental RZR for a couple hours. On the way out, I got a text from Nick Wey, saying he'd just passed us. He and a bunch of other MotoSport athletes had been filming in the dunes the day before.
Running through the California redwoods. Walking through the groves of trees is awe-inspiring.
Fog on the Oregon coast.
We caught a pod of gray whales feeding in the Point Lobos Marine Reserve, and plenty of other marine life, including seals, sea lions, and sea otters. That's a great place for a hike.
After flying to the Unadilla round, I did make one more road trip, to the last visit to Miller Motorsports Park. This was shot a couple nights before the race (and Ryan Dungey clinching the 450 title), as a thunderstorm brewed over the track.
Next year, look for a new trailer setup. This one got picked up the week after the race in Utah, and will make life on the road a little less primitive. It's a 21-footer, rather than the old 18-footer. Add in a slide, and it's way roomier than before. As you can see, I stripped off most of the stock graphics after picking it up, and took off even more after this photo was taken. I'm not sure if I'll add a wrap or graphics...that's TBD.
That's it for this summer! I hope you enjoyed the tour.</p>