This was a fifth year I've driven around most of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship circuit, and as usual, it was a blast. Here's a peek at some of the "everything else" that happened before the season, during the travel, and between races. Let's dig in.
After four years of using a Toyota Tacoma as the tow rig, his year we upgraded to a Tundra. Nope, no sponsorship help from them, though we've had good luck with Toyotas in the past, and they do support the sport.
The truck was a blank white canvas, and we needed a new design. I forget which one of our forum members came up with this one (Ezza would be a likely suspect), but we opted for something a little more pro.
We checked around and got some good input on the work done by Jason Levy at 270X.com. He did the design work and got the truck wrapped in record time.
Here, Jason's working on some graphics for Monster Energy Kawasaki.
The good news is, the truck now looked awesome. The bad news was, it didn't match up with the old logos on the trailer. Jason had some leftover material on our print job, so he did up some extra logos so I could update the trailer, too. But that meant picking off the old logos, which proved rather painstaking.
I put the trailer logos on in the pits at Glen Helen. Not exactly optimal for clean (or level) conditions, but they turned out pretty well.
The new vests used this year were a big step up from the old ones, and the personalization was nice. There was a lot more fan interaction this year from people who recognized that I worked for Vital.
What's this shot doing in here? It was part of the Rockstart Energy Racing intro that happened just before Glen Helen, and was on my iPhone. Most of the shots in here were shot with the iPhone, rather than my big Canon digital bodies. Anyway, it was cool seeing one of the old Husky champs, (Brad Lackey) alongside the leader of the new Husky effort (Jason Anderson).
Changing tires during the outdoors takes a whole bunch more tire irons than during the Supercross season. Why? Most the teams are running bib mousse inserts. It's a whole bunch more work for the Dunlop guys (shown here), and the Pirelli crew.
I ran into Jimmy and Gregg Albertson a bunch this summer. Jimmy rocked the helmet cam for us at Hangtown (and would have done it at every round if I'd let him). But it was interesting to watch him do the ups and downs of #privateerlife.
Like always, I tote along a Specialized Camber Expert Carbon mountain bike. I get in a fair amount of rides (like with the Works Connection guys before Hangtown). But after Hangtown? I checked off a few bucket list rides. The one above is the Flume trail above Lake Tahoe.
The other big ride was in Moab, Utah, and it's called The Whole Enchilada. It's a shuttle ride from downtown Moab (check in with Poison Spider Bicycles), and it's in the neighborhood of 27 miles long, with something in the neighborhood of 8,000 feet of descending.
This is where the trail gets steep. :)
Near the bottom of Porcupine Rim, I tossed myself on the ground hard a couple of times, and managed to destroy a brand-new Kali Protectives helmet. But it did an awesome job of protecting my noggin, though it did sacrifice itself to the helmet Gods in the process.
Along the road in the summer, I'll occasionally run into other race rigs. I did hear a story about the RCH truck picking up Jesse Rooke in Utah, where he had suffered a mechanical on one of his bikes while riding to Colorado. Talk about good timing.
While driving through Colorado, I stopped at a roadside rest stop for the night, and this was the view about 15 feet outside my door when I woke up in the morning.
The only bummer part of the summer? That's easy. In Kansas I ran into a gas station that had a problem with a leaky tank cap. After an all-day rainstorm, it had filled up their underground tanks with water. I came in, filled up, and when I restarted the truck, it ran for about 15 seconds, then died. It was pretty obvious what the problem was. I went to a dealer in Topeka, who drained the tank, and ran a bottle of cleaner through it, and sent me on my way. It worked okay for most of the way to High Point, though it started hiccuping again about the time I got to West Virginia. Not how you want to have a brand-new truck running.
On the way to High Point, I stopped at Rupert X's palatial estate. This was one of the landmarks that he told me to watch out for on the way.
After High Point I took the truck in to another dealer. They plugged in their diagnostic tools, and it said that both banks were running lean...and this would explain why. That's the bottom of the fuel pump, which was packed up with goop. They had to drop the fuel tank, clean out the gunk, and replace the pump. The good news? The corporation behind the gas station paid for everything, no questions asked. Man, if only everything in life was that easy...
After High Point my girlfriend, Toni, came out for a visit. Neither of us had ever been on a personal watercraft, so this was a blast. I even talked her into moving up front and driving. She's not crazy about me being gone for most of the summer, but visits like this help. We always manage to find some adventures. (Thanks, DC.)
Part of what's cool about doing the summer tour are the things you see, and the people you meet. This is Earl, who's been operating out the same service station in Welch, West Virginia, for the last 60 years or so. During that time it went from a coal mining boom town to a ghost town. If you stop through there, say hi. He's quite the interesting character.
We stopped in at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and ran across this bear on one of our hikes. The National Park is gorgeous, but we didn't know quite what to make of Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge (home of Dollywood). They're both heavily traveled tourist areas right on the edge of the park, with all sorts of freaky attractions. It's be sort of like bolting a cheap version of Disneyland alongside Yosemite.
The end of Toni's visit was in Nashville, and we got to take in a few honky tonks. The guitar player and singer here actually ended up chatting for a while and buying us beers after their set. Way cool. After that night, Toni made her way home, and I continued on with the trip.
After dropping Toni off at the airport, there were a few sights in Gatlinburg that I wanted to hit.
I got a little hiking in on the Appalachian Trail. Some of it is nice and smooth, and some of it is pretty tough. At one trail crossing, the sign said 1,972 miles to Maine. The folks who hike the whole thing are gnarly.
If you're into that sort of thing, a stop at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Company was interesting. You can watch it being made, there's live music in the courtyard, and they have samplings. Some are gnarly (White Lightning), some are rather mild (Apple Pie). After you try them all, they cut you loose to go pick out your favorites.
After the fuel problems in Kansas, I sort of kept an eye on the pumps around the country. I'd never seen a .5 on an octane rating before, and there were some oddities (like at BP stations) where the top level gas was in a green handle. I know of one privateer (who will remain nameless), who thought the green handle was actually diesel, and filled up his van. He immediately stopped and drained it in a truck stop parking lot, but was nice enough to tell a few semi drivers who were downstream that he had a "fuel leak," and they might want to move.
Cooper scoring his first overall win at Muddy Creek? Yep, got that iPhone pic.
In the parking lot at Red Bud. I didn't bust out the quadcopter too often this summer.
On the way from Red Bud to Budds Creek, I hit a stop I'd always wanted to make, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. There was awesome stuff from the roots history to present day. It's definitely worth a stop if you're in Cleveland.
John Lennon's uniform from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Bass and outfit from John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin.
I do like grabbing photos of the strange and slightly quirky. If I remember correctly, the name of this place was Weinerlicious, and it was in Mackinaw City, MI. I also spotted the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile in Rochester, MN.
This is the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, I opted to run up through the top of Michigan on the way to Superior, WI, for an Amsoil visit. Beautiful country, but it also convinced me that Sprint was not the wireless network to be on.
Laundry on the road? After three weeks or so, it's time to start looking for a laundromat.
On the way across from Millville to Washougal, I opted for I-90, rather than the more northerly (and boring) I-94. Along the way I ran through the Badlands National park. That was a first-time stop for me, and it was weird to see how the plains melted away into this.
Yep, since this was a first-time visit in this area, I also stopped in for a peek at the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Mount Rushmore
It was fun watching the little mountain goat scrambling around on the rocks in the Black Hills. This was on the backside of Mount Rushmore.
Here's a panoramic shot near Washougal. With the way the schedule workds, all the way back to Unadilla, then Indiana and Utah, I usually opt to head home after this one I headed south, and fly to those two. Kudos to all the drivers who do the full pull.
Cooper Webb doing his Ice Bucket Challenge.
My feet at Indiana. Good times.
I caught these Team USA goodies before Jeremy Martin's mechanic, Pedro, put them on his bike during press day at Miller Motorsports Park.
Kenny Roczen's rear Dunlop after he melted it down doing a burnout the night he won the championship.
Unless you're looking for it, you might miss the museum at Miller Motorsports Park. While it's not the largest auto museum I've been in, some of the cars are amazing. Since they're big into Fords, you'll find a lot of GT40s, and also a bunch of Cobras. Very cool.
I had a little time to kill in Boise, so I stopped in at the World Center for Birds of Prey. This was shooting between the bars on his cage (and a Canon photo). It must have been near feeding time.When I first walked up, he wasn't doing much, other than watching me. When I started to walk away, he got rather talkative, and hopped up to the front of the cage. They're amazing birds, and very large.
A pano from Twin Falls, Idaho.
That's pretty much it for this time around. It's all part of the adventure