Road Tripping The Nationals 38

For the last few seasons, a good chunk of my summers have been spent driving from race-to-race while covering the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Want a peek at what happens between the races? Here you go...

On long road sections, boredom can set in pretty quickly. Listening to podcasts was some of the prime entertainment this year, as well as experimenting with  gadgets like the olloclip wide-angle lens for my iPhone. Actually, pretty much all of the photos here are from my phone.

Headed into the entrance at Hangtown with some of the real road warriors...the drivers of the rigs that criss-cross the country. These guys often drive together, watch out for each other, etc. They get a layout each week of the pit area, and in the holding area before they headed into the pits, they were working out among themselves the order that the trucks should head in.

This was the one big oops from the summer. At a Flying J truck stop I was refilling the fresh water tank, and the pressure going in was greater than it could vent coming out, so the tank expanded and pushed itself out of the mount. I had to drain and remount the tank, then refill. What a hassle.

Before taking off on the road again, I decided that a set of FMF tie-downs would make for a good safety strap. Having the tank come unglued while on the road would be a bad deal.

I'd always wanted to check out the Cadillac Ranch just west of Amarillo, Texas, and made it just in time to catch it at sunset.

Weather this summer was...well, just plain weird. The drought made thunderstorms like this one the exception, rather than the rule, as in previous years. Yeah, that's lightning lighting up the upper right.

Rather than follow the GPS directions from Freestone to Thunder Valley (basically, go north to Kansas and turn left) I opted to go through Amarillo again, then through a chunk of northeastern New Mexico and along the Front Range in Colorado that I hadn't seen before. I try not to cover my tracks from previous years if I can help it, though that'll get harder to do as the years go on.

I'm not a huge ball 'n stick sports guy, but the Scott Sports crew did their new gear intro at Coors Field in Denver. Cool park with great views.

For fun and exercise during the summer I picked up a Specialized Camber Expert Carbon 29er. What an awesome bike. All the latest and greatest components, in a sweet-handling full-suspension package. This is along the top of the ridge behind the Thunder Valley track. I also got in some great rides with Shawn from Works Connection, and in Flagstaff, among other places.

Dinosaur Ridge comes by its name honestly. Check out the tracks in this rock face.

The further south you go from Thunder Valley the narrower and steeper the ridge gets, with awesome views all around.

I ran into these two about ten feet apart on the trail. I'm not sure if I was interrupting someone's dinner plans, but the rattler was NOT happy.

Driving through Kansas City, I saw a sign on the freeway for Arthur Bryant's Barbeque, which I'd seen featured on a food/travel TV show a while back. Making a detour, I have to say it was pretty tasty (that's only half the sandwich), though I heard afterward that other people claim there are better spots in KC. I'll try and catch them next time around.

The Gateway Arch is always worth a look. For anyone who has an RV, there is some RV parking south of the arch along the riverfront.

Next stop on the tour was High Point, and I got up early for this raceday shot.

After High Point, I hit up Coopers Rock State Forest which is just east of Morgantown, WV, for some sweet eastern singletrack. The map is courtesy of the Strava app, which I use to log rides. As I was sitting at the overlook, there was some thunder rumbling nearby, so I beat it out of there before I got dumped on.

Mileage in the truck was anywhere from nine to 15 mpg, depending on headwind, tailwind, tire inflation, and how much drafting I could do on semis. The back of the truck usually was sporting my bike, a pair of five-gallon gas cans, and a Honda generator.

This was Amish rush hour near Budds Creek. in some spots there are grooves worn in the pavement from the wagon wheels.

Red Bud weekend. Damn it was hot...and everyone had Josh Lichtle on their minds.

Ryan Dungey wondering why I'm using my phone instead of the Canon.

Red Bull did a killer job of local promotion at many of the National venues. This was at a Wal-Mart near Red Bud.

Man, Chicago has a lot of tolls.

Headed toward Millville, I opted to stop in Milwaukee and check out the Miller Brewery. Yes, it's free. Yes, there were samples at the end of the tour.

At the Miller Brewery visitor center, they had this sweet touring display bus. Love the art deco look.

Wisconsin Dells has the kookiest collection of tourist attractions in one place that we've seen, and it's always worth a look. This is a go-kart track that runs through a Trojan horse.

This is one of the wackier tourist attractions in Wisconsin Dells. "Top Secret", which depicts the White House turned upside-down, exposing all its secrets. Over on the other side of the entrance, there's a T-Rex. Who knew the White House housed dinosaurs? (No political comments, please.)

Packed up and heading out after Millville.

Over 1000 miles to the next turn? Yikes. Welcome to North Dakota.

Arriving early for press day has a big bonus...having the pits to yourself for a day.

The road closure on the road into Washougal had one pleasant side forced me to discover this view of the Columbia River Gorge nearby.

Yeah, my cholesterol is too high. But the occasional pizza like this is hard to resist.

Patrick Trowbridge is a Vital MX member (Dirtysmile56), and I caught up with him for a ride in Bend, Oregon. They have between 700 and 800 miles of singletrack to ride up there.

The scenery around the U.S? Awesome. This is Mt. Shasta in Northern California.

That's it, except a quick time-lapse while driving through Montana. (The Vital MX trailer makes a good GoPro mount.) Hope you enjoyed the ride-along.

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