Last August, I proposed a really vague idea to Wes. I had no specific plans, I was just throwing out the idea - put me on the road. I wanted to be part of the amateur scene and spend more time in the motor home that in my own bed, have more track days than “off” days, something I have always heard Wes talk about doing, and something I wanted to experience for myself.
I didn’t really think I’d hear much about it after that. But in traditional Wes fashion, the gears were already turning and in January I was told to be ready to pack my bags. As Wes and I went over my 10 week schedule which included Millcreek, Daytona, Freestone, and the four weeks on the Good Times and Dirtbikes Tour, he reminded me quite a few times, “this is what you asked for.” But what I got to experience was way more than I could have ever expected.
I was away from my "full time" home out in California from February 13th to April 28th. That’s 10 weeks and 4 days (hey, that’s a Pak X Emh song..). In those 74 days, I was never in the same place for more than 4 days at a time, and even that was rare. I went to Dallas, Atlanta, Daytona and all the amateur nationals excluding Oak Hill, and that was only the first half of my trip. On March 28th, Jason Crane, Kaity Butterfield and I loaded up Mighty Whitey and set out for the first leg of the Good Times and Dirtbikes Tour.
In that time, I just expected to make some galleries, interview some riders and get to see a different side of the sport. What I got was a brand new outlook on the sport, and a refreshed sense of purpose at my job.
I spent a lot of time with families like the Rippers, who are a great example of how to keep a level head in motocross. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of going pro, focusing on one goal and creating a life around it. Riley and his family have made the decision to keep Riley in school, and he is as well rounded as they get. He has a bright future ahead of him regardless of if he chooses to go pro, or go to college. Heck, the kid could do both. I was moved by the support system around him - friends, and riders both pro and amateur are part of this Montgomery, Texas moto family.
Then there was Kiana Clay. Sometimes when you are just bogging in life in general, someone like Kiana comes along. I wasn’t necessarily feeling down, but I didn’t have the best attitude the weekend I saw Kiana at Three Palms. Suffering a paralyzing injury can take a toll on anyone’s attitude, but Kiana’s positive energy and faith radiated when I spoke with her and I truly feel inspired by her. She also reminded me that everyone has a story - how they started, why they quit, why they are making a comeback, or how the sport has impacted their life. I’m lucky to have met her when I did, that weekend changed my outlook on most of the trip.
Fast forward a couple of weeks to our time at the Masterpool’s. I never knew Jesse, but his spirit is very much alive at His 956 Facility. Jake, Ty, Jerry and Tara light up when they speak about Jesse. They told me so many stories about him and shared photographs of all the boys when they were young, some of which were so awesomely embarrassing that they made Jake blush.
My talks with Tara and Jerry that weekend are ones that I will never forget. We talked about the future of motocross and instead of dwelling on the things we don’t like about the sport, we talked about how to change them. Through their heartbreak, they have found a beautiful purpose in the sport, and I know they can achieve everything they have set out to do. Before we left, they gave us “Masterpool 956” stickers and wristbands. Right away I put one of the stickers on my laptop as a reminder when I’m working that what we do as a media company matters. And that goes beyond vurb and other outlets, it stands for everyone in the sport. Our actions impact more than just ourselves, they create a ripple effect throughout the entire mx community. Everyday we can make the choice to progress the sport in a positive way rather than get caught up in the mess that exists on a daily basis.
The trip was more than snapping some photos, sure we had a blast along the way and brought exposure to kids who have never been on vurb and have never even been interviewed, but it was much bigger than that. It really made me stop and take a breath. It’s not about how many views or shares a gallery or blog gets, or how many likes we can get on Instagram, it’s about the people and making the sport fun. It's too easy to get caught up in everything else, and some days we just have to remind ourselves what is important.
The Rippers, Kiana, and the Masterpools are just a handful of people who we met along the way that changed our attitudes without even knowing it. And this was only the beginning of the Good Times and Dirtbikes Tour. We’ve got another one in the works, and the details will be announced as soon as the time and places are finalized. I want to give one more big thank you to everyone we met along the way, whether or not you housed us you were part of an amazing journey. See y’all at the track!