This year is the second time we've done the road trip throughout the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship series, going from California, to New York, and all the points in between. Of course, the primary objective is covering the events, but we also do some visits in between races, like to Levi Kilbarger's place in Ohio, Cycra, Allsport Dynamics, and a few other stops that we'll highlight soon. Then there's the day-to-day road sights, and other fun stuff. Here's another installment of what happens between races. We didn't want to cover exactly the same routes as last summer, and had a few other spots we wanted to visit. We also learned that sometimes the schedule makes flying more attractive...especially when fuel prices have made a big jump updward, like this year. Last season we opted out of going from Millville to Washougal and back, and this time we also skipped the haul from Budds Creek to Thunder Valley, and back to Red Bud.
The majority of these photos were shot with my iPhone, which is my point-and-shoot when I don't want to drag the big camera along. It go upgraded somewhere during the summer from the 3GS model to the 4, and the newer one does shoot much better photos.
Last summer was all about picking up the trailer and just going, and basically buying things that were needed along the way. This time around, there was room for a little more fine-tuning, like adding trailer mirrors, which makes life much nicer while towing, and especially while backing up. This set is an XLR Dual Head Ratchet Series from Prime Products. They go on pretty easily, come off even faster, but watch that the attachment pieces don't scatter when you do take them off. We lost a strap from the right side, though having one a mirror on the left only worked fine, allowing a side view of the trailer, and traffic behind it. These came from Camping World.
I always intend to take more photos on the drive from California to Texas, but since it's sort of a cross-country sprint, that always seems to never happen. I did think this one was pretty funny, though. That's how I knew I'd made it from New Mexico into El Paso.
Rather than shower in the trailer, I have a 24 Hour Fitness membership, which also has the added bonus of making it sort of mandatory to also go in and get in a workout. That works out pretty cool, since the hot weather makes ice cream all the more tempting. This 24 Hour location in Austin also featured a Lance Armstrong theme. An LA Fitness membership was added later in the summer to help fill in gaps in the 24 Hour locations.
While in Austin, we took a stroll downtown to check out some of the clubs there. While it was a Wednesday night and a bit on the slow side, it was fun to walk along the streets and check out the vibe from the various places. Most have windows or doors that open up near the stage, and you can walk almost up to where the band members are playing to see what they're up to.
Music seemed to be sort of an unofficial theme to the early part of this summer's action.
Yeah, the seat on this one was down by the transmission. It was low...really low.
As you can see, the themes of the various clubs (and there are a ton of them) vary wildly.
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While near Dallas, we visited the guys from N-Fab
, who helped out with a much-needed visual and performance upgrade on our Toyota Tacoma tow rig.
Continuing the drive east towards High Point, we went through Memphis. The intent was to check out Beale Street (home to a ton of blues clubs), but on the way there, we stumbled upon the legendary Sun Studios
, where artists like Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash recorded.
There was a really cool soda fountain next door, but it was closed when we were there. Both of these will be on our list to revisit...during business hours.
If you like the blues, Beale Street is a must-see, with spots like BB King's Blue Club (where we also stopped in for dinner), the Rum-Boogie Cafe, and a ton of other clubs. The one image that I didn't understand was on a window, and it featured Elvis, who had angel wings, and was playing guitar while straddling a Harley with flaming wheels.
If you're an iPhone user, and like monkeying with photos, PS Express (basically a lite editing program) is pretty much a given. But one extra one that I do like is one called TiltShiftGen, which makes it pretty easy to get some cool selecting bluring options, like you see below.
Checking in at the box van Austin Howell and his dad were using to travel around the country while at Blue Diamond MX.
The Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship really is a traveling road show, and these are just a few of the semis used to haul equipment from race to race.
One of our favorite parts of traveling the country are the characters you run into, whether it's Jonathan Beasley, who got married at Southwick; or the waitress in a southside Chicago pizza place that had been working there for 45 years and asked if we wanted some "Michigan on the rocks" (water).
After the Budds Creek race, we stopped in Washington, D.C. and toured around the city via mountain bike. Some of the momuments are pretty far-flung, so making it from place to place would be tough on the feet, and the bike worked well. Here's the Jefferson Memorial, both interior and exterior.
Part of the WWII Memorial.
The reflecting pool was closed and rather dismal looking.
No one can accuse the t-shirt vendors in Washington of being classy.
Washington Monument. Cool end to another day of sightseeing.
We spotted this Dunlop truck on the road (no relation to any of the races we'd hit) this summer on the road in Ohio.
Chad mulling things over at Red Bud.
Yeah, the pits in Red Bud were just kind of like this. Sandals are good for driving, and working your way through the pits (particularly after bad weather). This pair died about three races later. Of course, they'd just hit perfectly-broken-in status. They got replaced by a pair of Oakley sandals.
Another side trip was to Sun Valley, ID, to visit the Scott Sports
gang. It's a beautiful area, and well worth visiting on your own if you get the chance. While there we got to try a little bit of skeet shooting, before checking out some of their 2012 gear.
After returning to Chicago, it was time to head to Millville. But we detoured to Milwaukee, for a planned stop. This was kind of a cool summertime photo, with the sunset, and crowds lining up for frozen custard after a hot day. Man, it was a scorcher in the Midwest this summer.
The destination in mind for the next day? The Harley-Davidson museum in Milwaukee. It's well worth a stop to check out. Actually, like music ended up being the theme for the first half of the trip, for some reason V-twins became an informal theme during the second half.
Pedals? That shouldn't be too shocking. They actually built some bicycles as well. But how cool would it be to cruise around on one of these?
As you might expect, there wasn't a whole lot of moto stuff on hand, though the Harleys did get plenty dirty, with flattrack and hillclimb displays. There were quite a few military bikes on display as well, and some early examples of guys catching air on them on dirt. Moto roots stuff for sure. This lunchbox was a nice touch, though.
This board track racer display was really cool. They had a similar one on the other end (with the bikes mounted vertically) for the hillclimbers.
Okay, here's one for the two-stroke fans...not that you could tell from the exhaust. It featured Goodyear Grasshopper tires, an optional hunting/fishing kit, and "Glide-Ride" suspension.
Of course the HD museum wouldn't be complete without a nod to Evel Knievel. Some of the items included a ticket to the Snake River Canyon jump attempt (which also got you into the motocross races held in conjunction with the jump) and concept art for his rocket...er, Skycycle.
There weren't any examples of their motocross bikes that we could find, but there was this '76 SX-250 that Larry Roseler and Bruce Ogilvie rode to the win in the Baja 500.
This was a pretty sweet replica of Peter Fonda's bike in Easy Rider.
Our stop was just before the premiere of the Captain America movie, and there were several bikes like the one used in the movie on display.
Hmm...the best-handling Harley ever?
Across from the main museum, they had a special Project X exhibit, and a couple of the items that caught our eyes included this one, where someone had repurposed a Harley engine and some components to built a mine car.
This one? It was modded to use as an ice saw on frozen lakes. All in all, the Harley-Davidson museum
is definitely worth a look. Adult tickets are $16 each.
One of the things we learned during the first summer was that sometimes it's a bit less expensive and time-consuming to fly, rather than do the full tour. Examples would include the Budds Creek to Thunder Valley and then back to Red Bud, and Millville to Washougal, and back to Unadilla. So this year we opted out of a couple of the longer drives. While in Oregon, we stopped by Champion Tool Storage
. On the way to their headquarters, which is south of Hood River, we stopped by the Multnomah Falls, east of Portland. What a beautiful spot.
The only bad part of that trip? Before leaving the truck and trailer in Chicago, I emptied the fridge, and put some food (including some chicken breasts and lunch meat) into a bag in the bed of the truck. Unfortunately, it was on the tram to the airport terminal when I remembered that it hadn't made it to the trash can. By the time I got back to Chicago (which was experiencing record heat), the scent was an added security measure.
Like last summer, my son, Gabriel, came out and joined me for part of the time. He's 15 now, an awesome travel partner, and we always have a blast together. Last year he was on the road for almost three solid months. This time he trimmed the schedule back to one month. Next year we'll see.
Lollapalooza has pretty much turned into an annual stop for us. At this point in the afternoon on the final day, this was Flogging Molly. Among the other bands we saw were Cage the Elephant, Damien Marley and Nas, the Foo Fighter (for me), and Deadmau5 (for him). It poured rain during Cage the Elephant, and also during the Foo Fighters and Deadmau5. While it didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the fans, Grant Park in Chicago looked (and smelled) like a cow pasture afterwards.
One of the stops that Gabriel wanted to make was the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, OH. Among the goodies in there were everything from the first examples of flight, all the way up to the latest unmanned drones. Good stuff, particularly if you're into fast planes and high-tech.
After Dayton, we motored up to New York for Unadilla. This plate on the back of one of the AMA crew member's camper was particularly memorable.
Between Unadilla and Southwick we had the chance to visit New York City, and did enough walking around that we had blisters. One afternoon we ventured through several neighborhoods, made a stop to B&H Photo (very droolworthy if you're a photographer), up into Central Park, through Rockefeller Plaza, and into Times Square.
The next day we went back for more, and checked out the Statue of Liberty...
We missed the chance to jump on board the aircraft carrier Intrepid by a few minutes. There are a bunch of different aircraft from a wide timespan. The SR71 is a nice touch.
Yep, NYC has a vibe all its own.
On the way back from he city, we stumbled across the O.C.C. headquarters, and made plans to visit the next day.
There were a fair amount of really trick bikes, and every kind of Paul Sr. merchandise you wanted. T-shirts, stuffed dolls, bobbleheads, you name it.
Probably the coolest area there was for the NYFD tribute bike.
It's always fun to stumble across some moto-related items in random spots, like this mall.
In case you have any illusions about the proportions of ingredients that go into ice cream, check out the size of the sugar tank at the Ben&Jerry's factory in Vermont. That's a lot of sugar.
See the green pin? That's Albany, NY, a couple hours east of Southwick, where we hid out the day after the National. Along with several other RV travelers,
I found a sheltered spot behind a theater. The trailer failed at being 100 percent waterproof (we found a couple leaks), but otherwise we came through the wind and wet weather unscathed.
Here's an exterior view of the Eleven10 Mods shop a couple nights before Steel City, as the crew was burning the midnight oil to get ready.
Here's a panoramic view of the inside of the trailer/office/apartment for the summer. The RC body? That was being prepped for off-season fun.
On the sprint back to So. Cal., I did manage to pull off the freeway long enough to get this shot of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. I made it back to So. Cal. on the Wednesday afternoon following Steel City. The drivers of the race team rigs? Most of them were working in pairs, and some made it back on Monday night following the race.
It's fun to try and catch glimpses of the old Route 66 style, like this hotel in New Mexico.
That's it for another summer. Hope you guys enjoyed following along.
We've got an amazing and very diverse country. If you get a chance to do the tour, I'd highly recommend it...it's the adventure of a lifetime.