Man, what to say about 26. If you’ve been following me on this adventure I call life over the last few years, you’d probably agree this past year has been one for the memory books. I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am for the opportunities and people that have helped make this past year one of, if not the most incredible year of my life.
Starting back in November of 2011, I had an amazing opportunity to attend my first ever press intro in Knoxville Tennessee with Kawasaki Motor Corporation. I was asked to ride and rate the all new Teryx 4 UTV for ATVsource.com. The experience was unreal and Kawasaki put on one heck of an intro. What’s more, I had the opportunity to meet and make several new friends among the ATV media. Being able to work with manufacturers and be considered somewhat of a “peer” to people who’s work I’ve been reading for years is an unreal blessing.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and in early December, with the help of a good friend Bryce Hudson, I was able to achieve a significant milestone by getting back to riding freestyle motocross. I can remember every detail of that day so well. I watched the guys ride for a while and when it came time to push the ramp up closer to the landing, I had an uneasiness in my gut. There were four or five guys helping smooth out the runway and level the ramp and to be honest, one of the only reasons I went ahead and jumped was that I would have felt really bad that all of them helped move so much dirt around only to have me back out.
By Gods grace the entire day couldn’t have gone better. I made two near perfect jumps and started throwing tricks on my third hit off the ramp. We went on to pull it back so I could have more time in the air. Even the dirt bike guys that were out there, many of whom I didn’t really know, seemed to understand the magnitude of this accomplishment and were clapping or giving me thumbs up as I continued to run through nearly my entire bag of tricks.
It was like having a burden lifted off of my shoulders that I had been holding on to for almost a year and half. I’ve since been able to ride a few more times and it has been nothing short of spectacular. Jumping is more fun to me than ever before because it’s a return to doing something that I love, strictly because I love it. Not because I’m training or practicing for a show.
Fast forward again to March and I entered a season of transition. I was let go from a job that I truly loved but not before God created a new, virtually seamless transition to a situation that would allow me even greater experiences than I could have imagined. A week prior to getting laid off, a friend in South Carolina had informed me that he was opening an athletic training center and asked if I would be interested in helping him run it. While my girlfriend and I had been praying for an opportunity to move closer and this seemed like a possibility, the pay was much less than I was making at the time and the job wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing.
Well the answer provided itself as I was let go a week later and within five days I was on a plane to check things out in SC. By April 1st I had packed my things, crossed the country and was setting up shop in Spartanburg South Carolina.
In the mix of all this starting a new business and relocating across the country, I received a rather unique invitation from a manufacturer to be a part of a rather extensive offroad video shoot they had planned.
Just days after relocating to South Carolina, I boarded a plane for Vegas and spent almost ten days riding ATV’s and side by sides for cameras and film crews. You can read all about that experience HERE and you might even catch the commercial we shot airing on TV right now.
Not long after returning from my second major offroad adventure with an ATV manufacturer, I received yet another call from a new media source (ATV.com) asking if I would be interested in doing another press intro, this time with Yamaha. Upon agreeing to the terms and promising to keep my experience a secret until press time, I found out I was going to be testing a new Sport ATV model in central Oregon at one of my all time favorite riding locations.
What’s more, it was happening the week before memorial weekend. It just so happens my family's longest standing tradition is to go riding at that very same riding area every memorial weekend. The folks at Yamaha were kind enough to allow me to extend my trip beyond the weekend and I was able to fly my girlfriend out to meet me so we could enjoy the weekend and I could share this experience with her that has been very important to me for over twenty years.
Following the Oregon trip, I was invited to yet another press intro, this time a little closer to home in Charlotte NC. Kymco USA was holding a press intro for their entire line up of ATV’s and side by sides. The fun part about this intro, I mean besides doing nothing but riding ATV’s and eating like a king, was that the intro was a four day event. Most intros involve two days of travel and one day of riding but because of the number of machines we were testing, Kymco provided us with an extra day of riding. As a nice touch they had arranged a meal at the speedway club of Charlotte Motor Speedway.
My next unexpected adventure and one of the most unique ones to date involved a new, top secret (at the time) side by side from Can-Am. I flew to Oregon to be a part of a photo and video shoot for the new Can-Am Maverick. I haven’t yet written about my experience in full but I did provide a first impressions review for ATV.com and will write about both of my Maverick experiences in the near future. Suffice to say, it raised the bar and next to hitting a freestyle ramp, parts of it were the most intense, adrenaline filled experiences I’ve ever had. This video is the outcome of that week.
Outside of the press events and working with different manufacturers, Kelsey and I got to spend an amazing week in Oregon hanging with friends at Dunefest and spending time with family in Dufur. It was surreal to attend Dunefest for the fourth time in five years and to think about all that has gone on in the last few years from my involvement in freestyle to meeting and working with people that I looked up to for so long like the Moore brothers and so many others. You can read about our week at Dunefest HERE.
Currently I’m working my last week at the training center in South Carolina as I finalize plans to head west for a brief period of time to begin yet another adventure. I have MUCH to say about that and I hope it is well received. Being a part of the ATV and offroad community in such a big way over the last few years, specifically this past year, has been nothing short of a dream come true.
I’m sure I sound like a broken record but I am incredibly grateful for all of the relationships I’ve made and experiences I’ve had and I give God all the credit. I truly do not think the details of all the events, experiences and opportunities that I’ve had could have “just happened” on their own. 26 was a year I’ll never forget and I hope the ones that follow prove to be just as memorable.
Thanks for reading and thanks for being a part of the adventure!