An integral part of being a dirt biker is the epic road trip. Think about it! So many amazing days of riding have come from a road trip of one type or another. Whether is heading to a race, getting out of the cold, or just seeing new terrain, we all love road trips and it was time to share one with my boys!
A few weeks ago I heard that Redbull Straight Rhythm was going to have a 2 stroke class and that the likes of Ryan Villapoto were going to race it. That news planted a seed in my soul. As time passed that seed grew into an idea and that idea became a desire which flourished into a need. I asked my amazing wife if I could take the boys to California on a whim and watch the race. And of course we would need to take bikes and ride while we were there. We would need to miss school and work on a Friday and a Monday. She reminded me that only 2 weeks after that we would be traveling to the Oklahoma Gold Rush and the boys would miss 4 days of school for that. "We will probably get a letter from the school" she said. I looked deep into her eyes and asked if she was ok with that and the response came back "Sure." I do have the greatest wife a guy could ask for. IT WAS ON!!
I let the boys know what we were up to and they were stoked. Villapoto is one of their hero's and I have brainwashed them to believe that 2 strokes are gifts from God that make the most beautiful music known to man so we were all amped.
4:30 am Friday morning came and all 3 Spradling boys were up and at them. A quick cup of coffee and away we went! The moto van was loaded with all we needed. Dirt bikes, gear, some clothes, swim suits, toothbrushes and a gas can full of pre-mix!
While L.A. and the race were the end goal, our first target was In-N-Out burger in St. George! We covered that distance by 11:30 am with no issues and thankfully no visits from any friendly law enforcement officers. After a quick bite we were West bound again.
This time we weren't stopping for anything until B&B Cycles in Victorville to see our buddy Steve and stretch our legs. We hit the high desert town at about 3:30 and stopped to talk to Steve for a while. It is amazing how wonderful the moto community is. Stever Harper is a friend of friends on Facebook and we have only seen each other twice in person. But when we walked into the shop we were greeted by hugs and high fives! It is so nice to have brothers in moto all over the country.
Just a few miles left to get to our hotel in San Dimas, excellent!! (Yes that is a Bill and Teds reference). Driving into the L.A. area is always an adventure and luckily for us we were on the right side of the median for traffic. Everyone was headed out of town at the end of the week so our lanes were clear. On the way down the boys and I decided that we would head over to see Glen Helen Raceway. None of us had seen the hallowed ground so we figured we would just swing by and take a pic. As we wound down the road to the track we started noticing trucks with bikes leaving the track. And when we got to the gates they were open and there were lots of vehicles inside. I had checked before we left and there wasn't any practice scheduled for the days we would be there so all of this was a bit odd. We rolled right through the gates and up to the ticket booth. No one there?! I scanned the area and saw a banner that said something about a private ride day. Huh? "Boys, you wanna ride Glen Helen?" "Yeah dad!" "Ok, lets unload and hustle!"
We found a spot in the pits, unloaded and geared up. There were only a few people out riding but tons of vehicles. We headed to the track and started putting in some laps. It was eerily quiet except for us. After about a half hour there was NO ONE out riding and I waved the boys off. "Lets boogie kids, I'm not sure we are supposed to be here and I don't want to get yelled at" "Alright dad!" Everyone was off the track and in the big building in the pits and someone was on a PA system talking. We loaded up and geared down just as fast as we had gotten ready and we were out of there! "Boys, we just poached Glen Helen!" "Cool dad!"
We rolled into town, grabbed some food and checked into our Red Roof Inn. We had just enough time for our traditional bed jumping and a quick dip in the pool before getting some much needed sleep.
7 am came early but the draw of the Pacific Ocean propelled us out of bed and towards Huntington Beach. If there is one thing my children love, its swimming and swimming in the ocean is the absolute TOP!! We drove right down to the beach and got a great parking spot. Keeping the boys with me while I paid for parking was like trying to hold back the wind! The sun and waves were screaming to them and they MUST GO!!
We ended up spending 3 hours on the beach that morning and despite the frigid water (everyone surfing had wet suits on) Thomas and Ewan were in the water for 2.9999 hours of that. It was a beautiful day and there was a surf contest going on so we got to see some surfers as well as getting pummeled by the Pacific.
Time to head to the LA county fair grounds for Redbull Straight Rhythm! We avoided heavy traffic again and made it to the race easily. Parking was easy and we strolled right in with plenty of time to check out the pits and watch practice. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of formality of the pit area. Normally you go to a big race and you can barely walk through the pits, the racers are all hidden away from sight and you have to wait in lines to get autographs. This was completely different. Even Villapoto was just in a van with an EZ-up. We got to hang out and talk with anyone we wanted to. I even got to meet and talk to my hero Mike Brown.
After hanging out in the pits and checking out all of the vendors we headed up into the grand stands to claim our real estate for the race. Some of the racers came out early to do interviews and it was at this moment that Thomas and Ewan became massive fans of Ronnie Mac. Ronnie was there to race the 2 stroke class on his 98 CR250 and in classic Mac style he launched his bike off one of the jumps and himself into my kids hearts. Hey LOVED him. I was just cracking up. Of all the guys to love?
The Redbull sky divers dropped in carrying the American flag to a STANDING audience, singing the national anthem. It was so nice to see that our sport is still respectful and patriotic. I would be lying if I said that I didn't tear up a bit. Then it was ON. The 2 stroke class raced first and the sound of factory tuned oil burners echoed through the crowd! It was magical! I won't go into the details of the race because you can YouTube that but I can say that it was AWESOME and my boys loved it which is the point!
A good night's sleep prepared us for a trip to the Milestone MX track the next morning. My kids are huge fans of track riding and this was going to be radical! We don't have tracks like they do in California... Period! We navigated our way through the industrial area outside of Riverside/San Bernadino and found the Moto haven that is Milestone. We unloaded, warmed the bikes up and headed to the entry level track. It was PERFECT. Easy layout, mellow jumps and not a ton of people. Thomas and Ewan were having fun and getting faster every lap. After a while I decided to head over to the Vet track and was stoked to find it just a bigger version of the entry level one. Nothing to big, nothing dangerous and prepped perfectly. I can see why people love motocross when you have a track like that to ride!
We all burned more than a tank of gas and had perma-grins plastered on our faces. After we filled our space ship (van) back up with gas it was time to head back East. The goal for the day was St. George and after our third In-N-Out stop of the trip we hammered down and got the work done. We hit St. George at about 8:30pm and promptly got into our motel pool! Pizza, TV then bed! We slept in a bit to recover from all of the fun and then loaded up for the final push.
The trip back was easy and uneventful. Like every vacation I began to feel the pangs of sadness roll in, the closer we got to home. I hate finishing such a good time. I just want them to last forever and I really struggle with my emotions as vacations come to a close. Fortunately I am old enough to recognize what is happening and stop it before I get really sad. I remind myself that it is all the hard work and grind that makes times like these so special. Also, as we pulled back into Montrose I was reminded that I live in the dead middle of most peoples dreams. Life is SOOOO Good!
Here are the stats of the trip:
4 days: Almost 2000 miles of driving: 3 In-N-Out stops: 3 Hours in Pacific Ocean: Redbull Straight Rhythm: 2 trips to swimming pools: A day on a REAL motocross track: Memories with my sons that will last FOREVER!