I’ve been absent from the dirt bike scene for several years now, so Tuesday was not only an opportunity to take some photos of my younger brother Graeme, but a great chance for me to shake off the cobwebs and do some riding of my own!
The bikes are housed deep in the woods of Nevada City where my bro lives, so in order for him to meet me at Carnegie SVRA for a day of riding, he would have to load up my trusty old orange KTM MXC200, his Yamaha YZ250F, and all the gear himself.
The night before the ride he said to me on the phone, “Okay bro, I’ve got you a helmet, goggles, jersey, pants, boots, your bike, and fuel. You have gloves right?” I replied “Yup, I’ll bring gloves!” Perfect. Look at him filling my bike with fuel! It was like I had my own personal pit crew. Thanks Graeme! It was unreal driving a car to a dirt biking park expecting to ride all day, and only an hour from my house in Oakland at that.
Carnegie is widely renowned for its competition-level hill-climb routes, and has hosted a round of the NAHA Pro Hillclimb series for years.
The park also features forty two miles of trails and four motocross tracks on their twelve hundred acre property. Way more land than we could explore in one day, especially with how rusty I was after my several-year hiatus from the sport.
Graeme, as you can see in these photos, absolutely shreds on a motocross track. I rode a few laps myself for fun, but the same lap that I gathered the cojones to really hit the jumps was the same lap I over-shot one by about fifteen feet, and that was enough for me!
I was almost as excited to shoot as I was to ride. Of all the things I love and have taken photos of, dirt biking has somehow slipped through the cracks, so this would be my first legitimate chance to snap a light eater in this kind of environment. First I tried to replicate the dirt bike magazine shots I looked at so often as a child, and then tried to apply the style I’ve grown accustomed to from shooting cars.
A pan-shot taken at 1/100 of a second is kid-stuff when I shoot cars, but the constantly varying direction of movement on a dirt bike makes it almost impossible!
The only time speed and direction become predictable and smooth is when the bike is in the air, and then you have the arc to deal with. Difficult stuff!
I’m sure you readers are getting bored of hearing me talk about photography, so let me ease the subject matter back to bikes. Graeme has been using dirt bikes to train for his Professional Mountain Biking career for several years now. He misses out on pedaling but because dirt bikes are about seven times heavier than his race bicycles, it’s still a beneficial workout.
Something I definitely miss from my days of frequent riding are the spectacular views. Dirt bikes can cover a lot of ground really fast, so sometimes you don’t realize how quickly you end up on the peak of a mountain with views of trail-covered hills as far as you can see. It’s quite breathtaking, really.
In the previous photo Graeme was a tiny spot near the bottom-right of the frame. Literally half a minute later, he is right in front of me. I told you dirt bikes are fast!
I handed the camera off to Graeme for this shot just to prove I still have some riding moxy left in me. Having a wheelchair in my backyard has definitely helps keep my sense of balance sharp. I was riding wheelies all day!
Wearing Graeme’s backup jersey meant I got to look like a pro all day with my name on my back, which was a cool feeling. I absolutely cannot wait to get out and ride again. When was the last time you kick-started something?