Jason and I have been working like crazy people. The only time we seem to spend together is when one brings the other a meal at the hotel. While we don’t mind working hard, we do mind that we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like. When our dirt bike friends from Ohio mentioned that they were going to Florida to ride for 10 days in March, it sounded like a dream. I could really use some sunshine and could really push myself on the outdoor tracks, I thought. Knowing I wouldn’t have my muscles tense up in the cold was enough to convince me. Jason was in from the get go, but of course, budgeting was our biggest problem. I don’t want to say we live paycheck-to-paycheck because that would be a lie. We definitely live deposit-to-deposit but we never go without. lol. After carefully crunching the numbers, and a little convincing from our friends, our first moto trip was planned; it’s a dream come true!
Our next few problems were solved as soon as my dad moved in. He has a sprinter, which would now become our moto van. We planned to sleep in there, cuddled up next to the bikes. This also solved the problem about what to do with the dog. She loves other animals and dad has a 4 pound
squirrel dog that she can play with while dad watches them. While we would love to go the whole ten days, we knew we couldn’t take that much time off work so we planned for a 4 day trip.
I have always been a planner. I loved using the planners they gave us in middle school and started buying girly ones in high school. I still use a planner everyday because I like knowing what I have going on. I started working on a budget and an itinerary as soon as we got approved for the time off.
Our budget looked like this:
Gas (and tolls)- $350
Rider Fees – $210
RV Grounds (without hookups in our moto van) – $FREE
Food – $300
Total: $1,000 (I would rather have a little more than what we need just in case)
The next part was figuring out how we would fit everything we need. 2 dirt bikes, 2 air mattresses (and don’t forget the pump!), 2 dogs, 3 people (in a van with 2 seats), a cooler, dirt bikes supplies, all our gear, 3 duffel bags, and a bunch of pillows and blankets doesn’t leave much space. Luckily for our crew, I am a master of tetris: adulting style. I can pack a dishwasher like you wouldn’t believe.
We started by turning the sprinter into a full-on moto van in about 48 hours!
The boys started by removing the partition from its original location right behind the seats. I asked that we keep the partition after researching how others DIY’d their own moto vans. The partition would keep anything behind it from flying forward in case of sudden braking, or God forbid, an accident. We moved it about 7feet back so a twin mattress would fit behind the drivers head up to the partition.
From the partition forward, we opted for a lofted day bed. It was like a couch during the day and a twin size bed at night. I requested it be high enough to easily fit the dog kennel underneath. I also requested that they put in a counter from the bed to the other wall along the partition so we could meal prep there during the day and use as a night stand whenever.
From the partition to the back doors, we made that the “garage”. The two bikes are parallel (with room between them) and then we added in crates, a tent, an air mattress, and a tool box. Jason also built a “hat rack” across the top because he has to travel in style.
I really focused on the front of the moto van as this is where we will spend a majority of our time and let Jason focus on the back.
We finally left Berne on March 8th right when I got off work. The boys had the moto van packed and running. The plan was to meet our friends in Wythesville, Virginia and stay the night and see what the riding conditions looked like the next day. If they were good, we would ride in the Carolinas or pack it up and drive on down to the mother ship: Jacksonville, Florida.
We didn’t leave Indiana until 6pm which meant we didn’t get to Wytheville, Virginia’s Flying J (amazing gas prices here by the way) until almost 2am. Dad volunteered to sleep in the passenger seat and Jason and I crammed together on the twin mattress. We were sure we would fall off in the night. Luckily, 7:30am rolled around quick enough we made it through the night without any falls and were back on the road by 8am!
We passed our friends about 15 minutes and wandered through the mountains. It was so neat to see how high up we were and I’m glad I had bought gum because it really helped when my ears kept popping! The craziest thing I noticed in the mountains were the truck ramps for semis whose brakes weren’t working and had to use a hill to stop and keep them from barreling down the mountain. Luckily, we didn’t see any trucks who had to use it!
When we got into the Carolinas and Georgia, I wanted to stop at every fresh fruit stand we passed and take the time to listen to their southern accents but we were anxious to get to Waldo Motorsports near Jacksonville so we kept going. We played a lot of Catchphrase on the way. We ate out way more during the weekend then I would like to admit… but on a trip like this, it was fun to try new places.
It was already dark when we pulled into Waldo and our friends flagged us down with their flashlight. We parked, set up the tent (in which I nearly froze to death by the way), and got in a lot of sleep before our busy weekend started.
The First Moto
I woke up excited, but nervous as hell (and still frozen from sleeping in the tent). Jason, bless his heart, had put the air mattress in the tent but because the tent wasn’t very big, the dew got all over the blankets and the air mattress sank to the ground in the middle of the night. I got up bright and early to go the the showers and warm up. After breakfast and a shower, reality set in. It was ride day!
I had never ridden on a sand track and had no idea what to expect. Jason tried to prepare me by telling me to gas it wide open all through the track (yeah, right) and Kelly mentioned that at least it wouldn’t hurt going down because the sand was soft. Taylor told me to have a good attitude and Allan said to just try my best. Dad took me out on the track while they watered it and we checked it out for ourselves. You could see the ruts were up past the pegs of the bike where the tractors hadn’t fixed them yet. Some of the jumps were twice as tall as me. Dad told me I could try out the sand on the tot lot if I wanted to but I knew if I didn’t do the big track right away, I wouldn’t do it at all. We headed back to our pit area and geared up.
My breathing was shallow and my hands were shaking but I made it a lap before I stalled the bike. Luckily, there were only like 3 other bikes at the track and our two groups pretty much took turns using the track which made it a lot easier for me to breathe knowing there weren’t people coming up behind me who didn’t know how slow I was and roosting me as they went by. I’m so thankful for my moto family who would stop to check and make sure I was okay if I fell or that my bike started again after stalling out. If I needed them, they could pick the bike up or start it when my leg was tired of kicking. The sand was definitely a learning experience but I think I improved and that was my goal. I also landed my first single jump. It wasn’t very pretty and I wrecked doing it the next time around but I’m still marking it as a win because it was improvement.
Between the rides we hung out, ate snacks, listened to music, and gave each other compliments and advice. After our bodies were sore and I was too tired to keep my bars straight, I knew I was done for the night. We loaded everything up before it got dark and then make hamburgers and hotdogs to eat while we watched Supercross in the camper.
The Second Moto
That night, I got to sleep in the camper with our friends so I didn’t freeze! In fact, with two giant labradoodles laying on me, I was sweating! The next morning we showered, ate breakfast, and headed over to PAX TRAX MX. I think it was a lot closer to Daytona (where Supercross was held the night before) which explained why there were sooooo many people there. Kelly had mentioned that there was another, more intermediate track, where I could ride if I didn’t want to do the big track.
We unloaded, realized we need more ice, and sent dad with the sprinter to the store. Jason worked on his bike and I watched people ride over some massive jumps. I also took pictures of Kelly and Taylor riding. When dad got back, I watched Jason out on the big track. There was a long tabletop that he really wanted to clear but just couldn’t get up the nerve. After watching him struggle, I realized I had to ride now or never. I pushed away the fear, put on my gear, and got on the intermediate track hurriedly before I could change my mind.
This track wasn’t very big so it didn’t take me long to memorize what was coming up next but my first lap was pretty sloppy. My body was sore and protesting and the higher temps were not on my side. I pushed through it and forced myself to do two more laps. After that, I had to whip my helmet off as soon as I got into our pit areas because I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Most of that was fear, some of that was the heat. Jason talked me off the ledge and said he would go with me the next time I went out. I wouldn’t have ridden again that day if he was not there to encourage and support me. I hope everyone has someone like this to push them outside their comfort zone and lean on in time of need.
I went out 3 more times and I could tell that my arms were fatigued the more I rode and I couldn’t hold on to the bars like I wanted which resulted in more falls (especially in the corners). I did hit a few small jumps but without clearing any of the small tabletops. After we were done riding for the day, Jason and I experienced an outdoor shower with only cold water. When everyone was cleaned up, we drove to Corky Bells for dinner and I tried alligator, soft shell crab, calamari, scallops, and several different kinds of fish. Dad tried grits with cheese because we kept seeing it at every place we stopped. Turns out its like flavorless oatmeal with melted cheese on top – a southern thing – and he was not a fan.
From the restaurant, we went our separate ways: they headed to WW MX Ranch and we went to St. Augustine Beach.