It was a lifelong dream of mine to go to Loretta Lynn’s Ranch for the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship. When I was invited by Wes, Chase, and Brent here at Vurbmoto to attend this year, it was a very humbling feeling. A huge milestone in my journey in covering the sport. A podcast I started back in 2014 has given me the opportunity to gain the experience I needed to land my position with Vurbmoto. In my heart and in my mind, I put Loretta Lynn’s on as high a pedestal as you possibly could. And it blew that out of the water. Here are five takeaways from my rookie year at the Ranch.
Every Day is Saturday
For so many, Loretta Lynn’s is the ultimate motocross vacation. Surrounded by motocross culture and the people who live and breathe it. For the most part, every day is the same as the last except for some distinct weather patterns. Despite the high level of competition, being surrounded by people who truly cherish this event and all the festivities that come with the Loretta’s experience gives the feeling of motocross paradise day after day. Toss in the fact that we’re all camped out with trailers as far as the eye can see and it’s easy for every day to feel like Saturday. After all, Saturday is championship day, and just about every day is race at Loretta Lynn’s.
Every Day is Monday
You know the feeling. You went too hard over the weekend and you made some memories with your mates but it’s Monday morning and it’s time to get down to business. There is not rest for the wicked so get off your butt and grab some coffee because hot laps start at 7:30 a.m. whether you’re up and ready or not. This week comes but once a year so get out there, put on some sunscreen (or your umbrella) and buckle up for a day full of motos, content creation and hammering away at your article when the last checkered flag falls. It was like Groundhog Day of the very best kind. High strung Superminis being pushed to the line by mechanics or nervous parents with a young man or woman not far behind feeling the pressure. That’s business as usual at Loretta’s at its rinse, lather, repeat with a new moto up to the line every 30 minutes.
Everyone is a Badass on 2 Wheels
When you really think about the process required to qualify for Loretta Lynn’s the reality sets in that these are some of the baddest boys and girls around the world in their respective classes. From as far away as New Zealand and the Canadian wilderness, these athletes are more than stars wherever they call home. One racer even showed his cards when remarking that he had a bad start then quickly back peddling by saying “Well, I was third off the start”. That likely means that young man is very used to grabbing holeshots back home and is relatively unchallenged most motos. How that becomes evident on the track is in the body language of the entire class who aren’t just racing forward, 42 racers on the track and everyone is headed to the front like their life depends on it. None of the athletes at the Ranch are used to results in the double digits and that creates an intensity that’s simply unmatched by any other event.
It’s the Longest Week of Your Life
Have you ever watched a minute go by on a treadmill? Yeah, it’s like that. On Wednesday, you’re worn out, almost out of clean clothes and the sound of 125 Junior B/C (12-17) is buzzing in your ear’s morning, noon, and night. You’ve lost a pair of shoes and had no less than four “showers” in the creek which is refreshing but not the level of clean up needed to truly feel fresh. At Loretta’s whether you’re racing or covering the race as a media member, you have to pace yourself, grab shade when you can and hydrate like a maniac because when it’s not raining cats and dogs, the heat is punishing, and the humidity is like something I’ve never felt before. Keep in mind, this year wasn’t nearly as hot as previous years.
Loretta’s Leaves You Wanting
No matter how long that days feel. No matter how hot and humid it gets or how muddy the infield of the track gets, when you’re packing up, you’ll wish it wasn’t over. As soon as I got home, I started counting the days to when I might be able to roll back into Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. The pageantry, the tradition and the history that surrounds this event is what makes it great. Loretta’s is a proving ground for so many great champions in this sport because it being everyone together on one even playing field and let the best man or woman win. Taste defeat? You’ll back for redemption. Spray the champaign and you’ll be back because few feeling can match the feeling of winning at the ranch. Just ask Gavin Towers.
Above all, my biggest takeaway is that I got my hopes as high as they could be rolling into Loretta Lynn’s and my expectations were blown out of the water.
Can’t wait to go back.
Main image: Mike Vizer