Going Big on the Road in the Pacific Northwest
The penultimate weekend of shows for the 2017 North America tour was, in a word, amazing, as we rolled into the Pacific Northwest to the open arms of fans who clearly just get it. Our first stop of the weekend was Bend, a city in Central Oregon that’s known for its outdoor-sports offerings, its local craft beer, and probably other things too. Bend rivals Utah in terms of having the perfect climate and terrain for basically every action sport an adrenaline seeker could want. It recently wooed Nitro veteran Dusty Wygle away from California, and it will woo you too if you give it a chance.
Travis Pastrana got the fans and the Crew fired up, and the show was awesome, despite some sketchy field conditions that had the ramps sitting uneven on the ground. As always, the Crew pushed through and sent it for pumped-up fans, who never would have guessed the riders were dealing with that significant variable. And there were highlights! Erik Roner’s son Oskar Roner jumped his dirtbike off a small wooden ramp during the athlete intros, earning him a huge cheer as well as the MVC at the end of the night. Oskar is only 7, but he’s a Roner, enough said. Annika Roner, his mom, had to get him to stop hitting the jump during practice because he was having so much fun. Erik is sorely missed, and the tribute to him at the beginning of the show was especially poignant in Bend. It’s awesome to see his family out at Nitro shows and continuing to spread the word to Live Like Roner.
It was an inspirational start to a great night. The FMX side was on point, with Travis leading the charge. Local MTB rider Carson Storch threw down with the Giganta boys, and Dusty went big for his new hometown crowd. A standout moment was BMX legend James Foster absolutely nailing his triple backflip. Foster had taken some time off from triples in Nitro shows, but he’s been back at it for several stops and has clearly hit his stride. Check it out:
Just before the show started in Bend, word came down that the tour bus that was supposed to take us to Seattle at 7 a.m. the next morning was not going to do that. Senior Athlete Manager Ricky Melnik, who runs the show behind the scenes as well as during the performances, worked his magic and got us hooked up with a couple vans to get the athletes and this Nitro Writer to Seattle in time for the Saturday-night show. (The backstage crew who sets up and breaks down the ramps was scheduled to leave immediately after tearing down in Bend. These guys are the hardest workers with a tough tour schedule, and the riders’ lives literally depend on what they do. We’re going to have a feature on them very soon to get deeper into their story.) With Chris Haffey driving one van and Cam Sinclair driving the other, one has to assume we made much better time en route to Seattle than we would have with Joe Schmo from The Pretty Good Tour Bus Company at the wheel.
We rolled out of Bend around 8 a.m., making our way through the high desert, past scrubby mesas, and up into the pine forests as we climbed toward Mt. Hood and the Oregon-Washington border. This seemed like a good place to practice describing scenery. Let me know how I did with hashtag #scrubbymesas. We made great time and pulled up to the venue at around 2:30 p.m. — well before practice was set to start. And what a venue. Workers broke ground on Safeco Field just over 20 years ago, and this is a stadium that has stood the test of time. The design of the retractable roof creates an almost steampunk vibe, and the grass is so pristine you almost don’t want to walk on it. Or you want to roll around in it, depending on what type of person you are. Since the day the first baseball game was played there, FMX legend and Pacific Northwest native Beau Bamburg had been dreaming of setting foot on the Mariners’ home field. At that time he never could have guessed it would actually happen, or that he would also become the first person to ever jump a dirtbike there:
I still can't believe they let all us idiots in this place. Been dreaming of walking on this field for 20 years. Finally made it. Not exactly the way I pictured it back then but still stoked to be the first guy to jump a dirt bike at Safeco field. @mariners I'm still available if you guys need a DH⚾️. #NitroCircus @techonedesigns @motostuff_com @evssports @protaperusa @bell_powersports @ogio_powersports @fcsuspension @deftfamily @xbrandgoggles @worksconnection @az_fmx_works @alpinestars @ridedunlop @rekluse_motorsports @evansacres966 @mariners
Not to take anything away from the scrappy venues we get to perform in on these regional tours — we’re pumped to throw down anywhere — but there’s something about walking into a giant, legit stadium that gets the blood pumping and the adrenaline going even before the first practice jumps. The energy in a venue like that is electric by default, and it was obvious from the moment we set our dusty gear down in the plushly appointed visiting team locker room that this show was going to be a show for the history books.
We’ll just cut right to the chase. Everyone absolutely killed it. The combination of the venue, the energy of the crowd, and the end of the tour in sight spurred the guys on. FMX was on point, contraptions were gnarly as usual, and the BMX Big Air segment was the best of the tour. Brandon Schmidt and Ryan Williams combined for four World Firsts on the night. Schmidty’s was a beautiful BMX double backflip X-up to X-up back:
R-Willy brought the heat with three WFs: one on BMX and two on scooter. On BMX he stuck a 720 frontflip no-hander. And on scoot he landed a cashroll windshield wiper and a cashroll bri flip. He documented all three of his new tricks plus all the other awesomeness that went down in his latest vlog:
Overall, the shows leading up to the finish of this tour have been beyond epic. The North America tour is in the books (we’ll have more highlights from the last two shows coming soon), and we’re looking ahead to several shows overseas to close out the year. In the meantime, here’s a bunch of shots to hold you over:
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