The Good Old Days Are Now

Taking it Back to Simpler Times

Words by Ben Giese | Photos by Aaron Brimhall

Growing up in a motocross family was a childhood unlike any other. We spent our weekends sitting in the dirt and launching our bodies through the air to see if we could get around the racetrack faster than our friends. It’s kind of weird when you think about it like that. Sure, there was the occasional blood and broken bones, but most of the time those weekends were filled with nothing but laughs and smiles. Saturday night’s pre-race campfires were a gathering of friends old and new. I think of them as our chosen family — a group of crazy humans who found pleasure living the same strange life as we did. We lived off Gatorade and brown-bag sandwiches, and would come home from the races caked in sweat and dirt — sunburnt and exhausted in the best way. Those endless and unforgettable weekends brought us all closer together, and I feel fortunate that we all got to share that period of life doing something we love.

Eventually, though, we all grew older, and the passage of time led us all on our individual journeys to adulthood. Some of us moved away for school or work, and some of us don’t even ride anymore. Reality set in for all of us, and the responsibilities of adulthood transformed those gasoline-fueled weekends with friends and family into nothing but a fond memory.

Since those glory days have passed, I’ve spent a decade pursuing my career, chasing the dream of paying rent by capitalizing on my love for motorcycles. It’s been great to stay involved in the motorcycle industry after my racing years were over and to see things come full circle like they have. But as each year passes and META continues to grow, I’ve found that I’m spending less and less time behind a set of handlebars, and more and more time behind a computer screen. Lately it has gotten to a point of frustration, and I’m realizing that chasing this “dream” means nothing if I don’t have time to stop and enjoy it once in a while. 

With that realization, I called up my dad and brother to plan out a much-needed weekend getaway in the Utah desert. My dad also works a demanding and stressful job, and my brother Mike was in the midst of a job change and planning his move to Washington. I think we each needed this trip in our own way, and it might be our last chance to get together and do something like this for a while. I was really looking forward to getting off-grid, with no cell service and no distractions to relive those good old days.

Dad and I woke up at 5 a.m., loaded the Husqvarna FX 350 and FC 450 into our Toyota Tundra, brewed some coffee and hit the road well before the sun came up.  The drive from Denver to our destination is about 7 hours, so we had plenty of time to catch up and tell stories. Road trips are always fun, but this one was extra special. It reminded me of the dozens of trips we took as a family driving back and forth across the country to one motocross race or another. I think those experiences as kids really instilled a love for travel and a sense of wanderlust in Mike and me. 

Mike lived in Park City, Utah, at the time, so he would just meet up with us at a roadside destination in the middle of nowhere, and we would caravan out to the riding spot. My dad jumped in the car with Mike for the remainder of the drive, and I would occasionally look in the rearview mirror to see him hanging out the window with his camera snapping photos. Ever since I can remember, he’s had a camera in his hand documenting our adventures. I chuckled to myself and thought “some things never change.” 

As we pulled into our destination just outside of Hanksville, Utah, the stoke was at an all-time high.  No matter how many times I’ve been here, the size and beauty of this landscape always takes my breath away. “Swingarm City” — more commonly referred to as “Caineville” by old-school riders — is a legendary riding spot. I first came here in 2003 on a YZ85, and have been watching VHS tapes of the pros riding out here since the ’90s. Towering rock faces and canyons surround miles of steep ridgelines and valleys. This place is humbling and has a way of making you feel small. The massive moto-playground features endless jumps, berms, hill climbs and everything in between. The only limit to possibilities out here is your imagination.

Mike and I each individually hadn’t ridden dirt bikes in over a year, and we hadn’t ridden together in several years. It’s a shame, really, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured we would be a bit rusty, and it might take some time to get back into the flow of riding together. But as soon as we geared up and started the bikes, it was like we never had skipped a beat. We followed each other up massive hills, balancing across steep ridgelines and floating side by side over jumps. The decades we’ve spent riding together quickly became obvious. 

We spent the next 8 hours or so ripping around and having as much fun as ever, stopping only occasionally to fill up on gas and drink some water. The afternoon flew by as Mike and I blasted berms into the sunset. We returned to camp to find my dad with a fire blazing and a cast-iron skillet cooking up some jambalaya. Mike and I took off our gear, and we all sat around the fire eating and telling stories, reflecting on a day we will never forget.

My blistered hands are the trademarks of a day well spent. And much like our childhood weekends at the races, the memories made here this weekend will live within each of us forever. This trip has been a reminder to slow down and enjoy the little things. It makes me smile to know those days are not gone. The good old days are now.