Dirt Rider - - Sight Lap - STORY BY PETE PETER­SON

We got a call from Feld En­ter­tain­ment, the group that runs the Su­per­cross se­ries. This wouldn’t nor­mally seem odd, but it was mid-july. I know the A1 hype starts early, but July? It turned out they were call­ing about an­other event they run, their Mar­vel Uni­verse LIVE! stage show. The se­quel to the su­per­hero stunt show was kick­ing off, and they were plan­ning a me­dia day just over the free­way from Ana­heim Sta­dium, in the Honda Cen­ter (where the Ana­heim Ducks play).

So we over-asked. We didn’t want to pre­view the show’s scene that they’d be show­ing that day—we wanted to test it. For­tu­nately, our new­est as­so­ci­ate ed­i­tor, An­drew Ol­dar, com­peted in tri­als in the pro class, and since the he­roes of the show ride tri­als bikes for their stunts (some peo­ple may get some en­joy­ment from the fact that the bad guys ride elec­tric bikes), we had the per­fect test rider to an­swer the ques­tion: Are the stunts in the Mar­vel show tough for pro-level tri­als com­peti­tors, are they wa­tered way down, or are they even just some­thing ac­tors could learn in a week­end rid­ing school? I’ll let you read An­drew’s test in this is­sue for those an­swers, but I will tell you get­ting our man onto the stage felt tougher than sneak­ing a fac­tory bike out of its race rig.

Feld is a big com­pany, and with that usu­ally comes rules, re­stric­tions, and an over-use of the word “no.” But they said, “Okay,” and their only ini­tial re­stric­tions were that An­drew couldn’t at­tempt two spe­cific (and big) stunts, we’d only have one hour on stage, and our bike couldn’t have dirt on the tires. Rea­son­able enough so far.

We got to the Honda Cen­ter two hours early; some­times para­noia is re­ally just good fore­sight be­cause the Honda Cen­ter was on Fort Knox lock­down even at a very lazy 9:30 on a Fri­day morn­ing. We started at the se­cu­rity desk at the load­ing ramp, were sent around the arena, and then went through se­cu­rity’s metal de­tec­tor to the se­cu­rity desk in a lobby…to get per­mis­sion to go back to the load­ing ramp and drive down to drop off our tri­als bike and a box of tools. Then it was back around and back through the metal de­tec­tor to wait.

It was like Feld was “ic­ing the kicker,” if I can use a foot­ball metaphor in a hockey arena for a dirt bike story. When we got the okay, ev­ery­thing hap­pened fast. We were rush-ush­ered down to the per­form­ers’ stag­ing area where our stock Gas­gas had mor­phed into a Mar­vel ve­hi­cle. We were told we couldn’t shoot any per­form­ers in cos­tume back­stage and that the in­ter­views would start…now!

An­drew in­ter­viewed some of the stars of the show, the show tank van­ished from our bike as mys­te­ri­ously as it had ap­peared, and then An­drew suited up to ride and we all watched a few dress re­hearsals of the scene. It was chore­ographed chaos. Every per­former was ei­ther on a mo­tor- cy­cle or wear­ing a foam cos­tume and get­ting knocked over by one. Other me­dia groups, lo­cal TV and CNN Dig­i­tal, got their time to in­ter­view the per­form­ers, and we waited off in the dark edge of the arena floor, hop­ing we’d still get our full hour on stage.

Then we got the “go” to get on stage, and Feld dis­ap­peared— no one from Feld said a word or even peeked over to ques­tion what we were do­ing. We had been given the keys to the show. It was that feel­ing you have as a kid the first time your par­ents leave you home alone and in charge. It’s a good feel­ing that they trust you, but part of you is also think­ing, “That was kinda fool­ish.”

With the work lights up and the house lights down, the stage had a sur­real feel. And the story in this is­sue, with no dirt in a Dirt Rider rid­ing fea­ture, feels a lit­tle sur­real now. But I think you’ll get a kick out of what we learned and in see­ing an­other way tal­ented rid­ers are mak­ing a ca­reer out of rid­ing dirt bikes.


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