The final essays must be less than 1000 words and contain these THIRTY elements: "June 6, 1982" [counts as one element], moon, treestand, Will Farrell, step-up, wide-open, knuckle, french fries, Bactine, neon, manfriend, warped, tickle, spode, euphoria, zoom, Charlie Daniels, comic book, zealot, Gobi Desert, stomp, bag of nickels, Urkel, one-million dollars, Clifford Adoptante, melon, fizzle, kickstand, and throttle.
Best of luck to Josh, Paul, Sam, and Becky.
The wind was grabbing at my visor, I was wide-open on a long stretch of dirt road, the sleeves of my jersey stung my arms as the fabric crackled like a thousand whips against my flesh from the wind buffeting against my body.
I had been training and testing for months now, trying to find the right setup for the Gobi Desert race but I’ve been testing in Mojave, it’s quite different than the Mongolian landscape of the Gobi Desert.
Darkness was beginning to surround me as I grabbed another handful of throttle; the horizon was a beautiful motionless sight as the road and plant life around me warped into a maddening blur of speed. There is certain serenity in being alone in the wide expanses of the desert while traveling at insane speeds. Tempting death has its own euphoria which I crave in large amounts. A Joshua tree reached out and sliced my knuckle while passing it at 100+ miles per hour, it hurts but I know there will be much bigger challenges during the actual race so I press on towards camp to end the day of testing.
My manfriend and partner for the race is none other than free-styler Clifford Adoptante, the “Flyin’ Hawaiian”. I pulled into camp almost falling off my bike from exhaustion and all Cliff could talk about is some huge step-up he found out in the desert that he was pulling tricks off of. I went into the trailer to find some nourishment, specifically the sweet Honeydew melon I had brought with us, but all I could find is some French fries from yesterdays dinner still preserved in the McDonalds bag. I yelled at Cliff, “did you eat my melon?!” Cliff yelled back, “no! I dropped it down a mine shaft to see how deep it was!”, “why the heck would you…..oh nevermind!” I decided to leave it alone, I was in no mood to argue, so I cranked up my old Charlie Daniels cd and sat at the table to put some bactine on my slashed knuckle and eat cold French fries.
I must have dozed off because the next thing I remember is Cliff stomp into the trailer and smack me in the arm with a rolled up comic book. “Cliff, you’re such a spode! What the heck was that for?”, “Shake-n-Bake baby!!” in his best Will Farrell impersonation, “we gotta go for a night ride! The moon is like a neon light, come check it out!”, “Cliff, I’m too tired, I wouldn’t go back out for one-million dollars!”, “That’s sure a way to fizzle out a night ride you Steve Urkel wannabe!” then he stomped back outside like a crazed zealot and I crawled into bed for some much needed rest.
I was having a dream about a dynamic zoom camera lens and a kickstand made from a treestand on June 6, 1982 when I heard what sounded like a bag of nickels being dropped on top of the trailer, I jumped up and looked out the door fully awake now and saw Cliff by the fire putting a new chain on his bike, “Cliff, what was that crashing sound, you woke me up fool!”, “It was my old chain, I threw it on top of your trailer, besides, it’s almost sunrise, time to get up!” I was ticked off and slammed the door when Cliff burst though the door and began to tickle me, “Cliff, knock it off, men don’t tickle each other leave me the heck alone!” Cliff looked at me weird and went back to working on his bike. I decided I should stay up and get ready to train more today, and as usual Cliff will get sidetracked and start hitting lips and hips while I’m doing the real training, but hey, at least we’re out here riding while you’re working at your mundane job!
It was almost sunset. It had been a crisp, clear day, and a light snowfall had started falling.
I had been helping my brothers club lay out trail sections that would be used in the “Mother of all extreme races” the following spring. The good folks at Racer Productions, a Morgantown, WV based racing company, had decided to put on a dynamic event that would put the “Erzburg Enduro” and “Last Man Standing” to shame. The event was going to have all the flair of the old “Blackwater 100” events, with the seemingly endless bogs, and would also include the extreme hillclimbs in the surrounding mountains. My brothers club’s land would be used in a remote part of the course, so everyone was helping out. It was purchased from the widow of a dirtbiker that had disappeared 25 years ago; plenty of stories were abound about his demise.
Earlier in the day, during a break, my brother had given me all the race details. “Woodsracer, KTMTalk, Mototalk, amongst others, were building project bikes for this event. The purse, including contingencies, was to be in excess of one-million dollars. Whomever was going to win this event, would be in a sure state of dirt bike euphoria”… “Of course there willl be vendors row, where you can buy anything to tickle your fancy, from a local grown melon, to a root beer fizzle” he added. “This is gonna be big time.. Racer X, Throttle Jockey, Pro-Action, Ogio, igotfumoney.com, Moto Tees, Cernic’s, DVS Shoes, Moose Racing, FMF and Thor, amongst others, are sponsoring the event. They’ve even managed to gain some “outside” sponsorship, like Surf detergent, and Bactine. Rumor has it they are trying to get Will Farrell in to announce the race” he added.
“Yeah right… oh.. and it’s Ferrell, you hillbilly!” I had said. Ever since he moved south, I would poke fun at him.. (hey, it’s what brothers do)..
To save time, we had split up. All I needed to do was one find one last connector trail that would allow the course to merge in with the power line that ran down the adjacent mountainside. “Gotta be a way through there somehow” I thought. I stopped, and scanned the brush below me, looking down the hillside. The moon casted a neon glow on the valley floor below. It was an eerie setting, and reminded me of a movie scene from a movie shot in the Gobi Desert. Time was running out..
“Better get off for a closer look” I thought. I looked for a tree to lean my bike against. “Man, wish I would have put that Moose kickstand on”…
There below me on the hillside, perched in a makeshift treestand, was a bearded, long haired fellow who bore an uncanny resemblance to Charlie Daniels. “Hmmm.. must be a hunter” I thought. But he did not appear to be armed, and looked to be just holding a pair of binoculars.
“Hey… how ya doin?” I asked. All I got in response was a cold, blank stare……
What kind of spode was this guy? Maybe he was a mute… or.. maybe he had his tongue cut out?” I wondered to myself. My brother had said the local “moonshiners” do that to kin that can’t hold the white lightning too well, for fear they will tell of the “stills” whereabouts…
Out of the woods, a voice broke the silence. “hey feller!!” Uh oh.. I thought… this must be Charlie’s manfriend. He was a man of slender build, and had facial characteristics similar to that of Clifford Adoptante. But somehow I got the feeling he didn’t want to talk about backflips..
He had long, scraggly hair, and was wearing a huge pair of Urkel style like glasses. This hillbilly looked like something straight out of a comic book. He was holding a blackpowder shotgun, and had a leather “possibles” bag slung over his shoulder. At first glance, it appeared the bag was full of french fries, but as he walked closer, I swear I could see a human knuckle in the bag!
My mind reeled… Could this be for real? Was I dreaming?
Charlie walked towards me, and said “Son, you just made a big mistake coming up here.. your life aint worth but a bag of nickels now!
Some folks, including myself, have even been confronted by some zealot, all bent on having you arrested, when you accidentally tresspass. But this was crazy… these guys looked like they were right out of some warped rendition of a scene straight out of the movie “Deliverance”!
And they meant business…
"June 6, 1982" Charlie grunted. “That was the last time one of you dirt bikers set tracks on my property” He turned slighty, and pointed the business end of his rusty shotgun towards a carved up oak stump up on the hill. “And that there’s his “tombstone”..
I gulped, and looked up towards the stone… when I did, I noticed a strange plume of smoke, or steam, start to rise up from the woods behind Clifford.
Charlie’s eyes got real wide, and he started jumping up and down in his treestand, pointing over Clifford’s shoulder… All of the sudden, “KABOOOOOOOOOMMM !!”
Apparently Clifford hadn’t been paying attention to the pressure of the boiling kettle, and it had just blown up..!!
That’s when Clifford reeled around to look at the still… and I saw that diversion as my only chance to escape!
I reached down, pulled the kickstarter out, and with a quick stomp, I lit the motor! I aimed my bike down the hill, and pinned the throttle. Busting through the brush, I was headed right past Charlie’s tree, where I noticed a massive fallen oak tree blocking my escape.
“Oh no.. I’m dead meat! I thought… but then I spotted a boulder with a slanted face.. the perfect step-up jump! I hit that sucker wide-open, and cleared the oak tree…
And like that, zoom… I was gone!!
“Jump it already you wuss!”
I might as well. I already made myself look like the biggest spode in the world after I wheeled my bike out with the kickstand still on it. (It was brand new, sorry.) Oh well. Deep breath. Relax. Shake it out. You can do this. You can do this. Enough self-motivation, just do it already. I let the clutch out and point myself towards the take off on the biggest step-up I had ever seen. Shift into second. Then third. Fourth. Fifth gear. I turn the throttle wide-open and my eyes widen as soon as I hit the lip…
Alright, to understand how this story ends, you have to know how it starts. It’s kind of like a Will Ferrell movie: it has no artistic value but you remember it forever.
I was born on June 6, 1982. “Must have been a full moon that night,” my dad used to say, “’cause that’s the only possible explanation for how weird you are.” Sounds like a great guy doesn’t he. Mom was nice though. She was always there for me. The type of mom who would buy you the comic book you wanted before you even started to throw a tantrum, spray Bactine on the cut on your knuckle as you scream in pain, and then tickle you to make you stop crying.
It was the eighties. I grew up listening to my dad’s Charlie Daniels Band albums. Then moved into Bon Jovi and the like, and finally found myself buying neon clothes and looking like an idiot now that I think about it. Maybe those clothes were why I always got picked on in school, or maybe it was the stupid Urkel glasses my dad got me. Probably the glasses though, seeing as they always needed replacing considering I was ruthlessly bullied until the one day I fought back.
It was second grade. A Tuesday. And just like every other Tuesday, it was lunch money day. Also known as Give-me-your-lunch-money-Sam-or-I-punch-you-in-the-gut-day: always a great day, but especially this particular one. I remember this day vividly, for this was the day my life changed forever. I was prepared that day. The bell rang, time for morning recess. I began my walk across the blacktop. It seemed like I was walking across the Gobi Desert, it took forever to get over to the big slide. When I did, a foe as frightful as the Mongol Genghis Khan himself, Jeff the bully, was already waiting for me.
“Give me your lunch money four eyes.”
“I’d rather not,” I calmly responded.
“GIVE ME YOUR LUNCH MONEY DORK,” screamed Jeff.
“If you want it so bad, come and get it,” I said. Bad move. Jeff comes barreling at me with his head down, rushing like a bull. I whip my lunch money out, conveniently a bag of nickels today, and whop him right on the melon. I must have had one million dollars worth of nickels in that bag because he dropped to the ground instantly. He never saw it coming. Bad move on his part I guess. It was the single most dynamic act of my life. From there on out everything changed. At lunch that day, I sat down to eat my burger and French fries at the corner table in the cafeteria, my usual spot. But this time I didn’t eat alone.
Since my dad no longer had to worry about constantly buying glasses for me anymore, he decided to get me a present, a brand new Honda Z50. I would zoom around the backyard on that thing as my dad watched from his treestand with a beer in his hand. I guess that’s when he first started to be proud of me. And why not, I was a zealot when it came to that bike. I loved the thing. Because of that, my dad became something more to me than just that old guy at home. He was now my manfriend. He would take me riding and later on to races all over the place. We did everything together. Our relationship would never change, never fizzle.
All this was in my mind during this riding session with my friends. And now I had to hit the step up. Fifth gear tapped. No time to be nervous now, I was moving like I warped through time. I hit the lip and fly into the sky, and decide to show off a little bit. I throw a cliffhanger as big as Clifford Adoptante in the ’99 Summer X Games. I stomp the landing and a feeling of complete euphoria rushes over me. “That was for you mom and dad,” I think.
"Thanks for everything.”
Sprawled out on his living room couch, Ryan Villopoto idly leafed through a comic book while daydreaming about being out in his treestand. He was waiting for Austin Stroupe to show up. They had planned an ‘injured riders hang out’ night since they couldn’t be out riding due to their broken collarbones.
Lost in his reverie about hunting, Ryan did not even hear someone stomp into the living room. Suddenly a French fry hit him in the face, snapping him out of his daydream. Looking up, he saw Austin standing in the doorway wearing a melon colored shirt that said ‘manfriend’ across the front in big black letters. He was trying to inconspicuously hide the fact that he was eating McDonalds French fries.
“You’re such a spode,” laughed Ryan, as he sat up and threw the fry back at Stroupe.
Flopping down on a beanbag near the television, Austin asked, “Have you heard about the new motocross movie they’re supposed to be making?”
“Yeah, it’s based on Jeremy McGrath’s book ‘Wide-Open’,” replied Ryan. “I guess Will Farrell is supposed to be starring as McGrath.”
At that point, Austin’s phone rang, interrupting their conversation. Looking at the phone, Stroupe said, “It’s Tickle, I’d better see what he wants.”
Deciding he didn’t really want to know what was going on, Ryan amusedly half listened to the conversation.
“You did what to the throttle coming off that step-up?” Stroupe was saying on the phone. “I think you’ll be alright if you just put some Bactine on it. No, I have no idea. Hold on, let me ask Ryan.”
“Hey man,” Stroupe said to Ryan, “do you have anything around here to fix a warped kickstand?”
“Do I even want to know what happened?” asked Ryan.
Taking that to mean yes, Stroupe turned back to the phone and said, “Yeah he said he should have something here to fix it.”
Ryan rolled his eyes and turned on the television, figuring he would channel surf for a while until Austin got off the phone.
Scanning through the channels, he passed by a historical documentary on the events of June 6, 1982, paused to watch Steve Urkel on Family Matters, listened to a Charlie Daniels song on CMT and finally came across a tape delayed competition of Clifford Adoptante competing for one-million dollars in a special FMX competition that was held in the Gobi Desert.
Ryan still continued to half listen to Stroupe’s conversation as well.
“No you knuckle head,” Stroupe was saying, “How do you expect us to get there? Oh you’ll come pick us up? Alright I’ll tell Ryan.”
Finally hanging up the phone, Austin turned to Ryan and said, “Come, I just found us something better to do tonight. Tickle says that a bunch of the guys are meeting up at Hepler’s place for a Cinch tournament. He borrowed his cousin’s Neon and is on his way to pick us up. Grab your bag of nickels and let’s go.”
Twenty minutes later, a police officer watched them zoom by as they traveled along Escondido Expressway and took off after them with his lights flashing and siren blaring. After a brief debate as to whether or not they should try to make a run for it, Tickle pulled the car over on the side of the road. As luck would have it, the police officer turned out to be a motocross zealot and let them off with a warning, saying to save their speeding for on the racetrack. Their euphoria was short lived however as five miles down the road the car’s engine began to fizzle and finally died.
With a full moon rising overhead, Villopoto, Stroupe, and Tickle all stood leaning against the car watching a steady stream of traffic go by as they waited for a tow truck to arrive.
By the time the car was ready to be towed away, it was late and none of them were feeling very dynamic anymore. They called their friend Ben to come pick them up and decided to make a quick trip to Lake Elsinore before they all went back to Ryan’s house.
It turned out that movie crews were filming a night scene at the lake for Will Farrell’s new movie and they invited the Ryan, Austin, Broc and Ben to appear as extras in the film.
At least that’s how the story is being told on Mototalk.
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