INSTAGRAM | @rippinruts

A few years back at the Baker’s Factory I met Jeff Crutcher. Although we didn’t know it at the time, our Midwest roots were very close through the AMA District 18 region and the Missouri State Series and we had many mutual acquaintances. Quickly we developed a tight friendship thanks to our attendance at rounds of the Monster Energy Supercross Series, me on assignment to cover the races and him to film the “Inside Track” video series. Crutcher is no slouch on a motorcycle, as he was a quick and well-supported amateur that had a few things go awry as he neared the switch to pro racing, which has led to his full-time occupation as a delivery driver for FedEx. Because he still has the speed and passion to race, he decided that a run at select rounds of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on his KTM 250 SX would be a good idea for the summer.

As quick as Crutcher is on the bike, his wit is even faster and he wrote an op-ed about his passion to race and the day spent racing the Muddy Creek round this past weekend. Dude looks and writes a bit like Hunter S. Thompson, but doesn’t have the hardcore drug use, so the story has been left in its pure Gonzo style. Click to read part one of the story.

All opinions are Jeff’s, by the way. Not that anything bad is in the article, but you know, I just don’t need to get lit up by anyone that takes offense to this somehow.

While you're reading this, I want you to log into youtube/Spotify/etc and pull up the following song: Migraine by Corrosion of Conformity. You may not have known who this song is by, and perhaps you can't place where it comes from- or you might have known where I was going with this before you finished reading the "Migra."

In 1995 John Fox and company filmed and released the sequel to Terrafima, arguably THE video which started the moto-video revolution. Many had come before T1 and all were quality flicks, but T1 set the bar for production/quality/soundtrack. Depending on age or personal preference a person may make a point of the Crusty series being the pinnacle moto film, and I probably couldn't argue my way out of which series was the King of Kings. However, the release I am speaking of is Terrafirma 2.

My first motorcycle was a 1995 KTM 50sx. My first set of gear came from Ocelot. You bet your top dollar my first helmet was fully fashioned with a neon pink Troy Lee visor with a matching neon-rainbow checkered flag sticker kit also from TLD. I was buried so deep in the prime of 90s moto at such a young age that the soundtrack of Terrafirma 2, even at the ripe age of 8, was permanently etched into my proverbial MX DNA. It was my plastic housed, iron oxide coated bible that came in a glossed paper case with none other than the man I wished ruled the world: Showtime. I couldn't watch the video enough. To this day, if you bring up Mike Metzger or the Junkyard Dog- I flash Pennywise in my head. Ezra Lusk: Sprung Monkey. Name a rider in Fox gear from the 90s and I'll drop the name of the band they were affixed to in eternal video form.

But there are two songs, and two features from this film that are the loudest and most important to me.

1. Corrosion of Conformity – My Grain.

This was the perfect and I mean biblically divine PERFECT choice song to attach with hardcore outdoor motocross action from the 1995 outdoor national series. This 3 minute and some odd segment dipped me in wax like a bottle of Makers and sealed my mind on one thing: someday I would be a pro motocross racer.

2. CoC (again, shocker) – Albatross.

Cue the zoomed in facials of John Dowd and Robbie Reynard. Shots of snare ripple from the stereo over the top of a crunchy, dirty, downright grunge riff. Frames change with the crack of each beat. Reynard's head flips to the right and his eyes survey the course like a wild tiger catching the scent of prey, shielded by his very 1995 neon orange Scott goggles. A montage of the Motocross 338 property reveals itself, and the song builds through one of the best drum fills known to man. Evergreen trees and painted yellow car tires splotch the nor'eastern countryside, and BOOM in comes the bionic kid dragging bar in a leftie sand berm. My heart is racing right now just thinking about it.

At this moment I sit in a Howard Johnson hotel lobby, a fairly fancy joint for a couple privateers (thanks to the Priceline negotiator), with a finished complimentary waffle and my second cup of coffee. I haven't slept more than 5 hours a night since Friday. My hands are blistered, right hamstring tight, left piriformis still nagging, forearms like overcooked spaghetti. I'm reflecting on my performances on both Saturday and Sunday at Muddy Creek. There were some glitches in the program that definitely hosed me out of a better pick in the LCQ- but you can either dwell or move on and I chose the latter. My qualifying time in session 1 was dismal at best. Halfway into lap one, I hit a rut in a downhill right-hander that led into uphill rollers. As my forks bottomed the thought of "I am so unprepared for this" flashed across my inner dialogue, but I laughed it off and pinned it up the staircase. I did not set the Tennessee dirt on fire. I did, however, have an absolute blast.

In qualifying session two I ripped off the line and was prepared for a heater. I clicked off the bomber and barely made it on a wing, a prayer, and every bit of juice my 14-51 Mika's could summon my MX32 to deliver. Banged through ruts like a mad dog on a suicide mission. Kamikaze with no regard for limb, life, or the well being of the other riders on the course. It felt as if I was shaving seconds off my Q1 time like Greek lamb meat. I crossed the line, deadbeat and out of wind with a couple other laps left in me which I sporadically clicked off through the remaining 13 minutes of qualifying.

After the session was over, I picked up my mechanic and headed back to the pits. As soon as I dismount an MX Sports official rides up behind me into our Missouri State Riders Union vanpool. Silently, he eyeballs my motorcycle. I inquired what he was up to and if he was just a two-stroke fan, as he inspected my bike with a very prejudicial eye. "This is not a Yamaha" he stated. In agreeance, obviously, I asked if there was a problem. "There's no problem. Yamaha is illegal and this is a KTM". He awkwardly rode off and a friend of mine who is the social media guru for Supercross Live- Shane Doyle- informed me they disqualified me from timing because I was on a Yamaha.

I'm thinking about my first lap as I kiss it goodbye. Was it a qualifying time? No. But it was MY best time, gone, because of an obvious target against two strokes. We will never know who protested, but it was someone who was very well familiar with the homologation rules and that the Yamaha Corp did not pay the fine for the YZ250 to be legal in pro racing. Just the man keeping me down, but they didn't know who was riding the 681 FedEx smoker. I would not be given back my time, and I would go into the LCQ with 37th gate pick from a shoddy 2:16 from Q1. On a deep uphill start, my 250sx was a pocket knife in an RPG fight. I had a snowball's chance in hell for a good start, but that didn't stop me from giving it the old college try in every section of the track. One of my fellow union-mates was a few spots ahead of me on lap 2 and as I was looking forward over a single and going for a tear off, the unwavering absolutism to beat Collin Fletchall filled me to my core. Nevermind I was in 30th. The repeating banners disappeared and the crowd washed away as the ONLY thing I could smell was the blood of number 142. Every race Collin and I go to, by hell or high water we end up battling to the checkers. In 3 laps we diced through the pack while having our own war for nothing, and after about 5 swaps for position, I came out the victor of our battle and charged on to pass Chance Blackburn in the very last corner. 24th was a victory, and like Ricky Johnson after taking a win in the LA Coliseum my left arm ripped off my bars and pumped invisible iron over the finish line tabletop in absolute cheer.

Reenter 1995 Jeff. He's so proud of 2018 Jeff. This year I replicated my bike to be similar to my 1995 50sx, and have been blasting the Terrafirma 2 soundtrack regularly. Fast 40 or last in LCQ- any day at the Natties is unequivocally a win. I pulled off of the track with my face pelted from endless 450 roost, numberplate blacked out from the same bird-shot-like dirt clods. It had been 9 years since my last LCQ at Millville in 2009 aboard a KX 450 that made me hate motocross (never meshed with 450's). Yet here I was at 29 with a career, 401k, pension, still completely addicted to motocross and coming back for more. I think I'm a lifer.

I woke up this morning thinking about 8 year old me, sitting in his parent’s basement watching RR22 and JYD shred the Southwick course. At 8, I knew one day I'd be there. It's a very surreal and bizarre feeling knowing The Wick will have my signature upright and a gear high riding style carved into the sand berms that I drooled over countless times. I'm having an "oh my god I made it" moment. How I define making it does not include numbers on a sheet of paper representing moto finishes. If that was the case, I'd be going home with my tail tucked between my legs after getting my ass handed to me on Saturday followed by a raw spanking on Sunday- we stayed around to double down on a 200% payback for the Mega Series FMF Am Day event, where in 250 Pro Sport I went 6-6 for 5th of 20 VERY talented regional riders and a few stragglers from Saturday.

But that isn't the point. I'm here for the same reason I started riding: FUN.

Nick, Sam and I are packing up and heading to the carwash for cleaning and bike prep, then pulling off in Baltimore to visit Washington DC for a photo in front of Don's house and to pick up my girlfriend from the airport. From there it's lunch in NYC on Tuesday, and northbound some more to New Hampshire for riding at Sandbox. Jake whom owns the facility has invited all pro-licensed riders to ride for free, so shoutout to him for giving our bracket a little help along the way.