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Full Circle by Justin Mackie

  In the summer of 2004, I was 23, living for free in the apartment above my dads shop in Oregon.

I was working under the table for a local sand drag motor builder, trying diligently not to die on

my street bike and honing my skills on the weekends road racing with OMRRA. Growing up in

the Willamette Valley I thought everywhere else but where I was, was where I needed to be. I

was convinced there was far more opportunity elsewhere, anywhere. I was convinced the grass

was greener for me anyplace else.

   In September of that year I left on a destination and return date unknown motorcycle ride with

friends. Piloting my CBR 600RR loaded out with saddle and tank bag, with enough stuff to last

indefinitely, I headed east. Through Oregons mountain country and high desert, we followed the

bluest skies. It only took three days before my companions all quit me, all wishing to return

home, unwilling to embrace the suck of living off a motorcycle and putting down high mileage

days back to back to back on sportbikes. I left them in Enterprise, Oregon early that morning

just outside Hells Canyon. Now solo I continued on through Northern Idaho and Montana for the

next week. Then I headed South for the Idaho, Utah border to meet up with another rider

coming out of Oregon. We continued together on for the better part of two weeks, exploring

Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. We stopped off in Southern Utah at my grandparents ranch and it

was there I had the Idea that maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t go home. My grandparents lived in

Vegas and I got the notion that maybe I could crash with them, get a job and use that safety net

to springboard a new life of my own making outside Oregon. For any place was better in my

young view.

We arrived in Vegas on a Thursday, I opened the yellow pages and tore out the page containing

the motorcycle dealerships. I visited all that were within close commute of my grandparents,

found one I really liked and approached the sales manager. I professed to him my plan and

story, I told him I wanted a job selling bikes. He looked at me bewildered and asked me to

repeat just exactly how I arrived there. I did, he asked me if i was for real and actually serious, I

confirmed I was. He laughed, shook his head and said OK, be here Saturday morning for the

sales meeting. I called my family and my girlfriend that night. Told them my plan and that I

wasn’t coming back.

That was 16 years ago this September. I am still here in Las Vegas, married, two kids,

homeowner, business owner. I set out to make my own and I had no idea at the time what I was

leaving behind. Like anyone with a wife and kids would say, I wouldn’t change it for the world. If

I hadn’t made that crazy decision back in 2004 and stuck with it here in Vegas I wouldn’t have

my wife and kids today. For which I wouldn’t trade for the world. There is however an incredible

trade that was made, that I found myself fully experiencing two weeks ago. I traded all that is so

incredible about the pacific northwest as home. Traded it for the desert of Southern Nevada.

While not a terrible place to live in the opinion of many, its a large contrast to the PNW in many


   As our children grow we indoctrinate them with what we want. My brother and I were

indoctrinated by our father at a young age on motorcycles because that was his passion. He

wanted to give us everything he wished his dad had given him. As my kids have grown I have

done the same. Cool gear, cool bikes, custom graphics, all the trappings. I have exposed them

to Motocross and Enduro both, they see me on adventure bikes and moto camp trips and dual

sport rides with friends. They are fully indoctrinated. We are a moto family, (although their mom

is meh) Still working on that :)

So back to the trade I mentioned. Two weeks ago we found ourselves in a position for the kids

to race at the MX track my brother and I grew up at racing frequently in Albany, Oregon. Not just

my boys but my brothers as well, a special day among special days. My boys age 11 and 9, my

brothers 4 and 5, are all four fabulous riders and love to be on two wheels, be it in the woods or

on the track. The stars aligned and we made Wednesday practice and the races on Saturday.

I don’t know that I have ever had a more nostalgic experience than I did on those days. Our

father drove over from his place in Central Oregon, three and a half hours to be with us at the

track just as he was in the 90's. Fifteen of our childhood friends attended to hangout and cheer our boys on, all feeling nostalgic along with us. The same family that ran the track when we were boys on 80’s still runs it today. At signups they recognized us and were elated to see us

there, now with our children. Mind you we haven’t been back there for 20 years or more. It was

without a doubt one of the most incredible experiences I have had with my kids on two wheels

to date.

I have missed the Pacific Northwest before many times since living in the Desert Southwest, but

it was realized that day more than ever before. I realized that day how deep youthful roots are

for a lifetime and how impactful youthful decisions can be as young adults without proper

guidance or willingness to listen to guidance. Hasty youthful decisions come with consequences

that last a lifetime. Nowhere in the desert southwest is the community of local motocross as

strong as it is in the Pacific Northwest, at least that I have found or experienced. There were

rows and rows of families set up together enjoying the day. The concession stand was beaming

with business, peppered hamburger patty smoke wafting through the pits. The track was

groomed and watered to perfection and the riders exemplary sportsman. Throngs of kids on

mini’s of all sizes were in attendance and the kids all played together between motos. We had a

mechanical failure during morning practice on race day and the local shop across the street was

already open and fully stocked, so we never missed a thing. It was beyond incredible to say the

least, nothing has changed in the last 20 years. Just good old fashioned local amateur MX and

the people that go along with it.

I am so thankful our boys got to experience Albany Motosports Park and Grand Prix Cycle just

as I did as a kid growing up. It is a truly special place to me and I believe a truly special place in

general. I hope we get back to do so again soon. It was just another example of how the

community of two wheels fills the soul and promotes good clean sportsman like fun when it is

promoted and operated as a family sport. No matter where you look there is someone with a

helping hand and kind word. When kids or pit dads get a big head there are plenty to remind

them that there are no TV cameras or factory payday contracts. The kids must go out and

perform on their own, no one else to carry them. The entire weight of it all on their shoulders,

personal responsibility like they have never experienced elsewhere in todays padded life. Their

decisions on the track have consequences that result in success or less than, elation and pride

or disappointment. They must learn to listen to guidance, interpret the message properly and

choose to execute on it while under pressure. All things far more valuable than a dollar can

motivate. The motocross track teaches management of ones emotions, anxiety, panic and clear

headedness, for in life those that can remain cool under pressure prevail, just as in motocross. It

is a great teacher of life skills that I as a 90’s moto kid and now moto dad don’t know if it exists


We left that day our buckets full. Three of the four boys made the podium in their class and were

awarded shiny trophies. The fourth missing it by one position in the second moto. Three were

elated and one was very disappointed. Although hard to see him cope with that it was a good

life lesson, not everyone gets a trophy was fully realized. For a 9 year old thats a lesson with

deep roots that doesn’t fade into the shadows with age, they will all forever remember that race

day but he will especially.

If you have never experienced the pacific northwest MX scene and you ever get a chance I

highly recommend taking the time to do so, I think its unmatched on the west coast as far as

amateur MX goes. For those of you in the PNW don’t take a single blade of green grass, loamy

clump of dirt, overcast sky or misty morning for granted. For you are blessed beyond words and

you likely don’t even know it.




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