Last year’s Rider’s Life Tour was the first time I took the reigns of a road tour for Tige. In the past, I teamed up with Cobe Mikacich and then with Chris Bischoff for around four years. The best part about putting the tour together on my own was getting to choose who to take along with me. Who better than my smoking hot wife Sonya? She adds a whole new element to the tour because the girls enjoy it more and get more out of it. Plus, me on the road for the entire summer isn’t good for the home life.
We tallied up about 12,000 miles on last year’s tour, which spanned about a month and a half. We had a killer time and met some great people along the way. This year, we decided to make it bigger and better with the help of some great sponsors and a great partnership with Tige. The way the schedule worked out, we were going to make the 2007 tour look like summer vacation. We would match last year’s 12,000 miles by the tour’s halfway point, and with the unstoppable increase in fuel costs, I started doing some research on how to make this year’s tour profitable. That search ended with a call to Sam Massa at MGE, a distributor for Golden Fuel Systems in Washington, D.C., the leader in converting diesel engines to run on nothing but veggie oil.
We were scheduled to leave Orlando on Tuesday, May 20, for our first stop in Houston with Texas Tige and on from there. If we didn’t get it in before we left, we wouldn’t be in one place long enough to get it installed. So, we flew Sam down on Monday, and we’ve been cooking with grease ever since, and I still can’t believe how well it works. Every time we fuel up, I’m just like, “This is unbelievable! We’re actually running on veggie oil.” Not that I’m a devout conservationist or environmentalist or anything, but it feels good to know that with all the miles we’re running, we’re not burning up fossil fuels and at least making as big of an effort as we can not to harm the environment. Essentially, we’re taking a waste product from restaurants and recycling it in a way that is much better for our economy and the environment. As of the middle of June, we’ve traveled about 7,900 miles on straight veggie oil. With diesel at almost five bucks a gallon, it adds up pretty quick.
One of the most rewarding events I’ve been privileged to be a part of over the past eight years of being on the road touring with Tige was an event we put together in Minneapolis with The Hope Kids Foundation. Alex Crowley is an awesome kid I met at Nationals in Illinois several years back who has had some battles with a reoccurring brain tumor. In the past, he’s come out on the boat to kick it with some of the other riders and I, but he never got the chance to ride with us. So when we were in Minneapolis in June for the third PWT stop, Alex organized an event with us to get some other survivors from the Hope Kids Foundation out on the water. We had a 7-hour drive ahead of us to be in Kansas City for the next day, but making time to get these rippers out on the water was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m still not sure whether it was worth more to them or us.
The Hope Kids Foundation is a small operation that exists on donations and is designed to constantly provide something for its kids to look forward to. We meet a ton of kids through touring the country, and most all of them have way more to be psyched about than you would think these kids would. But, there’s nothing like knowing the value of life to really put every day into a positive light. Every last kid on the boat is someone that I would consider myself to be privileged to have had the opportunity to meet, and they were all so pumped to be out shredding their faces off. We’re looking forward to putting together another event with them when we roll through Pleasant Prairie for the next National championships. I owe a special thanks to Alex and Jim Crowley for showing the Rider’s Life Tour how to enjoy every day to the fullest.
For more info on running on veggie oil and how to green up your operation, or for more photos of the Rider’s Life Tour and all the kid’s gettin’ different, log onto riderslifetour.com. — N.I.C.