Hauling Toys: Dirt Bikes

Taylor riding his dirt bike on a sandy dune.

Growing up in San Diego, California, means there are many sunny days perfect for getting outdoors. And for me, that means dirt biking. My dad, Chris, taught me the basics when I first got into it around eight years old, and I learned how to ride on Kawasaki KLX 110.

I’ve always loved all kinds of sports, but nothing else compares to the thrill I get twisting the throttle of a bike and going fast. Some of my first riding trips were out in Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area, two hours outside of San Diego. I started on a quad bike, getting used to handling on flat and dusty trails. Eventually, I graduated to a small dirt bike and started testing out the little mountain trails in Moreno Valley and at my grandfather’s house. But as I got older and started testing the waters at motocross tracks, I found that it’s my favorite way to ride. With sharper twists and turns, track bikes have a narrower gear ratio, less shielding and more raw power. On the track, what you give up in terms of unpredictable trail conditions, you make up for in speed. 

I’m lucky that my family supports and shares my biggest hobby. My parents own a 2014 Jayco Octane T26Y Toy Hauler, which we use for dirt biking trips with friends and other families. The trailer is a good 26-feet, which leaves lots of room for packing up multiple motorcycles, ice chests and food for a crowd. It sleeps eight people, great for taking friends out to far-flung trails where we can all camp comfortably overnight. So far, we’ve taken it out to Glamis, Ocotillo, Stoddard Wells and even our local campsites in Southern California, where we use it as a place to crash during day trips. 

In addition to dirt biking, one of my biggest passions is photography, and I have no shortage of friends who want photo and video proof of their best rides and biggest jumps. Taking the toy hauler means I can bring along my photo gear and keep it safely stored away from corrosive desert dust when I’m not using it. Ninety percent of my content is dirt bikes and action sports, which means I carry a lot of gear to help me get the perfect shot when bikes are whizzing by at high speeds. Multiple cameras, stabilizers, microphones, tripods, extra batteries, an array of lenses and tons of SD cards make up my photo kit, which can take up a lot of space when I’m unpacked. Even with multiple bikes, friends, and cameras and gear, there’s still plenty of room for my parents and brothers and their bikes. 

Traveling to new places gives my photographs new richness and interest; there’s always a new track or a new trail or a new day to capture. When I see my friends absolutely shredding it outside, I want to get the best possible action shots to capture the moment. Sometimes we just goof off and I grab portraits of them with their bikes, but having a new location in the background always makes a day’s shots that much more special. I’m out there capturing moments in time and space, and every new landscape is an opportunity to shoot in a new way. Every new shot is another reason to love both photography and dirt biking; no two photos are the same.

My friends and I love to plan dirt bike trips when we have time off from school. At 18, we realize we need to take advantage of being together now as much as we can, and the toy hauler makes it happen. Whenever my family plans a big trip to Glamis or another race, we’ve always got a few extra people staying in our trailer. And a lot of my older friends have parents who bring their own trailers and RVs along on trips as well, which makes for one big party in the desert. Having a toy hauler has become such an important part of our dirt biking plans that sometimes my friends and I will just sit around, dreaming about what kind of trailers and toys we’re going to own in the future. 

There are just so many tracks to explore and ride, and every bike provides a different experience, so being able to pack the Jayco full of options means we can wring the most fun out of every trip. My parents love going to track days at Chuckawalla, Buttonwillow, Willow Springs and so many others, but for me, I love checking new events off my bucket list one by one. Knowing that we can pack up and hit the road for a weekend, a week, a month––that’s where the toy hauler really shines. There’s always room for whatever gear we want to bring and for one more friend to tag along. 

Because my family has a toy hauler, I get to experience new things and be out in the world to uncover new sights, all while having friends and parents by my side. It’s a great big adventure, and one I want to continue pursuing as I get older and move away from my family. If I could get work photographing action sports in the future, I’d be thrilled. I’d love to save up enough to buy my own toy hauler in a few years so I can continue riding, filming and photographing adventures with my friends. I picture taking an epic vacation with my friends, venturing out to the rest of California, then east, taking over ATV parks one by one as we cross the country. We’ll ride during the day and visit national parks and monuments in between our destinations, and I’ll capture it all. Because, honestly, it doesn’t get much better than having the people you love by your side as you set out on your next adventure and hit the trails. 

Here are some basic tips to keep in mind for your next dirt biking trip:

  1. Keep yourself covered. Even though it might seem crazy to wear long sleeves and long pants in the desert, keeping yourself covered can help guard against the sun’s rays and offer additional protection should you fall or crash. Don’t forget a helmet, goggles, high boots and gloves as well.

  2. Stick to designated trails. Most dirt bikes are designed to be operated off-highway, so avoid paved surfaces (except to cross when done safely and permitted by law) and stick to designated trails and tracks. This may mean you’ll have to walk or drive your bike to/from certain riding points.

  3. Double check your kickstarter. Newer dirt bikes typically have an electric starter, but all dirt bikes still come with a kickstarter. Make sure to double check that your kickstarter is working before heading out. While it might be considered an “old-school” way of starting your bike, your kickstarter will save the day should your battery run out or your electric starter stop working.

  4. Practice the buddy system. Dirt biking, in all its many forms, is truly a community sport. You should never ride alone. Even if the other person is just watching or taking photos, it’s important that someone else always be present in case of an emergency. You can find plenty of other riders—including those who own RVs and toy haulers—by joining online biking groups, searching social forums, and attending local dirt bike events. Like many things, dirt biking is better when you have someone to enjoy it with (and who can photograph you in action).

The RV featured in this story is a Jayco Octane T26Y Toy Hauler.