There’s something about riding a dirt bike through sand… I guess you could make the comparison to skiing or riding in powder snow. A little bit softer, looser, slightly more difficult and a hell of a lot more fun. Every year, FMX superstars Ronnie Renner and Tommy Clowers, and their buddies take some time off the dirt and ramps to go have some fun in the desert.
Big thanks to the folks at Red Bull and EpicQuest for inviting me to tag along!
Tommy 'tom cat' Clowers throws up a wall of sand. When I casually asked if he could do a surf style slash on the dune wall, he chuckled, nodded his head and then did this...
Clowers' slash 2.0
Shooting these guys during these turns was a great example of the camera seeing things your eyes never could. I would set my frame and then fire away as Tommy would explode in clouds of sand and throttle. Looking at the photos later you could see every ripple and wave of the sand and how balanced the riders were. Frozen at 1/2000 of a second it was like seeing another world.
Big brother is watching...
The boys from EpicQuest brought out the heli for a bit of filming. Here the boys all line up and wait their turn as the heli spins overhead and gets into position.
Ronnie Renner on the ridgeline
In addition to the dunes, the boys also rode the dirt of Ocotillo Wells. Here's Renner riding a tightrope of a ridge line in Ocotillo.
Renner waits for the call to go from the boys in the heli. Timing between riders, pilots and cameras are crucial to getting great shots and footage. With so many moving parts the room for error on any side is almost nil.
Renner, Clowers and the crew ride across the dunes scouting for the next feature. The dunes are forever changing and shifting so despite many trips Renner and crew always find something new and surprises lay over every rise.
In front of his big orange KTM trailer, Ronnie takes the time to explain the nuances of his sand set up to me... showing great patience with me as I kept trying to compare his bikes to snowmobiles and asking other dumb questions
After seeing Clowers' slash, Renner was anxious to lay one down of his own...
Left in the dust
Throwing dust and sand in the evening light, Renner shows off his motocross skills with a perfectly executed banked speed turn.
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Cody Forest Doucette was born in the heartland of Wisconsin, raised in the mountains of Idaho and educated on the beaches of California at UCSB. Working with his twin brother, writer Kitt Doucette, he has spent the past six years circling the globe in pursuit of images and experiences which capture both the beauty of the natural world and the complexity of the human condition in the 21st century. You can find more of his work on his website, www.codyforestdoucette.com.