Updated: Nov 4, 2022
From anywhere USA, Nic and Lindsay Long break down their travels, clinics, and the journey that has gotten them to where they are. Read what the Captain and Co-Captain have to say about life on the road.
Give us the rundown; when did this RV tour/life on the road idea begin?
Nic Long: 2019 was when we (Lindsay, Nic’s partner in crime) got married, and I just wasn’t making enough money from doing well enough at races and from sponsors, so I worked a little bit with my uncle, and I worked almost all year. He was cool; I worked a couple of hours a day doing computer stuff, then I’d go train, and I really hated that, like, “Come on, this sucks, dude. What am I doin’?” Once I finished that, we did our wedding, and I was like, “Alright, I need to figure something else out to make some money, something I want to do,” so I started to do some clinics because I hated doing clinics before this. I never was interested in doing clinics because that’s not how I learned growing up. We were always lucky enough to have good riders where I was from, so I would follow riders and learn by watching. I did a couple with Jake (Peebles) when we would do the Tangent Pro/Ams, and I kind of got in the swing of things and figured out a routine. Then I started doing them on a smaller level with Anthony (Bucardo) and some guys last year. So yeah, we made a couple of trips, I borrowed my mom’s motorhome, and we made a 3-4 week trip first to the Alabama Nationals, then we did a second summer one, and then I just realized I didn’t really need anybody to do it. That ended up being just really fun. What was cool to me was going to the track where I didn’t really realize how uncommon it was to have a track like I grew up on where you had so many good riders, and it was so easy to become good. So going to these tracks where some kids don’t know what a good expert is a lot of the time or even know how to dream big.
So that was cool to see when I started doing it last year (2021) and figured out a different way to do this one, so I’m not doing it by myself or buggin’ people to come to do it with me, so yeah, we started figuring out how to do it together. Once I did those two tours by myself last year, I was like, “this sucks” I was on the road for months without her (Lindsay), and she’s working, so she’s miserable anyways. Then she came home, and I wasn’t there, so it was tough. And even when I’d come home, I would be home for two, three, four weeks, she’s going to work, and then she gets off work, and I go to the track, so we still didn’t see each other. So we figured out a plan after the 2021 season and got the reigns on how to have a routine and show up with a plan while also making relationships with all the tracks to understand how to schedule and be smart about it. I came up with that plan, and we figured we would follow the USA BMX Pro Schedule because they understand how the weather works and where the races are held at certain times, so I trusted that and just made clinic stops along the way. It was cool because we got to do it together.
Photo by Roxanne Collins // @BMX_ROX
From no clinics at all, within two years, to how many this year? A hundred?
Nic Long: It will probably be over 80, not in the hundreds. It would be cool to try to get to all of them at some point, but by the end of the year, we’ll be over 80. It was different, though; some months, we would have five, July, we had like 14 or 16. 12 in 12 different states cause we were in the Northeast, so it was back, forth, zig, and zag; we did so much in the Northeast.
Connecting with the different tracks, you scheduled a full year at the beginning of the year.
Nic Long: Essentially, we started in December when we got home from Grands. A couple of tracks messaged me to come do some clinics, and I think I made a post on Facebook saying, “Okay tracks, reach out to me if you want me to do a clinic. Let’s see where we can fit you in.” I’m pretty sure I booked 95% percent of my clinics for the whole year in December/January doing it like that, by all the tracks reaching out to me. The only grief I got was, “man, there’s no west coast clinics,” and I didn't really even book it like that; nobody on the west coast reached out to me, and also, we didn’t really have any races over here, so the only one I would have come back for was Utah, but I was in Akron. I wasn’t just going to burn back for that for the single weekend.
Obviously, on the road, anything can happen. You were saying you were stuck on the shoulder for nine hours at one point. Was that something you just knew was going to happen?
Nic Long: Growing up doing stuff on the road, I was pretty handy with my dad. I was not naive about that. I knew that was one thing, “your s*** is going to fall apart,” and there’s nothing you can do about it. Just being as prepared as you can. I have almost every tool in the back, so I have everything to do as much as I need. I think the hardest part I wasn’t anticipating about doing the whole thing was the vulnerability. I didn’t anticipate how I would feel in the “wilderness” being in the Walmart parking lot can be a wilderness sometimes. But just camping there, you feel exposed. In a house, you feel safe but here, whether you’re on the side of the road, at rest stops, at Walmarts, or wherever you’re just like, damn. Anyone can come knock on the door, you know, and having your wife on the road, your protective and stuff like that. That was really the only thing I didn’t anticipate. But that caught up pretty quick.
With your clinics, the dynamic you two have is great. It’s fun, but it’s also hard work. Does that come from how you were taught or is that a philosophy of “I’m going to make them earn this money they’re spending?”
Nic Long: Yeah, kind of; that's just how my dad brought me up, you have to work if you want to go to the next race, or you had to at least show that you’ve put the work in. To me, I love helping the riders, but I want them to understand what it takes to get the events. Their parents bring them, and that's who I'm trying to impress. The parents or the older riders are who it’s for. Anyone can put on a clinic and make it fun and just be like “yeah, I’m cool, watch me do s***,” but at the end of the day, did they take something from that? That was my goal, I didn’t want to have a clinic and not have a plan every time I showed up. So yeah, it’s how I grew up we just understood you just had to put work in, whether or not you were the fastest, but if you worked hard, you were going to get the opportunity to go to the next event. That's what I'm portraying with the clinics, you don’t have to win every time but you have to show whoever is paying your bills that it's worth it because you worked hard to get there. That's what I try to show.
With so many clinics, have you had any cool moments with those racers from tracks without top experts or from those racers that learned what it took to take the next step?
Nic Long: We had a cool moment, Dan Maier, who used to work at QVP after I took a tour of QVP, he had a new bike and just said “If you ever see somebody at a clinic, give it to them.” We had it for like six weeks when we went to a clinic at Farmer City, IL, and this kid rolled up on a bike that had gyro pieces missing, his bars were forward, like, we had to work on his bike before he could ride. So we sent Roy (Winkleman) down to fix his bike, and he chatted with the kid’s mom for a bit and he learned he was going through a rough time with bullying at school, and we thought, wait a minute, we think this bike will fit, so we gave it to him. Other cool moments come from the older riders at clinics. They either hear how our clinics are, and they wonder if it’s true, but it’s funny you can see that twinkle in their eyes when it clicks, and they think, “man, that's all I was freaking missing?” It’s funny to see that cause it’s like, I simplify stuff pretty easily because at the end of the day, we’re riding bikes; it's pretty simple. It’s the older riders; they're already experts who just needed that one thing, and they go, “really, that's all it took? That's why I’ve been getting beat every time?” That little moment is cool for me to see.
Lindsay, Any proud moments for you?
Lindsay: I don’t know, I guess at the end while handing out goody bags, just learning every kid’s name, I think it’s special, it makes them feel special. My favorite is when he gets messages after or a day or two later from the parents. I’ll look over, and he’s reading it and tearing up. It just makes me proud because I know how proud he is because of what he’s doing, and he always thought he didn’t want to teach, and now he’s doing it really well. It makes me proud.
Photo by James Pennucci // @JPENNUCCIPHOTOGRAPHY
Another teary-eyed moment is when your return to racing happened this year at Rockford. How has that been getting back into racing?
Lindsay Long: Nerve-racking, honestly. Especially because there are, now more than ever, so many eyes on me because I'm Nic’s wife. So everyone’s kind of watching and stuff like that, but it’s definitely stressful. I always used to get anxious with racing anyways, but it’s not just in the staging or in the gate. It's between motos now, but it’s for sure fun and rewarding at the end.
Nic Long: It’s pure stress for me. But I was so proud. I wasn’t really sure how I would feel when she raced Rockford. She said, “I kind of want to race,” and it was a “Sure, let's sign you up” then, after I did it, I went, “Do I really want to see her race? I’ve only watched her pedal to the first jump usually.” I was kinda nervous her first round. I didn’t care what place she got, obviously. I was more nervous about how she was going to feel at the end of the day. If she was embarrassed, I didn’t want that, so when she did her first lap and just smoked everybody, it was like, “OOHHH! SHE’S GOING TO BE SO STOKED.”
The Duffel Bag Dash is a big thing going on with you guys. Tell us how that came about.
Nic Long: It stemmed from Coffee Chatter, it was the one with Riley House where they were talking about prize money. So they were talking about the Holeshot Challenge and Tyler (Brown) raising that money, and they were saying if it’s that easy to do, why doesn’t someone do that for the supercross races? Everybody just talks about it, but nobody’s ever going to do it. I think I just thought about it that day while I was driving, and I thought back to my uncle's company I worked for and I remember when I worked for him, he was saying a lot of times little league teams would come up to you and say, “hey do you guys sponsor local teams for jersey help?” and a lot of companies will, they’ll give you $100-$200 to go towards your team jerseys. So that was my intention, I reached out thinking if I get $250 from my uncle and end up raising $2,000 to split between the winners of the Men and Women Pro class, that’s pretty freakin’ cool, and they would be stoked. That was my intention with it, and then I was driving and thinking about that, so I texted my uncle, you know the, “Hey, I know you do this for Little League teams,” and he came back with, “Yeah… I’ll give you four grand.” I told her (pointing to Lindsay) I was like, “Lindsay, what do I do now?.” I was kind of overwhelmed.
I had no intention of it being as big as it got. I just wanted to do my part, thinking if I could give these pro winners two thousand bucks, they would be stoked on it. It just kind of snowballed, and these people that I reached out to weren’t broke people like me; they were well off, company owners, or something like that. I just said to them, “This is my intention. I’m raising money to give away. I'm not taking a single dollar; I’m just kind of the middleman collecting it.” It got a great response, plus I have the raffle where half of that money goes into this too. Like I said it just snowballed. I didn’t intend for it, and I’m not looking for recognition or anything, but I started it. Now I have to see how it goes and give it the whole next month. We’ve been sent over $16,000 (Now over $20,000), and I’m gonna get big checks made and actually have duffle bags full of cash, well, fake cash. I wanted to do real cash, but nobody wants to be walking around with a bag of cash; your pretty vulnerable at that point. You can get $10,000 stacks of fake cash, and I’m going to get SO much. Literally, fill the duffle bags full of fake cash, and my hope is they throw it out; I think it will look pretty cool. It goes from the pros, with a triple crown aspect that I stole from Tyler, to now we have the NAG 5 covered, as well as both Amateur titles.
That Crowdfunded purse is such a unique idea for the Grands. It really is different with you going to these people and owners as opposed to USA BMX doing the same thing because of sponsorships and things like that.
Nic Long: Yeah, you probably wouldn’t get the same reaction if USA BMX was trying to raise money from these people. But me doing it is a different thing even though, ultimately, we’re doing the same thing. It’s all just going to the riders, and that was kinda the goal.
Well, speaking of Grands, it’s your first Grands as the flat pedal Vet Pro we now know. Do you have goals heading into Tulsa?
Nic Long: It’s just fun. I don’t have goals. My goal is for the motor home to start up the next day, and we can cruise on. Honestly, once I left Rio, I was pretty cool with my career, but after last year I gave up my clips shoes, and my only intention was to just ride. I wanted to challenge myself by racing flats because I honestly only rode flats for two or three months before I put clips on at seven years old then, I almost never rode a track with flat pedals, even for fun. It just wasn’t fun for me. I had fun timing myself to the first jump, that was fun for me while I was training. So it’s been cool, and like I said, it’s hard, and I just get my a** whooped out there most times, but to me, it's cool. Not to offend anyone else in the class, but Vet Pro is kind of a silly class out there anyway, but it is a great show. Most of the fans always say Vet Pro is so cool right now, but to me, I don’t need results. I just like riding and being out there. I do like making the main, but I will get eighth place all day, every day. I don’t care, and that was my goal as a kid too. I just wanted to be in the final race of the day, didn’t matter what place. So really, just coming out and keeping the sport stoked.
As far as expectations for Grands, again, I just want to make the main. I love racing on all dirt tracks. That’s why Grands is my favorite race, but dirt on flats will be kinda cool. It will be interesting to see how that goes, and it will be cool since I can put my foot down for real this time. I don't have any goals for it. Grands is one of those races that I’ll end up going to for life. I love it.
What in the future for the Longs? Are you doing another year on the road are you finding a spot to lock down?
Nic Long: That was ultimately our intention, you know, besides spending time together. California was the only place I had ever lived. I had never known and still don’t really know how to live anywhere else. So the intention was to take this year to see if there are any places we like, and maybe we’ll find some hidden gem we didn’t know of, but we’re probably going to end up in Tulsa. It’s just central for what we do with the clinics. It probably won’t be 80+ next year, I don’t want to do the whole year on the road, but yeah, Tulsa will probably be where we end up, and that won’t be until late spring. I’m not trying to move there when it's cold. With it being central, the Headquarters being there, and at some point integrating myself into USA BMX, why not? I sit there at the finish line with all the workers anyway. It’s BMX all the time... I’m not going anywhere.
With Nic and Lindsay gearing up for their Grand Nationals week and their eventual move to Tulsa, the Longs have locked in their spots in the BMX family even more so. Since they aren’t filling up their calendar 12 months at a time in 2023, give Nic and Lindsay a heads up for any special events (flat pedal race, Pro/Ams, or general good times) going down at your local track to make the next season even more fun for the Longs and everyone they meet along the way.