I got my first ATV after school one day when I was in kindergarten. My dad picked my up from school, we drove off to the only dealership in small-town Greenbush, and when we left, there was a brand new 2004 Arctic Cat 90. Today the little quad doesn’t get much use but it sparked movement in my mind that helped lead me to where I am today: an employee(intern) for the ATV Big Air Tour
I started working for the ATV Big Air Tour on June 14th when we left to perform at the Wapello County Fair in Eldon, Iowa. Since that show I have worked at five other shows and I got to ride in my first show at the Lake of the Woods County Fair! Leading up to my first performance, we had a very busy week of shows across the midwest. Our busy week started on Tuesday, July 10th, when Derek left the farm with the mobile landing to drive to Caliber in Burnsville to pick up some our crew. I left the farm shortly driving the tour bus and Caliber trailer loaded front to pack with ATVs, bikes, a UTV and a very large amount of show supplies. Even though the drive was about 6 hours to Manchester, Iowa it went by very quickly with some upbeat conversations with most of the crew in the RV.
We performed at two shows in Manchester and they both went great! We stayed Wednesday night in Iowa then as soon as the sun came up Thursday we headed up to Baudette, Minnesota. The drive from Manchester to Baudette is only about nine and a half hours straight through, but with the rigs we were able to travel across the state in just under 12 hours. Almost immediately when we pulled into the Lake of the Woods County Fair we were greeted with the classic “Minnesota Nice” atmosphere that can be expected from most small-town communities.
Friday morning some of the crew got up early to set up, some slept in, and some of them even took a boat ride on the beautiful Rainy River. I was lucky enough to be on the crew that got to set up early. It took us about one and a half hours to set up and as soon we finished the motors started up and practice was under way. Mike “Lord” Johnson hopped in the Caliber RZR and started hitting the ramp. I was lucky enough to get to ride in the RZR with Mike over the ramp about 30 times and every 30 times my adrenaline spiked way up. Good job Mike. The local horse arena was also having practice right behind the grandstands that we were riding in front of, they didn’t seem to mind the crackling exhausts.
Once Mike got done riding the RZR it was time for the interns to ride. Casey Bray from King City, California hopped on his Yamaha YFZ 450R and started to get ready to hit the ramp. I, John Langaas the second intern on tour, also hopped on my Can Am DS 450 and started to prepare, both mentally and physically, for a moment that I had dreamt of for years. I was about to practice at the ATV Big Air Tour.
Casey and I started hitting the ramp at 30 feet and worked our way back to 50 feet: a distance that would be comfortable to jump during our first show. Practice went great! I was able to throw down a number of tricks such as cordovas, nacs, and barhops. Casey also threw some heelclickers and indian airs. Unfortunately during practice, Casey’s ATV had fuel pump issues and was not able to run which meant I would have to ride a segment of the show all by myself. As much as I wanted to ride with Casey, I knew it would also be a rush to ride my home-show on tour alone.
As the time ticked down to a few minutes before showtime, I started to feel a little bit of nerves creep in. Most of the crew was hanging out in the Caliber trailer waiting for their intros and Derek was running a pre-show Facebook livestream. Once 7 o’clock rolled around we could hear Dustin Grice start talking and before I knew it the intros started up. I heard Dallas Light, Lane George, Kenny Short, Mike Johnson, then Gabriel Villegas. The only ones left in the trailer was Adam, Derek, and I and I knew who was next.
“From Greenbush, Minnesota please welcome John Langaas!” yelled out Dustin. I started to walk out of the Caliber and saw the whole grandstands cheering and it definitely got my adrenaline going.
The show went great, the BMX guys were throwing down huge tricks, the ATVs and dirt bike were stunning the crowd, and Mike’s RZR jump went great. I was right after Mike’s jump and I was a little nervous during the show, but once I put on my helmet and started my quad I knew exactly what to do. I got eight jumps and they all went exactly as I imagined: straight-air, heelclicker, nac-nac, no-footed can, cordova, barhop, 1 footed cordova, and then a fist pump to finish it off. After my jumps I met Dustin in front of the crowd for a interview and it was once of the craziest moments in my life to hear the crowd cheer when I got in front of them. Right after the show all of the performers went into the autograph line. I was the third one in life, behind Adam and infront of Gabriel. Having people excited to meet me was just another aspect of the show that blew my mind.
Once everything wound down we all helped tear down the ramps and pack everything up to head to ERX Motor Park to finish off the long week. We left Baudette around 11:30 P.M. and we got to ERX around 8:00 A.M. after a quick rest stop nap. Only Derek and Adam rode at ERX, but it was still a great show. After the show the Pro Trucks were racing and we finally got to watch someone else’s show instead of run our own and it was a nice break.
Even though I have only worked for the ATV Big Air Tour for just over a month, the places I have seen, the people I have met, and the experiences I have had are enough to last a lifetime. I never thought that at 19 years old I would have achieved such a large goal in my life, but it makes me think that the only thing to do next is dream bigger. Needless to say, the next few months on tour will be even better and I am already excited for the tour next year.