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Saturday, August 1, 2009
Updated: August 2, 3:50 PM ET
X Games Moto X Blog - Saturday

By Ryan Leyba
ESPN Action Sports

11:59 p.m. PST: The X Games is all about progression and we're all about it too here at ESPN.com/Action. Life, after all—in the style of upsidedown motosport arts—imitates art (or something). So when the bosses said for this year's installment of Summer X they wanted "live blogging" rather than the now passť conventional "blogging" that marked our coverage in previous years, blog-a-neers like resident FMX editor, Ryan Leyba, and myself, whose extensive motocross history includes totaling a John Deer riding mower at age 8, were stoked. Actually, Leyba told me he was less than enthused. I countered, saying we were gonna dominate—so long as we taped up our thumbs to stave off I-Berry blistering.

Anyway, as I look over at Leyba now, I can tell you this much: He might not have suffered the bummer that Travis Pastrana did, but he is a wreck (his thumbs, though, are intact). But don't take my word for it. Leybes just emailed this over:

LEYBA:

Who's up for the biggest X Games Moto X wrap of all X Games wraps? You? Good, because you're getting it. I'm going to do something new and try to keep my opinion to myself and just remember the Games for what they were.

I just stared at my computer screen for seven minutes trying to figure out how to type something without voicing my opinion. Well, it's not working. So, scratch that first paragraph.

X Games 15. What did you think about it? Oh wait, I think I know—I've read a few of the comments you guys left in yesterday's live blog. The judging sucks. At least you all think so. Well, I'm not going to sit here and say it doesn't because it obviously has flaws. The unfortunate thing about freestyle motocross is that there is never a clear winner. There's no starting line, no checkered flag and therefore no 100% victor. Should Bilko have won Best Trick? Maybe. Maybe not. Like Drake McElroy always says, judging is one person giving their opinion. And in last night's case, the judges opinion was that Loza's trick beat out Bilko's 360 indian air.

Did the judges redeem themselves Saturday night during the Freestyle Moto X final? I'd say so, wouldn't you? I mean, there's not one single comment in our Live Saturday blog complaining about judging, so that says something right there. One guy that DID redeem himself was Bilko. What an animal that guy is. If I had to give out a gold medal to who I thought had the most heart at X Games 15, I would hand it to Bilko.

I feel like an idiot thinking about X Games 16, but seriously, how gnarly is it going to be? Is the YouTube invitee method over with? Will the top riders tone down their tricks in an effort to keep themselves in one piece? Or will there be a handful of new kids willing to put their life on the line for a little hardware and TV time? Guess we'll have to wait and see.

/END LEYBA

On the racing side of things, Josh Hansen, if he's to believed, prepped for these games with a vigorous, four-month long couch-surfing session. And that, apparently, is just what he needed to do. Because with the last-minute scratch of everybody's Super X favorite, James Stewart—by way of a 60 mph encounter with a wall in a new event to him (SuperMoto)—the race for second place in Super X changed dramatically. Enter the couch-surfer: Hansen had a look about him Saturday suggesting he'd visited with some witch prophesy on a Greek archipelago and walked away blessed. And he was. He won his qualifier running away, then the hunter became the hunted as he picked people off systematically to overcome a bad start (in 5th) and win the final running away too.

Ashley Fiolek, in the women's Super X, staged an impressive pick-off of her own—overtaking early leader Jessica Patterson in the late stages of the final to win gold. In SuperMoto Ivan Lazzarini proved he could take the heat on a scorch-ah of a day—he led in qualifying and in the first 18 laps of the 20 lap final. But when Mark Burkhart passed him on a dirt section of the track, Lazzarini simply just returned the favor—passing him back to hang on to gold.

Leyba just checked in the progress here—after all, we're "live," yo. Which is to say alive, which, considering all that went down in this lifetime-compressed-into-a-weekend, is actually something to be thankful for ... brap, brap.

[INJURY UPDATE, as of Saturday late-night (some slam footage here):
- Josh Grant: Fractured both talus bones, or heel bones.
- Tatum Sik: Transported for X rays for possible R clavicle and R elbow.
- Max Anstie: Transported for evaluation of R shoulder and R knee.
- Blake Wharton (rider who landed on Anstie): Refused medical attention.]


9:31 p.m. PST: Just like that X Games 15 is over... done... adios. Well, at least the Moto X portion anyway. Tomorrow is Rally, but who cares about that? Just kidding... I don't even know where to begin, but let's give it a shot. The new format made the Freestyle Moto X finals more exciting to watch than previous years in my opinion, keeping the pace fast and locking in the viewers short attention spans.

Bilko — REDEMPTION! Was his win a way for the judges to pay him back for scoring him low in Best Trick? I'm going with no, but I'm sure that did factor into .001 percent of the decision. Bilko was on fire during all three runs, even crashing on a 360 heelclicker in the middle of his second run, before getting back on his bike and finishing up his run with more three's and banger flip combos. What can I say, the guy wanted it and it showed.

Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg put in some of the best runs I've seen from him. Between his run in Madrid, Spain earlier this month and the runs he threw down in tonight's final, I'd have to say that Twitch is on top of the FMX game right now. Not only have his extensions got noticeably bigger, but his style has smoothed out and his consistency is strong. Twitch is pumped on his silver medal and we're pumped for him. Even though it's not a gold, those silver medal bonuses can't be too shabby...

And then there's Nate. What can be said about Nate that hasn't already been said? Nate dogg surprised me when he struggled to put in three consistently solid runs. He had one run that money, but the other two were riddled with mistakes, big and small. Also, I feel like Nate doesn't get the credit he deserves for a lot of his tricks because he either makes them look too easy or he has a style that doesn't make them as big as they really are. Take his 360's for example. Nate throws them just as big as Bilko, but for some reason, they just don't seem to be as impressive. What could it be? I have no idea, but I think it's something that he needs to find out. Of course Nate wanted gold, but he realizes that Bilko and Twitch threw down solid, so he's content with bronze — which is NOTHING to scoff at in this year's insanely stacked field.

I'm done. My skin is fried, but my brain is fried even more. On the agenda for tonight? Find Bilko and follow him to the bar. You can be champagne bottles will be poppin' somewhere in LA tonight. —RL


Final results: Bilko, Twitch, Nate. Congrats to all the boys—everyone rode awesome and kept it safe. What an amazing final!—RL


8:31 p.m. PST: Bilko started his victory lap before the results were announced, but he takes it! Redemption!


8:18 p.m. PST: We're back at it, finals are using the same type of qualiying as before and the pace is rapid and intense.

At this moment, Bilko is in the lead with a first run score of 44. Wow, Bilko's second run and he just went down on a heelclicker 360, but got back up and returned to crushing it. He threw down another 360 nac and 360 indian air, which is the same trick he pulled in Best Trick.—RL


8:09 p.m. PST: Finals are set. The four riders are Nate Adams, Blake Williams, Jeremy Stenberg, and Mat Rebeaud. It's on!—RL


7:39 p.m. PST: The second bracket is going off and if Bilko keeps it up, he could redeem himself and win gold tonight. It's looking like he set the highest single score of the night with a 46.

The three 60 second run format seems to be working really well.

I just ran into Todd Potter. I said, "Time to party?" and he responded with, "I've got two bottles of Jack in the Mulisha pits, let's do this!"

Gotta love this guy.—RL

7:23 p.m. PST: Oh man, what a competitive field. In case you were wondering, tonight's qualifying is the exact same as earlier today. Two brackets of four riders. Each bracket get three 60 second runs and the judges take the best two. Then they combine the best two and the top two riders out of each bracket move onto the final, which will consist of four riders.

Confused? Yeah, me too.

The first bracket of riders has completed their three runs and it's Nate Adams and Jeremy Stenberg that will move on to the finals. Unfortunately Adam Jones and Todd Potter are done for the night. What a tough break for those two.

Next up, Dany Torres, Mike Mason, Blake Bilko Williams and Mat Rebeaud.—RL


7:12 p.m. PST: The first bracket of boys are putting in their first 60 second runs and every single rider has stepped up their game. These boys know that it all comes down to the finals.

Potter, twitch, Nate and jones are killing it. Twitch has just came out of nowhere with HUGE ruler flips over the 115 footer. Nate is serving up stellar 360 nacs, Jones is putting down his perfectly executed runs and Potter is a crowd favorite. Potter actually just over jumped one of the dirt hits on a heelclicker flip and crashed straight into an advertisement banner thingy. He got back up and threw down a typical huge potter whip. No wonder this crowd loves him.—RL


6:55 p.m. PST: Hansen quotes: "I'm stoked. That's definitely what I needed going forward. I didn't necessarily have the fastest bike, but I felt like I had the bike I needed to get 'er done ... I got a [lousy] start. My right foot got caught up in Windham's wheel. That almost did me in. Then I knew he was way up ahead and that I needed to put in consistent laps."—TM


6:40 p.m. PST: Super X final results: Hansen, Brayton, Windham. Hansen throws a huge whip and then wheelies up the exit ramp shouting an enthusiastic celebration that we won't reprint here.—TM


6:37 p.m. PST: Brayton moves to second. Hansen's just cruising, with one lap to go. —TM


6:34 p.m. PST: Hansen takes the lead! Windham is being challenged by Brayton for 2nd position. Some of the Moto X Freestyle guys have come over to watch. Just saw Twitch. —TM


6:32 p.m. PST: Hansen appears to be slowly gaining ground. Still 12 laps to race. Rest of the field has spread out. Brayton holding solid in 3rd. —TM


6;26 p.m. PST: Windham takes the hole shot. McGrath in second, Boni in third, Hansen in fourth.

Hansen moves to second. Lawrence just pulled up the ramp—he's done.—TM


6:21 p.m. PST: It's crunch time in the pits here at Home Depot Center in scorching hot Carson, California. Where is Carson? Oh, glad you asked. It's a tid bit south of the world famous Compton. If you ever plan on coming here, be sure to stay south of the 91 freeway or else you'll end up in a Dr. Dre video. And I'm not talking the new Dre stuff — I'm talking "Gin and Juice." What's that have to do with X Games 15? Nothing really, I just thought I'd talk about something besides dirt bikes for a millisecond.

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Jones has the eye of the tiger.
It's 6 p.m. pacific time as I type this and the Freestyle Moto X finals are a mere one hour away. I took a lap around the pits and it feels like a ghost town in there. The fans have been escorted out and it's crunch time for the FMX finalists. I ran into fifth place qualifier Adam Jones and he was in such a zone I didn't really want to bother him — he was rocking his headphones and rehearsing his run. I also ran into Nate Adams, but he seems a lot more cool, calm and collected. We chatted about hip hop, Deft Family's X Games success and ESPN FMX. Believe it or not, Nate's a fan of our site... SICK!

Alright, it's going down. Be sure to check back around 7 p.m. PST and refresh the hell out of your computing box because I'll be bringing you all the vital live updates. If you have a TV or you're watching online, this doesn't really do you any good. But if you live in the middle of nowhere or you don't have a TV, this is the next best thing. Yeah boyeeeee! —RL


6:13 p.m. PST: Mens final is 20 laps—further evidence that the riders aren't necessarily good sources for that kind of info (Take, for example, the handful of guys who told us earlier that it was 15 laps).

Pre-race deep thought: Hansen, in addition to all his gear, is wearing a sort of aura, like he's planning on winning the thing. We shall see.—TM


6:01 p.m PST: Ashley Fiolek through an interpreter: " I tried to be smart. It's a six lap race, so I tried to hang in there—and made the pass when I knew I could."

Mens final on tap.—TM


5:51 p.m. PST: Women's Final results: Fiolek, Patterson, Bash.—TM


5:44 p.m. PST: Women are underway. Patterson and Fiolek battling up front. Patterson is just ahead.—TM


5:42 p.m. PST: Voss just provided an analogy on being passed under during the yellow: "I grew up playing team sports and my coach always told us, when the ball is snapped hit your opponent as hard as you can. Then, when the whistle blows, help him up. Well, racing ain't that way."

Make of that what you will.—TM


5:30 p.m. PST: Anstie is still being attended to by med staff. Replay on the stadium screen looks bad—he was landed on. Let's hope he's ok. They are carting him off now.—TM


5:28 p.m. PST: Wey, Blair, Voss and Sleeter advance to make 12 for the final. Voss says he got passed under the yellow flag from the wreck. "They said no tripling on yellow, so I didn't but those guys did. I was upset about that. I mean, I got the hole shot."—TM


5:15 p.m. PST: LCQ underway. Voss leading early. Two riders involved in a wreck in a corner—Blake Ward and Max Antsie. Med staff is working on them.—TM


5:08 p.m. PST: Windham is stoic, but we asked him a few questions anyway: "It's real slick and it's tough to get around people out there. It's really tight and it was gonna be tough to make up the ground on [Brayton]."


5:03 p.m. PST: Brayton: "Kevin was right there at the beginning but I knew if I hit all my marks he couldn't pass me. It's a good track but its tough to pass on. You need to get a good start if you're gonna win gold tonight."

—TM

Also, word is Josh Grant will not be returning to race the Last Chance Qualifier.—TM


4:57 p.m. PST: Track isn't offering up many passing lanes. Finish order for Heat 2: Brayton, Windham, Boni and Close.—TM


4:51 p.m. PST: Some choice Josh Hansen quotes:." Feel good ... I'm on the best bike I've ever been on ... I got a good start and then just concentrated on going forward. I thought I had a good pace—couldn't feel anyone behind me."

On deck—second qualifying heat.—TM


4:50 p.m. PST: Hansen, Lawrence, Craig and McGrath advance from the first 8 man qualifying heat. This one went 6 laps— the final will go 15.—TM


4:44 p.m. PST: Men's Super X semis about to get underway here at the Depot Center. The place isn't filled to capacity but many thousands are here, including rider Todd Potter. We asked Potter for his picks.

"I'll go with the three Joshs. Josh Grant , Josh Hansen and Jason Lawrence."

First semi heat now underway.—TM


4:26 p.m. PST: What a tear jerker. Everyone came out to pay their respects to Lusk and then Brian Deegan led a prayer followed by a few words from Lauren Lusk and Jeremy's father.

RIP Jeremy. It's hard to really grasp the fact the Lusk is gone. And he died doing what we've been seeing all weekend. We miss you man. You should still be here riding in tonight's final.—RL


4:15 p.m. PST: I just made it into the stadium here at HDC where a Lusk tribute is set to go down. I have no idea what to expect because honestly, I didn't even know it had been planned. I see a bunch of people congregating down by starting pad and I think I see Lusk's gold winning bike. Stay tuned.—RL


4:02 p.m. PST: Right now in the moto pits there is no shortage of: A.) Tattoos, B.) Skin, C.) Beau Manley, D.) Cops and security, E.) Sunburns.

Josh Grant, the guy everyone is listing as a serious contender in this afternoon's Super X Final, was also there. With less than an hour to go before the big showdown at the Home Depot Center, Grant was in his trailer—all dressed up with some place to go. We talked, naturally.

"I'm pumped. I like being here," he said. "You know, the track's still the same without James Stewart out there. There's a lot of fast guys, just one less."

Also count Grant among the competitors who are clueless about how the actual competition is going to work (eg. seeding for the two 8-man semis, etc.) "It's confusing, so I'm not sure how it's going to work. Apparently the top five guys [from qualifying] are gonna be in the first semifinal heat. Not sure why, but whatever."

"Still, in the first heat you just want to get through to the finals. The track is slick and dry so you don't want to fall over. Get to the main event, then try to medal—that's the plan."—TM


3:31 p.m. PST: Thanks to all of you who chirped up for the live chat with the GOAT, Ricky Carmichael. Dig it here.

Meanwhile, chirp up yourself during the upcoming live chat with Ronnie Renner during Men's Super X Final today at 4:30 p.m. local. Go chat here.—TM


2:25 p.m. PST: With the winners here in the stadim. Chareyre is suffering fom the heat—officials are fanning him and puring water on him. He's got a bag of ice down his pants.

Caught with Lazzarini. He is stoked: "Tough race right?! Perfect start for me but he (Burkhardt kept pushing hard. Very hard. He passed me on the penultimate lap—two laps to go—but I immediately passed him back. It was really really close."—TM


2:06 p.m. PST: Lazzarini holds Burkhart off: Laz, Burkhart, Chareyre—1, 2, 3.—TM


2:02 p.m. PST: Four laps to go. Ward running 6th, with Chareyre 4 seconds back from the 1-2 racers.—TM


1:57 p.m. PST: Chareyre, meanwhile, has overtaken bidart for the 3rd spot in this wild peleton

Approaching halfway mark—lap 8...

Bit of a duel forming for second—Chareyre looks to be challenging ward. Whoa, Ward now dropped to fourth. Pits are buzzing for info.

Carey Hart is running dead last. He just pulled off in the to the pits, then back out. A lap back. Burkhart just moved to second. One dude here is saying "He'll pass Lazzarini, He'll catch him." We shall see. 12 laps down.

Burkhart now .3 behind Laz. This dude could be right. "We know his bike," he says.

Burkhart, the no. 1 qualifier, now assuming the role of hunter. He looks to be sizing up his prey for situational weaknesses. Hart is no longer dead last. He's now second to dead last.—TM


1:42 p.m. PST: They are off. Lazzarini appeared to have snatched the hole shot out of the start. Indeed, Laz followed by Ward as they started through lap 1. With bidart running third, Ward trails Lazzarini by about six bike lengths. They seem to be settling in here.—TM


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1:32 p.m. PST: Todays FMX qualifiers are over and the top eight going into the finals are as follows:

Nate Adams
Mat Rebeaud
Blake "Bilko" Williams
Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg
Adam Jones
Mike Mason
Dany Torres
Todd Potter


The stage is set for tonight Freestyle Moto X finals. Keep it locked. I'm off to the pits to dig up some dirt. Peace! —RL


1:24 p.m. PST: Making for the supermoto pits—20 lap final is slated to start in t-minus 8 minutes...—TM


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Hansen's ready to go wide open.

1:16 p.m. PST: Just caught up with Super X racer Josh Hansen in the plush living room of the Monster/Kawasaki trailer. Like most people at X Games, Hansen, the No. 2 qualifier from yesterday, has no clue as to actual competition formats. Never mind that he's actually competing, and the Super X Finals are just a few hours anyway.

Anyway, we wanted his perspective on the scratch of favorite James Stewart, among other things.

"Everybody knows that James is the one to beat," says Hansen, "and now he's gone. But you can't count out Josh Grant, who's coming off the outdoor series with a lot of confidence."

"As for me, I'm coming off the couch for four months. But I want gold. My goal is to win it, and I think I've got a good chance now that Stewart is gone."

"I heard James was a little on edge with the whole SuperMoto thing—it's just brand new for him and it's a whole different deal being on those bikes compared to what we're used to. You have to ride totally different. But I was also bummed to hear he was out. You don't want to win because he's not here—you want to beat him head's up. I wanted that pressure on me. But I guess it'll have to be in 2010."

As for the format, Hansen said, "I have no idea how it all works. I'm relaxing now, then I'm gonna go out there and do my job, ride to my capabilities and it should all work out."—TM


1:03 p.m. PST: Wow, this fourth bracket is nuts!!! Jones just set the highest score of the day, Bilko killed his run with two huge 360s and some massive rightside up tricks and flip combos, putting him in second with the second highest score of the day.

Twitch put in a really solid run and now Nate is KILLING the course, hitting a few jump that nobody has hit.

Oh, and Nate Adams scores a 44! Highest score of the day! Damn, this is getting good.—RL


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These are the official qualifying scores.

12:48 p.m. PST: According to the score board in the pits, Mat Rebeaud, Mike Mason, Dany Torres and Todd Potter are all locked and loaded and moving forward to tonight final.

There's one more bracket to go consisting of the big dogs: twitch, Nate Adams, Bilko and Adam jones. This is going to be good!—RL

12:32 p.m. PST: The third bracket is in full effect right now and so far, this is the most stacked bracket yet. Matt Rebead is coming out firing, fully crushing the course with huge flip combos and a nasty underflip.

This just in, Mat Rebeaud is the new leader.

Potter is on the course right now and he's straight killing it! Huge ruler flip, barely pulled it back.

It's evident that Mike Mason has been putting in some major practice. He threw down the third best run of the day, pulling tricks Ive never seen him throw down like a huge seat grab flip off the 115' ramp and a solid Shaolin flip. —RL

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Safe is the new stylish.

12:24 p.m. PST: The third bracket is set to take the course, but while the small intermission is going on, I was able sneak a peak at both Twitch's and Nate's X Games helmets. If you guys pay attention to ESPN FMX, than you know were suckers for cool looking gear. Peep these freshies.!—RL


12:21 p.m. PST: The second bracket is officially over. Dany Torres is still on top with a 71, Taka in second with a 59, sato in third with a 52, villa in fourth with a 50 and Thomas pages wrapping up the top five with a 45.

Next up, bracket three consisting of Todd Potter, Mike Mason, Jim Mcneil and Matt Rebeaud.—RL

12:20 p.m. PST:
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Here's what all the riders are looking at in staging. These are the official qualifying scores.

12:19 p.m. PST: The moto pits are eerily quiet at the moment, probably because its about a 1,000 degrees on the scorching expanse of black top that defines the zone. And also because much of the action of the hour centered ringside at the Home Depot Center for FMX qualifying. But a quick lap through the pits revealed that while it remains a scorch-ah, yes, Ivan Lazzarini, yesterday's top SuperMoto qualifier, is not sweating. Lazzarini was chil-axing with iPod plugged in and Red Bull hat on.

With his coveted spot at the start line -- he will line up ahead of the rest of the field, in the first row of three -- we asked Lazzarini if this is his race to lose.

"It is a big advantage to be in the front row at the start; that's the first thing. And to be No. 1, maybe 30 centimeters ahead of No. 2, that's even better. Because the start is very important -- maybe 90 percent of the race," he says.

Nervous? "Not really. But I want it to start so I can do my job. We are ready. Bike is good -- new tires, that's it." —TM

11:57 a.m. PST: Faisst made a few mistakes with a couple dead sailors. Looks like he'll be back to redeem himself.

Torres in first, Taka in second.

Next up Taka.

How do these qualifiers work? Just talked to Jim McNeil and Nixey Danielson and they filled me in.

There are four brackets of four riders and each rider get three runs. The judges take the best two runs and average them. The rider with the best score moves on.

This format is actually pretty exciting to watch. The runs don't get too long and boring.—RL


11:48 a.m. PST: I just found out that the reason there are only three riders in the second bracket is because Nixey Danielson told the X Games peeps that he didn't want to ride, so the first alternate Jeff "Ox" Kargola geared up to take his spot and they told him that he couldn't ride because the TV graphics were already set up for Nixey.

Ox is pissed and for a good reason! He fully got the shaft!

"What's the purpose of having an alternate if they're not even going to utilize it? I'm so pissed right now. I had my helmet on and everything." —RL


11:32 a.m. PST: Taka just threw in his first run and he looked really solid. The runs are short, but sweet. Next up Dany Torres—winner of Red Bull X-Fighters Madrid.

Wow, Torres putting in a very very solid run. Best run of the day so far. The riders are getting in 6-7 tricks.

Up next, Ronnie Faisst. —RL

11:26 a.m. PST: Alright ladies and gents, day three of competition is set to rifle off and the boys are taking the course. I'm chilling up here in the riders preview area, so I've got a great view and awesome access.

Ok, so Beau just went out for his first run and he's just went down HARD on a Cordova flip. Man, not a good start to the day. He's up, but his crash was hairy. —RL

11:12 a.m. PST: It's gonna be a scorcher today. It already is, in fact. One step outside the arctic-blast environment of the ESPN.com/action command center (er, tent) and you're sweating. It's even hotter on black top asphalt surrounding the moto pits and pity the fools wearing full moto suits, helmets and body armor. Fortunately, there's plenty of cool stuff on the docket for the day. We've got finals in SuperMoto and Super X for men and women on the racing side of things, with the Freestyle finals positioned firmly at the top of the menu for primetime. So stay cool friends -- we'll be sweating it out here to ensure it. —TM

10:12 a.m. PST: I'm not going to lie, I'm a bit tired after pacing back and forth during last night's Best Trick throw-down. What a night. But today?

Shower? Check. Fully charged iPhone? Check. Flip Mino HD cam? Check. Fake five dollar shades purchased on Canal Street? Check. Let's do this baby!

I'm off to the Home Depot Center where the first round of Freestyle Moto X eliminations are set to go down and then it's all SuperMoto until 7 p.m. tonight — then the main event... Freestyle Moto X finals.

Stay tuned to our live Saturday blog to keep the inside line throughout the day. -RL