Who is Tom Parsons?
"I’m like a nomadic free rider. I don’t mind packing up and exploring to try to find new places that haven’t really been ridden before.” -Tom Parsons
Words and Photos by: Hunter Dood
People know Tom Parsons for his ability to whip a dirt bike, but there is much more to the life of Parsons.
Yes, he has won gold at X-Games, but as his Instagram bio says, “Liker of dirt bikes. Traveling. Photography. Freerider.”
“I like to live by the free ride name and the free ride lifestyle. I’m like a nomadic free rider,” Parsons said. “I don’t mind packing up and exploring to try to find new places that haven’t really been ridden before.”
Parsons has traveled the continental United States in his van; so, he is correct, he does not mind packing up and exploring. Load up the van and hit the road. It’s been a mainstay in his life for the last ten years.
Living the van life.
“I enjoy the freedom of it, there is just something simple about it. It’s nice to have a van that can take you and your dirt bike almost anywhere, and if the van can’t take you there, the dirt bike will.”
“I’ll always have a home away from home,” Parsons said.
Parsons recently bought his “dream van.” He had his previous van for eight years and reached over 30 different states in it. But, he wanted to upgrade it, until he kept running into issues.
During his process of trying to upgrade his van, he found one for sale that was 4x4, had a pop top for more room, and off-road ready; all the upgrades he was looking for.
“As soon as I saw that I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? That’s the van I’ve been trying to build for two years.’ It was a done deal.”
When Parsons plans a trip, he doesn’t plan his trips solely to ride his dirt bike. He said always will make the trip a multiple day excursion, sometimes turning into weeks or months.
“I’m not the type of person to go straight to the riding spot and then leave. I like to get out and explore and take as many photos as I can.”
Parsons started in photography about ten years ago when he was racing full time. He quickly gravitated towards landscape photography.
“I really got into landscape photography and then I started basing my travel around that. I realized I should be taking photos of all the crazy places I go to ride my dirt bike.”
Courtesy Photo by: Tom Parsons
He shoots on a Nikon z7, a lighter body than most, perfect for him while he’s traveling throughout the globe.
Parsons said he likes to take at least one photography trip a year, where he can leave the country to explore and focus on his photography. And even though Parsons takes a break from riding on these trips, he is not resting.
“I get up at 5 a.m. to go shoot the sunrise and explore the places I visit.”
Photos by: Tom Parsons
Parsons has visited Norway, Germany and Australia for riding purposes. He has taken photography trips to Patagonia in South America, Iceland, Greenland, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, New Zealand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali, Thailand, Japan and Canada.
“I’ve gone to a lot of cool paces but Iceland is one of my favorites. I’ve made it a priority to go back there a couple times.”
His favorite place to visit in the United States? Utah.
“Utah rivals most places I have been. We take it for granted. A lot of people think you have to travel internationally to see something crazy, but Utah has some of the craziest landscapes I have ever seen,” Parsons said.
Parsons has been a part of multiple film projects in the past. He said he partakes in the entire process, which is something he enjoys doing.
“I like coming up with the concept and idea, all while going out and actually doing it,” he said. “I like to be heavily involved. I like making stuff that tells a story and can stand the test of time.”
Parsons has a few story driven film ideas up his sleeve for the future, including in the coming months while he is back home in Florida.
He doesn’t foresee himself slowing down with travel anytime soon. The future is looking like more miles on the van, more click on the shutter and more hills to be jumped.
Video and edit by: @_jonesn_