During my early adult years I lived in several different places in Southern California, and as before, always at the edge of civilization, and as always, able to spend all my extra time out exploring the many trails that lead to only ‘who-knows-where.’ This was at a time when there were so many places to ride and so many areas of sand dunes that you actually had a problem deciding where you wanted to ride!
When my means for earning a living changed from building custom homes to writing about off road vehicles, I continued to live on the edge of the Southern California countryside. While I welcomed the access to the open trails for testing, this was the first time in my life that I witnessed the incredible abuse of the backcountry by off-roaders. I was appalled by their lack of regard for private property and closed trails.
This was the first time in my life that I actually started to question my fellow off roaders ethics, morality, and understanding as to what it is to be part of the human race. I don’t know if those are really the right words or not but I certainly questioned if I wanted to be part of the same group of individuals that showed so little respect for others.
The odd thing here is that these problematic off-roaders were a cross breed of people – some local kids whose parent’s considered an off-road vehicle as the perfect babysitter. The others traveling miles and miles from their homes in the city to the areas they deemed open places to ride.
One time I was actually out working on my tractor doing some irrigation work on my property when a couple of riders (on sport quads with loud exhausts I might add) went around the gate and ‘Private Property’ signs that marked the boundaries between my property and the many, many thousand acres of the Wildland’s Conservancy that my place bordered. They rode around on the hiking and horse trails while I wondered why they thought they had that right. When they returned along the gated trail past my property I stopped them only to be jumped and yelled at, with the much younger, and fully geared rider yelling a great many obscenities that included a few regular words at the tractor operator with something to the effect as to why I would care about this country anyway, as it was nothing worth caring about!
Suddenly I realized that my backyard was nothing to be concerned about if you were an off-road rider. Wow, that’s something I never considered when I was out riding on the trails in my youth. I saw no trespassing signs and personal property as places to stay away from. Hmmm. I was shocked and would be forever changed. Forever changed!
Now I have been well entrenched in the off road industry for many years, and recently moved to the state of Utah, and once again, you guessed it, right at the edge of civilization. This time my place sits at one of the busiest entrances to the incredible Paiute Trail system. My reasoning was that there would be no better place to test ATVs and related products than where I could easily access thousands of miles of ATV trails.
All that proved true. But what I failed to consider was that once again I would be at a place where I would have a front row seat to see the absolute lack of consideration and outright in-your-face abuse of our backcountry by off roaders. And their total lack of respect for others. I was amazed. Actually I’m amazed that I was actually amazed now that I think about it.
Every time I’ve lived where I’ve had a front row seat to the backcountry I’ve witnessed the absolute disregard that many off roaders have to the people around them.
So here I am, sitting out on the patio trying to enjoy a wonderful weekend BBQ only to witness once again the irresponsibility and disrespect that off road users have for the people around them. The next-door-neighbor, visiting for the holiday weekend is enjoying riding back and forth out to the end of their 100 yard driveway with one of his two young sons, one riding a small motorcycle and the other a small ATV. Off in the distance I can so clearly hear and only barely see a loud sport ATV climbing a hill. This hill not only borders thousands of miles of open trails, but has been posted ‘closed’ due to its proximity to town, houses, and people, as well as being, what-do-you-call-it(?), oh yeah, ‘private property’!
So once again I’m left to wonder exactly what it is that I have in common with these people that show so little regard to others.
Perhaps I might understand all this better if I just had a tattoo of a dragon on my arm. Or perhaps had some kind of hair or facial hair design with the sole purpose of drawing attention to me rather than actually making me look more attractive to other people. No, I take that last part back. Let me make that attractive to ‘normal’ people!
Whatever. . . I just don’t understand this stuff anymore. How little we care about our appearance or even how we ‘appear’ to others is one thing - how little we care about how we affect those around us – now that’s a whole ‘nuther thing altogether!
I guess I’m ‘old school – stuck in the 60s or something. Whatever it is I think I’m done being a part of this new group of off roaders that seem to have no concern for the harm they are doing to the rest of us. Their lack of concern not only hurts us in the eyes of the non-ATVing public, but also will be the driving force in closing off more of our trail systems.
I know what you’re going to say now. You’ll say that it’s only a small percent of the riders that I’m talking about here and don’t let that small percent ruin everything. Sorry, it saddens me to say this (to realize this) but I think we are the small percent now.
So we lose. Just liked I watched the sand dunes change from a bunch of families having a good time to a huge party where all the attendees have more money than sense – or even (good) taste for that matter. It’s a dangerous place filled with extreme.
Extreme. Maybe that’s the word that changes everything now that I think about.
Whatever word we use to identify it - we lose.
Now I wonder, where do we go from here?
And how long will we have ‘till it goes EXTREME!