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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Too Extreme For Me!

All my life I’ve lived at the edge of civilization. Living there certainly has had some great advantages for someone whose life revolves around vehicles and the backcountry. I grew up in the southern California desert where I could ride out from my house on my Honda Super 90 and learn how to stay upright on rocky trails and long sand washes.

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!


  1. Doug,

    it certainly is a shame to hear of the abuses as you describe them. We see them here in Sault Ste. Marie Michigan also. Infact our back roads are patrolled by DNR, Border Patrol, ICE, Local Sheriff and other enforcement agencies. Most as the result of bad decisions ie drinking and riding, inappropriate use of ATV's, underage riding, and tresspassing or just going off the trail. Makes it easy to think twice about purchasing a new ATV based on the ever increasing cost and the ever decreasing places to ride.

    Scott Sault Ste. Marie, MI Love your in depth video articles.

  2. It ain't like it used to be ;-)

  3. You hit the nail on the head with your comments Doug. Respect is what it all boils down to. (Or lack thereof) We too in Canada have the same issues. A small percentage of the population trying desperately to do the right thing, by donating their hard earned dollars & precious time to keep off road riding areas open or simply abiding by hunting & fishing laws so that we have a positive future for the next generation.
    Enjoy your website, keep up the good work!
    Orin Sylvan Lake, AB

  4. I couldn't agree more. As a moto rider from the 70's and 80's, and a recent utility ATV buyer, I see parks and private property treated with disregard for the privilege of having a place to ride, ownership of the land and the utter disrespect for nature itself. I have seen many groups on ATV's drunk or in the process of being drunk, pitching their beer cans onto the trail and into the woods and waterways. If we don't police this activity, it will be the end of our freedom to ride the parks and private property.

  5. This post really hits home with me. I too grew upm in a time when respect for others was expected and second nature. No longer the case Im afraid. I live in Northern Ca and am looking to move to south central Utah for the great ATV riding. Would you be willing to share the name of the area you moved to?

    Greg W

  6. Hey Greg! E-mail me at DougMeyer@ATVTV.Com

  7. Man I feel ya on this one. I am a new ATV rider and enjoy the outdoors and riding the trail. I already have some great memories of riding with my dad, and the beauty you only get to see riding the trails. It upsets me to see people have such little regard for what little land we have left to enjoy. I guess you would consider me part of the younger generation, but I was always tought to leave things better than I saw it. I enjoy your enthusiasm and passion that you portray through your blog and videos. As a fellow Utahn, keep plugging away! I support your efforts and am 100% behind you.

  8. Thanks! It's good to know you're out there.......

  9. Once again you and I are thinking along the same vein. I live in Northern NY and its the same story out here except there even less places to ride legally. Its either loud exhausts, drinking, recklessness out down right disrespect for the trails and landowners. It makes things difficult for those who just love to be out there and enjoy the sport and the country for what it is. We even have a deep pocketed local politician who is actively trying to close roads to ATVs. SxS are illegal in my state other than RZRs. I along with my club and friends are fighting the uphill battle to fix the problem. We petition, volunteer, and organize; It seems impossible but I'm not willing to give up my sport. And I'm determined that as my kids grow up they will be able to enjoy it too.

  10. Did you say Side by Sides are illegal unless they are 50"? Send me an email and tell me more.......please. I never heard that before.

  11. The closest riding area to me, Cooper Creek, is also off limits to any SXS even the RZR. You will get fined if your caught. They state it is because a side by side doesn't fit the federal definition of an ATV.
    "•An ATV is a motorized vehicle having a maximum width of 50 inches, designed to be operated off-road, with handle-bars for steering, and a seat that is straddled by the operator."

  12. Very interesting. Although that is the definition of an ATV, many areas tend to 'overlook' the part about ' handlebars and straddled by the rider - and for me personally I think size (50" width) is the most important factor. And maybe overall weight as well.