Wednesday, March 3, 2010

We're Really Not Bad People

I grew up riding dirt bikes during a time when we had plenty of land to ride on.  Mike, Randall and I have been riding and racing together since we were around 20.  We rode fast and hard, attacking each turn or hill like a police K9 chasing a one legged crack dealer.  That was a time when we could just go ride and didn't have to worry about being politically correct. Those days are behind us now, as we continue to lose more government land each year.  Yes, we still pay taxes on the forrest ... we just can't use it anymore.  According to the experts, a dirt bike with a 3" wide tire is destroying the forrest, yet it is perfectly acceptable for the timber industry to drive log trucks, dozers, skidders and front end loaders in to cut the trees down.  Notice the irony here?  We have witnessed, on several occasions, a piece of logging equipment sitting next to a clear cut zone with a huge puddle of oil that has leaked out on top of the ground.  But thats alright, just as long as its not a dirt bike.   Last year, in a letter to the editor by a hiker, we (dirt bikers) were described as rednecks that are allowed to run loose while raping the land. To many, the dirt bike and rider represent pure evil that falls in line directly underneath a mass murderer. 

The truth is, the average age of a dirt bike rider is 32.7 years old.  Most off road riders are married with families, who just enjoy riding on the weekend, often bringing their families with them to camp in the woods.  Many of those that race also bring their families with them to the races.  We are serious about riding and enjoy our sport with the same intensity that hunters, fishermen, hikers, golfers, ... etc enjoy their sport.  As so often is the case though, we are our own worst enemy, due to a small percentage of dirt bike owners that insist on: 
1) drinking before or even while riding 
2) riding through camping/park areas in an attempt to show off (often combined with #1)  
3) the louder my bike is the faster it will go  
4) leaving their trash where they load/unload

A true off road enthusiast despises all of the above.  We want to be as far away from people when riding as possible, showing off will only get you hurt, a loud bike is just plain obnoxious and Mike and I have been taking trash bags with us to ride for 25 years.  We pick up trash around where we unload to ride and haul it back in to town with us.

In the forrest where I grew up riding, they have shut it down to 3 main trails and some dirt roads to ride.  The trails that the forrest service has built are not maintained well.  They are rutted, rough and dangerous.  In the area where I now live, we are losing more forrest land as I write this, we are just not sure how much we will loose this year.  

I am older now, don't know about any wiser, but land closures are why I have started dual sport riding.  Well, that and dual sport riding is much easier on my RA.  Ten years ago I would not have considered dual sport fun.  It is a different type of riding, even though we still manage to slip in a few miles of hardcore woods riding each ride.  

I now have my KTM race bike fitted with a high/low beam headlight, horn, tail and brake lights, mirrors and have it tagged.  I am going to fit it with a GPS unit later this summer.  I guess you could say that I have evolved into a high tech, evil redneck.


Living It, Loving It said...

To think in twenty more years, you will be telling them young’ins (young whipper snappers?) to get off your property. :)

Stereotypes always exist, that is just part of life.

“I now have my KTM race bike fitted with a high/low beam headlight, horn, tail and brake lights, mirrors and have it tagged. I am going to fit it with a GPS unit later this summer. I guess you could say that I have evolved into a high tech, evil redneck.”

You are turning careful (probably old???), not evil. But you probably didn’t want to hear that. ;)

Anonymous said...

Terry, it really is the riders that leave trash, drive while drinking and make sure their bike is the loudest in the land that give the sport and those who enjoy it such a bad name. You and your friends are obviously the sport's good guys. I used to be one of those hikers who didn't care for the backwoods motorcycle riders -- they really were loud, often obnoxious, and seemed to have little regard for the forest and wildland they drove through. They were dangerous to those on foot and on horses, too, that shared the trails with them. It's good to know the other side of the sport; good to know that there are riders that seek out those beautiful places with the same sense of love and reverence as those of us who travel by foot do. Thank you for caring about the wilderness and for being aware that it's fragile. And I'm glad you're still riding, even if you've had to modify the way you ride to accommodate your RA. We all need to do the things we love. I salute you and your friends and hope you'll be able to ride for 20 MORE years.

tharr said...

Lana, I'm definitely turning old, but thats better than the alternative! I'm really not that high tech or evil either. Oh well, ... it sounded good though.

We have fought the stereotype for the last 25 years. The club I used to belong to has permission to put one race a year on, under forrest service supervision, of course. About 20 years ago a local hiking club (who I will not name) caught wind of the race and had about 10 people camping out in the middle of the trail for the race. They tried to stop the pre riders from passing through and had a pistol that they shot off into the air. Nothing was ever done about it, but I would have liked to seen them scrambling when 300 riders were cut loose to start the race.

tharr said...

Wren, its sad that no matter what you enjoy doing, there are always a few pinheads who draw bad publicity to your sport or hobby. We have always tried to get along with and coexist with others who like to use the woods. I have had riders pass me as I'm sitting on the the side of the trail before, that would literally make your ears bleed! Not cool. We try to make as little impact as possible around creeks and streams, we yield to hikers, mtn bikes and horses. We actually stop and shut our motors off when approaching horses, you never know how the horse will react to the noise. Thanks Wren, it really is all about sharing the woods, but some people tend to forget that.