Ah, what a wonderful day. My once recalcitrant carburetor functioned flawlessly, thank you Hi-Tech Yamaha for stocking nearly impossible to find on a Saturday afternoon parts, even if you charge 3 times a fair price for them.
It was a wee bit chilly up in the high country today, still snow hiding in the shady spots, but man what a wonderful ride. Where did we end up going you ask? Sorry, ain't tellin'. Damn shame that I gotta be that way but thanks to the treehuggers nobody's talking about their favorite riding spots like they used to. Seems that every time someone mentions a good place to ride in a letter to a magazine, or god forbid the internet, a motorcoach load of Californians show up and overrun the place and next thing you know the treehuggers got gates across all of the trails. I know it isn't that simple, it involves a whole lot of law suits and political butt kissing, but the results are still the same: the trails get closed.
It never ceases to amaze me that bicycle trails keep springing up all over the state in spite of the fact that bicyclists pay no license fees, no fuel tax, no sales tax, no nothing tax, but I have to pay for both on and off road licenses on my ATV's, as well as fuel tax, and every year the number of available trails dwindle. Don't get me wrong, I think it's wonderful that there is a place for families to go on a leisurely and scenic bike ride, besides that it keeps them out of traffic and out of my damn way, but where is the money coming from? Miles of concrete bicycle highways don't just build themselves you know. The worst part is that every time that someone proposes an ordinance or state law requiring people to license bicyles everyone goes apeshit, "You mean you would make a 10 year old buy a license plate for his bicycle?" they say. No, I would not make a 10 year old buy a license plate for his bicycle, but I would make his yuppy parents buy a license plate for his bicycle. If they can afford a $1200 mountain bike for little junior, they can afford a $5 or $10 dollar license fee to offset the cost of the trails. I pay, yet my trails get closed one after one until someday when they're all gone, and who's building more trails for me? Nobody, that's who. I have half a notion to organize a protest involving a whole bunch of guys and gals and kids on ATV's blocking the accesses to those bicycle trails until somebody sits up and pays attention.
Take one look at the statistics and it's quite obvious that ATV's are one of if not THE fastest growing recreational activities in the country. They're selling like hot cakes at every dealer around and why you ask? Because it's a lot of fun, that's why. I've heard stories about several couples from elsewhere that moved to Montana with the Sierra Club propaganda inspired attitude that all off roaders were bad, right up until they finally accept an invitation to go 4 wheeling in a jeep or with ATV's, or dirt biking. The following Monday morning they're down at the dealership buying a gaggle of 4 wheelers and a trailer and a truck to pull it with. It's really that fun. If you don't believe me, try it some time. It's really hard to live here and not know somebody that has at least 2 ATV's or a 4 wheel drive of some sort, and most would be glad to take you along, especially if they know they might convert you. If you are so closed minded that you wouldn't even agree to try it before you pass judgement, then leave. You are no longer welcome to read my blog. My mother used to say "don't knock it until you try it," wise words then, and still wise words today.
Go ahead, I dare you, you little treehugging eco pukes, go borrow an ATV and go ride it in the mountains, if you don't have fun I'll eat my shorts. And I ain't talking about raising hell either, I'm talking about riding on the trails, legally, and showing respect for other trail users, and packing out your own garbage, and not making an excessive amount of noise. See, no matter what the propaganda going around says, that's the way most, as in 98% or better not just more than half, of us are.
If we see a can, we pick it up and take it with us (this doesn't happen very often, but from time to time a smelly hiker pitches trash along the trail, must be hikers because all of the ATV riders I've known are afraid that the Sierra Club has spy cameras in the trees and they're way too scared to drop so much as a sunflower seed shell for fear that the trail will be closed next week if they do).
If we see other riders behaving unethically we have been known to have a little talk with them about their bad habits (once again, doesn't happen very often, but from time to time someone reveals a riding spot and we have to educate all of those Californians).
Various ATV, motorcycle, and 4 wheel drive clubs volunteer their time regularly to help the Forest Service with trail maintenance, that's volunteer, as in free of charge, that means at no cost to the taxpayers, get the picture? Still, we are made out to be the enemy of a healthy ecosystem. WTF?
Let me ask you this, who do you think cares more about the forest, someone who spends time in the woods learning about the wildlife and plants and exploring every nook and cranny that they can get to, or some rich old busybody in New York or California that looks at a few pictures of worst case scenarios and then writes a big check to the Sierra Club to help with the war effort. It's an easy question for me to answer but if you find yourself struggling with it just go to the Sierra Club's website and read the crap that they have there, then go get on an ATV and go riding someplace legal, if you see any of the abuse that they will sware abounds, once again, I'll eat my shorts.
Today I stopped at several creek crossings to allow the brook trout to scatter before crossing, but if you listen to the green weinies they'll tell you that ATV's destroy fish habitat by stirring up sediment, give me a break, I grew up in Eastern Montana where the river water is so muddy that you can see the raccoon tracks floating downstream and the river was still full of fish, sediment my ass. The most ironic part was the fact that I had to wait for the fish to scatter, seems that they loved the deeper, slower flowing areas where years of crossing had created a pool for them to rest in. Put that in your enviro pipe and smoke it.
Today, for the second time in my life, one of my riding buddies picked up an empty can and packed it out, that's the second time, as in it happened once before, but the friends of the forest types would like you to believe that all areas open for motorized travel are veritable garbage dumps. Simply not the case.
I saw no examples of accelerated erosion, a favorite excuse of the nature nuts, as a matter of fact I saw several areas where rubber flaps had been placed across the trail on steep grades to prevent erosion, most of which were probably placed there by off road clubs just like the bridges that have been built across the creek in several places to help protect "sensitive riparian areas" or whatever the hell the green freaks call the mud next to the water.
I saw no examples of excessive exhaust emissions. Excessive exhaust emissions? If my little 350 cc 4 wheeler gives off half of the airborne toxins that your humongo gas guzzling SUV gives off, once again, I'll eat my shorts. And don't even start in on me about the whole two stroke engine thing, I ride a four stroke, and all of my friends with the exception of one ride four strokes. The one that rides a two stroke uses synthetic oil in it which gives off far less emissions than mineral oil. Oh yeah, and answer me this Mr. friend of the earth punk: do you even know the difference between a two and a four stroke engine? If you say that the Sierra Club says four strokes are bad and two strokes are worse your nose is so busted. I know the difference, and I know how to keep both of them running right so that they aren't giving off any more smoke than they have to, and believe me, that is far less than most cars on the road.
Wanna know the best thing about 4 wheeling? It's better than the friendships, better than the scenery, better than the wildlife, better than the thrills, the spills, the adrenaline rush, it's even better than beating up a smelly ozone saving, tree hugging, Birkenstock wearing nature boy.
It's the fact that for at least one more day, this guy won't try meth, he won't steal anything, he won't get beat up or killed, he won't beat anyone up or kill anyone, he won't dress like a gang banger and disrespect his elders, he won't drink, he won't sit on his butt and watch tv or play video games, he won't get a bad grade, and he won't get screwed with by some asshole wannabe cop, because today he was 4 wheeling with his dad. I love this guy enough to take on a whole army of treehuggers, because every day we spend doing things like this together, is just that much more likely that he won't ever do any of those things, and there's a lot of dads, and moms out there that feel the same way.
Bring it on nature boy, I've been to the pond and back, wanna dance?