— Tis the season… — By D. West

We have moved into a new riding season now, and that is, of course, determined by the climate. The weather brings cooler temperatures, which is a welcome change from the burning hot days of riding in the summer. I suppose one’s fondness of this climate difference is based on what part of the country one lives in. I’ve never lived way up north and had to deal with deep snow and ice. Perhaps I’d dread wintertime if it kept me from being able to ride on good old dirt. However, I live in the Southern California area where the temperature is quite pleasant in the desert during the winter months. You can’t even think about riding in the desert in the summer months when the temps regularly exceed 110 degrees.

Before moving to California to work for Dirt Wheels magazine I lived in New Orleans. My brother, our buddies and I regularly rode the trails in Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. It was great riding in the fall and winter, but a bit uncomfortable in the summer. I was reminded of that this past Labor Day weekend when I went back to New Orleans for a visit. Wow, the summer humidity killed me. My glasses would fog up whenever I stepped out of an air-conditioned building. When I was younger I could do long rides in those conditions, but now that I’m older, my summer rides there are much shorter.

Yep, I usually make my visits to the South during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and my recent summer visit made it clear that I should continue that later-in-the-year schedule. It’s not just the cooler temperatures, but the holiday mood just caters to the get-together activities between family and friends. You do spend more money for food and more time preparing big meals, but, hey, that’s just part of the fun. And around Christmastime, you also have to put some thought into choosing gifts. 

Buying Christmas presents for the ladies was never my strong point. It’s much easier for me to buy gifts for my riding buddies. In the past, I would typically give them tools that I needed. If I needed to pull a clutch, I’d borrow the special clutch-pulling tool from the guy I gave one to. If I needed to change a tire, I’d borrow the deluxe tire irons from the buddy I gave a set to. Feel free to use my gift ideas here, along with the other gifts in the “Buyer’s Guide” elsewhere in this issue.

Speaking of Christmas gifts, I noticed something while back home visiting relatives. Certain ATVs that I was used to seeing were in different garages. What used to be in one nephew’s garage was now in another nephew’s garage. The veteran riders will figure out that I’m referring to mini ATVs for the younger folks. Machines like ATC70s, Suzuki LT80s and TRX90s just keep on running, and seem to last forever. When one child outgrows his or her mini ATV, then a younger relative inherits it. Typically, it gets spruced up and is presented to them on Christmas morning. It just goes to show how well those little wheelers are made. That is one class of ATVs you shouldn’t be afraid to buy used. Keep it in good shape, and three years later you may be able to sell it for what you paid for it. And, the buyer might just be your cousin. Once a mini machine winds up within the family tree, it tends to remain there.

Oh, and Merry Christmas everyone.





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