WHERE TO RIDE

— And who to ride with —

By Karel Kramer

There are excellent reasons why most of us are creatures of habit. In the case of off-roaders, that means that we ride or drive the same type of machines in the same place with the same people. That totally makes sense. At your favorite ride spot there is no wasted mental effort searching for a trail or wondering whether you are looking at a dead end or a through-route. Piloting the same machine has good points as well. You know every creak, rattle and bump, so mechanical issues have no way to sneak up on you.

Once you have a group of riding partners that works, it is hard to break away from that as well. The ideal group has riders that prep their machines, don’t ride like bozos, and carry what they need to get home or to the truck. Folks who you feel comfortable with. We recently had a road trip that saw us piloting quads in the Las Vegas area on the way to two days in southern Utah near St. George and Zion National Park. Our first day was at Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, Utah near St. George.

We’ve been there before, but this time we got more exploring in and discovered dune areas and rock trails we had never seen before. Our route included a trail called Upper West Rim. We have Jeep friends in the area who told us that they enjoy Sand Hollow, but complained that Upper West Rim—their favorite trail—takes all day. Maybe in a Jeep, but we were in the new Honda Talon 1000R sport UTV, and we finished the loop easily before lunch with photo stops and riding in a large group!

For the next day we had a trail adventure with a point-to-point drive on the Barracks trail in East Virgin River Canyon. We were close to Coral Pink Sand Dunes and ended at Mt. Carmel Junction bordering Zion National Park. The trail was 21 miles each way, and the views and the drive experience were amazing. We were well out of our comfort zone. Without a GPS tracker or a guide, we would have been in trouble trying to find our way. For our ride, Honda provided the guides and had scouted the way.

However, we could, or, more important, you could plan your own adventure. There are a plethora of off-road apps that allow you to find GPS tracks and maps of trails. This isn’t a guidebook to finding a trail adventure, but a reminder that new trail adventures can provide memories for a lifetime. There is no reason to insist that all of your rides are epic adventures, but every once in a while it is well worth stepping out of the box and finding a new adventure.

Why do you think that the Hatfield-McCoy trail system has proven so successful? It makes an epic destination trip not only possible but easy. The trails are well-marked, and it is easy for a newbie to navigate. The trails themselves are interesting, with plenty of natural wonder to eyeball. To make the experience all the more unique, the trail system has made it possible to enter towns with your OHV. If you think about it, navigating a KFC drive-through on your 4×4 quad isn’t really that convenient compared to sitting in an air-conditioned vehicle listening to Rush Limbaugh or Lady Gaga. But, it is a unique experience that burns the trip into memory.

And the memories are the point, right? Sure, we love the thrill of speed, getting squashed into the seat by G-forces, feeling the front wheels get light, experiencing the weightless moment before landing from a jump or even just letting the rear wheels drift out in a turn. But those thrills stick in our memory for a bit, and they certainly de-cobweb and anti-stress the mind. For us, it is the experiences, new vistas, found friends and pushing outside the ordinary that really makes a memory that lasts. Get yourself out for an adventure that ruptures the boundaries of the ordinary if you can. If you can’t, just get out there and have some fun.

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