Shifting Gears and Straddling Ruts

Would you like to know the basics of riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV)? It’s definitely different from cruising in your more civilized automobiles, but it’s very popular. ATVs account for more than half of all spark-ignited (SI) recreational vehicles in the US. Once you get a few simple functions figured out, riding an ATV is all about shifting gears and straddling ruts. If you have an automatic ATV, shifting gears is all taken care of, and it gets down to maneuvering the ruts.

On a quad, you have the throttle, which is on the right-hand handlebar. Pushing and releasing the throttle controls your speed.

Most ATVs have a total of three brakes: the parking brake, the foot brake, and the right-hand brake. The parking brake is for when your quad is parked. The right-hand brake controls the front brakes. The foot brake controls the rear wheels, which you will typically use when you need to slow down or stop as you are coming down a hill. The only time you may need to be concerned about flipping as you brake going downhill is if the hill is very steep and you’re traveling at a high speed. In this situation, you could flip forward if you use the right-hand brake.

Shifting Gears
There are usually five gears on an ATV. Shifting should be done smoothly and at the appropriate time. Your engine will last longer if you aren’t revving your engine excessively. Shift to higher gears when the rpm’s are high, not low. Before shifting, release your thumb from the gas and quickly shift up. At that point, your engine should be operating at lower rpm’s. When you shift down, the rpm’s on the engine should be low. The times to shift down are when it feels that the engine is losing power or when you are climbing a hill.

Note about shifting: Higher gears are designed for less power and more speed. Lower gears are designed for less speed and more power. About the five gears:
• 1st is the gear with the most power, and it’s perfect for going up hills.
• 2nd is ideal for slow trail riding.
• 3rd is a gear that’s perfect for speeding up and slowing down.
• 4th is the gear for cruising on a smooth path.
• 5th is the weakest gear, and it is the one to use when racing over mountain trails.

Straddling Ruts
Encountering ruts is very much a part of the experience of driving on ATV trails. They are challenging and dangerous, since maneuvering them can result in tipping your ATV over. Ruts are created by tires in muddy conditions, which makes them very unpredictable. It’s best to shift to a lower gear and travel slowly on ruts, with both wheels on the edges. Stop if it feels that your ATV is going to tip. Travel with care!

Be patient with yourself when you’re learning to ride an ATV. It’s definitely an adventure sport. As soon as you have all the shifting, throttling, braking, and rut-straddling mastered, you can have many hours of bliss totally crushing it.

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Employer Safe ATV Practices from the CDC

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) aren’t just for fun. For at least three decades, ATVs have been used in many different workplaces. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides statistics on ATV fatalities as well as recommended safe practices for employers whose workers use ATVs.

Industries that use ATVs
ATVs are helpful because they can provide transportation in places where larger vehicles can’t be used. They are easy to maneuver because of their low weight and oversized, low-pressure tires. The following are some of the many workplaces and industries in which ATVs are frequently used:
• Mineral and oil exploration
• Ranching
• Farming
• Land management
• Land surveying
• Law enforcement
• Wild land fire control
• Emergency medical response
• Construction operations
• Border patrol and security
• Forestry activities

On-the-job ATV fatalities
The number of ATV fatalities in the workplace has steadily increased over the years. In 1992, there were 11 ATV-related deaths. By 2007, there were 41 such deaths that occurred on the job. The majority of the fatal accidents occurred in agriculture production, at 61%. More than half of the deadly crashes occurred on farms, and about 20% happened on highways. Rolls and overturns were involved in half of the deadly incidents. A total of 300 workplace deaths occurred that were related to ATVs between 1992 and 2007. Research on these tragic incidents reveals that ATV operators more than 64 years old are at an increased risk of injury for a variety of reasons. For instance, they may have visual and hearing limitations and decreased muscle range that affects reaction time, balance, and mobility.

Employer tips for ATV workplace safety
Employers have a responsibility to provide workers with a safe workplace environment. They are also supposed to make sure their employees have the proper training and skillset to operate machinery of any kind. Appropriate safety equipment is also supposed to be provided to workers. The following are safe practices that the CDC recommends for employers:
• Provide eye protection and helmets for workers using ATVs.
• Encourage workers to wear sturdy boots, gloves, pants, and long shirts when operating ATVs.
• Identify possibly hazards–such as trenches, guy wires, and excavations–that may be present in workplace settings. Then eliminate them when possible, or mark them so that workers can easily see and avoid the hazards.
• Provide workers with access to hands-on ATV Safety training by a qualified instructor.

ATVs will probably continue to grow in usefulness, as the many practical uses of quads are recognized. Whether riding an ATV for pure fun or for work, safety should always be the top consideration.

Indoor and Outdoor Storage for ATVs

All-terrain vehicles are undeniably sturdy, but they need to be covered when not in use. Otherwise, deterioration will occur more quickly. ATVs are too expensive to leave outside to suffer the harsh effects of the weather. There’s no doubt about it: ATVs need to be covered in storage, whether outdoors or indoors.

Damage caused by the elements
It makes no sense to leave any kind of expensive toy outside to suffer exposure to the elements, and that definitely includes ATVs. The tires are subject to being damaged from extended exposure to the sun. Rain and humidity in general can cause components of an ATV to rust. The water gets everywhere, potentially creating hidden damage. The following are some of the effects of rust and water exposure:
• Weakens metal
• Some components experience reduced functionality
• If there is water down inside the ATV and it freezes, parts could expand and contract, causing damage. This freeze-thaw action has caused entire mountains to collapse, and it can certainly cause damage to a quad, as well.

ATV indoor storage
It’s best if you can park your ATV within a secure environment, similar to when pet owners bring their dogs and cats in the house anytime the weather is nasty outside. The following are some of the possibilities for indoor storage options:
• The garage is most obvious. There’s not always room for an ATV however, making it necessary to find other options.
• Shed storage is possible, though the door may need to be modified to get the ATV inside.
• A barn can be perfect for ATV storage, if there’s some available space. Just be careful not to drive over the proverbial pitchfork used to move haystacks.
• Self-storage facilities aren’t just for the junk that no longer fits in the attic. They can also be used for ATV storage, with the added benefit of 24-hour security.
• Storage containers are becoming more and more common, with the typical size around 8 feet tall by 8 feet wide and different lengths.

Outdoor storage for quads
The second best option for storing your ATV when it’s not in use is with a covering of some kind overhead. The following are tremendous improvements over no protection at all:
• A lean-to, such as eaves extensions, can provide some helpful protection.
• A carport is a great alternative to indoor storage.
• If you have a wide porch, you could maybe build some ramps and park your ATV there.
• If there is a large area of overhang of a deck or roof, it could work as ATV storage.

If you’re like most ATV owners, you get as much pleasure out of caring for your quad as you do riding it. ATVs take a beating with the rough riding done on off-road trails, and parking them outside can create accelerated deterioration. You can enjoy your favorite hobby a lot longer at less expense if you keep your quad covered whenever it’s not in use.

Why Check the Weather Before Off-Road Riding?

You’ve waited all week for an off-road getaway and don’t want anything to hold you back. But it’s really a good idea to check weather forecasts before leaving. It can be very uncomfortable and downright dangerous to get caught in a rainstorm. If you’ve never considered the importance of being ready for a wet ride, be sure and see the following warnings and tips.

Effects of precipitation on off-road trails
The recent spate of catastrophic weather events notwithstanding, it can be easy to forget how quickly rainfall can create life-threatening situations. Of course, not all rainfall creates danger on off-road trails. But even a gentle downpour can cause you to get soggy and feel miserable. You might even develop a case of athletes’ foot because you wore wet socks too long. The following are various rain-related problems that can occur on off-road trails:
• Sprinkles and drizzling rain are rarely worrisome on off-road trails.
• Sudden bursts of heavy showers that pass over quickly might leave you soaked, but the trail may not be too badly affected.
• If a lingering downpour comes along while you’re riding your quad, it’s very likely you will encounter slick conditions as you make your way back to the starting point. You may need to use your winch, if the mud gets too thick in various spots.
• If it comes a full-blown gully washer, creeks , streams, and rivers can pose a genuine threat to anyone caught deep in an off-road trail system. Checking the weather before leaving your house is mostly about avoiding this kind of nasty situation, plus the one immediately below.
• Lightening is dangerous. You definitely don’t want to get caught in the middle of nature when a lightning storm comes along. Some years back in Utah, an ATV trail worker sheltered underneath a tree during a rain storm. Tragically, he was struck and killed by lightning.

Tips for driving through wet conditions
If you’ve checked the weather and discovered that a rain storm is likely, study the map of the area you’re riding, if possible. Look for potential shelters you could access, as needed, including buildings, parks, bridge underpasses, and rock overhangs. Be aware that slot canyons are prone to flooding, and these areas should be avoided in rain storms. Also, remember that streams and creeks that are usually easy to cross can suddenly become deep, swift, and dangerous. Never drive through water when you can’t see the bottom. Also, if water appears to be flowing at a rapid pace, avoid the area. When you must cross through, keep your tires headed downstream and work with, not against, the current.

Enjoy riding on your ATV every chance you get! Just don’t forget to consult the local weather forecaster before you head out. It could end up being an important detail.

ATV Maintenance Tips

ATVs have something very unique about them. Although just about any complex item you may buy comes with a manufacturer’s handbook, it is seldom essential to actually read the manual. ATV owners, on the other hand, should read the accompanying manual from cover to cover. Proper maintenance and safe operation are essential considerations, and no one knows better than the manufacturers of all-terrain vehicles how to achieve both. There are some helpful tips, however, that are not in the manual, including a few that follow.

Protect Plastics
Getting your ATV dirty on off-road trails is as satisfying as keeping your ATV in pristine shape, as much as possible. Riding ATVs is an adventure sport, which can get rough and messy. The plastics tend to be the quickest parts of the machine to show unsightly wear and tear. Replacing the pieces can be costly. Here’s a tip your manufacturer won’t tell you because it could mean you don’t have to purchase as many replacement parts. Install a graphic kit while your machine is still shiny new. If possible, cover high-rub areas with clear vinyl. This will keep your quad looking sharp a lot longer. 12-mil vinyl is available at sign shops and from graphics/decal companies.

Protect Electronics
Your engine and various parts of your ATV can really take a beating. Everything can get extremely wet, as well. You can make your maintenance efforts easier by taking steps to protect electrical components from damage caused by water. Dielectric grease applied liberally to all electrical connections all over your ATV can repel water and keep it from seeping in and causing shorts in the electrical systems.

Tighten Lug Nuts
ATV safety largely depends upon all the parts of your quad being securely attached, but the lug nuts are often dangerously loose, including on a new ATV. During shipment, usually in a crate that’s tightly packed, it’s tough to predict precisely what is going to happen. Apparently, lug nuts often come loose in transit. Aluminum wheels are particularly susceptible to loose nuts. This is a tip gained through experience as an ATV enthusiast. A common experience on ATV trails is for a rider’s wheels to come off.

There is no doubt about it; Learning from quad riders can be as important as reading the manufacturer’s manual. It’s fair to say that both are essential.

Plan Ahead for a Frostbite Free Winter on Your ATV

I will never forget the time I got frostbite. It especially comes to mind when I prepare to ride my ATV in really cold weather. I was a private in basic training at “Relaxin’ Jackson” in South Carolina. During a week-long stint out in the field, a very wet cold front stormed in and caused the temperature to drop to below freezing. Suddenly, I found myself exhausted, wet, and unprepared. My feet went numb and then it was like my brain went numb. My blood felt like it was turning to ice in my veins. The next morning, I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes at all. I hobbled over to the nearest drill sergeant, who instructed me to remove my boots. I was horrified to discover my feet covered in frostnip and several of my toes in stage two, superficial frostbite. I had to be rushed back to base, where my toes were rewarmed. The healing process made them black and blue for weeks. It was not the kind of “battle wound” I wanted to show off or the kind of “battle story” I care to relive.

Frostnip, frostbite, trench foot, hypothermia, and more are lurking in the cold. Overexposure to the winter weather can be life-threatening, cause permanent damage, and require amputation.

Frostbite is the freezing of body parts. It occurs when ice crystals form in tissue and begin to damage cells and blood vessels. It is most likely to affect extremities with the least circulation and furthest from the body’s core. Fingers, toes, ears, and nose are most at risk. It starts with numbing, which makes it easier to ignore in turbulent conditions, then has 4 levels of severity, each becoming progressively gruesome.

As the temperature begins to drop and you start planning your next outdoor excursion, remember, “It’s better to be safe than sorry!” Here are some tips to help you prepare for the worst while hoping for the best as you set out on your winter ATV adventure. Tips on planning ahead:
• Check the weather before your excursion. You don’t want to be caught by surprise in unexpected rains or cold winds.
• Dress accordingly. It’s important to stay as dry and warm as possible. A good way to ward off dampness is to wear a synthetic wicking fabric close to the skin. Layers are essential and can easily be removed, as needed.
• Cover your sleeves with the outside of your gloves, as well as the ends of your pants with your socks. Any area of skin left exposed is at risk of possible mutilation.
• Wear a hat that covers your ears and in extreme cold, a ski mask to protect your face.
• Pack extra dry undergarments and socks.
• Stay dry at all times and keep your core as warm as you can.

Riding ATVs is all about fun. Don’t let it become your memory of the time you got frostbite.

The Big Discovery: ATVs at Bundy Hill Offroad

I used to live a boring life. I went to work with moderate road rage. I spent my days at the office counting the hours until the weekend, only to be greeted with more monotonous days of “normalcy.” One Saturday, a buddy of mine invited me to go camping at Bundy Hill Offroad in Southern Michigan. I had no idea my life was about to change. I packed the camping gear and he brought the “toys”. The first time I climbed aboard an ATV and felt the rumble of its power between my legs, my heart began to race. An unexplainable energy coursed through my veins. The mighty machine took me on the ride of my life. We were like mad men climbing over the steep hills, barreling through mud and shredding the land. I had never felt this kind of satisfaction in all my years and I knew that I never wanted to live without it again. One visit at Bundy Hill Offroad riding an ATV was all it took for me to get “hooked.” I started my own collection of all-terrain vehicles and my family also became infected with the love of the sport.
Do you have the need? The need for speed? If you are sitting in traffic and find yourself with the uncontrollable desire to pop a wheelie and drive over the cars ahead, you are not alone. If you crave the rush associated with crashing over rocks and speeding across open land, you might be an all-terrain adrenaline junkie. Adrenaline is a powerful hormone in your body released when in the state of excitement. There is no shame in being addicted to the feeling only adventure can provide. First, you have to be able to admit that you have a problem. A problem being cooped up in the city. A problem being limited to cars, trucks, speed limits, and stop lights. Once you have identified your problem, you can take a step in treating your addiction.
The only way to properly fulfill your appetite for the extreme is to upgrade your recreational environment. Bundy Hill Offroad is an excellent place to meet your courageous desires. It is 350 acres of land designed to amplify the powers of all-terrain vehicles. They offer a seemingly endless supply of wooded trails, steep hills, and gullies. You can explore paths that include pea-gravel and rock climbs, even hood deep waters and more. Bundy Hill Offroad is a family friendly environment that prohibits alcohol and encourages a free spirit to push his or her ATV to its maximum capacity. Bundy offers a number of events and services at an affordable rate. It is the ideal place for all levels of enthusiasts to perfect their craft.