My two-wheel infatuation is now a few decades old, and in all this time I must confess the idea of trading up to four wheels was never a consideration. In my opinion, what’s the point? They’re too easy to ride, slow, big, and lack the challenge. But then I believe that everything is worth trying once, so when an opportunity presented itself to give ATVing a go, I couldn't resist.
I met up with Kim and Joe of Back Country Tours at a secret location in Muskoka for an introduction to their equipment and a tour of their forest playground. A quick how-to lesson from Kim; brake, throttle, shift your weight to the side, front, back; and most importantly, don’t try to put your feet down on the ground – a common occurrence when on two wheels, not a good idea on four. Fire it up, a few test turns, and we’re good to go.
Yes, the operation of an ATV is pretty simple. Automatic transmission means no need to concern yourself with gear changing; just press the thumb control throttle and you’re off. With brake controls at both hands and the right foot, stopping is a breeze. Super stable four-wheel platform, tipping over not much of a concern. So does easy to ride mean boring? No, but it does mean that anybody can ride one and experience the thrill of motor sports, and that’s a good thing.
Mud, water, rocks, logs dirt roads, all fun; the challenge is in the terrain, and there is something here for every skill level. My favourite is the tech sections. At first glance they seem to be impassible stretches of mud and rocks, but steady your throttle hand, shift your weight, pick your line, and it’s amazing what these machines can get through.
The ATV, safety gear and guides are part of the tour package, but there are a couple of items you need to bring. Two things you are guaranteed to find in the forests of northern Ontario are trees and bugs; during certain times of the year, the bugs outnumber the trees. Bug spray is a must; how liberally you need to apply it depends on the season. Mud and ATVs go hand in hand: whether you splash through a shallow puddle or test the limits of your machine in a seat-deep river crossing, you will get wet, you will get dirty; a change of clothes and a towel for the trip home, a good idea.
So here we are taking a break on the trail, wet, dirty and tired. Sharing a laugh in the company of friends or family, or maybe just enjoying the solitude of being alone. The setting sun warms your face, the dust sparkles in the air as it drifts back down to the ground. Two wheels or four, this is what it’s all about—friends, nature, good trails and a motor—good times.
So has this experience changed my opinion of ATV riding? Hmm... Yes, I was wrong. There, I said it. I sure hope my wife doesn’t read this; just knowing these words exist in my vocabulary could alter the balance of our marriage forever.
Today was a blast!
Click here to book a tour at the highly recommended Back Country Tours.
For more photos visit www.outerimages.com.
If you're in the area and looking for a place to stay, check out these ATV-friendly resorts: