Bitten by the ATV bug

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jun 18, 2014

We bought a two-person ATV in April. It wasn't some second-hand machine we found in Uncle Henry's. It was new, a 2013 model, right off the showroom floor. It was shiny, unscratched, fire engine red.

And it was nothing I'd ever wanted before.

That was the really strange part. On the way to try out a two-seater for the first time, I was anxious, as I usually am before a new experience. I had tried driving an ATV several years ago, and had not enjoyed it. In fact, I really hadn't seen the fun of a noisy, smelly, hard-to-steer vehicle that constantly jolted you. In short, I did not have a good history with quads.

But we needed a backup for our 10-year-old machine that Maureen uses to plow the driveway in winter and haul things in summer, and we had talked about getting a two-up so we could go riding together. Sitting in the car on the way to our test ride, I thought, “Instead of being afraid, you could look at this as a way for you and Maureen to have adventures together.”

And for some wonderful reason I can't explain, it took. That thought shifted my attitude, and grew into a decision to go riding with Maureen. I enjoyed our very brief test ride. Which is to say, I felt safe enough riding in the passenger seat to be willing to do it again.

Of course, ATVs have advanced since I rode one 10 years ago. Now they have nice shock absorbers; ours even has power steering – Maureen's idea of heaven.

After we got our new machine, we had to wait for the trails to open. They were too wet. But that gave us (me) time to practice riding up and down our tiny dirt road getting used to how much faster an ATV feels than a car.

Finally, a couple of weekends ago, we got to go for a trail ride. I was still a tiny bit nervous about whether I'd like it enough to want to do it for an hour or more at a time. Would my decision to have fun hold, or would I fall back into my pattern of being afraid of new things?

I am here to tell you: It was great! On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, we drove to Ellsworth and took the Downeast Sunrise Trail for about 20 miles. We rode through woods and bog land, saw beaver dams and a giant bird nest, smelled pines and, whenever we stopped, heard birdsong. An added advantage was that while we were moving the black flies couldn't catch us.

There were many others on the trail, all of whom held up their index fingers in greeting as we passed each other. I thought, “Boy, these ATV'ers sure are friendly.”

It was so much fun, I wanted to ride again the next day. Since Sunday obliged by being as beautiful as Saturday, we headed to Newport. The trail was more wooded than Downeast Sunrise, and also went through towns. It passed by Sebasticook Lake as well. I'm glad it was our second ride, because it was much bumpier than our first one, but by that time I was having fun and was comfortable enough with the experience of riding that it didn't bother me at all.

On the Newport trail, I noticed that when we passed other riders, they held up different numbers of fingers and quickly figured out that they were telling us how many vehicles in their party were behind them. What I had interpreted as friendliness the day before was actually other riders telling us there was another ATV in their group behind them. We also got some waves, and riders do seem like a friendly bunch. We saw walkers, bicyclists and dirt bike riders as well.

We didn't take as many breaks on Sunday as we had the day before, and by the end of our 30-mile ride, my posterior was a bit achy. Next time, I would have to remember to stop now and then to stretch.

Now I really had the bug. I couldn't wait until our next outing. But I had to, because the following weekend Maureen was going out of town. Last weekend I actually missed church so we could ride the Jay to Farmington trail. It was beautiful, woodsy and full of pine smell. If you can worship on a golf course, why not on a trail?

On the way home, we were talking about a weekend trip where we would ride all one day, stay somewhere overnight, and ride back the next day.

It's not just the wind in my face, being in the woods, the sights and smells — though all of that is wonderful. Riding is a little rush: it makes me feel happy. And because it makes Maureen happy too, I feel close to her. Sharing the happy is really the best part.

All because of a shift in attitude.

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