ATV Tips with Tom Herr

Summer in the state of Minnesota provides outdoor enthusiasts with a number of exciting hobbies that almost anyone can enjoy.  For some, a quiet day of fishing or hiking provides all the entertainment one needs.  But for those who prefer a rush of adrenaline along with their outdoor experience,  All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s) have been the common selection.  ATV riding has been and will continue to be one of my favorite pastimes.  Growing up on a dairy farm in rural Wisconsin and having friends that often rode, it was always my #1 hobby.   It provides the ability to tour large areas in a  small window of time, and when combined with the continued improvement of the machines themselves and the expansion of available trails to ride, it is easy to see why the popularity of the sport has grown in recent years.  It truly has created an exciting and unique way to experience the outdoors.

But too often the fun of riding is cut short by accidents.  Speaking from experience, it is imperative that riders of every age first take the necessary time to learn what it means to operate an ATV in a safe manner.   The State of Minnesota and the DNR have done a great job providing safety courses and outlining the rules and regulations of riding ATV’s, but from my perspective it is always the riders responsibility to operate their ATV in a safe and responsible manner.  The manufacturers of ATV’s have done an excellent job improving the machines we have access to, but too often riders do not take the time to properly understand what their ATV is capable of.  Improvements in the safety and handling of a machine is almost always accompanied with more horsepower and higher speeds.  Before anyone operates an ATV in a serious manner, they must review and understand the current Rules and Regulations booklet located at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/ohv/index.html.   Along with these, I’d like to share some additional tips that I’ve found useful when riding ATV’s:

  1. Have a copy of the current years regulations in the toolbox of the ATV or saved as a PDF on your phone.  You never know when you might find yourself in a situation where you need to reference it.
  2. If you are unsure of whether or not you are supposed to be riding in a certain area, don’t.  If you are planning a ride in areas you are not familiar with, do some research first to understand the trail system and access rules.
  3. Respect landowners and their property.    Always ask permission if you want to access areas that are not part of the trail system, this will go a long way and most times is an opportunity to build relationships with great people.
  4. Know your vehicle.  I cannot stress this enough!  Many people will never open the owner’s manual of their ATV, which is unfortunate since it is filled with useful information that will allow you to get the best performance out of your machine.   Take the time to learn about your machine and what it is and isn’t capable of.
  5. At a high level, be able to diagnose issues and have the tools to perform basic maintenance.
  6. Example à If you can’t change a tire or a spark plug in the luxury of your lighted garage, the odds of you performing this task on a dark trail or frozen lake isn’t in your favor!
  7. Ride in pairs or have a way to communicate with friends or family in case of an emergency.
  8. If you are planning to cover a large area over multiple days, share that riding plan with another person.

When properly planned, an ATV ride or trip can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family.  It is an excellent way to create fun memories and also a way to educate younger riders about the outdoors and our place in it.  I hope you have a fun and safe summer ride!

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Dale Klein

Dale Klein is the president and owner of Parallel Technologies. He has more than two decades of experience in technology and business leadership. He transformed Parallel Technologies from a cabling services company into a high-growth technology company by helping clients with their reliable data center and intelligent building strategies.