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By: Jason Giacchino

October 2007 - Off The Pegs

New Trails & New Friends

Typically I don’t mind the cooler nights of fall or for that matter the crisp early mornings that follow.  There is something magical about shredding blackened loam while dew glistens on your rear fenders.  This was one such weekend; temps reached a high of near 60 in the days and the nights dipped down into the 30's.  Aside from swilling coffee and poring over ATV magazines, I had to take moment to dig out my trusty Alpinestars hoody.  Yeah, it was that cold!  Anyway, I snuck a couple of picturesque rides in while the leaves were just starting to hint of fall with yellow veins crisscrossing the green that remained.

While my group of riding buddies and I are fairly comfortable and confident blasting along our usual network of trails, every once in a while we get the urge to venture out beyond the borders we’re used to.  It probably didn’t help that we just so happened to come upon a fairly fresh looking extension jutting off the grape-vineyard roads we often frequent.  Curiosity got the best of us, and our small band of three quads veered off the beaten path into the unknown.

The main trail, like much of the terrain in my area, was hard-packed clay and fairly dry.  It extended in both directions and was quickly obscured from view because of its many twists and turns.  From there it appeared to offer several side routes which periodically popped up on both sides.  Best of all, the terrain was clearly carved by ATVs as indicated by the twin footprints that accepted our Dunlops as if fitted just for us.  We slowly explored the main trail for several miles before finally coming upon a camp-site complete with a stone-lined firepit and surrounding semi-circle of benches.  To the right was a steep sandy hill with (much to our delight) more double-track quad trails spider-webbing across a field of green.

Naturally, we zipped up the hill-climb single file and onto the field beyond.  Fallen trees were chain sawed cleanly where the trail crossed and overhanging foliage was trimmed to perfection several feet above our helmeted heads.  The field we were crossing suddenly gave way to a vista point that would have looked right at home as the background on your computer screen.  Rolling green hills and a pasture of tall corn stalks sprawled out before us.  We shut the quads off to enjoy the view when, to our surprise, the distant rumble of a thumper continued to echo off the hillside.  It was definitely the exhaust note of a performance machine and growing steadily louder at that.  We waited patiently until the source of the noise revealed itself: A black 2003 Bombardier DS650 burst around the corner ahead of us and came to a rest on the path in front of our parked caravan.

It turned out that the machine’s operator was a friendly fellow also named Jason (one of many things we would have in common).  We all got to talking and discovered that he was the owner of the land that we were trespassing on and that the trails we were exploring were the result of countless hours of his manual labor.

“You mean you’ve built all of these trails without any equipment?” we asked, trying to conceal our surprise.

He just shook his head.

“All of this by hand. It’s taken me several years but I’ve finally got my trail system to connect to the vineyard you entered from.”

It also turned out we had many friends and acquaintances in common.  We took turns on that sunny Saturday examining each other’s quads with questions and answered with tales of adventure that each scratch and ding carried with them.  We apologized for not getting permission to ride on his land to which he officially invited us to enjoy the fruits of his labor anytime (except hunting season).  We exchanged cell phone numbers and offered labor assistance for the next time he decided to work on his trails.  Despite some prodding, we couldn’t get him to accompany us for the remainder of our ride, but we parted with a hardy handshake and a silent nod.

I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised with the land owner’s welcoming attitude and friendliness--he was, after all, a fellow rider.  My buddies and I assured him that we would tread lightly on his terrain and made certain to thank him for allowing us to enjoy his beautiful property.  Fall has always been one of my favorite times of the year to ride and making new friends out on the trail makes a good thing even better.

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