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Baja Charlie had a post about Trail Etiquette that made me think about people who are new to our hobby so I decided to write about some experiences with newbies we've had.

I've been into side-by-sides since my first Rhino in 2007. I caught wind of Yamaha (the factory) having an event at a local ORV park. They had a semi trailer with like 8 machines and they led people on a 20 minute trip through the park over varying terrain (logs/washouts/hills etc.). This is the type of real-world experience you can't get driving over a mound of dirt in the dealer's parking lot. I bought one 2 days later.

My folks were big fans of quads. I showed up for a visit one weekend with my new Rhino. Instantly I was getting "you can't go where we go with that thing", "it's not as maneuverable" etc. etc. etc. We rode all weekend and I kept telling them "these things are going to become a big deal, especially down south in your little retirement areas". As I was getting ready to head home Sunday they agreed to take it for a short test ride in the hills behind their house....they were gone for over an hour! They came back and were absolutely hooked. "We went places we would never try on the quads", "we could talk to each other while riding" etc. etc. etc. The quads were for sale the next day and a new Rhino was in their driveway that Tuesday afternoon (dealers here are closed Sunday/Monday).

Fast forward 11 years. The Rhino is long gone, 2 Rzrs have come and gone, I'm the Ride Coordinator for our local ATV/UTV club and the stable at the time includes a General, "Stubby" the wrecked Ranger I bought for around the property, "Cat" the Wildcat Trail Limited I bought wrecked and repaired for a 50" trail machine and for family/friends to ride with us (plus I'm a sucker for "project vehicles" and I'm a cheap *******...but I admit it.:grin2:)

Another year passes and the hottie and I are on a club ride with about 20 machines. A fellow club member with a Rzr brought his neighbor along in his Ranger. The guy had no idea what group rides were like and was getting a real eye opener. We chatted for a bit that day and all had a good time. Fast forward a week and I get a response to my CL ad for "Cat". I mentioned that these "project vehicles" have to be for sale at all times to avoid an overpopulation situation around our place right? Anywhoo, through about a 4 point it's-a-small-world situation "Cat" goes to her new home with this guy from the ride (Scott). He wants it for his daughters to ride along with him and his wife (since they have now joined our club). The girls are excited about the new toy (he sent me a pic with a big smile), Scott tells me the wife is happy that the girls can go too and clearly Scott is happy because all 3 girls in his life are happy. Oh, and the hottie is happy because we have one less "project vehicle" around the house. Puppy dogs and rainbows everywhere!!!

Shortly after all that a rep from an injured veterans group comes to our club meeting to ask if anybody will lead a one-day ride for them. Well I was volunteering before he finished the word "veterans" because I'm one myself. 2 minutes after the meeting Scott (also a vet) and a half dozen others are offering to help on the ride and buy lunches for the vets and their spouses. We've got a 30 day window to establish a route, secure machines, make sure the lunch stop (which is 20 miles back in the woods) is prepared for 15 people on a Monday etc. Two dealers offer up the 2 machines each that we need and everything falls into place. All but one of the 8 vets/spouses had never been in a side-by-side. Forecast is for 95 degrees and sunny and we haven't had any rain in a while so dust is definitely on the menu. It doesn't help that I'm running a fever of 103 but that wasn't going to stop us. By the end of the day "we need to get one of these" was heard several times. Once gain, all is right with the world if only for a little bit that day.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our day-to-day routines that we don't look outside our bubble of influence. Step out of that bubble. Be thankful. Be a positive influence. Take somebody for a ride.

I want to throw out a big THANK YOU! to those that influenced me on this particular journey.
Yamaha for really starting the sport/rec SxS movement and having the factory reps put on that event all those years ago.
Polaris for upping the game and for starting the 50" SxS segment.
Can Am for having the "Demo unit" program that allowed those 2 dealers to let me drive off with $65,000+ worth of equipment for the vets to use.
Allsport Racing for 2 machines and for just being a great all-around company to deal with over the years.
Sandpoint Marine and Motorsports for trusting me with 2 machines even though you didn't know me from Adam.
The hottie for putting up with me and always having my back when my body lets me down.
 

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Great story Cheeto and thank you for your service and for helping fellow Veterans enjoy the great outdoors in a SxS

If.you are ever down south in Mexico come on by for a cold one.
Cheers
Baja Charlie
 

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Yes super post Cheeto !

Thanks for taking the time to post! And thanks for your time and willingness to show some that mite not have ever found the wonderful sport we enjoy! And lastly but not least Thanks for your service!
 

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Thank you Charlie for sharing your story and thank you for doing what you did for those injured Veterans.
I know they really appreciated all that you and the others did for them.
 

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Great story.


My initial experience was similar but no where as cool as yours. Wife and I were spending our Anniversary in Pigeon Forge TN. At breakfast one morning there was a rack of brochures for attractions and such. So we were grabbing the ones that interested us while we were waiting to be seated. At breakfast we were trying to plan our day and one of the brochures was from a place called Bluff Mountain Adventures and they did ATV and SXS tours. This was fall of 2015.


Now I grew up riding dirt bikes and had several over the years and even raced in the Blackwater 100 its last 2 years. But a crash that almost broke my neck was enough for me to give them up. A couple of years later I got married and we bought a Yamaha Waverunner to keep at my parent's lake house. Similar situation where we had one and so guest stood at the dock and waited their turn. So we got a second one, a Sea-Doo this time so 4 people could go at once. So these machines kind of took the place of dirt bikes for me. But alas all good things come to and end and my father passed and mom didn't want to keep the lake house so we sold it in 2014.

Back to fall 2015. So we booked a tour with this company. I was nervous as to how my wife would like this. She has had some back issues in the past and I didn't know if this would hurt her back or not. We showed up and were given a choice of Rhino's or ATV's. We took a Rhino and went on an absolutely awesome ride. And the wife loved it. :)

So we got back home and started talking about getting one and she just wanted to know where we would ride. Ok, I have to admit some shame here as I live in within an hour of the Hatfield McCoy trails and had never even really paid much attention to all of what was going on. But once I started researching where to ride, it was all over and the Spring of 2016 found me with a 2011 Commander X. Nice machine as I didn't want to buy new in case we ended up not liking it. But we did, even though it beat us to death sometimes.

Then in the fall of 2017 we were on our Anniversary trip in Sedona, AZ and decided to rent a SXS for the day. And maybe a twist of fate here, but GroupOn had 4-seaters cheaper than 2-seaters so the wife booked a 4-seat RZR S4 1000. The difference in the ride between the RZR (not even an XP) and our Commander was night and day and on the plane ride home we had decided to but a new 4-seater. Well sometime plans get changed and I found a nice used Maverick Max and bought it. Wife never really liked it so we decided to go "look" at a RZR like the one we rented.

So she is thinking RZR S, I am thinking XP or XPT. :) So we are walking around the dealership and she calls me over to this thing called a General. I knew what they were but we already had dual purpose machine and I wanted a pure sport machine. But she loved the interior of the General and to be fair, it blew the RZR away. So to make the rest of the story short, about a week later we had a 2018 G4 and have enjoyed it immensely.


And since it is a 4-seat, we have taken many friend riding and shown them things they would never have seen. :) So go, take your friends on an adventure.


PS: It also seems that bouncing around the trails has actually HELPED my wife's back. She guesses it is because all the jostling is loosening and strengthening it at the same time.
 
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