There I was, sitting on my little quad, and looking up at the hill in front of me like a death sentence. It was straight up, about 50 feet, and lots of soft gravel. I mean STRAIGHT UP!! I told myself “don’t even try to take this…you are in over your head. They will get more angry at having to call Life Flight to carry me out of here, than at having to turn around and retrace the seven miles back to camp if I refuse. I am just gonna refuse. Yup. I’m not going!”
One by one, I saw the dirt bikes, the Rhino’s, and eventually, the quads, climb the “death hill”. They would stop and watch for the next rider to make the climb. Each one got a big cheer as they topped the summit, and then looked back to watch the next one try. I was the last quad, and I just wanted “out”, but we were too far into the ride to turn around.
“How did I get myself into this?”
As I stared at the loose gravel, the “death hill”, and the group of grinning friends at the top, I remembered….
Getting started in the OHV riding lifestyle is probably one of the most intimidating tasks that I have ever undertaken. I used to drive through the desert on the way to and from my home in San Diego, CA to my Aunt’s house in Lake Havasu, AZ four or five times a year. Each time, I got stuck behind the long conga line of RVers, heading out to the dunes in Glamis, CA to spend their weekends chasing the elusive adrenaline rush that even cowards like me crave (on occasion)!
“Who are these folks?” I would ask myself. “How can I become one?” And more importantly “How much will this cost me?”
Well, I will tell you that they are anyone and everyone, from every age group, income level, social background, religious affiliation, and racial ethnicity, with a mutual passion for riding and desert camping. I will also tell you that not all start out wisely. This is a great “pass time” for established families that have gotten to the point in life where they can truely enjoy the fruits of many years of labor. This sport, Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) riding, is not always best suited for struggling newly weds or young adults trying to get a foothold on life. Since I have started riding, I have met many young families that have thrown themselves into inextricable debt trying to get into the “riding life” in style, and others that know exactly what they are getting in to, and are well prepared for the financial long haul.
Like many other sports, OHVing is EXPENSIVE first and foremost. I see so many young-uns buy their first quad, buggy, or dirt bike on credit, knowing that they can easily make the payments, and think that they have arrived. But like any sport, it is so much more than just buying the fun equipment. Anyone who has ever stumbled across that great set of Ping golf clubs on EBay; a smoking hot deal on a Snowboard on Craigslist; or the rock bottom deal on a Yamaha Raptor in the local paper; only to watch them gather dust in the garage, can tell you……get ready for the big picture. The initial investment is a fraction of what you will spend to be able to fully enjoy your new hobby.
That being said, and not wanting to be a total downer, I will tell you that I started out on a song and prayer (and not much disposable cash), and I made it all come together for my family. I researched for months on RV.net about what I would need and how much it would cost. I knew from the start that I would have to rely on purchasing used equipment, and even borrowing some from generous friends, in order to afford my new passion. I surfed the net endlessly to find the right set up and the right deal, and then I made my move.
Here is my initial investment:
Toy: Boy’s 2005 Yamaha 90 – $1,200.00 cash
Toy: Boy’s 2004 KTM 85– $1,700.00 cash (he outgrew the Yamaha by age 11, he is now 12)
Toy: Mom’s Honda 250ex– $3,500.00…..on loan from my ex, but who paid $3,500.00 credit (didn’t want to go there, but full disclosure and all)
RV: My 1998 Tiffin Allegro : $30,000.00 some cash, some credit
Outfitting RV: $500.00 cash (roughly) for pots pans sheets dishes tools first aid kits hoses etc
Outfitting Mom and Boy: $500.00 cash for clothes, boots, and safety gear to ride in (many bought used of off Craigslist).
Hauler: Small 8’x10′ trailer on loan from a friend
Tow package: $100.00 or so for electrical work, ball and hitch..
Gas: $150 – $200 every time that I step out the door.
Most folks go out to the desert in Toy Haulers. They cost $25 – $40K, easily. Then you need a good tow vehicle, probably a truck. Think three quarter ton….another $30K if you buy used. Then you need a good sway bar and tow package….never had to buy one, but they can cost plenty.
Not discouraged? Good!! Neither was I!
By the way, I didn’t climb that stupid hill that day. I was in over my head, and I knew it. I have a healthy sense of self preservation. Same sense of self preservation that I have for my finances.
The most experienced rider in our group climbed down and rode my quad up the hill. I took the hill step by step on my own two feet. I jumped on my quad at the top, and rode the next really steep hill all by myself…when I was ready and able.
So, when you are ready………Let’s go riding!!
Hope you enjoy my blog. I’ll get you to some interesting places and share all of my hair raising experiences along the way!