Want to Ride? Let's Go!!!!

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!


Leave a Reply


  1. Hey Jozee – It takes a lot of time and money to get started, but it’s worth all the effort.

  2. I can remember the first time I and my family went riding with my friend Calvin. That Sunday my wife exclaimed “You’ve got to get some of these” with that we set out to research and buy 4 ATVs, two Polaris 500s and a couple of youth 90s. Jumped from a 28′ travel trailer to a 39′ Raptor Toy Hauler and loved it. A lot of cash was laid out, but we’ve no regrets about it. Its been one of the best investments in our family we’ve made, we love riding together and gives my kids something to look forward to and ‘earn’.

  3. I have been rideing for about 5 years. Started out with a used Spoersman 500 (already had the camper). Added another Sportsman 500 a couple of years later (I tow them behind my 5ht wheel camper). I needed a bigger truck to pull them so I added a new DuraMax in spring of 2006. Our sons girlfriend had never camped or rode ATVs. On a brisk April weekend we created a monster as now she wants to go every chance we get. I then in Dec 2006 moved up to a larger camper with a slide. Dang this hobby adds up but we love it. I boondock to make it a little less expensive.

  4. Hi Jozee. Just happened across this blog.

    I was raised camping, in tents. When a tent wasn’t available, I slept on CG picnic tables, or the occasional campcot. Food and drinks were in multiple Coleman ice chests, and cooking was over the campfire or 3 burner Coleman stove.

    I bought my first MX bike on credit, and nearly lost it to repossestion, due to one of the oil embargo’s, as well as an import truck I had purchased several years prior.
    Lesson learned? Not really.

    Fast forward, ten years or so. Now I had a 3/4 ton truck, and a 9-1/2′ slide in camper, another bike, and payments on 2 of the 3. NOT GOOD! Lesson still not learned!

    Fast forward to today. I have a new MH/enclosed trailer/dunebuggy/quad/yet another bike, and only owe on 1 of the 5. Have I learned? Yes, sort of.

    Now our son, (23), whom we’ve drilled into his head, should attempt to pay cash for his fun toys, (and not be indebted forever), WANT’S IT ALL, NOW!! He has 2 friends, one of which works in daddy’s construction business, and “has it all”, and the second friend is a new Fire Dep’t recruit, whom is making good money, and is “accumulating it all”. Our son has a difficult time dealing with it.

    Together, we sold/swapped/bartered for his quad. He just sold his original Mazda B-2300 driver and we got a one ton 4X4 domestic truck for basically a straight across swap. Next, will be a TH’r, which will likely be a bargain basement, (somebody really needs to unload it now), kind of deal. Will he owe any lender? It sure doesn’t look like it. Have I learned anything? Well, maybe my ideals will live on vicariously through our son. I hope so.

  5. Nice story Jozee. Everything costs money, it’s where you decide to spend it that counts the most. OHV riding is a recreation that families can enjoy for a long time frame (children -> teens -> adults). That what made up our minds to go this route for “family activities”. Money well spent IMHO. See you a X!

  6. Coribdx

    Jozee- I admire you so much for trying to make it all happen for The Boy. He will grow up to treasure the memories that you are making now.

  7. Chris

    I never buy a new ORV, RV, boat, or other “toy”.

    Once they’re a couple years old, the “ego gratification” factor starts going away, and the price drops radically. You can pay half the price for something, with 3/4 or more of its life left.

    True, particulary with ORVs, they can be really run hard. But it usually is obvious this has happened. There are some really good deals out there. Sometimes somebody will use it once, put maybe 100 miles on it, (talking about an ORV) get tired of it, let it sit in the garage for a couple years, and then sell it for half the MSRP. Half the price, 98% of the life left. There’s too many good deals out there to pay a dealer full retail, unless you absolutely can’t wait a couple of years for the newest technology. (The same is pretty much true for RVs.)

    True, if you ride around where there are a lot of other people, the “ego gratification” factor may be important. People like to show off to each other. Among many other reasons, that’s why I try to ride where there aren’t many (or any) other riders. There’s a lot of places out there.

  8. Thanks for all the nice comments.

    Wayne, I want to add to my inventory every year. I just have to take it one step at a time!

    Cori, memories are what this is all about!

    Toolio, I feel for your son. As you know, my niece is going through the same thing…22 years old and wants it all, yesterday!! They gotta pay their dues, just like we did, or they will get themselves into a world of trouble. Hope it works out for your boy.

    Dedmiston and Sandman, you got the whole point of my story right on the nose…….even though I failed to mention it!!
    All of my friends that I camp and ride with in the desert bring their entire family. This was a huge motivation for me. Even teenagers are willing to hang out with Mom and Dad, if desert riding is involved. Well worth the money to keep your kids close and happy at the same time.

    Chris, For me, buying used was the only way to make it work. I am happy with the end result because, like you, I was selective with my purchases. Our riding group has everyone from brand new owners to folks driving 25 year old rigs. Once we are out on the trail, no one really thinks about who sleeps in what. Just who can keep up!!!


  9. RazorKQ

    We too took the ATV path. It started out wanting to be able to plow snow for our Townhome complex. Purchase a Suzuki KingQuad and didn’t even buy a trailer. We were just going to plow snow around the place…ya…right. Two weeks later had to buy a trailer so we could take it to the hills. We were having a blast. Two months later, wife said, “this is fun but….,” she wanted one herself…KQ #2 was purchased. Had to sell the one place trailer and buy 2 place (more $$$). Summer came and couldn’t tow tent trailer and quads…sell Land Rover and purchased truck w/bed rack ($31K). Next summer wife didn’t like the tent trailer so bought Toy Hauler ($31K). YIKES!!! All this started because I just wanted to plow a little snow around the place. We love our setup and will be paying for it for many years. Beware of the wanting to plow snow!

  10. David M

    Jozee, great points all the way through. Peer pressure has often led to people doing things they are not prepared for and the consquences can be scary. I also agree with people buying into the OHV world but wanting to borrow everthing past the ATV’s themselves like trailers or riding gear etc. If you want to play, you should be prepared to pay. We jumped in with both feet in terms of ATVs, the toy hauler (Raptore 3814), TV, gear etc.. and yes, it is expensive; however, at the same time, the investment in the gear has paid off numerous times, the investment for the time we spend together out riding, around the campfire or whatever will be the best we ever make. Everytime we are out, we say that to each other. Good friends will loan you the shirt off their back; however, good friends will also eventually buy their own shirt!!!! Ride on, Ride safe!

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  12. ” I surfed the net endlessly to find the right set up and the right deal, and then I made my move.”

    I love the planning and execution. If you plan anything carefully enough it will always succeed. Great story!