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The Average Off-Roader - Keeping What We Have

Posted in Features on May 1, 2002
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It hasn't always been this way. There was a time, when I was growing up, when you could go off-roading almost anywhere outside the city limits in Southern California. Just jump in your 4x4 and go - but no more. So what happened? Growth of population and irresponsibility of many off-roaders contributed to the progressive closure of land. There are two kinds of off-road enthusiasts: those who love anything to do with off-road and the Johnny-come-latelies who bring their buddies, a keg of beer, and no respect for the outdoors.

When it's all said and done, it's the latter of the two that leaves the area destroyed and full of trash, wrecklessly endangering those around them. Generally, this type of off-roader doesn't take responsibility for his or her actions and ends up suing either the property owners or the vehicle manufacturer when they get hurt. I like to have fun as much as the next guy, but if you can't enjoy off-roading without being buzzed or on some kind of mind-altering substance, you shouldn't be out there in the first place.

As a kid, I couldn't wait for the weekend to go dirt bike riding. I filled up my gas tank and rode till the thing was empty, filled up again, and held the throttle wide open until the gas was burned up. This continued into my teens. Then in my mid-twenties, the real world set in and I was off to build a career and make some cash to buy new off-road toys.

Today, my passion is still the same. Though I don't have the time to get out every weekend, I do cherish the time I spend off-roading. As kids, we develop passion, and most people also develop ethics and morals, which are tied into being responsible. With land closures happening more and more, if we want to continue to have this land to use, we have to be responsible. I don't care whether your into 'wheelin', rockcrawling, bustin' big in the desert, or whompin' through mud, using your head is essential.

At least once a week, I receive an e-mail about a new area that is on the verge of being closed to off-road use. That bothers me because there is so much freedom we take for granted, but if we don't act responsibly and control ourselves, then we will have our rights taken away, little by little. I encourage everyone to be more active in their form of off-roading, clean up as you leave, maybe even sign up for clean up and maintenance on a local trail. It's your land - use it, but don't abuse it!

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