If there’s one thing I love about off-roading, it’s that it’s a family affair. Like many of you, I grew up going riding with my family. For me, it was in the deserts of Southern California, but wherever it may have been for you, chances are when you first threw a leg over a bike (or quad or whatever) it was when you were with your family out in the wilds.
I’ve been involved with many different factions of motorsports, but nowhere else have I found the family involvement that I find with off-roading. Many stars of today’s racing scene began as sons of racers. From Gordon to the Leduc, Herbst, and Baldwin boys to many others in many facets of racing, they all began because their families were involved in racing off-road.
I was just out at the Polaris Camp RZR, and I saw families enjoying not only off-roading, I saw them enjoying being with each other. I remember fondly the weekends that my family spent out in the desert, whether competing or just out trail riding. It not only gave us a chance to spend time with one another, it taught me responsibility. My dad decreed that I had to work on my bike (of course, he helped) to get it ready for the weekend. Any parts that I wanted to buy for my bike, I had to pay for out of my allowance or by finding chores to do.
There’s a line in an old song that says, “Parents, teach your children well.” I can think of few other pastimes where families are as close as ones who ride off-road together. It’s a chance for parents to teach their kids not only the thrills that blasting through the boonies can bring, but also a chance to show that no matter what age or situation, kids can be self-reliant and their actions can not only bring happiness, they have consequences as well.
When they’re the ones twisting the throttle, kids learn that they can have the power over their lives, and that their actions can be thrilling or cause pain (sometimes all at the same time).
So next time you’re planning an outing with your family, make sure that the kids are involved as much as possible. From prepping the bikes or trucks, to loading up (they have to make sure that they have all their gear) to riding (not only how to ride, but to teach them what’s acceptable or not when riding through the pits and around other people) to making sure that they are aware everybody is safe and accounted for during and after the ride.
In doing so, you’ll be giving them the chance to feel what freedom, and the responsibility that comes with it, is really all about.