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ATV Adventures: More tricks for handling breakdowns in the backcountry

By Lynn Blamires - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Dec 23, 2021

Photo supplied

This picture was taken by Ty Tyler of Roy, who helped come up with the idea to use a log to help keep an ATV on three wheels after the left front wheel had been taken off when the rider hit a stump. The idea allowed them to get the ATV back to the truck.

After the list of equipment I included in last week’s article to deal with backcountry emergencies (see Standard Examiner, Dec. 16, 2021), my fireman friend, Reed Embley of Layton, reminded me of the need for a first aid kit. It is one of the most important items to have even though you don’t want to have to use it.

I was with some friends on a trail riding the Black Dragon Wash west of Green River. As we were coming around Jackass Benches, one of our riders hit a rock, which jerked the handle bars, causing him to blip the throttle. The sharp turn threw him off his machine and he got a cut on his head.

I had a first aid kit and applied a compress bandage. It wasn’t a serious injury, but it needed attention and we had what we needed to take care of the wound.

Breakdowns are never planned, but handling them can be. I was on a trail near Ten-Mile Wash north of Moab when a battery gave out. We picked one up in town and went back to fix it in the middle of the night. Having a headlamp freeing up both hands to do the job makes a difference.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of not traveling alone. Earlier this month, a 17-year-old girl and her younger brother made a trip alone to the geode beds in the west desert. When they had a flat and discovered that the spare was also flat, they were in trouble. Things went from bad to worse when they ran out of gas and lost the ability to keep warm. The desert can be very cold in December, especially with the longer nights, and they spent a very cold night. Fortunately, this story had a happy ending, but the news is full of stories that don’t end so well.

A compact folding saw is on the list and came in handy on a ride my friend Ty Tyler of Roy was on. A rider in his group hit a tree stump so hard that it completely separated his front left wheel from his machine. It is a fact that you can’t ride a four-wheeler very far on three wheels.

Faced with this dilemma, the creative juices began to flow. They cut a tree to the length they wanted and ran it under the ATV on the left side. With ratcheting tie downs, they secured one end of the tree to the back of the machine. The log they picked had a good curve on it so that it ran straight under the machine, holding the wheel-less left side level and then curved up so that it could be secured to the back rack of another ATV for purposes of towing.

The trail back to the truck was still a challenge. The rider had to lean to the right to make sure the other three wheels stayed on the ground. It was an unusual solution to an unusual problem.

Zip ties and bungee cords come in handy for securing other emergency kit items to your roll cage. For example, a socket and wrench set is important for minor repairs, but a full set is not reasonable. Become familiar with your ride so that you know what the nut and bolt sizes are and assemble an array of tools to fit those sizes. Cut a section of PVC pipe to fit your mini kit and paint it to match the color of your roll cage, or paint it black because black matches everything. Then along with caps that fit the pipe, attach it to a convenient place on your roll cage with zip ties.

I am a firm believer in riding with a good GPS. It is important when riding in Utah’s vast backcountry to be able to go out on an adventure and find your way back. I have been on some systems that are so interlaced with trails that landmarks alone are not enough. It is easier to follow a track back. I also like to make a track that I can store to be able to ride that trail again.

Well, these are some more trail hacks to make your ATV Adventures safe. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and if you know some tricks, please share them.

Contact Lynn R. Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

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