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#ResponsibleRiding……….. Are you in?!?

UTV Canada kicks off Responsible Riding Month

Recreational OHV users are used to overcoming obstacles, especially where false stereotypes and negative publicity paint us as reckless, having no respect for the environment.   But these critics have not ventured out in the backcountry with us to observe who we really are and the appreciation we hold for what we get to do and where we get to do it.  The reality is OUR RIDING COMMUNITY ROCKS!

The biggest hurdle facing many areas of Canada today is government closure of OHV land use areas. There are numerous groups advocating for our rights and we encourage you to get behind them.  One huge thing we can do for ourselves, for our rights, is to prove the general consensus wrong – showoff who we really are.  The other think we can do is to become unified across the country in our efforts.  How do we do that?  Two words – Responsible Riding!  Now don’t go rolling your eyes at us – this small act can make enormous gains.  So much so that UTV Canada is rolling out Responsible Riding Month and the hashtag #ResponsibleRiding.

So what is #ResponsibleRiding Month?

Each week in August we will be posting some ideas of what you can do to guarantee an improved image for our OHV community as well as a weekly promotion on corresponding products (subscribe to The Ride Tribe to get the promo details in your inbox).  And we are going to prove that adventure and safety are not mutually exclusive.  We can be safe while experiencing an epic ride with friends and family.  And in an effort to show unity and what we are really about – use the hashtag #ResponsibleRiding when posting photos of you and your friends doing your part.  Please be sure to share this post and the hashtag.  Not just for the month of August, but all year long!  Lets gain momentum across the country and let the naysayers see the positive impact the riding community has on the backcountry and the designated trails.

This week are going to focus on personal and group safety when riding? Here are our 5 Safe-T tips:

1. Think: Know Before You Go

Just like the boy scouts moto ‘Be Prepared’, we need to know before we go. Whether you are hiking, mountain biking, snowmobiling or riding, you need to know where you are going and what the conditions are going to be like.  There are a number of resources available to you: maps, GPS, friends who know the area.  Avenza is a fantastic trail mapping app to help you explore trails unfamiliar to your group.  This app does not require internet access yet can still pinpoint your location.  Find details here or simply download it from the iTunes App store.   Alternatively, check with your local provincial departments and clubs for maps and other trail resources.

Check the weather in your riding area – including what the previous day/week looked like to know of potential problems you may encounter due to washouts, mud or even tinder dry conditions.


2. Twos: Don’t Go Alone

Riding alone should be avoided where possible. As they say, there is safety in numbers.  Plus it is much more fun to ride with others – after all creating memories is what it is all about.

If you are a small group going out in a single vehicle you especially need to make sure (you have a winch) and someone at home – a friend, family member or neighbor – who knows where you are riding and what time you are due back. Cell phone service can be unreliable in the backcountry so always have a backup plan.


3. Tools: Have the Right Equipment and use them!

While having the right equipment seems like a no-brainer you really should have a riding checklist to go by. Of course there is the mandatory equipment like your helmet and seatbelt/harness, and the necessary stuff like your phone (P.S.  Scosche has a really cool Quick Release 3-in-1 mount for your phone).  But then there is the smart equipment like a fire extinguisher, a waterproof first aid/safety kit that includes matches and an emergency blanket, tow straps and a winch.  Simple tools like a chainsaw or handsaw to remove debris that has fallen across the trail and a folding or compact shovel are must haves for your list.  If you don’t have a lot of storage on your unit there are a number of inexpensive mount or clamp options you can purchase to securely attach the tools anywhere on your cage.

Even spare parts like a replacement belt, a full jerry can of gas or spare tire are critical when out on the trail. And never underestimate the value of packing a little extra food and water in case the unexpected happens.  Believe us….. it happens.


4. Turned On: Be Visible

Lights can make a huge difference to your visibility on the trail. Even on a clear sunny day you have to contend with a lot of dust.  Always drive with your lights on.  Add-on accessories like rear light bars or an LED Whip Light -UTV Canada has some really cool whip light options –  are fun additions both on the trail and later around the campfire.


5. unTapped: Absolutely No Drinking

The ad campaigns over the last 30+ years have drilled into us a No Drinking & Driving mentality. It is just not tolerated. So why do we think we can get away with it on the trails? We are driving, therefore there is no drinking – even for our passengers. No open alcohol in the vehicle – we know this people! Save the drinking for around the fire once you are back at camp or at home. Don’t put yourself or others – or the industry reputation – at risk. It is never worth the cost.


Together we can make a difference – we can positively change our image and impact the OHV land use laws so our children and grandchildren can enjoy the same area we do. Let’s show the public who we are: responsible riders like Kevin and Ray who were clearly wearing their seat belts and helmets.  Be like Ray and Kevin.  #ResponsibleRiding


Keep an eye out for next week’s #ResponsibleRiding post and video on simple efforts we can all do to look after the trails.



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Danielle Herbison