ATVs and Me

Copyright © 2007, Matt Runion. All Rights Reserved.

3 Weeks ago (Wed. 3/1/2007):

Thanks to saving some money and getting some extra income from some wonderful people that wanted me to do some software development for them, I was able to realize a long-time desire and buy an ATV. I bough a used 2003 Polaris Sportsman 600. This machine is not the biggest ATV made, but it's plenty of beast for what I want to use it for.

Soon after getting this ATV, my wife and I agreed I could get my 10-year-old son a small ATV. We got him a spanking new RedCat 70cc. I wanted a new one because of the warranty.

My son and I have been riding around our 4.5 acres at the house. We were practicing for what we hoped would be a nice trip to an ATV park for some riding. The wife motored the 3-year-old around in our 150cc yard-buggy/dune-buggy.

Day-Before-Yesterday (Wed. 3/21/2007):

Matthew was out of school on the 21st and 22nd. We had planned a trip down to Greene Country to ride at I81 Motorsports Park. It was just after lunch and we were getting ready to load the ATV on the father-in-law's truck with a nice set of heavy-duty folding ramps.

I drove the ATV up to the ramps, started slowly up them and got the big 600 pointing at the sky. Needless to say it felt "wobbly". Only the front tires were on, but I just felt the front end wanted to come over backwards. I eased down and tried again -- same result.

I decided to use the winch on the ATV to pull the ATV up the ramps. My wife hooked the winch cable to the truck and I started winching the ATV up the ramps. This worked good. The ATV still felt like it wanted to flip backwards, but the winch cable tension held it in check.

I get the ATV in the truck and unhook the winch to roll it back up. DARN! The cable has went in beside the drum. It was pinched outside the spool that winds the cable. After a bit of tugging and fiddling, the only that that could be done was to take the side off the winch and get the cable out.

My wife and I get some tools and she helps me remove the winch from it's mounting plate, brackets, wiring, etc. We get the winch in the shop, remove the side cover, unroll the cable, reassemble the winch, re-attach it to the ATV and roll up the slack. Cool -- only a two-hour delay!

We quickly decide that winching this thing up is too difficult to deal with if the cable is going to be a problem. So we winch it back down the ramps and decide to haul it on the tilt-trailer we WERE going to haul the dune buggy on. We would take two trucks instead of one this way, but at least it was safer and easier.

I drive around to the tilt trailer that we've now hooked to my Isuzu Trooper. Renee is off getting ready to load the dune buggy as I ride up on the tilt trailer to load the ATV. The trailer does not fall down to latch into place. the trialer sits outside so it gets a little rusty. No problem. I back down and get a little more distance from the trailer so I can hit it a bit harder. Vroom, up I go, down the trailer comes. The brutish 600 decides that the little wheel stop rail "ain't nothin'" and easily rides over it -- hitting the spare tire on the back of my trooper, landing the ATV frame on the tire stop rail of the trailer and dangling the ATVs front wheels between the trailer and the truck, straddling the trailer tongue. DARN!

Matthew is laughing, Renee comes over with the "oh my gosh, what 'd you do" expression, and the initial 3 seconds of "that was funny" has already worn off me. I'm ticked. I ask her to help me push it back if we can. (Now, the Sportsman 600 is a 700 pound machine. It's heavy!) We push and grunt and strain and the ATV just hangs there.

We get a jack from the garage and get it worked under the frame in such a way as we can get the ATV high enough to roll it back over the tire stops. Ah, that was done! Another hour gone!

We load Matthew's RedCat with no difficulty, and load the dune buggy without incident. We're almost four hours behind our desired schedule, but we talk and decide to head on to Greene County. Off we go to I81 Motorsports Park!

We ride for a couple of hours and load back up without incident. The ATV didn't jump the tire stops and we got back home safely.

Yesterday (3/22/2007):

Renee had to take our youngest son over to her Dad's. He was going to play with some family members that were down visiting with their kids. Matthew and I were going to go back to I81 and play around all day.

We load up again, putting the ATV on the tilt trailer -- again without incident -- and loading up Matthew's RedCat. We head off to Greene country and ride around all day. We stopped for almost an hour back in the fields and scratched around in mud holes looking at the reptilian wildlife and other such events. A time or two we went through a mud hole that was a bit too deep! Ooops!

Fast forward to about six thirty. We come back to the truck to load up. We put Matthews RedCat on the truck, then I make the big circle to take the ATV up on the tilt trailer. I start up the trailer, all the time making sure to have just enough speed to get over the midway point and not go too far. Perfect! the trailer comes down -- and keeps going down!! The weight of the ATV was apparently just too much this time! The trailer tongue bent down to within and inch of touching the ground! The ATV was still on the trailer, the trailer was still attached to the truck. But the trailer was now so low to the ground from the bent tongue that it was going no where! DARN!!!

I called the wife and she called my Dad to bring his truck and OUR trailer (it doesn't tilt). We end up waiting about an hour for spare trailers and vehicles, but we finally do get loaded and get home. All in all I think it might be a while before haul that big 600 anywhere again! I need to find a bigger, stronger trailer. Oh, and I should probably increase my life insurance coverage!!