; Greek philosopher Aeschylus
said, “Pain is the best teacher. ” I
know for a fact that he rode ATVs.
The interrelationship between the
pleasure of riding off-road and the
suffering that surrounds it is inseparable. They are necessary for each
other’s existence. Sometimes the
pain is physical, sometimes not, but
there’s always a lesson that is
learned, and the price is worth paying. I have examples.
The pain: Flying loading ramps.
The lesson: There are certain
places in the back of a truck that are
stable and safe for virtually any
cargo. A two-rail loading ramp can
only fit in two spots: under the quad
or beside it. As it turns out, neither of
those locations is on the stable-and-safe list. Of the two, the worst is the
side, where if you don’t tie it down
really, really well, it will mysteriously
disappear. At least if you’re lucky, it
will be a mystery. If not, you’ll know
exactly where it went and whose car
you have to fix.
The pain: Humiliation.
The lesson: ATVs, contrary to pop-
ular belief, do not need riders.
Unlike two-wheelers, which need
Then, at least, the quad couldn’t pick
some kind of organic computer to
make complicated balance adjust-
ments, an ATV can roll down a load-
ing ramp, roll across the parking lot
and hit the door of someone else’s
truck. The financial penalty is noth-
ing compared to the incredulous look
that you get from people who don’t
understand what kind of doofus
would unstrap his quad, pull out his
ramp, then stop to answer his cell
phone without realizing he’s parked
on a slight slope. As a result of the
first two lessons, there was a period
when I swore off loading ramps.
up speed as it rolled backwards.
The pain: A herniated disc at L- 3.
The lesson: As it turns out, loading
ramps are a good thing. Pulling a
sport ATV out of a pick-up, sans
ramp, might not be so hard thanks to
Newton and his gravity concept, but
going up is harder, and I have the
CAT scan to prove it. So now I’ve
modified the previous lesson once
more—use the ramp for the inbound
quad, pull and drop when it’s time to
The pain: A broken rear-truck win-
The lesson: Okay, we might have
another revision of the first lesson.
When you use a loading ramp for
inbound quads, you have to use a
checklist. Is the ramp tied to the tailgate? Check. Is the quad running?
Check. Do you have enough sense to
stop before you go all the way
through the rear window and into
your cab? Two out of three checks
The pain: Fast-lane citation.
The lesson: Trailers are easy to
load and unload. Trailers can haul a
bunch of ATVs, ramps and stuff.
Trailers can even haul UTVs. Trailers
seem to be a natural fit with dirt riding. But, trailers are inherently evil.
They take up too much space, have
eternally flat tires and, in California
at least, keep you in the slow lane. In
this state, trailer pullers fall into two
categories: those who have received
citations and those who will.
The pain: Road-raging Prius dri-
The lesson: When towing an ATV
or UTV on a trailer (in the slow lane),
we all know that having the load
properly balanced is good. For some
reason, I always assumed that the
tie-down straps on the front of the
UTV are the most important. It turns
out that those are the straps that
usually go slack as a particularly
heavy side-by-side tends to migrate
forward. That results in too much
tongue weight, which results in
headlights that point straight out
and blind oncoming drivers. Who
knew that you could fit such a big,
angry man in such a little car?
The pain: The mysteriously
The lesson: Mathematically, it’s
expressed like this:
RVx1.5+1LT>OV=1LT. The law states
that the returning volume of stuff
from a camping/riding trip (RV) is at
least one and a half times greater
than the outbound volume (OV).
Further, it states that no matter how
well you pack, you always run out of
space before you pack one last thing
The pain: In the end, it all boils
down to a common element.
Anything involving hauling ATVs,
pulling trailers and transporting dirt-going vehicles to the dirt is painful.
The lesson: The solution for all suffering is the same. Go riding. By the
time you’re done, the pain is always
Haul, tow, pain and toil
By Ron Lawson