❏ There are a number of ways that
people gauge their position in life.
Most are meaningless. Some people
look at bank statements, others look
at their house, their car or their job.
These measures, presumably, will
reflect some degree of affluence and
status, but bank balances are fleeting,
houses can be leveraged and jobs
come and go. I’ve found that the most
meaningful measurement is the grind
ratio. This is time spent in the dirt having fun versus time spent getting ready
beforehand and cleaning up afterward.
The total amount of time devoted to
off-road recreation varies and doesn’t
necessarily play into the formula; this
is about how that time is divided up.
You would think that as you climb the
social ladder this ratio would improve,
where you get to spend more time
playing and less time working. Not so.
The five stages of life clearly show that
the fun-to-work ratio goes backwards
as you graduate to higher levels.
Stage one—6:1 Grind ratio, ages
14 and under
Even though this stage is the lowest
on life’s status ladder, it has the most
satisfying mix of work and fun. Your
primary mode of recreation might be a
bicycle, but if you’re very lucky, there
might be a motorcycle or ATV in the
plan. Chances are these machines are
maintained by dad. On a designated
riding day, your most difficult task is
getting out of bed. You might have to
help load up, but if you’re slow and
stupid enough, you get relieved of that
task. Then there’s a day of uninterrupt-
ed riding, eating and goofing off. At
the end of it all, you might be asked to
help unload and clean up, but in the
end, someone else will probably end
up redoing everything you mess up.
You spend the rest of your life trying to
get back to this ratio of work-to-play.
Stage two—3:1 Grind ratio, ages
15 to 18
Somewhere in this period, the work
required increases. This is due to three
different factors. First, your machine,
say a TRX450R or something, is more
sophisticated and requires more attention. Second, Mom and Dad are tired
of cleaning up after you. Third, you
start venturing off with your friends
rather than with your family. You still
enjoy a disproportionately high ratio
of play because it’s in a nature of a
teenager to build up work debt. You’re
not prepping your machine the way
you should, and it probably doesn’t get
washed. Ever. There are some of you
now thinking, “Not me, I worked my
butt off.” No. I’ve talked to your parents; they remember it differently.
Stage three—1:1 Grind ratio,
ages 19 to 30
At this point life gets in the way of
Stage four—1: 3 Grind ratio, ages
fun. Your ATV, or maybe even your
UTV, is a little lonely, but you try to
use it as much as time allows. When
the opportunity arises, you hook up
the trailer and go out for an epic
adventure. You can’t spend very much
time working on the machine, the
trailer or the gear, and, as a result, you
have a lot of downtime, saving up for
31 to 40
Now you’re in a hectic part of life.
You have a UTV on the trailer for you
and your spouse, and there’s just
enough room in the back of the truck
for a Raptor 90 that the kids can share.
All the machines are in good shape
simply because they aren’t used that
hard or that often. The toughest part
is getting the kids out of bed. At first
it seems like this part of life will last
forever; in truth, it’s amazingly short.
Stage five—1: 6 Grind ratio, ages
41 and up
With any luck, you have something
with a turbocharger and enormous
wheels. Just washing it requires days
of work. Your kids are now capable
of breaking anything in half within
minutes of arriving in the dirt. They
aren’t, however, capable of fixing
anything, helping load up or clean
up. In fact, it’s more work to get them
to work than it is to do it yourself.
Congratulations, you’ve graduated to
the highest status in life. Enjoy it while
you can. ❏
The stages of life,
as expressed in
By Ron Lawson