The Devil Rides an ATV

“The fat pink slobs who go roaring over the landscape in these over-sized over-priced over-advertised mechanical mastodons are people too lazy to walk, too ignorant to saddle a horse, too cheap and clumsy to paddle a canoe. Like cattle or sheep, they travel in herds, scared to death of going anywhere alone, and they leave their sign and spoor all over the back country: Coors beer cans, Styrofoam cups, plastic spoons, balls of Kleenex, wads of toilet paper, spent cartridge shells, crushed gopher snakes, smashed sagebrush, broken trees, dead chipmunks, wounded deer, eroded trails, bullet-riddled petroglyphs, spray-painted signatures, vandalized Indian ruins, fouled-up waterholes, polluted springs and smoldering campfires piled with incombustible tinfoil, filter tips, broken bottles. Etc.” — Edward Abbey

My TV viewing is occasionally spoiled by advertisements showing clowns in four-wheel-drive and all-terrain vehicles bounding across the landscape as though such people are the conquering heroes of the wilderness.

While I often wonder why people think ownership of a 4WD or ATV vehicle provides them with status, the ads imply that it does. I’ll praise the man who claims status from his vehicle when he tells me that he designed and built the thing from scratch.

Until then, what is it in the wilderness that needs to be conquered by a vehicle, especially when the thing one’s riding is destroying the place itself while drowning out the natural voices of the ecosystem? Off the road, the vehicle is generally a blemish, the kind the devil himself might ride with an innocent grin.

“Enjoy the great outdoors, folks,” he might exclaim as he wrecks the place, disturbs its natural songs, spoils the quiet, and steals the back country’s soul.


for the latest Jock Stewart satire, visit the Morning Satirical News, last updated July 31, 2009

8 thoughts on “The Devil Rides an ATV

  1. I have very similar thoughts on the subject. Add to the ATV’s the snowmobiles and small, loud pleasure craft that are now all over our rivers.

    The damage from these machines has become very well know and documented. I would support a requirement that thrill machines would be licensed and an ongoing part of the license fee would be an annual charge large enough to establish and pay for enforcement agents to control the unlawful uses and damage the users create. I mean a LARGE annual charge!

  2. taylor

    ATV’s and snowmobiles CAN NOT be lumped into the same boat, commonly they are due to the lack of knowledge most “Environmentalists” have regarding the matter of trail construction and maintenance. When snow depth is adequate snowmobiles do not touch the ground and heavy penalties are in place for excessive noise. Please do not assume that all riders are the same, i also have been passed on a hiking trail by a young irresponsible rider with a loud pipe, however, alot of people out enjoying designated atv and snowmobile trails tend to be families of all age demographics. To assume everyone who enjoys off road motorized fun is purely ignorant.

    1. Snowmobiles also engage in “topping” trees, where they are ridden over the tops of smaller trees buried in the snow, damaging or killing the trees. The problem is mainly that the riders do NOT stay on designated trails.

        1. taylor

          As far as wildlife is concerned i have never noticed any real difference as to how they react. Deer run away just as fast if i was on a machine (usualy my tractor) or if im walking my dog. The common conception that all riders are reckless is just unfair the same way some might assume all hikers are un-employed 60 year old hippies, which i know is NOT the case, but you understand the gist of what im saying.

          1. Hard to know what’s going on when animals react. I suppose my concern here is that the wilderness presents us with itself and that we should not be taking something into it that doesn’t belong there. I’m not counting canteens and pocket knives and trail mix. I don’t like the snowmobiles and trail bikes any more than I want to go camping and be stuck next to some clown with a battery powered TV set that destroys the experience for everyone else.

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