ESCANABA - Recent news about a couple who became stranded in the woods of Marquette County, causing the death of a 62 year old male, should be a wake up call for all who ride all-terrain vehicles in the UP.
What started out as an innocent excursion by a married couple became a nightmare for them and their family.
Anyone who has hiked the woods can appreciate that even in a short distance, we can easily become disoriented as to direction. We also know that when venturing out, it is important to anticipate worst case scenarios, even though they usually don't occur.
An ORV/ATV safety rodeo will be offered June 26 at U.P. State Fairgrounds. (Courtesy photo)
S.O.R.V.A., the Sportsmen's Off-Road Vehicle Association of Delta County located in Escanaba, is a group of local sportsmen and sportswomen who enjoy riding ORV's through the scenic wilderness of Upper Michigan.
They promote All-Terrain Vehicle / Off-Road Vehicle (ATV/ORV) safety, responsible, courteous riding, environmentally friendly trail development and great family fun in the U.P of Michigan.
As part of their mission, SORVA administers a program, in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, to maintain and expand the trail system throughout the UP. They also put great emphasis on safety and consider practical training as essential as any classroom teaching.
Now, again with the recent tragedy, the emphasis should be on everyone of all ages.
The ATV/ORV Practical Skills Track, the first of its' kind in Michigan, is located within the fenced race track area of the U.P. State Fairgrounds. The facility is designed to apply hands-on experience for novice as well as experienced riders.
Those utilizing the Skills Track will learn how to make tight and expanded turns, ride over uneven and rough terrain, drive over obstacles, safe starting and stopping, hill climbing and descending.
One individual skill taught on the course is referred to as a "K" turn. Here riders climb a hill and are faced with an obstacle requiring them to stop and reverse direction of their machine. Here riders learn to dismount and walk their ATV/ORV on backward turn. Once it reaches a neutral position, the riders re-mount the machine and descend in a safe manner.
While most of the youngsters who take the certified safety course already ride, many have not had formal training and are enlightened as they learn how to make adjustments and anticipate changes while riding.
It may not seem important until you learn that approximately 40 percent of the tragic accidents, including fatalities, occur with children less than 16 years of age, with lack of experience and training, dangerous stunts and maneuvers as the primary cause.
Those who ride the SORVA Practical Skills Track can do so free of charge during the designated Safety Rodeos, one of which will take place June 26. A Certificate of Achievement will be issued to those who participate and UP Whitetails Association will give an insulated mug to each participant as well.
SORVA will man the track to coach riders and answer questions. They'll also offer genuine "Dubi-Dogs" from Michigan Meats to add to the picnic atmosphere.
The real advantage for adults who come out to ride will be the knowledge they need to mentor first time ATV riders, the first of which is to be prepared and make a plan before venturing out.
Examples of essential gear to carry and wear, and how to check your machine prior to riding will also be available.
All you need to do is trailer your machine to the Fairgrounds and sign up. Those who have not yet taken the formal certified training can also sign up for an upcoming class while at the rodeo.
Once riders are acclimated to the skills track, they can continue to ride the track throughout the event, honing their skills even more. Helmets and eye protection are required.
If you only ride your ATV on private land and do not have a current annual trails license, you can still utilize the track as it is considered a teaching facility and your machine will be used for that purpose.
Representatives from law enforcement will also be on hand to let parents and youth know what they look for when assessing riders for compliance. You'll may be amazed at how much they endorse ATV/ORV riding and want it to be a positive and long time recreational experience.
The residents of the Upper Peninsula have always demonstrated the best in sports safety and ethics to the general public. Here's a chance for you to enhance it even more as we move into the prime recreational riding season.
The track will open at 11 a.m. (EDT) with riding to begin at noon. It is free of charge June 26. Participants less than 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information you can contact Keith Lynch - President of Delta County SORVA (906-280-2193) or Tim Kobasic (906-399-9298). You can also inquire at the club web-site on their inter-active forum: www.sorvadc.com.
Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet on Saturday mornings.