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  • Writer's pictureRobert DiCristofaro

Off-road Safety. Every rider's worst nightmare.

Be careful out there!

I've been told, you always take a slow lap before you ride fast, even if you know the trail! Take it from someone who ran into barbed wire….that was put up overnight. Had I been a better rider, not worn a helmet, or not been going slow I would have probably been killed.

On a late summer’s day a few years ago, much like today, we were going fishing at the lower pond. It was on the property of a closed sand processing plant that abutted my uncle's land. I had had a run in with the neighbor’s son the day before. He asked us not to go down to the lower pond on quads as archery season was about to start. I told him that we were just in for the weekend, would be leaving Sunday afternoon, and we wouldn’t come down on quads after that. I thought we were on the same page....

The next day, I left shortly after my uncle and friends and didn’t realize that I took a different route. When I got down to where the 2 trails met, I stopped for a moment to see if I had beat them there. I didn’t see or hear them, I figured they went on without me. So, I headed down the trail to catch up. As I went around a sharp bend, I ran into something that dragged me off of my quad. The grey barbed wire blended in perfectly with the wooded surroundings. There were no flags and I had just been on that trail the day before. I remember being confused as to why some invisible force was pulling me off the quad.

When I ran into the barbed wire my head rolled forward and the chin guard of my helmet hit my chest. This undoubtedly saved me from neck and facial scars, and possibly my life! I was not wearing a chest protector and received some minor scaring on my chest. This is why, you should always wear protective gear, it might just save your life.

As I picked myself up, I saw that my shirt was shredded, and my chest was torn open. At this moment my uncle and friends caught up to me. They couldn’t figure out why I was standing in the middle of the trail shirtless. Then as they drew near they realized what happened. I had already taken off my shirt and helmet, and I was assessing the damage on my chest when they pulled up. Everyone including me was blown away by the fact someone put barbed wire across the trail, we were just on the day before, at chest height none the less.

Of course, we knew just who the culprit was. When I walked up to him, shirtless and chest torn open, he said with a smug grin, “what can I do for you?”, as if he didn’t know exactly what had happened. When confronted he grinningly admitted it! I’m sure he thought he was going to teach us a lesson fer riding our quads down there so close to hunting season. It wasn’t until I told him that I could have been killed, and he and his son would have rotted away in jail for some time, that he changed his toon. He became really apologetic and started making all kinds of excuses as to why he had his son put the barbed wire up.

Some people don’t think before they act. After my accident, I read countless stories about off-road vehicles that followed the same pattern, someone was disgruntled, acted without thinking, and the outcome was typically the death or the rider.

The truth of the matter is, you never know what lies around the corner, and you have to take every precaution you can to make sure you’re safe. Helmets and protective gear definitely save lives, and taking a slow lap just might save yours.

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