All Terrain

Students chase the thrill of riding ATVs


Katelynn Gibson

“If you ride enough it’s always and great experience but it just matters where you ride and how you ride. In my experience, soggy bottom is the best place to ride cool tracks and really awesome trails,” junior Kameron Wilson said.

   Reporters for Nixa High School’s Wingspan have written about everything, from human rights to the dance team, but it appears that Wingspan hasn’t covered all terrains yet. So buckle up and listen to three NHS students talk about all-terrain vehicles.

   Sophomore Rilan Peterson got into riding ATVs at a young age. He sharpened his skills in the sand, and now drives across the Missouri hills with careful regard for his ride.

   “I personally have been riding since I was around five years old, starting in dirt bikes in the dunes in Colorado,” Peterson said. “We’d go out and ride for a few hours, that’s where I learned respect for the machine and how to properly operate it.”

   Sophomore Tricia Brooks sometimes drives up to two hours away to find a great place to roam.

   “I go down to Caulfield to a place called ‘Cloud 9 Ranch’ because it has hundreds or thousands of acres to ride,” Brooks said. The ranch is almost 6,400 acres in size, so don’t worry about running out of room.

    Senior Kameron Wilson has also been riding ATVs since he was five years old.  Various things have kept the experience enjoyable.

   “It’s the danger that keeps me riding,” Wilson said. “Also, it’s always super fun when you’re going fast and riding with some of your buddies.”

   There are many different kinds of ATVs on the market, and many different tricks to be done with each.

   “Out of all the different types of ATV’s my favorite is probably side by sides,” Brooks said. “I usually just do a lot of donuts or jumps depending on which ATV I’m riding.”

   Others may want to be able to get to greater speeds.

   “I really like Polaris,” Wilson said. “I’ve not had a lot of trouble with them, they have all different kinds of styles and they are usually really fast.”

   Though both are vehicles, ATVs and an everyday car can not be handled the same.

   “ATVs are different from trucks in many ways, but they are also similar in different areas,” Peterson said. “Balancing between an ATV and a truck or car is a completely different world. The steering also differs between the two. Steering with a steering wheel compared to handlebars is a whole different experience.”

   Wilson brings up the added aspect of danger when riding something with less coverage.  

   “One similar trait is that you have control with both of them, but a big difference is in size and how much danger you are in when on an atv compared to when in a vehicle,” Wilson said.

   In the wondrous world of ATVs, there are some changes one can make to enhance the ride.

   “It’s completely different from a street-legal car, you can modify it any way you want and won’t get in trouble for it, though they break a lot easier, unfortunately,” Brooks said.

   Teaching one’s friends and family about favorite sports or hobbies can be a very fulfilling experience. 

   “My favorite memory with ATVs is probably teaching my little brother how to operate and ride his machine,” Peterson said. “Getting to show him my hobbies and something I get joy out of was very entertaining. Seeing him fall and fall again but always persevere made me a proud brother and showed me his true character.”

   For most things in life, there is some sort of appeal — something that motivates or drives people to continue participating in it. This idea can apply to ATVs.

   “The appeal is just the community and the fun people in it, as well as the things you can do on the machines,” Brooks said. “I think the experience is 100 percent worth the price.”

   Traveling down to Sparta, Missouri, Wilson says one can find great experiences at Soggy Bottom MX Park. 

   “If you ride enough it’s always a great experience, but it just matters where you ride and how you ride,” Wilson said. “In my experience, Soggy Bottom is the best place to ride cool tracks and really awesome trails.”

   Some might wonder why someone would want to ride through a bunch of grass and dirt.

   “The appeal of riding ATVs is the pure adrenaline and the joy of going 60 mph in the middle of the field as fast as you can,” Peterson said. “Climbing difficult trails until you get it, and sometimes crashing is, in a weird way, fun. The experiences I’ve had while riding is something I will always be thankful for.”

   Brooks relays a similar idea, saying that part of the fun is when accidents happen.

    “My favorite memory is probably when I first rode my quad and didn’t use my front brake and ran into a tree,” Brooks said. “However, I have never injured myself.”

   Though ATVs can be fun, safety is always important. Crashing happens and injuries can occur easily and possibly be life-threatening, depending on the circumstances. 

   “I’ve had many accidents on ATVs,” Peterson said. “The most major accident I’ve ever had [happened was when] I was riding in a field and the grass was tall, so all I could see was the trail. I went off the trail and hit a gravel mound, which launched me in the air and when I came back down it threw me off onto the ground. I was knocked unconscious and rushed to the hospital — there was a fire truck on scene and multiple ambulances, [along] with a couple [of] Highway Patrol Men. I was hospitalized for six nights and seven days with a severe concussion.”

  Security is especially important when driving an ATV because of the lack of a seatbelt and higher risk for rolling over.

   “It seems like every time I ride, I always go really hard on my ATV so I usually flip or hit a jump too hard and get hurt — but that’s part of the fun of riding them,” Wilson said.

   One’s safety and the safety of those around them should always be kept in mind when driving. 

   “Something people should know is to always respect the machine and be responsible,” Peterson said. “Wear a helmet and be cautious of fellow riders or even civilians. Make sure you are in control of the machine and be safe.”