A life-long obsession…
For years I rode ATC’s, ATV’s, and now I ride the UTV/SxS and I’ve never enjoyed anything more than ripping around, looking for mud and technical trails. I’m 45 years old now so I’ve been riding off and on for about 35 years. After all these years, I’m pretty excited about adding the Dirty Life website to my life experiences and using it to give us all a chance to share our experiences with the world.
Every single time I back the truck into our driveway at our home in Stirling, Ontario, I see our Polaris RZR sitting in the garage and I get just as excited as when I was a kid and I got to go back to my grandpa’s to ride his 1982 Honda Big Red. I spent hours riding in circles on the beach next door to his house, riding the beach road making hundreds of trips past his neighbours. They probably grew tired of the weekend marathons that I spent running around their houses churning up dust and making a ruckus, but I loved it so much, and I couldn’t wait to get back to “the cottage” to ride.
Eventually, in 1986/1987, my grandfathers (who lived next door to one another) got new Honda Fourtrax 350 ATV’s and I got to ride them. It’s truly amazing that they let me ride those machines given I was just 14 at the time, but ride them I did! It was such an amazing time in my life and the things I saw those bikes do would surprise the owners of the big Canam or Polaris 1000 machines today – not so much in terms of speed, but they were geared so low, we pulled 1000-lb loads in trailers into our hunting camp where the “trail” is pure Canadian Shield terrain and we kept it maintained in such a manner to dissuade others from following it into our camp. It was a rough go, often tipping trailers (and sometimes bikes) over, but those bikes never missed a beat. They were for me, some of the best workhorses the ATV industry has ever created.
Fast forward to about 5 years ago, when my dad bought a 2014 570 Polaris Ranger. He owned 2 Suzuki 300 King Quads and with the Ranger, no longer had use for them. So, for Christmas he and my mom gave one to my sister and her family and he gave the other to me and mine. Then, in early spring, my beautiful wife, Lynn, who puts up with the endless nonsense that is my life, decided she would like to go on the Suzuki for a ride one day. But the thing is, she had never been on an ATV, snowmobile, or anything of the sort before, so I really didn’t know what she’d think. I was hopeful she’d love it, because going out riding with her seemed like a dream come true. One cold, rainy spring day, we set out along some nearby trails, and she was instantly hooked. We continued to ride off and on for short rides, but there was always something missing in the rides because we couldn’t really chat too much and well, the Suzuki was 20 years old so not the most powerful or comfortable ride and after about a year, we bought our 2015 900 Polaris RZR. And we absolutely love it. I recently had a friend ask if I still liked it. My response – “That machine is the best money I have ever spent in my entire life.” There is nothing more thrilling to me than to get out riding with Lynn, as this beast has become an obsession for both of us. She’s as eager to upgrade it, to have her own stuff on the RZR as I am. And fortune smiled upon me because she doesn’t like to drive it when we go out so I get to hog all the wheel time while she rides along in the passenger seat and we visit about the trip, talk about the next ride, or the bikes we’re with, or about the next upgrade for the RZR (I’ll talk about the Polaris RZR, why we chose it, and the factory upgrades, and our aftermarket upgrades in another post).
A Dirty Life
The thing about life is we all get to lead many different lives – our professional, workaday lives, the life around our friends and family, the life that is being parents (we have two kids both of whom who also love being out on the bikes for a ride) and our after hours, let’s-go-get-dirty-in-the-RZR time where we’re looking for the next good technical trail, the next mud hole, the next poker run, or the next mud bog. I wanted to start writing about this life of ours that is a passion for us. This “dirty life” gets us out riding with new friends and often people we’d never get to meet if it weren’t for being out on the trails, or attending organized rides.
I’ve always loved riding and our family and friends that don’t ride always ask me about what it’s like to ride, where we go, etc. Those that we’ve met on the trails have the same awesome passion and we’re all always sharing information about upgrades, new rides, places to go, trails still unexplored, etc. So, this website started because I love being in the outdoors riding on our Polaris RZR, Side-by-side (SxS) and there is nothing I love talking about more. I wanted to make a place where we can all share our passion for this activity and a place where we can learn together. There are so many machines, so many upgrades, aftermarket vendors, YouTube channels (Ostacruiser, anyone!? I LOVE this guy’s videos!). I’m no mechanical junkie that’s going to be able to tell you about or answer technical questions about your ATV or UTV, although hopefully when we get the forums rolling, we’ll be able to answer some of those questions or link you to the forums that will. What I will be able to do is share our experiences about the rides I/we go on, the events we attend, the people we meet, and the equipment we have or currently use on our RZR to make it the off-road vehicle we love. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy what we’re posting and you’ll learn some stuff along the way, too.
I will be selling aftermarket gear through the site, but in the longer term, what we’ll sell isn’t exactly clear. The challenge I’ve had with our RZR is the same challenge many Canadian ATV/UTV off-road enthusiasts live with. That is, there aren’t many online or brick & mortar stores that carry the aftermarket parts we want. In many cases, I stumbled across gear that I didn’t even know it existed (I learned about bungee ropes from Top Gear’s Arctic Exploration episode), and once I found it, I didn’t know where or how to get it! I think most everything is available somewhere, through one vendor or another, but I have found it incredibly frustrating to track stuff down and know what it’s going to cost me to get stuff to my door and whether or not I can return it if I have a problem!
The one fear remaining for my wife and I is when we ride alone – will we cut a tire? will we get stuck? And, how will we get home if we’re in the middle of nowhere without help? So, to start off our store, I plan to give you as much information and access to equipment as you need to make sure you can get out of the woods safely on every ride. We’ll be focusing on explaining the recovery equipment that exists, what makes one better than the other (if anything) and how to use items such as kinetic recovery ropes (I prefer to call them bungee ropes a la Top Gear Arctic expedition), snatch blocks, land anchors, and lots of other equipment.
But this site is about more than just the bikes, the equipment and the gear. I want to make sure you know where to go for rides, who to ride with (there are tons of Facebook groups), maybe some adventures you can embark on with friends, accommodations that are close to trails, and anything else that might be relevant to making your next ride more enjoyable. In short, I want to make it easier for you to get out there and live the Dirty Life!