It starts with “Oh, you ride?” which then turns into “What do you ride?” and my answer is usually in the form of a photo since it’s much easier to explain my ‘Kodiak’ with a visual aid. You see, it’s not just any Kodiak. This particular Kodiak belongs to someone who is married to a mechanic with an addiction to upgrades.
It all started when a friend of ours was coming to meet us at our place for a ride, and his wife happened to be 9 months pregnant and unable to ride so they offered me a bit of freedom for an afternoon rather than trying to hold on for my dear life on the back of Kyle’s Outlander XMR 1000R. Well, I’m sure glad that was the case because we hit some serious mud holes that day (see video here). They warned me it wouldn’t be much, and that it was “only” a 350 Honda, but boy did she get through some thick stuff (see other video here). Without any technique whatsoever and with me being a very weak statured individual, the day was not without its struggles. Add 40 degree (Celsius) heat to that while wearing neoprene chest waders, and it could have been a recipe for disaster. But what d’ya know? I LOVED it! Needless to say, I was NOT going to be a passenger much longer.
It was time to go shopping, and to my pleasant surprise I even got to test drive a few. One of the perks of living in a small town I suppose. I felt like Goldilocks sitting on bikes that were “too big” and “too small” but finally I came across the one that would be my “just right”. I guess that ties in quite nicely with the name it’s been given: Mama Bear and as you now know, it wasn’t long before I found myself driving home with a matte black 2018 Kodiak 700 EPS SE.
Before (July 2018)
Next to my new ATV
Photo Credit: Mainville Media
After (October 2019)
Riding at The Full Canadian Ride
Photo Credit: Mainville Media
Once I had my own ATV, I started off slow and stock of course but within a few days we were already drilling holes and voiding warranties; anxiety was high, but it was well worth it in order to be able to keep up on the trails. One of my biggest concerns as a female rider at the time was that I’d be the one holding people up.
I can now say, with almost 2 years under my belt, that I was putting undue pressure on myself to keep up. I’ve been absolutely blessed with great people to ride with who have been nothing but patient with me over the years. From those we just happened to come across on the trails, to club members, to long time friends, for the most part my experience has been quite a pleasant one.
The biggest lessons I’ve learned in my short time riding were to trust myself more, to trust my ATV, and to know its limits. As a fairly new rider on the ATV side of things, I typically stayed back to watch someone else go through a mud hole or obstacle first so I could familiarize myself with it and plan out my line. I’ve also learned to accept when something was beyond my skill or comfort level. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t accepted defeat once or twice in the form of a daunting hill climb or a scary bridge and there’s no shame in having someone help you out.
Cassandra riding her ATV on the Voyageur Multi-Use Trail
System on Canada Day in Mattawa, Ontario (2019)
Photo Credit: Glassglowz Media
That being said, a special mention goes to my husband for being patient with me when I was hitting those learning curves at full speed. He always reminded me that it wasn’t a race and that no one would be judging me if I took things at my own pace.
In the moments where I’d be facing a new or daunting obstacle, I’d sometimes get frustrated and want to give up, or get Kyle to just do it for me; but then my sense of pride would come in to play and memories of Kyle coaching me in the backyard (yes, I’d practice in our backyard) would come flooding back in: “Breathe”, “Take it slow”, “Easy on the throttle”, and “Choose your line and stick with it” to name a few.
Look at me know! (points proudly to the photos below ¯¯¯)
Another thing ATVing has been able to do is remind me how much I love being outdoors. It has really allowed me to reconnect with nature and to be around likeminded people. It’s been truly amazing to see how many friends you can make exploring new trails and attending new events.
On top of it all, and I’ve eluded to this a couple of times above, it’s been incredible being able to share all of these experiences with my husband and achieving the goals we’ve set out to accomplish.
Now, to learn how to ride a snowmobile….