ATV Riding is a popular outdoor pastime in Southern West Virginia. Many folks might associate it only with sunny days and lush, green mountains, but the fact is, you don’t have to stop riding your ATV just because the weather gets cold! Wes Wilson, on behalf of his new business, Wilson Expedition Services, is here to provide some winter safety tips for ATV Riding during the coldest time of year.
As everyone knows, the buddy system is one of the best ways to stay safe when engaging in any kind of outdoor sport. “Not only in the winter time, but year round: never ride alone,” Wes says. “Unexpected things do occur, and having a fellow rider along is often priceless when issues arise.” He recommends keeping an itinerary or game plan for the day when you head out, with plans for a primary and secondary route, in case your first choice is inaccessible for some reason.
If you’re riding over snow covered ground, be cautious. “Watch out for drop-offs, or areas where the ground may give out below you,” Wes says. “Riding in the snow is an absolutely amazing experience. While the scenery is amplified to a surreal level, as a rider or driver, folks need to take special attention to the places where the snow may hide deep holes, drop offs, or objects.” An easy way to make sure you catch any dangerous spots is just to take it slow.
It might sound basic, but it is also important to dress right for a ride in the cold. “If it’s already cold enough for snow to be on the ground, the wind-chill factor of moving 15 to 20 mph while riding will increase the chilliness of the air,” Wes says. “I always tell folks to dress in layers, so they can shed a heavy outer layer as the day goes on.” He recommends remembering hand warmers, gloves, beanies, and extra socks, as well as a neck gaiter.
It’s also important to bring plenty of food and drinks. “Even though it’s winter, you still need to stay hydrated when riding,” Wes says. “Having plenty of water is vital, and I always suggest that folks, at the very least, have light snacks to tide them over until a lunch stop.” Trail riding is a great pastime, but it’s unpredictable, and it’s always a good thing to be prepared. “Overpacking isn’t a bad thing!”
One more thing that sounds like common sense, but can never be understated: keep track of the time. “This one can slip by us all in the winter, but if you’re riding the Hatfield McCoy Trail System, they’re only open from dawn to dusk,” Wes says. “Being off the trails by 6pm is average in our area for the winter months. Either plan to ride extra days, or make arrangements to come back and visit in the summer, when the sun doesn’t set til 9pm!”
Thanks for the tips, Wes! Enjoy your winter riding, everyone!