Saturday, September 17, 2011

Riding ATVs in the Dunes

A large part of the South Oregon Coast is covered by dunes. That gave me a brilliant idea: we should try either dune surfing or riding ATVs (all terrain vehicles) there. In Florence, we found a shop that was renting out boogies, as well as bigger multi-wheel vehicles. When I saw from up close how massive boogies were, I was ready to give up and suggested to Anil renting the multi-wheeler instead, as it looked more stable and safe. My husband refused to do that, saying that it was my idea to rent ATVs, so I had to stick with it. I could not argue with that, so we ended up renting two ATVs for one hour.

We listened to a safety tape informing us how dangerous riding ATVs was, we got a short introduction into how to operate them, and then off we went to the dunes. Already riding on a dirt road leading to them was challenging. My boogie was turning left and right all the time, and it was constant work to keep it going straight. I had even more trouble keeping a straight course while trying to go up a dune and the first several times I ended up circling back to the bottom of it, instead of going across it. But through trial and error, I learned how to get my vehicle to the top of a dune.

ATVs do not have particularly strong engines, so driving them is not as easy as you might think. To go uphill you need to drive it at a full speed, and you’d better make sure not to slow down even for a second, as then you might get stuck in the sand. Starting an ATV pointing towards the top of the dune is pretty much impossible, so if you do get stuck, you need to turn it around and point it downhill. As I managed to get stuck once, I can tell you that turning it is not easy. Even with the help of Anil, I barely managed to do it.

Additionally, as dunes are uniform in color and reflect the sun very well, it is very difficult to decipher their precise shapes and steepness. Therefore, as you reach the top of the dune, you need to slow down to make sure you will not collide with a person that might be coming from the other side. Because all of that I was constantly worried that I would either collide with somebody, or that my ATV would collapse on me. My fear prevented me from having as much fun as I should have had and after a mere hour in the dunes, I was completely exhausted and almost collapsed in the car.

As you can see, my brilliant idea–like so many of them–backfired. Still, I have no regrets and I thought that it was an interesting experience. I’m also sure that I’ll do much better next time, now that I know what to expect.

A few photos: