Monday, January 26, 2015

BRP's ATV History

If you've been reading this blog much you have probably figured out by now that I have become a big Can Am fan since purchasing my first Renegade in 2012. Comparatively speaking, Can-Am is still the new kid on the block in the ATV market even though its parent company (Bombardier) has been around since the 1940's. The innovations Can Am has brought to the market since 1998 are simply amazing, here is a brief overview of some.

I am adding my own commentary, but all of the information is from BRP's history page on it's website located here. I have exclude all non-atv content and also added pictures to make it more interesting. I have also added a several events that I felt were noteworthy. You may agree or disagree, let me know in the comments at the bottom.

1998 Bombardier enters the all-terrain vehicle market

In February, Bombardier enters the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) market by introducing a prototype of its innovative ATV, the Traxter.

Bombardier Traxter

Bombardier Quest
Bombardier's introduction to the ATV market wasn't at all along the same lines as the powerful performance ATV's they are now known for. No, they were going for utility and riders and riders with mobility issues. The Traxter's claim to fame was that the fuel tank and engine were moved back creating a void in front of the seat where the tank would typically be. This meant that you didn't have to swing your leg over the seat making it easier to get on and off. Many farmers, ranchers and tradespeople that were constantly getting on and off the machine found that there was less fatigue in their legs at the end of the work day and really liked this feature.
The Quest was introduced later, it was the same machine as the Traxter but with the addition of a CVT (Constant Variable Transmission) verus the semi automatic footshift of the Traxter.

1999 Traxter is named ATV of the Year

One year after it's introduction the Traxter is named “ATV of the Year” by ATV Magazine. An impressive feat for a new company showing it's Japanese competitors that they are here to stay and that they mean business. 

1999 Bombardier Introduces the DS650 

The Bombardier DS650

1999 also sees the launch of a second Bombardier ATV model called the DS 650. The DS650 was a pure sport machine directed at those that were looking for performance. At the time, 650cc engines were not at all common in the industry. And the thought of an engine of that size in a sport ATV was especially insane.
As with the Traxter, Bombardier wanted to set themselves apart in the styling department and without a doubt the DS650 was a departure from the traditional sport ATV. History would seem to say that this risk backfired on Bombardier as it had a polarizing effect and you either hated it, or loved it.
More powerful, but also wider, longer and heavier than it's competitors. It seemed confused as to who it was to appeal to and by 2005 it's production was canceled.

2002 Bombardier launches the first two-rider ATV

On June 6, Bombardier opens an untapped market segment by introducing its Traxter MAX ATV, the first and only ATV with the manufacturer’s approval to accommodate two riders.

Bombardier Traxter Max

2002 Bombardier's ATV line-up grows

In November, Bombardier introduces four new ATV models: the Outlander 330 H.O. 4x4 and 2x4, the 2x4 Outlander 400 H.O. and the Outlander 400 H.O. XT.

From Bombardier:
These new models offer advanced technology and are ideal for consumers who want a sporty look and a comfortable, superior ride in a lightweight package. The Outlander 400 H.O. 4x4 XT adds a value-added package, including the addition of a winch, heavy-duty front and rear bumpers, hand guards and chrome rims to the base 400 H.O. model. The Outlander 400 H.O. 2x4 offers many of the same benefits as the 400 H.O. 4x4 in a lightweight, attractively priced package. The Outlander 330 H.O. 4x4 and 2x4 models introduce a reliable new high performance Rotax® 4-TECTM engine to the Bombardier ATV line-up, based on the powerful 400cc engine of the Outlander 400 H.O. ATVs.

Bombardier Outlander ATVs feature the innovative TTITM (Trailing Torsional Independent) rear suspension which provides superior ride comfort over a broad range of terrains and conditions. This system significantly improves rider comfort by repositioning the two independent pivot points so that the rear wheels travel in a predictable straight "up-and-down" line when encountering bumps.

Outlander ATVs also include Bombardier's revolutionary SSTTM (Surrounding Spar Technology) frame. This one-piece perimeter steel frame provides greater strength, structural integrity, better engine protection and superior power to weight ratio. The SST frame delivers a narrower bottom profile "runner", whose "slide and glide" action allows Outlander ATVs to virtually "ski" across obstacles without getting bogged down.

All Outlander models have a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) automatic transmission, full floorboards and eye-catching molded rack design. All 4x4 models include 2WD/4WD selection options. These new Bombardier models will be available starting in March 2003.

2003 Outlander model named ATV of the Year

In January, the Outlander is named ATV of the Year by both ATV Magazine and Canada’s 2003 ATV Guide.

2004 Bombardier Outlander 330 with color matched floor boards

 Check out ATV Television's Review of the all new Bombardier Outlander

2003 Bombardier partners with Deere & Company

On January 23, Bombardier and Deere & Company announce a strategic alliance to develop new wheeled industrial vehicles and technologies.

The John Deere Buck and Trail Buck were a joint effort between Bombardier
and John Deere from 2004-2006 based on the Traxter

2003 Two new additions to the two-seater ATV line-up

In May, Bombardier Recreational Products introduces the Outlander MAX and Quest MAX ATVs, two new additions to the first full line-up of two-seater ATVs on the market.

2005 BRP Outlander Max

2004 The BRP brand is born

In mid-June, BRP launches its new brand and signature: leveraging a rich heritage of entrepreneurial spirit and innovation with a renewed focus on providing consumers worldwide with uniquely crafted products that inspire passion and enthusiasm.

2005 BRP's Can-Am DS 650X ATV finishes first at the Dakar Rally

In January, Antoine Morel of France places first in the ATV category at the 27th edition of the famed Dakar Rally, after crossing the finish line on a DS 650X ATV.

2005 BRP introduces the APACHE kit

In September, BRP launches its revolutionary APACHE ATV Track Kit, the first and only OEM ATV track kit that fits most major all-terrain vehicle (ATV) models.

2005 BRP wins the GNCC Championships

In October, BRP wins its first Utility Modified GNCC Championship with its Outlander 800 ATV which would later spark a streak that would see BRP earn an additional 12 GNCC ATV championships during the next four seasons of racing.

2006 The Can-Am brand is reborn

In May, Bombardier ATV becomes Can-Am ATV. BRP launches its 2007 all-terrain vehicle line-up and re-brands its ATV segment to Can-Am. The Can-Am name recaptures the spirit of BRP's unequalled performance, superb handling and advanced design that are unique in the industry.

2007 BRP introduces the Renegade to it's ATV lineup

Based on the Outlander chassis and engine the Renegade bridges the gap between the sport and utility market. It's bold styling is just a bold as it's performance. Initially offered with the potent 800cc engine it is later offered with the smaller 500cc add 1000cc engines in later model years. Although not the first sport 4x4 ATV it revives a segment of the industry thought to be dead.

2009 BRP introduces first air-controlled suspension system

In May, BRP launches the industry's first air-controlled suspension system (ACS) on the Can-Am Outlander 800R MAX EFI LTD ATV.

Outlander Max 800 Limited with ACS

2010 BRP completes its off-road segment with the Can-Am Commander side-by-side vehicle

BRP brings Can-Am DNA to the side-by-side market by introducing the 2011 Can-Am Commander line-up. The five model line-up with two engine options delivers on the Can-Am promise of cutting-edge design, meaningful innovation and a focus on convenience, maximum value and more usability for the consumer.

2011 BRP's Can-Am Commander Side-By-Side Vehicle Named ‘Best Of The Best’ Award

BRP receives the coveted 2011 “Best of the Best” Award in the Side-By-Side ATV category from Field & Stream magazine with its Can-Am Commander 1000 side-by-side vehicle.

2012 BRP introduces the Maverick Sport Side-By-Side

This is the one everybody was waiting for. Consumer demand for a sport side by side was at an all time high and Can Am answered the call in spades. The Maverick wasn't just a sport Commander, it was an all new design with performance as it's foundation. Introduced with the 101hp 1000cc Rotax engine it was the reigning king for horse power. The Maverick was key in securing Can-Am's place as the power and performance leader in the industry.

2012 BRP introduces the SST G2 Chassis 

The next generation and industry-exclusive Surrounding Spar Technology (SST G2) frame. The welded-steel frame incorporates new processes and updated geometry for increased structural integrity, improved durability and precision handling. The more efficient SST G2 design offers increased strength compared to a traditional tubular steel chassis, a lower center of gravity, better handling and requires far fewer components, materials and welds.

Included with the SST chassis redesign are subtle cosmetic changes for both the Outlander and Renegade but still keeping the same general design.

The SST G2 Chassis used on the 2012 Outlander and Renegade
The 2012 Outlander got updated plastics with the SST chassis, keeping the same general
shape but adding composite racks and projection headlight

2014 BRP introduces the first factory Turbo Charged ATV

A huge surprise to everyone, Can Am introduces the Maverick X DS package. This package enables you to lead the pack with the most powerful two-seater sport side-by-side in the industry. Its 121-hp turbocharged engine option leads the way, and its rider-focused design and impressive handling provide a comfortable and confident ride. 

So what do you think? Anything missing? Please comment with what you think should be added to the list.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Can Am Renegade vs Outlander

This seems to be a hotly debated topic, and why shouldn't it be. These are two of the hottest machines on the market. I have owned both so I think I have a good point of view and will throw my opinions out there for debate.
One of the first things that to address which might come as a shock to many of the uneducated, is that they are the same machine. If you were to take an 800 Outlander and and 800 Renegade, strip the plastics and and stand back 20 feet, only those with a very well trained eye would be able to tell the difference. Sure there are some tweaks here and there that are different, but the frame geometry, the riders stance, the weight distribution, the suspension geometry, the engine are all the same.
So the main differences between the two are aesthetic. The Outlander is classified by Can Am as a "Recreation-Utility" ATV, it has more squared lines to accommodate front and rear racks and overall more of a traditional utilitarian appearance. The Renegade is classified as a "Sport 4x4" and has jagged, angled lines with no racks and more tires exposed. I don't understand the psychology of it, but if you expose the tires on an ATV it does give it more of a sporty look. Many of the race quads have very little fenders if any at all. Which brings me to my first deficiency with the Renegade:

Prepare to "wear the trail" on a Renegade

Fender Coverage

This wasn't a concern for me when I purchased my first Renegade, but it became one. My first Renegade was a 2007 800R, you can read my full review here. On my first ride where we encountered mud it became very clear how little fender protection I had. We were at a camp and it had rained for three days before we got there and it rained the entire first day. Everything was muddy and mucky. We were using our ATV's to get to various areas in the camp that were connected by dirt road. I had brought boots with me but for comfort I wanted to keep my shoes on, besides, it's not like we were going mudding. Boy was I in for a surprise. Driving slowly I started getting clumps of mud thrown off my front tires and onto my shoes, so I slowed down and put my feet on top of my front fenders. Even that didn't make much difference. The sticky clay road we were on constantly sent clumps of mud coming off the front and rear tires skyward and raining down on me like an artillery barrage.
When we arrived at our destination I was covered in mud, but my friends were not. In fact they were dry as a bone. Check out my "Mud Virgins" video to see first hand the mud flinging. Buying a set of fender flares was the first thing I did when I got back.

My second bad experience with fender coverage was during a wet cold spring ride with my 2009 Renegade 800X. The sun was shining and the snow was starting to melt, it was still pretty chilly though. Mindful of the temperature, I wore my snowmobile suit which was water resistant, not water proof. We encountered many very large ice crusted puddles on that ride, needless to say I was soaked like I have never been soaked on a ride before, right down to my underwear. Terribly cold and uncomfortable. I installed fender flares as soon as I got back.

In contrast the Outlander has fenders that cover the tires and more and provide amazing coverage. You'll still get wet, but not soaked to the bone.

Fender Flares
Renegade 800R with flares freshly installed
Most of the fender flares extend out about 4", they also fill in some of the other areas of the fender and give a uniform edge to the fender edge. But even with the flares on you can still see much of the tire exposed. Any tire visible to the rider will be an area where water and mud are thrown at you. So yes they make a difference but they are not going to keep you dry.

The other consideration is appearance. After installing the flares on my 2007 800R I found I didn't like the way it looked as much any more. And after installing flares on my 2008 800X I un-installed them later for the same reason.

Many models of the Outlander come with fender flares already installed.



Having entered the 4x4 ATV world from a sport quad I was used to not bringing any supplies with me on my rides. But that started to change when I got my Renegade, at first I just wanted to bring a cold drink and a snack but later on I want tools, extra clothes ect. and the Renegade has nowhere to put anything. My 800X at least had some loops behind the seat but my 800R had nothing and I ended up using a backpack which I found uncomfortable and difficult to clean. So I started looking into rack options.

On my 07 800R I got a Rubberdown Customs bracket that allowed me to use an Outlander rack.

2007 Renegade 800R with Outlander rack
 With my 09 800X I purchased an aluminum rack from PRM that mounts beside the rear push bar. I thought that this was a cleaner look and would keep more of the original Renegade look.

2008 Renegade 800X with PRM rack

Both of these rack ended up costing nearly $400 when all associated costs were calculated.

The Outlander comes with both front and rear racks from the factory, no need to adapt an after market solution.

Nowhere to push

This may be a minor point but still needs mentioning. If you plan on taking your Renegade in areas where you might get stuck, you really don't have many areas to push. I can recall a time we did a group ride and all of us were getting stuck in an area where the snow had really blown in. When I got stuck I had three guys some over to give me a push, but they had nowhere to push. The rear grab bar is pretty much useless although one guy can somewhat get under it the other two couldn't do anything. I ended up having to use my winch to get out.

The Outlander has racks and brush guards that are very sturdy and provide many areas to grab onto for a push.

Rad Relocate

If you plan on doing serious mudding with your Renegade you will find out very quickly that your Radiator will plug up with mud in it's current location and you will forever be overheating and put into limp mode. From my research there are only two manufactures that are making rad relocates for the Renegade with the exact same design, Wild Boar and Gorilla. My personal opinion is that these are butt ugly and completely ruin the sporty look of the Renegade, but with the design of the front plastics you really have no other option for a rad relocate design.

An otherwise gorgeous Renegade build ruined by an ugly rad relocate
The Outlander XMR has a rad relocate that looks in proper proportion to the rest of the ATV. It blends in the machine and does't stick up like an billboard like the Renegade's rad relocate.

Ironically after all my modifications I found that I wasn't happy with the look


All of this has brought me to this final conclusion, buy an Outlander. Why go through all the cost and problems to customize a Renegade and basically turn it into an Outlander. I feel that if I was only riding dry trails I would likely still own a Renegade today but mudding is just too fun to ignore.
Both are awesome and you will have an exhilarating ride with either, but if you are in the market to purchase and are weighting the options between the two hopefully this has given you some food for thought.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Using a GoPro on your ATV

For Christmas 2011 I received one of the best presents I have received from my wife, my GoPro. She knew I had been spending a lot of time watching ATV videos on YouTube and she thought it would be great if I could start making my own. And I have enjoyed making videos ever since.
I haven't made a ton of GoPro videos, at present I have approximately 20 videos on my channel. My relationship with the camera hasn't been all bubbles and sparkles, and to be honest I have a bit of a love\hate relationship with it. For this article I am going to point out some of my beefs with the GoPro and point out some of the problems you may have when using your GoPro to film you ATV adventures.

How to Mount

Chin mount I made from a bracket I found in my garage
There are many ways to mount your camera but you want it in just the right place to get all the action. The square boxiness of the GoPro limits your mounting options. You can see in the picture below that I opted for what is referred to as a chin mount. I did quite a bit of searching but I couldn't find any manufacturer that makes an actual chin mount, so with the help of some YouTube videos and uncle Google I decided to make my own. I used a braket I found in my garage that was originally a mount for a pulley. All I needed to do was spread the arms out a bit, and drill two holes. The fit is almost perfect. The chin mount also helps you avoid showing the brim of the visor at the bottom of your image with is very apparent in many of my first videos. The camera sees everything that I see, I don't need to guess where it is pointing, and that makes the difference between catching a great moment or missing out.

Traditional top mount, very vulnerable around trees
When I started filming my rides I was using a traditional mount on the top of my helmet. I was worried about how vulnerable it was to trees and my fears were confirmed on a chilly March ride where a tree smacked the camera and it fell behind me. Thankfully it stayed on the machine. Some sort of tether strap may be a good idea regardless of what method you use.


When ATVing I have noted that my average ride is 4-5 hours, I found out very quickly that to be filming for the entire ride is pretty much impossible no matter what battery you use, and for the sake of editing it isn't very wise anyways. But even with switching the camera on and off I still would barely last for an entire ride. To solve this I purchased a GoPro Battery Backpac which combines it's own power with the internal battery and more than doubles your battery life. If I turn the camera on and off between filming sessions I have found that I can get through an entire ride with both batteries pretty much spent at the end of the day. The Battery Backpac was an additional $80 to the cost of the camera, and was an expense I was not prepared for.

The Battery BacPack clips onto the back of the camera and includes a larger
rear housing for the case


My Hero 3 Black came with a remote, even before I got the GoPro I knew that it would be essential for turning the camera on and off while riding. As promising the remote control sounds, it is an imperfect device. It also has a battery that needs to be charged (if you are keeping track we are now up to 3 batteries) but does have a reasonable battery life. But it only works half the time. I'm not sure what the problem is, something to do with the connection between the two but often times it will just stop connecting to the camera in the middle of the ride. I have tried to get it to reconnect, but this is a difficult task when you are wet and covered in mud. When this happens I end up powering it off and try and use the beeps the GoPro makes to know if it has responded. With an aftermarket exhaust it is almost impossible to hear the GoPro over the engine noise, the problem is exacerbated because your ears covered by a helmet. Often times when I think it's on, it's off and vice versa.

The remote that has given me much grief. Note the cradle which uses
a GoPro sticky to mount it to your ATV

No Viewfinder

This isn't really the GoPros fault, it just wasn't designed with a screen (at least not this model). But it would be really nice to know what you are filming.
I tend to ride around a lot of water and mud, and when you get a chunk thrown onto the lens protector or it gets wet and the view is impeded there is almost no way of knowing without talking the helmet off to look at it. I started to make it a habit to constantly wipe the lens protector with my glove which has helped and is the only real solution for the time being that I can think of. Unfortunately it does scratch the lens and am now having to replace mine.

That's one dirty lens
These issues have caused me a lot of my grief with my GoPro. The frustration of not knowing if the camera is off or on is really stressful and steals the joy out of filming the ride. There were a couple rides this year that I said "screw it" and I decided to just leave it at home.

As of the time that I am writing this review I am contemplating the purchase of the Sony Action Cam Mini POV camera (HDRAZ1VR). Two major advantages of this camera are that it has image stabilization and it has a remote with a screen on it that you strap to your wrist so that you can see what your filming. It does have a couple other minor features that interest me but I will address those in an article if I end up buying the camera.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bruno SK ATV Rally Review - 2014

The trees were starting to lose their leaves, farmers had finished combining, and there was a crispness in the air. No doubt about it, fall was here and snow would be coming soon. I continue ATVing well into December but the writing was on the wall that for the majority of riders the season was over. But wait, we need to get in one more really good ride. And that was when I heard about the Bruno ATV Rally and decided to do some research on it. Information was hard to come by, some said it was just riding across stubble fields and gravel roads, others said it was a good time. I decided to take my chances and got a group together to check it out.

As mentioned, it was a bit later in the year, October 18th to be exact but thankfully the weather was cooperating. It wasn't hot by any means, but with chest waders and a waterproof jacket it was just right. Our crew met on the outskirts of Saskatoon and traveled as a group to Bruno. Total distance is only 91kms, so we were there in less than an hour. This is the closest ATV rally to Saskatoon and the short drive was an absolute bonus.

My GoPro video of the rally
We arrived around 10:00, which allowed us time to have a nice pancake breakfast before heading out. I would estimate that there were already around 200 machines and riders at various points of unloading, getting ready and having breakfast. Breakfast was served in a small rec center and it was crowded. We started by purchasing our poker hands, getting some tickets for the door prizes and 50/50 draw. The atmosphere was pretty relaxed, lots of socializing  going on and nobody seemed to be in a huge rush to get out.

Bruno Rec Center where meals were served
Trucks and ATV's plugged up the rather large Rec grounds in Bruno
This was only my second ATV rally, and there were some very stark differences between Bruno and the other rally I attended in spring (Foxford). One of the main differences was that there was more family involvement in Bruno. I saw a fair number of kids, some riding with parents, others with grandparents.

Families weren't an uncommon sight in Bruno

Another difference was the rural feel of the rally. You could tell this event was a huge draw from all of the surrounding areas. Many of the machines I saw looked like they had just been loaded up from the farm and brought over. Lots of stock Honda's and Yamaha's and some machines that looked like they were held together with chicken wire and duct tape.

A map of the 40 mile route cross country and through farmers fields

Another contrast to Foxford was that snorkeled mud machines were in the minority.

Saw quite a few dirt bikes
Our group getting ready to ride out

We loaded up out machines and hit trails? Yeah no trails here, you are riding cross country from field to field, your only guidance is stakes in the ground with orange tape spaced about a quarter mile apart. For the most part we found our way pretty easily, but there was the odd time that we got off the path and had to search for that next stake.
Fields were combined, so there was nothing but stubble on the ground. It was fun to bomb through the fields at high speeds for a bit, but we wanted mud.
We came across our first slough and played around in the mud, I was worried that would be the only one but boy was I wrong. It seemed like every quarter mile there was another mud hole. Around some of the mud holes there would be a group gathered, many of them socializing among themselves and being entertained by the other guys get muddy.

The typical gathering around a good water hole
We played in that first mud hole no less than half an hour, we were all in our glory. We had one guy riding in our group who had no fear,  as soon as we got to a new mud hole he would go ripping right into the center without knowing how deep it was. To our amazement he never swamped. The next mud hole was just about as much fun...and they kept on coming.

It was amazing how most of the sloughs were no more than rack deep, although there were exceptions
 That was pretty much how things went, mud hole to mud hole with stubble field in between. Some areas were actually quite hilly and not your typical flat prairie. I was constantly amazed at just how many machines I saw, they were everywhere, you were never completely alone.
I ended up blowing a belt just before the check point and ended up having to get towed in. They were selling hotdogs so we grabbed a bite and did a quick belt swap. Again there were a ton of machines and people, I would guess around 200 ATV's a the half way point alone.

Large gathering at the check point

Hot dogs and pop were available

Thankfully the check point was a little more than half way, because I was running low on fuel. We were started to get tired and blowing a belt took some of  wind out of my sails, I was less inclined to hit every mud hole we passed.

This guy got even muddier than I was

Looks like somebody got a little too deep
We pulled into Bruno around 5:00, I can honestly say I was exhausted and completely covered head to toe in mud. The towns volunteer fire department was set up and for $10 they would spray down your quad with the fire hose. I was more than willing to leave as much Bruno mud in Bruno as I could. I knew that no matter how much they cleaned my machine I would still have a couple hours of de-weeding and cleaning at home but it helped.
We loaded our machines, had some burgers and fries at the same facility we had breakfast, and called it a day.


Crazy fun! What an enjoyable day, played hard, had some breakage but nothing major, had an awesome group of guys I was riding with. Couldn't have asked for more. The Bruno Lions club did a great job of organizing and put on a great event. If you are one of the landowners that allows the rally to cross your land, thank you.

I did have a couple concerns; one was the amount of alcohol being consumed and drunk drivers\riders, the other was seeing a number of people without helmets. These issues plague pretty much every event of this sort.

If your looking for nice tight technical trails, probably not the best rally for you. If you enjoy bombing across stubble fields and socializing with friends and enjoy getting muddy, then absolutely Bruno is the place for you. Looking forward to 2015.

Photo credits to: Michael John Charbonneau, Roger Mah, Corrinne Arnold, Matt Sutton, John Lamon, Bryan Kambeitz and others (sorry if I didn't list your name).

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Foxford Run a Muck Rally 2014 Review

There are a couple of Saskatchewan ATV rallies that have a reputation for not disappointing, and the Run a Muck rally in Foxford SK is one of them. Foxford is a tiny village of only a couple of houses located just 45 minutes east of Prince Albert. I'm not sure how this tiny place can host one of the provinces largest ATV rallies, but they do it and do it well. This year I was told they had 291 ATVs registered.

My video of the ride

Foxford was the first ATV rally I've ever attended, which is weird as I've been ATVing most of my life. Most of my riding has been on 2 wheel drive sport quads which I figured weren't really rally friendly, and in the case of Foxford that is absolutley correct. Being that it was my first rally I had no idea what to expect. I did know that Foxford is not know for being dry, it is known for tons of water and muskeg, and I wanted to see what all the hype was about.


I picked up my 2009 Can Am Renegade 800X in January 2014 and it was bone stock. I knew I needed to get prepared for mud, so I wired up a winch, added some 30" Silverback tires, chest waders and even got it snorkeled.

Picking up my machine from Mad Mechanics in Martinsville
I have never owned a snorkeled ATV, in my mind that was just way too hardcore. Besides I was a trail guy, not a mudder. But when somebody explained to me that snorkels were cheap insurance compared to an engine rebuild I decided to get it done. 

I took my machine to Mike at Mad Mechanics in Martinsville to get the snorkeling done. I almost didn't get it done in time because of my procrastination but Mike managed to get it done the night before leaving to Foxford. Talk about cutting it close.

A panoramic of the parking area when we arrived in the morning, even the parking lot was muddy. By the time we got back this area was plugged full of truck and ATVs.

The Experience

I drove up with my friend Jonathan who was not only a rally newbie, but also an ATV newbie. I let him use my Yamaha Bruin 350 with the intention he would go on the dry trails and I would go on the wet.
I met up with an old friend at the rally that I rode with when we were teenagers, it just so happened that we both had Can Am's and were both heading there so I asked to ride with him and his group as he had been to Foxford a couple of times and knew what to expect.

It had rained for a number of days before the rally on June 1st and without a doubt it was going to affect the conditions. The organizers said that many of the smaller water holes had filled up and joined with other smaller holes creating even bigger holes. At this point I was very thankful I had snorkeled my quad.

We registered and got our tags which are used to monitor who has made it back safely, and if they need to send someone out to search. The organizers mapped out 3 routes and put them into the following categories; Dry, Wet and Extreme. In our opinion, they should have been more like;Wet, Extreme and Completely Retarded.

The group I was going to be joining with my friend was planning to ride the Extreme trail, ugh.

Ostacruiser was one of the guys in our group. That should tell
a lot about the kind of riding we were in for

I cannot express enough the shock I was in once I saw what we were in for. I had been in some deeper water with my Renegade but they were just water. I had never experienced anything like the sticky thick gumbo muskeg (skeg) in the stinky sloughs of Foxford.
I very much felt in over my head, but when your with a group of guys you put on your game face and just do what you need to do.

My new Kolpin jerry can adorned the rear of my machine, by the first
mud hole it was gone.
The first big mud hole our group approached was a gong show, there was a line up of no less than 50 machines waiting as in the mud hole there another 15-20 machines stuck. Most turned off their machines and chatted with the other guys, some stood at the edge of the water and strategized the best route through the hole and some wandered in to assist the guys that were stuck.
Lots of comradery with the groups. Even if you didn't know the other guys you were riding with they were all there to help. You had a rough idea of how many guys are supposed to be with you and when you were through the hole you waited until the other guys made it through before you contining on. If they needed a push or a winch, you did what you could and the other guys did the same. Even though everybody was helpful you still didn't want to be the one holding everybody else back, or worse being the one that was always stuck and needing help getting out of pretty much every hole. On this ride unfortunately, I was that guy.

A sample of the thick gumbo muskeg we encountered

Waiting for the rest of the group, thankful to have made it through

I was not at all prepared for the Foxford experience, it was a hard exhausting day. It was fun, but just a little overwhelming. It was hot that day, my new chest waders made me confident I would stay dry but they sure didn't help to beat the heat. I actually appreciated it when I got sprayed with some nice cool mud when I hit the water a little too fast. When you do get stuck and have to get off to push every step in the sticky muskeg is a struggle, your boots almost get glued into the stuff so you have to point your toes up and pull with your calf muscles....ugh it was exhausting.

By the half way point the crowds had subsided, I think a number of people had turned back. We didn't run into any more traffic jams at the mud holes but we would see the odd smaller group of maybe 3-5 guys making their way through.

Somewhere under this water there is, or was a trail
Stuck and winch pulled off its spool

One of the hardest parts of the rally for me was the fear of swamping my machine. It was mentally exhausting. We were nearing the end of the extreme trail and our group had reduced in size down to only a handful of guys. For the first time I got left at the very back of the pack and got stuck, and there wasn't anybody behind me. I got off and started pulling my winch cable out to the nearest tree, but the nearest tree was pretty far. As I pulled the line out father than I had ever pulled it before I noticed the tension dramatically decrease, and to my dismay I realized I had pulled the cable right off it's spool. I went from being a little stressed, to being right out afraid for my safety. The rest of my group wasn't too far ahead and were waiting for me, but I didn't know that. To make matters worse I was down to the last bit of fuel. Pictures of camping out in the swamp over night flashed through my mind.

The fear got my adrenaline kicked in and I found new energy and strength to get myself unstuck. Finally free, I was now presented with another problem, I didn't have other ATVs ahead of me to help me determine how deep this water hole was. And this was a huge water hole. I slowly creeped my way ahead and half way through my left side wheels slipped off an underwater ledge and the quad tipped over to that side. I jumped off just in time as my snorkels were only inches away from the surface of the water. How much more of this can I take? It was at this point I said I am done! I had my adventure and I was ready to go home. I was taking my first exit back the truck. I met up with the rest of my group who were sitting around, gabbing, and eating their sandwiches with little knowledge of the physcological torture I had just endured. We continued on and I found the exit I was looking for, the rest of the guys continued on and I headed back to the trucks by myself.

Ironically, I wasn't done yet. To get back to the trucks I had to go through the "wet" trails, which I thought would be a cake walk compared to what I had just gone through. Nope, more water, winching and boots getting stuck in the mud.

Eventually I made it back to a gravel road where things finally were dry. I headed to my truck where I met up with Jonathan, he reported that the "dry" trails were not at all dry and that he was pushing through deep water and winching as well with my little Yamaha Bruin. He had quite the adventure as well. 

Me, very weary from a hard days ride, happy to be back in one piece and
that my machine made it through


I wasn't prepared. I was a mud virgin and I didn't know what to expect. Honestly I don't think anybody could have described to me what I was about to get myself into. I think it would be a little bit like trying to explain so someone what war is like if you have never been in one. At the end of the day I was tired, physically exhausted and I kept asking myself "what was the point of that?" If ATVing wasn't fun, why would a person do it? This is medieval torture. But now that I have had some time to reflect and experience more deep mud situations my opinion is changing.
The trails at Foxford were a crazy challenge, but I rose to the occasion and completeld the task before me. Of the 291 registered riders I am one of the few that can say that I completed the extreme trail, and that feels pretty good. I learned a lot about mud riding and have been able to continue to use that knowledge.  Thank you Foxford for challenging me and being great hosts, see you in 2015.

Click here to see the route on EveryTrail

Here are a couple other videos that I came across that I just happen to be in