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August 20, 2004

Don't Look Down

If you climb a slope steep enough, the ATV will flip over backwards, even if you’re standing up on the foot-pegs and leaning over the handlebars with your stomach on the speedometer. I know because it happened to me at 11,271 feet.

It’s a bad feeling when the front end starts bouncing up in the air as you’re climbing straight up the face of a mountain above tree line. First gear, low range, throttle wide open, valves floating. Standing on the foot-pegs, leaning forward, feeling the Bridgestone Dirt Hook tires clawing at the earth.

Each time the front end rises up, you snatch a shallow breath from the thin mountain air, ease off the gas slightly, and try to lean a little further forward. Most people would stop at this point. Lock the front brakes and let it slide back down the mountain backwards. But I was operating under the mistaken assumption that I had climbed the hill before. So, the normal thought processes weren’t brought into play.

Eventually, the ATV stood up like a Mustang and came down crossways to the slope of the hill. I tried to stop it from rolling, but it had other plans. The ATV weighs 550 pounds, sitting on flat ground at sea level. Tumbling down the face of the continental divide, it feels significantly heavier as it rolls across you.

For the rest of the story buy my book "Killing Strangers.

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Posted by Peenie Wallie on August 20, 2004 at 08:00 PM


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