COLUMN: An ATV that warms the heart and soul

Though my sons have had them since they were small... motorcycles have never really been my thing...

Though my sons have had them since they were small, and I once flirted with one back in the 1970s, motorcycles have never really been my thing.

I must admit that seeing them ridden on sunny afternoons makes me occasionally wish for one, but common sense coupled with the very real potential for a disastrous accident quickly cancels the idea. After all, there is nothing but a set of handlebars between you and a rock face, or the back of a bus.

On Friday, however, at the Vancouver Motorcycle Show (held every year at Tradex in Abbotsford despite its name) I did spend some time ogling a few beauties. The bikes were nice too, especially the latest crotch rocket from Ducati, which goes 0-60 miles an hour in two seconds.

You’ll never get me to prove that speedy claim. Firstly, who in their right mind would accelerate that fast, and how in the bleep do you hold on during the power surge? A vision of me riding my son’s big dirt bike for about 10 feet before crashing came to mind. If I ever torqued that Ducati, it would probably and instantly flip over backwards: 0-0 in .01 seconds.

On the other hand, if you know how to ride, that is one fabulous bike. And sharing its display were 100 or more other two-, three- and four-wheel rides that would happily drain my retirement account should I be so inclined.

There was a moment when I ran my hand over a quad that seemed to whisper my name, then I realized there actually may be a purpose to having a maxed-out credit card.

In fact, the only thing I did fall victim to was a trio of hucksters selling leather lotion.

Despite my protests, they insisted on demonstrating the wonders of the salve on my shoes. Relenting, I put my foot on the stand and seconds later I had a nice shiny shoe. I then insisted, against his reluctance, that he do the other one; otherwise, I pointed out, with one shoe shiny and one not, it’d be like walking around the show wearing a red sock on one foot, a green one on the other.

Thus it was with a sense of obligation that I shelled out $20 for a can of beeswax. If nothing else, all my horse saddles and bridles might one day look new again. The shoes, not so much.

The beeswax also reminded me that for all the glitz and glitter of the machines, I have out in my field a couple of the best, original and most versatile “ATVs” in the world.

With them, and their predecessors, I have been to places inaccessible (legally and otherwise) to even the most adventurous dirt bike riders. Granted, it takes me a lot longer to get there, but other than the occasional passing of gas, a horse is a far more quiet and serene mode of transport.

Then again, once the riding is done a quad or a bike demands nothing. Four-legged transport requires daily maintenance, whether used or not.

But quick and cheap and appealing as they may be, a machine will never nuzzle, call out to you, stand at the fence in expectation of happy time when the hay is thrown or race about excitedly when you walk out to the gate. And despite their size and eagerness, they gently take a chunk of carrot out of the hand of a three-year-old.

Perhaps the shoeshine, and the resulting leather conditioner was an omen to not trade in the ponies quite yet. They and the photos of my adventures with them have simply made too many indelible memories to be replaced in my heart and soul.