I was driving home the other night listening to Blake Shelton’s song ‘I lived it’. It got me reminiscing about my childhood.
When I was 11 my family moved from Mississauga out to the Country north of Oakville and south of downtown Milton. I went to a little hick school called Percy W. Merry for Grades 5 and 6. Percy Merry was across from the big Terra Greenhouse at Britannia and Trafalgar. (It was burned down a couple years ago by a teenager) That was an awesome time in my life as I was born for the country lifestyle. I was a super active, slightly crazy child who loved to do things, anything fun, anything outside, anything filled with adrenaline.
My Dad bought me a Suzuki RM 80 dirt bike that I would rip up the corn fields with the bow and arrow my uncle gave me. I was in heaven. As I started to out grow the dirt bike I told my Dad I wanted a racing ATV so one day he brought home a Honda 400EX FourTrax. This thing was an absolute beast of a machine and could send my 100 pound body flying through corn fields and trails.
I learned 3 pretty important things from that Red ATV as teenager.
I really wanted to be good at doing wheelies, a wheelie is when you rev the motor up, pop the clutch and hit the throttle enough to get the front wheels in the air. I practiced that for a long time and got good at riding them out for 50 feet or so at a time. I needed to go further, I figured out that if I popped the clutch while in second gear the wheelie would ride for 100’s of feet as long as I could maintain balance. The first time I popped the clutch in 2nd gear the front wheels went way higher than I was used to and when I hit the gas the ATV took off sending me off the back, I was on the driveway and I hit the asphalt skidding literally ripping the skin off my butt. I had a split second to decide whether I was gonna sit there and cry or get up and chase my ATV down that was now flying solo into the hay fields beyond my driveway that led to the pond. I hopped up and ran as fast as I could chasing down the machine I begged my dad to buy me. I learned in that moment that the things in life that throw you down you better chase after them with everything and learn how to master them. I got really god at 2nd gear wheelies after that! I learned that mastery of craft takes time and effort and doing it over and over and over again until you’ve mastered it! I learned that way before that book on 10 000 hours came out.
I started to build jumps for my ATV so I could learn how to get some awesome air, Winter time was the best as our driveway that led to the fields was plowed I was able to build jumps out of the big piles of snow. One day I was feeling pretty amazing about myself and how good I could jump the ATV! I came off a snow jump and my foot slipped off the side of the ATV and got caught in the tire and chain system and literally pulled me underneath the ATV and ran me over through the snow… I was in shock, my leg was ripped up and bleeding and the ATV was just lying on its side. That was a moment that hurt, I was in pain physically and hurt because I was really good at jumps and I’d never fallen off like that before. I had a choice to make then whether or not I was going to ride that thing again. For the first time it scared me. I learned that even though I feared it, I still has to ride it otherwise my fears would rule my thoughts and so the next day I went back to riding. There are going to be many things in this life that rip us aggressively away from what we want to accomplish, it will hurt in many ways, do you get back up and get back at it? I did.
A couple years later and a buddy and I were ripping through a freshly cut hay field at top speeds, he was on his KX 125 dirt bike and I was still riding my 400. We were in a large open field with a treeline in the distance. I was so comfortable on that ATV, it was like part of me. I loved the wind in my face (helmet always on) and the speed, I knew exactly how that thing breaked and moved at every speed, we were approaching the fence and tree line really fast but I wasn’t worried at all. I knew how my baby would stop and turn at any distance… I hit the breaks and didn’t realize how the ATV would skid on a freshly cut hay field, I had NO control now and I panicked, hitting both back and front breaks and squeezing… I hit a tree at descent clip flew off the ATV and smashed my left shoulder into the tree. My shoulder dislocated, my ac joint separated and I was bleeding everywhere. My buddy came flying up behind me, hoped off his bike and laughed being like duuuuuude wtf? Your out of your mind! He got me on the back of his bike and drove me back home. I learned a lot from that crash. The first thing being never get too comfortable in your own abilities, the day I became so relaxed with no fear of consequence was the day I set myself up for that crash. You must constantly strive to be better at what you love to do. Complacency will be the death of you or me.
That red ATV taught me life lessons, it taught me to be relentless in pursuing things, it taught me no matter how hard you fall you get back up again, It taught me to never get too comfortable. That last crash was the last time I rode that ATV, my uncle bought it, fixed it up and my cousin drove it for years after, he then sold it to some old guy who has an ATV collection out in Paris Ontario, where she sits to this day.I had more ATV’s after and I never crashed again but man did that RED ATV build some character in me.