In most circles, Thanksgiving is a time for turkey, football and anticipation of Black Friday savings. In the off-road community, however, Thanksgiving weekend has become one of the most popular riding holidays of the year. Call it a last ditch effort to get in one last long weekend before the weather turns or chalk it up to a tricky way to avoid your annoying Aunt Carla…I call it one of the most honest forms of showing our thanks.
Here on the West Coast, Thanksgiving weekends are centered around the sand. Pismo, Glamis, Sand Mountain all offer havens of cooler weather, dependable terrain and a fun loving crowd ready to combine their overeating with a little off-road riding. However, this weekend away is more than just your regular ride, it’s a growing tradition that signals the start of the holiday season for many families.
Toy haulers line camps, kids run around with cousins and friends and turkeys fry outside trailer doors, all with the sounds of small engines filling the air.
While some complain that Thanksgiving riding kills the typical traditions, I contest that the idea behind Thanksgiving riding returns the focus to what the day is all about.
As much as we try to avoid it, there are times when we find everyone in our home connected to a device. I’m checking emails, my husband’s reading forums and our son wants to watch Grave Digger videos on YouTube for the eight millionth time. And I hate it. I hate every bit of technology that disconnects us from one another.
But when we ride – that is gone. Phones make an appearance for an occasional picture or to capture a video, but nobody wants to browse the internet or check out YouTube. We want to ride, enjoy the wind in our faces, and talk to the people around us. Maybe it’s a neighbor who has the lighting set up we’ve been looking at, or another family out riding with small kids. Or maybe, we just want to sit and talk with each other to laugh about our experiences that day. Regardless, we ditch the devices in exchange for ourselves.
Off-road riding, especially in large camp settings, re-connects us to one another. Sure, it’s through machines, but these are machines designed not to connect us with a virtual world, but rather with the world that sits right in front of us – the one that was made for us all to enjoy together.
When I reflect on why I love taking our UTV and quads out so much, it is not because I love the machine. Surely, it’s the root of the cause. However, what I love most is our time together. I’m thankful that we’re able to take time with one another and explore the trails and dunes of this world. I’m thankful that I’m part of a community of people that are commonly down to earth, fun-loving and family oriented – but who appreciate horsepower. I’m thankful for the areas open for us to ride.
As we live in a world where so often being together translates to being torn apart by technology, celebrating days of thanks with a hobby that connects us seems more than fitting.