dumb-ass-teroid impact   11 comments

Posted at 1:06 am in environment

This isn’t the post I was going to put up today, but it seemed timely, so it goes up first. I’ll try to get another up before I get back on the road tomorrow.

Yesterday, while traveling between Twin Falls, Idaho, and Baker City, Oregon, I was passed by a *dumb ass* in a pick-up truck carrying a snowmobile and a very filthy ATV — one that had (quite obviously) been crawling around in a mucky place. The truck was speeding by in the fast lane. I noticed it because the snowmobile seemed to be poorly loaded — tipped up at a crazy angle, was bumping around, and looked as though it wouldn’t take much to have it flip back over.

While I was contemplating the crappy job of loading the truck, a huge chunk of dried mud, perhaps the size of a large bowling ball, broke free of the underside of the ATV and flew up and hit the hood of my van. It made quite a mess of the hood — put a big “rock-sized” dent in the hood right above the grille. I haven’t tried opening the hood since the accident as it might not be possible to close it again after.

I guess the one bright spot in all of this is that the dumb-ass-teroid missed hitting the windshield. If it had, I have a pretty good idea of what might have happened. Most likely I wouldn’t be sitting here typing out this post.
[EDIT:: After I got home and was able to open the hood, I discovered that the rad support was all smashed as well. Fortunately, the radiator wasn’t damaged or I would have been left walking home from Idaho.]

Quite apart from the obvious safety hazard and peril that a mud-caked ATV poses to the public, it should be remembered that the dried mud can also carry huge numbers of seeds from invasive plants. Shortly after I was bombarded by the giant mud ball, I noticed a road sign instructing ATVers not to spread invasive seeds around on their tires. Would anyone like to hazard a guess at how plant seeds were imbedded in the dumb-ass-teroid that smashed into my van hood? Ahem.

Well, back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

Written by bev on April 2nd, 2009

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11 Responses to 'dumb-ass-teroid impact'

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  1. Wow. I’m sure glad you’re ok, Bev. It rots socks that the dumbass got off scot free.

    Around here at least, there is absolutely nothing about ATVing that lifts the enthusiasts above the level of sociopath. They think nothing of motoring on the highways, tearing up the roadsides, and of course ripping apart the landscape elsewhere. I’ve seen one distant neighbor with his infant daughter zipping about on one, sans helmet. And now you’ve added to the list.

    However – it is interesting that you noted the invasive seeds signage in the Idaho-Oregon area. That’s a positive thing! I’ve never seen such a thing in Georgia though – I suspect the vast majority would have no idea what it meant.


    2 Apr 09 at 10:21 am

  2. Wayne – During my travels, I saw quite a few road signs asking people to wash off ORV and boats to prevent the spread of invasive plants and aquatic creatures such as zebra mussels. Just after crossing into Washington state yesterday morning, there was a large sign by the road saying to wash off your boats as spreading invasive aquatic species is illegal. So, the warnings are there, but I suspect there is very little enforcement. I’ve always noticed muddy ATVs as I’ve known about the campaigns to try to stop the spread of plant seeds carried on tires and mud. However, I’d never really thought about big clods of earth falling off vehicles to smash cars and then break up to spread seeds. At the same time that the big chunk of hardened mud fell off and hit the front of the van, the windshield was pelted by a few dozen chunks varying in size from that of a pea to about a tennis ball. All I could do was try to stay the course along the highway as this guy blasted on ahead of me. Let me just say that I was mighty pissed off over this incident. From that point on, I actually kept track of ATVs — how many were clean and how many were a filthy mess. Of the couple of dozen I saw yesterday, they were about 20 percent clean and the rest were filthy. I guess it’s a standard practice to haul them home and clean them up there with a pressure washer (if indeed, they clean them at all).


    2 Apr 09 at 10:36 am

  3. That pisses me off just to read about it. Some ATVers probably claim to be responsible and would whine about any limitations on their “rights” to tear around on their machines, especially on public lands. And it might be true that some are responsible. It’s just that they are so rare they might as well not exist.


    2 Apr 09 at 11:25 am

  4. Mark – It really bothers me to think of what a chunk of dried mud off of an ATV could do to — oh, say, a motorcycle or a smaller vehicle than mine. Pretty damned irresponsible, imo.


    2 Apr 09 at 12:41 pm

  5. I’m glad you’re ok. Around here that happens with rocks from road salt/sand applications and even icy snow that people don’t clean off their vehicle rooves in winter (I’m sure you’re familiar). We have an provision in auto insurance that covers windshield damage from rocks (my bf travels two states away to his office a few days a week).

    In some ways, it’s too bad the price of gasoline didn’t stay sky-high.


    2 Apr 09 at 5:33 pm

  6. That is a sizeable dent for a chunk of mud! Too bad you didn’t get the license plate to report it. I would be pretty upset if it happened to me.


    2 Apr 09 at 8:25 pm

  7. We’ve come to believe that intelligence is proportionally inverted to size of vehicle. That’s also true for the number of toys being hauled, and the sound of the motor.

    All kidding aside, I’m so sorry that this happened. An unfortunate experience on our highways. Amazing what a large chunk of mud can do.

    robin andrea

    3 Apr 09 at 9:41 am

  8. HI Bev ;0)

    as a responsible orv user, I’d like to explain a few things…(first off I ride a motorcycle, not a quad). Responsible users don’t wallow their rides in the mud because it’s very hard on the machines. If there is a muddy spot in the trail we all ride through and smack those who sit and spin(really). There is no way to wash off orv’s at the trail riding place–there usually is no water available, and if there is they dont’ allow people to use it to wash their orvs. Some people are set up with water barrels, a generator and a pressure washer–but you can imagine this takes space to cart more stuff and gas and leaves a mess at the staging area itself–and they usually aren’t allowed to wash there anyways because there is no pad to control erosion/mess from all the water. So yes people take their dirty bikes home, or the nearest carwash. The more the mud dries the harder it is to get off–so most folks get it off as fast as they can. If you saw clean bikes it was because either they went somewhere dry, or haven’t gone riding yet.

    If the state were really serious about not transporting invasive seeds, they’d make it easier to wash off orv’s on site or nearby, because believe me, people would jump on using that feature–and even pay for it.

    I’m sorry the chunk of mud hit you, but just wanted to say that the answer is a little more difficult to come by. Of course smart people poke off as much mud as possible because it makes the orv weigh that much more(wasting gas and being a pita to load). I hope I can reassure you that yes there are a lot of dumbasses riding orvs, but being someone who gets around in the orv community there are far more responsible users who take care to minimize impact and volunteer many hours on trial maintenance projects and erosion control. If you were to hike many orv trails, especially singletrack for dirt bikes, it would look no different than a hiking trail.


    3 Apr 09 at 2:53 pm

  9. WOW, this reminds of an incident a few years back when my husband was traveling south on I-29 Highway heading to work in KC. A semi barreled past him on the ice covered highway, cut in front of him and nearly ran him off the road. Then a huge ice chunk dislodged itself from the underside of his truck, flew back and hit my husbands car. It broke the grill and tore a hole in his radiator. My husband was forced to pull over and call for assistance. It could have been much worse than it was, but definitely qualifies for one of those PO’d off moments. The only thing more irresponsible in my opinion than ATV operators are semi drivers. More times than I can care to count I’ve seen reckless behavior from the drivers of those huge trucks.


    3 Apr 09 at 4:00 pm

  10. firefly – yes, I’ve been hit with pieces of ice before too. The same day as the van was hit with mud, a huge sheet of ice peeled off the roof of a transport truck trailer (ShopKo) and flew back and smashed on the highway in front of me — it was about 3/4s of the size of a sheet of plywood and probably at least and inch or two thick. Glad I drive fairly far behind trucks when I have the choice! There are a lot of gravel pits in my “home area” and that’s what tends to fly out and cause windshield cracks. This mudball thing was really deadly compared to anything else I’ve encountered.

    ruth – I wish I could have gotten the license place number, but there wasn’t time — too busy trying to dodge bouncing mud balls. I’m sure he didn’t even notice that stuff spewing out behind him as he drove away at a much faster speed than me. Oh well!

    robin – yeah, I was sorry it happened too. What a drag to happen after all this time and so many miles. Still, as they say, “it coulda bin worse!”.

    Hi celeste! Haven’t “seen” you here in awhile. When I was in southern Utah, camped at Coral Pink Sands state park, I met a lot of ATV people who clearly looked after their machines very well and kept everything clean. A lot of the people at other campsites were parents with their kids and they seemed to be very careful types. Of course, this was also a pretty clean area – very dry and all sandy. I think the muddiest ATVs I see on the roads are ones that have been out on what I think they call “mud crawls” up in my part of the country — people going out to see what they can get through in swamps, etc.. I’ve met people with 4x4s who are into that too — probably because I live near a forest area where there is a lot of wetlands and that’s what a lot of the people go there to do. However, yes, agreed that this is only part of the ORV population that are into this kind of thing. I see plenty of people — I have to say they tend to be “older folks” who are out on their ATVs and specifically try *not* to drive through mud and mess up trails. I know some of them from trail association work and they aren’t too happy with the part of the ATV user group that are into the mud stuff. I don’t know that there’s much of a solution for the situation as I agree — you can’t wash down a vehicle on the trail. I guess I’d like to see people make some effort to remove really big chunks of mud from their vehicles before they go out onto highways where the stuff could fly off and cause an accident — and that goes for people who drive around with big chunks of ice sitting on the roof of their vehicles too. Seems weird that they are so inconsiderate of the people in vehicles that might be following behind. Don’t they care if they cause an accident — perhaps one where people get hurt or killed? Anyhow, perhaps this is a problem that people haven’t been considering, or talking about. Perhaps this example will spur some discussion.

    MObugs – The incident you have described is similar to what I’ve seen up in my area. Ice chunks can be really hard in the coldest part of winter — often that dirty kind of ice. Most times, it seems to sort of break loose and spin and skid, which can be bad enough if you hit it. This mud chunk actually hit the pavement and bounced back up to hit the front of my van. If the same every happened with an ice chunk, as in the case of your husband;s car, it would be just as dangerous. I’ve always made a practice of going around kicking off *any* ice that collects behind the wheels on my van for just this reason — but also because there’s no point in carrying around an extra 30 or 40 pounds of ice if you can help it. (-:


    5 Apr 09 at 9:45 am

  11. Geeze. Honey. I’m so glad you’re OK. You kept control of your van and lived to talk (blog ;0) about it.

    Honest to God. It makes me afraid to get on a highway. You just don’t know what inconsiderate nincompoop is in the car goin’ around you or headed at you.

    Sure hope you can get that hood open. I’ll bet you’re due for an oil change after all the miles behind you and ahead.

    Now I’m wandering up to your Sandhill Crane post to soothe my nerves 🙂


    6 Apr 09 at 3:42 pm

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