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September 01. 2012 9:04PM

Muddy good time in North Stratford


Mud flies in the North Country ATV Challenge in North Stratford Saturday as participants test their skill at obstacles including a tire pile, balance board, rock climb, ATV basketball and multiple mud pits. (KRISTI GAROFALO/Union Leader Correspondent)


Ten year-old Tyrell Dowland of Vermont rides over the tire pile part of the obstacle course at the North Country ATV Challenge in North Stratford on Saturday. (KRISTI GAROFALO/Union Leader Correspondent)

NORTH STRATFORD -- ATV riders of all ages gathered here on Saturday to test their skills and machines — and enjoy the mud.

Sponsored by the North Country ATV Club, the event drew about 100 riders from New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut.

“They come from all over when they hear we're doing something in the field here,” said Sandy Lambert, vice president of the Trail Patrol for the NCATV Club. “They love the mud.”

Riders tested their machines at the radar run — a speed race against the clock. They also tried their skills at the challenging obstacle course consisting of several mud pits, a tire pile, balance board, rock pile climb and ATV basketball and Hula Hoop challenges.

Ten-year-old Tyrell Dowland of Vermont said his first run through the obstacle course didn't go well. “I accidentally hit the kill switch,” he said. “But my second run was pretty good.”

Dowland said the mud is his favorite part. “I've been riding gas-powered ATV's since I was three years old,” he said. “My shoes always get muddy, but my clothes stay pretty clean.”

He was lucky — he made it through the mud pits. Many riders didn't and some had to be towed from the field.

The balance board was another difficult obstacle. Riders had to balance their ATVs on a wooden platform centered over a log without either end of the board touching the ground — and then hold it there for five seconds.

Few riders were able to complete that stage even with encouragement from the enthusiastic crowd.

“It's the first time we've done the challenge,” said NCATV Club president Troy Burns. “It's all volunteers and everyone's enjoying themselves.”

He said NCATV Club is very appreciative of local landowners who permit riders to use more than 100 miles of club trails in the area.

“Without them, there would be no club,” he said. “It's an activity where you can come, have a good time, and when you're out on the trail on an ATV, you see things you just can't see from a car.”

Burns said volunteers are important for trail maintenance. They were also busy at Saturday's Challenge, doing everything from selling t-shirts to refining the mud pits with a backhoe.

When the NCATV Club isn't busy with mud challenges, it sponsors poker runs and recently held a GPS hunt where riders had to ride to specific locations and find items hidden there.

Their next poker run is in October and more information about future events can be found on the club's website at northcountryatv.com.

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Kristi Garofalo may be reached at kgarofalo@newstote.com.


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