ELY – Hundreds of ATV riders from across Minnesota will be ripping through the woods on their ATVs as they venture out on area trails next weekend. A three-day event, the annual convention of …
ELY – Hundreds of ATV riders from across Minnesota will be ripping through the woods on their ATVs as they venture out on area trails next weekend. A three-day event, the annual convention of the ATV Association of Minnesota (ATVAM), is hosted this year by the local Prospector Loop ATV Club, Sept. 18-20.
As many as a dozen guided rides with starting points in Ely, Babbitt, Embarrass and Tower are part of the “Ride and Rally" this year.
This is the second year in a row that the event will be held in the North Country. Last year the gathering was in Crane Lake, hosted by the Voyageur Country ATV Club, and featured the dedication of a $1.26 million bridge over the Vermilion River.
Public health concerns over the coronavirus pandemic are forcing the Prospector Club to scale back on some event activities. The annual banquet that was planned for the Grand Ely Lodge is canceled. The group’s fundraising auction will transition from a live, standing-room-only event to an online auction on eBay.
“But that hasn’t dampened the spirit of ATVAM and its members, who belong to 70 ATV clubs that build and maintain the state’s many outstanding ATV trails,” said Dave Halsey, communications director for ATV Association of Minnesota.
To allow for social distancing, registration for the event and the many rides offered is available online. All rides are listed on the ATVAM website at www.atvam.org.
“Each ride is unique and we have staggered starting times from seven locations to spread people out,” said Nick Wognum, Prospector ATV Club president.
In addition, each ride has a maximum number of vehicles to keep group sizes down and social distancing easier to manage during stops on the trails. Rides vary from 25 miles to a 180-mile roundtrip from Ely to the Trestle Inn, ten miles from Lake Superior. That ride is already full.
“We were surprised that the furthest ride filled up first,” he said. “That just shows we have a lot of people out there who love to put miles on.”
All 12 rides will be guided by Prospector ATV Club members who know the trails well, and will include a leader at the front of the pack and a “sweeper” in the back to ensure riders stay together, and to provide assistance should anyone have a flat tire or mechanical issue, Wognum added.
Over 120 riders have already signed up for one of the 12 guided rides.
“That’s not surprising,” Halsey said. “This summer, after months adhering to the Governor’s stay-at-home order, both veteran riders and those new to off-road riding have been heading for the trails in record numbers.”
Sales of ATVs – both Class 1 (up to 50 inches wide) and Class 2 (over 50 but not more than 65 inches wide, also called side-by-sides) – have been increasing rapidly, as Minnesota residents stayed closed to home and searched for new outdoor activities. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), total ATV sales in the U.S. jumped 43 percent for the first six months of 2020, compared to the same period last year.
Polaris Industries recently reported that the second quarter of 2020 was the strongest in demand for its products in its 66-year history, with nearly 75 percent of its customers being first-time Polaris buyers, Halsey said.
Other scheduled events at the “Ride and Rally” state convention include a VIP ride on Friday, Sept. 18, from Embarrass to Tower, with a lakeside catered lunch before the return trip. A pancake breakfast will be held in Embarrass on Friday morning.
“The Prospector Loop ATV Club welcomes long-time riders and new riders and their families to the Ride and Rally,” Wognum said. “All riders are encouraged to join ATVAM if they are not members already.”
The Prospector Club’s goal is to create a new ATV trail system that will connect area communities of Ely, Babbitt, Embarrass, and Tower-Soudan, Bear Head Lake State Park and Lake Vermilion State Park, and the Lake County Regional ATV Trail.
ATVAM is the state association representing 70 ATV clubs across Minnesota. Established in 1983, it serves the interests of ATV owners in Minnesota by advocating for ATV recreation, advancing the safe use of ATVs, building trails economically and environmentally sustainably, providing information, and participating in legislative and regulatory activities related to the use of all-terrain vehicles.
More information and online registration for the event and the choice of routes are available on the ATVAM website, atvam.org.