Big River, Saskatchewan, has it all for ATVers—open meadows, trails through forest and bush, and lakes in every direction.
“It’s so vast and it changes so quickly,” said Ryan Bergen the new president of the Timber Trails ATV Co-operative. “You can drive on a trail through the pines and it will open up to the meadows, then head back into wet areas with mud to play in, and it happens so fast.”
Hooked at an early age
Bergen has been ATVing his entire life. He got started on a 125 Suzuki when he was eight years old, and there’s been no stopping him ever since.
“We drove it for years and years,” he said. “It was the first four-wheeled ATV ever made and it is still on the farm at Mom and Dad’s.”
Spoiled for choice
Bergen put about 1,000 kilometres on his Can Am side-by-side this year, heading in whatever direction the feeling took him along Big River’s hundreds of kilometres of trails.
“No (one) direction is better than another around here,” he said. “If you want to stay high and dry and cover lots of ground, we’ve got that. If you like to play in the mud, we’ve got trails for that too. It’s a little of everything.”
He said he loves the side-by-side because he can head out with friends but also make ATVing a family affair.
“We go as a family every chance we get,” he said.
Bergen took over the club this past spring and said the club’s active members get out as often as they can to explore Big River’s countryside. He took on the presidency because it’s good for his industry as owner of LFE Motorsports, and to keep the club’s annual rallies going.
“It’s good for people and for our community,” he said.
The big draws for the club are the annual spring and fall rallies, which attract hundreds of visitors and raise the community’s profile as an ideal tourist destination for riders. Participants begin the day with a pancake breakfast and then might head out from Ski Timber Ridge, the local ski hill, and make a 60-kilometre loop that includes a stop at a warm-up cabin for a wiener roast and refreshments, or do an out-and-back of similar distance.
“We’re hoping to have a different trail again for the spring rally,” said Bergen. “The last three have been different each time, so people aren’t coming out to the 'same old' every time.”
Volunteers spend hours preparing the trail before the big events—with fun and safety top of mind—and their work is paying off.
“We’ve seen the rallies steadily growing, with more and more riders every year,” said Bergen.
The day finishes off with a dinner and raffle prizes. At the 2013 fall rally the club gave away a 14-foot aluminum boat with motor and trailer, a Husqvarna chainsaw, and a quad box as the top prizes.
What lies ahead for the club
The future holds more of the same for the club, said Bergen, who intends to dedicate his presidency to trail building and opening up the ATVing scene in Big River. The club is also working on raising funds for a rescue wagon, which Bergen hopes they’ll never have to use but wants to have as an extra precaution as the rallies grow.
“We are a tourist town and there’s hardly a local around who doesn’t own an ATV,” he said. “We hope our quad rallies get people coming from all over and coming back to try the trails again.”
With thousands of acres of excellent riding, beautiful scenery and a club driven by enthusiasm in Big River, it isn’t hard to imagine that Bergen will fulfil his mission.
“We want to bring more people out each year and show off what we have here,” he said. “We’re pretty lucky.”