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to trot right down that hump in the middle of the road without slipping off into either tire track. Etny is still about four miles

LET’S DO THE MATH by Angie McGhee

cheap, but as of this morning I was kicking myself for not fi lling up my tank on Friday when it was $3.69. T is aſt ernoon as I drove by the station I glanced up and it had jumped another dime to $3.81. Geez Louise! At this rate, I’m af aid to leave home for fear I won’t have the money to get back!

L As of this time last year, I was doing most of my riding on two trail systems: one was 36 miles away

and the other 52. My truck gets 10 mpg when towing. Unfortunately, that makes it way too easy to just move the decimal and know how many gallons I use, so even I can do the math on how much it costs to make that trip now. 104 miles round trip...10.4 gallons at 3.81 = $39.62 for a training ride, which I’ll round off to $40 for simplicity’s sake. To make myself feel a lit le bet er, I divide $40 by 2 and say it cost $20 per horse for my daughter

and me to train. If we get in a 20-mile ride, that’s a dollar a mile each. OUCH. I used to think it was expensive to pay a dollar a mile entry at a ride, but now I’m paying it just to train...and I didn’t even want to ride 20 miles. It was just that riding 12 miles cost too much per mile so I couldn’t aff ord to stop! If prices continue to rise we may see the day when only the very rich will be able to aff ord rid- ing short distances. When I was a kid and didn’t drive or have a trailer, I rode on a local mountain named “Aetna,” but

all the locals pronounced it “Etny.” It is owned by Bowater Paper Company, which makes it sort of like a state forest with no rangers or rules. Etny is basically an unused mountain covered with scrub pines and dirt roads where people who own four-wheelers, dirt bikes and monster trucks go to drink beer and get their selves really stuck. Once that is accomplished they drink more beer till they’re stupid enough to do something dumb like hook three Jeeps to the bumper of the stuck vehicle and yank it off . T us the dirt roads on Etny consist of a hump down the middle with bot omless oil slick covered mud holes on each side fi lled with old bumpers and truck parts. I grew up so used to riding that mountain that I thought having a horse that rope walked was a great luxury. T at was a horse perfectly designed


ast Monday morning I drove by the gas station and regular was $3.71. By the time you read this that will probably sound

from my driveway and in a worst- case scenario I suppose I can always go back to riding there if gas prices don’t improve. Un- fortunately, I’ve gotten kind of at ached to designated multi-use trails with nothing worse than an occasional polite mountain biker who has pulled off the trail to allow me to pass. I’m thinking my horse will need some spe- cialized training for Etny, but I doubt Parelli has come up with an exercise where waving a carrot stick will prepare my Arab for the sight of his fi rst shirtless redneck doing a wheelie on a screaming dirt bike. In addition to the rising gas prices, I have one other expense

that has hit my pocketbook recently. It seems that the trailheads where I ride have all decided it’s time to start charging a trail-use fee. I consider myself a responsible rider and don’t mind contrib- uting, but there’s one problem. I live almost ex- actly at the intersection of three diff erent states— Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. Purchasing passes to get me in to the various facilities within a 60-mile radius could get pretty expensive. Since most of my favorite trails are on the

Georgia side, I shelled out $50 for a Georgia Parks Pass, which hangs from my truck mirror and gives me and anyone else hauling with me unlimited rights to Georgia trails...I thought. However, the next weekend I discovered that my other favorite trailhead is not covered by the Georgia State Parks Pass. It is actually a division of the Georgia Wildlife Resources Agency, so they want us to buy individual passes for $19 each to be allowed to ride on those trails. As it turns out, my third most-used trailhead

is a division of the NATIONAL park system, not state...and they want a cut too. So here I am needing three separate passes to ride in Georgia... which could multiply to nine separate passes if I get hit with fees in all three states. T e good news is “Etny” does not require a parking pass. T e bad news is that if I ride at Etny, my truck may very well be stripped when I return to it. Noth- ing personal, probably just an honest mistake where it was confused with all the stripped and burned vehicles that were already there. Again I am doing the math. How many trips to a good trailhead could be paid for with the loss of one set of wheels?

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