The Haliburton ATV Association returned to the trails Aug. 8 to ride together for the first time since the pandemic began.

The association missed out on its usual start of the riding season in May, delaying for three months due to COVID restrictions. But eight members came out for the first ride in the Partridge Lake area, with rides planned to continue until the end of November.

Association president Joel Bocknek said they waited until social gatherings could expand, introducing a 30-person cap on participants to ensure distancing could be maintained.

“It’s great because it’s something I think our members and participants really enjoy and really benefit from,” Bocknek said. “It’s a good mechanism, in a way, to get into the sport and meet other people that ride.”

The rides are not completely back to normal. They usually attract between 20-30 people according to Bocknek, attributing the difference this time to awareness about the event. The club’s fundraising efforts for community causes are likely to stay on hold this year, he added.

Still, Bocknek said the rides can help boost the local economy.

“It does bring in some business for local merchants, people either staying over in motels, fuel, food. So, we try to spread the wealth as well as give people a good idea and understanding of how diverse the trails are within our region,” he said.

Association member Eddy Timm said it felt good to be riding with a group again.

“Been waiting for it for quite some time. It’s fun going out with this group. The trails are in pretty good shape, a little bit challenging here and there, but if you go with a group, things are fine,” Timm said.

John Price said the best way to learn the trails is to join a club.

“It’s never good to ride alone,” Price said. “They got a lot of trails in Haliburton … There’s so much to see.”

Bocknek said although larger group rides were halted for months, he knows many people have been out driving ATVs and business is booming for retailers.

“People aren’t able to go on the family vacation, out of province, out of town, out of country. So, they’re spending more time and all the outdoor activities seem to have been increased significantly this year,” he said. “Which isn’t a bad thing.”

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