Riders go off road for a cause

CDT photo

It was cold, windy and poured freezing rain most of Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop about 50 all-terrain vehicle and utility task vehicle riders from hitting a few dozen miles of off-roading trails in the Mountaintop region.

For Mike Stirk and his girlfriend, Connie Beers, of Altoona, they took her side-by-side UTV on its maiden voyage, starting at the Gillentown trailhead and ending at the Moshannon Community Center.

The two are part of the Central Mountain ATV Association, based in Lock Haven, that held its annual “dice run” before a winter dinner fundraiser sponsored by Best Line Powersports, of Centre Hall, and hosted by the Snow Shoe Rails to Trails Association — that oversees more than 80 miles of trails in the area.

The objective was to complete a dice-rolling mission at five checkpoints, where riders rolled the dice to rack up numbers. When a participant’s dice flipped to the red side, that person was eligible to roll again to gain more points.

Member and ATV rider Dale Harten, of Altoona, rolled a 17 on his first try — a number that CMATVA President Henry Sorgen said was one of the highest first rolls of the day.

The riders with the highest and lowest totals each won $200.

“We’re not slighting anyone this year,” Sorgen said.

But this year’s event attracted fewer riders than usual.

“The last dice run had almost 100 people,” Sorgen said. “It’s all weather dependent.”

“It’s not ideal weather, but at least it’s not dusty out there,” Harten added. “It’s fun, and it’s what we like to do.”

For a $20 registration fee, participants were able to enter the dice run and attend the dinner prepared by SSRTA President Trilby Mayes and members Ruth Martin and Mark Watson.

Sorgen said that $8 per person went toward the SSRTA dinner that’s goal was to raise between $1,500 and $2,000.

“This is one of our biggest fundraisers,” said SSRTA Secretary Larry Mayes.

The association’s operating budget is about $100,000, Mayes said — $14,000 which goes toward liability insurance, and about $80,000 for maintaining the trails.

SSRTA was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1999 with 85 members. By 2013, the organization grew to 3,400 paying members from as far away as Arizona and Florida, and 40 corporate sponsors, Mayes said — all of whom were invited to the dinner on Saturday.

It allows its members to attend special events, and also offers training and safety education classes on proper ATV and UTV handling.

The association also holds other fundraisers each year. A spaghetti dinner is scheduled in April, a chicken barbeque is set for July, and a pig roast in on the menu for September.