Over The Hills Gang ATV Club celebrates 20 years

In 2000, while sitting on the deck of the Village Inn in Outing, a group of local riders decided to form an ATV Club, which they named the Over the Hills Gang.
This original group that signed up as members in August 2000, included Earl Armstrong, Marvin Berry, Darryl (a.k.a Mike) and Darlene Michel, Ila Bogucki, Heather Olds, Brad Mitlyng, Fran and Ken Olds, Meri and Jack Lysne, Don Littleton, Laurie Blaido, Tim and Jean Prax, Chuck and Ginny Rath, and James Shellito.
They were the original 18 members that got together for weekly rides, and explored areas that few had seen before. There were forest firebreaks that were cut to remove dry timber from the 1969 Outing tornado which served as beginning trails. There were areas that some knew as young kids, such as the play area on Dickerson Hill, the ridge behind Morrison Lake, and the area northeast of 1/2-mile hill. Yes, it was fun to go "Over the Hills". There were mud holes that had to be explored, and hills that needed to be climbed. Berry liked electronics and he was one of the first to navigate new areas using GPS, which kept the group from going in circles, and also served as beginning routes for the trails today. The club officially was granted Articles of Incorporation in August, 2001.
During this same time, local riders began hearing about the complaints from silent sports groups. The Minnesota DNR was also vocal, and started closing down areas in forest areas where ATVs could not operate. Anti-motorized groups pushed for no ATVs in any forest. Armstrong began researching a state ATV Association named ATVAM or the All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota, while Olds was invited to be part of the Cass County Recreational Advisory Board. The information they collected made it clear that they needed to formalize as a club, and "protect their rights to ride on public lands", promote what they felt was a safe and fun recreational sport, and begin promoting this relatively new recreational activity to the local area.
Fran Olds, was elected as the first Club President in 2001, and turned over leadership to Armstrong in 2002. The club by-laws were borrowed from the Outing Chamber, and changed through the years as the club changed. Meri Lysne was elected Club President in 2003 and held that position for the next 15 years until current club President, Perry May, took over in September of 2017.
Through these infant years the group began a pig roast and riding fund-raising event called the Pork ‘n Ride. This event began in 2002 which helped raise funds to maintain trails. The club hosted the ATVAM spring ride in 2003 and Fall convention in 2005 with over 700 machines counted driving up Patella's Road on their way to the Moose River Trails which opened in 1995.
The club began hosting Youth ATV Safety Training which required club members to become Minnesota DNR Certified Safety Instructors.
In 2014 the first 56-mile Grant-In-Aid ATV trails named the Emily Outing ATV Trails opened after 10 years of club efforts. Lysne oversaw a time of great expansion in ATV recreational riding, with 148,000 ATVs registered in 2001 to 324,000 machines registered today.
As in 2001, the work of the club continues to educate new riders on regulations, riding safely and ethically, and to build more sustainable trails.
We owe much to this original group of 18 who had the foresight of putting an ATV club together. Many of the original members, were, and still are, successful community and business leaders, and maintain their club memberships. Currently the club has over 300 paid memberships which includes over 50 local businesses, and includes the communities of Outing, Emily and Fifty Lakes. All together, the club membership is around 500 members. Appreciation is extended to the 2001 Gang of 18!
Celebrate with us at the clubs 20th anniversary on June 19 during the 19th annual, Pork ‘n Ride event hosted by the Log Cabin Bar in Emily.