Brakes on recreation
Freddie Cardenas has three huge gas cans in his garage, but he has little use for their precious cargo. He’s an off-road enthusiast, one who loves big machines with throaty engines. Behind his home near Los Feliz, he’s got three Sea-Doos, two dirt bikes and a miniature motorcycle, plus a Ford F-350 to haul them around. And yet, his primary mode of transportation has become a bicycle. With gasoline around $3 a gallon, Cardenas has been priced out of his hobby – a common problem faced by recreational motorists of all sorts. “At the rate things have been going, these things are going to be on sale soon,” the 26-year-old sighed, staring at a pair of Jet Skis. “You want to get away, not think about things like gas prices, but now you’ve got to start planning ahead for these things. “Twenty bucks here, $20 there, just so when the time comes, you’ll have money to pay up.” His Sea-Doos require 91-octane and $50 per tank to fill up, and his truck gets a measly seven miles to the gallon – eight if he’s lucky. With a tight group of buddies, he used to regularly make trips to Laughlin, Nev., or down to Baja. Lately, he’s been hanging close to home and trading horsepower for leg power on the street-racing bike he pedals most days to his job at the Burbank courthouse. This is the struggle faced by gearheads of all sorts – their hobbies usually revolve around which car can go fastest, which truck can surmount the highest dune, which boat accelerates most quickly. Hobbyists used to joke that a long drive and lunch in a hot rod added up to a $50 cheeseburger – now it’s 100 bucks for that same bite to eat. “There’s no doubt it affects use,” said Ron Epstein, director of media for the Good Sam Club, a Ventura-based recreational-vehicle owners organization. “You’re talking about vehicles that get on average less than 10 miles to the gallon. With more than $3 gas, that’s expensive. “I don’t think it’ll make people stop using them, but they’ll have to stay closer to home.” Conservation’s one of the only options for recreational users – there are no economy motor homes or hybrid dirt bikes. While Cardenas tries to cut down on fuel costs by sharing a truck with friends on their sojourns, Sea-Doo-pooling doesn’t have the same appeal as doubling up in a car. And for the true die-hards, when prices rise, they just cut out other expenses. Bill McLean, who manages Kolbe Cycle in Woodland Hills, still keeps a jet boat, maintains a motor home and keeps driving his pickup powered by a “a big American V-8.” “You work a little harder, you work some more hours, sacrifice going out to dinner here or there,” McLean said. “Maybe you wear that pair of pants a couple extra times before you buy new ones … For these kind of people, it’s a lifestyle they won’t give up just because gas went up a little bit. They’ll get a second job before they give up riding.” Brent Hopkins, (818) 713-3738 [email protected] AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!