They joke that it all started with a bad day of deer hunting. Bob Hubing and Kevin Peiffer returned from hunting one chilly November night in 2018. While sitting in their hunting camp (Bob’s garage) discussing the day’s events, the conversation switched to how great it is to use their ATVs to get around their property. They believe ATVs and UTVs are the perfect mode of transportation for a variety of uses, and wondered if other ATV/UTV enthusiasts felt the same way and wanted to get together. It sparked the idea of starting a family-oriented ATV club.
They booked a meeting room at the Belgium Fire Department and put out flyers inviting people to come and learn more about this idea.
“We didn’t know what to expect, but we had 65 people show up!” says Brenda Peiffer, secretary of the club.
That night, the Lakeshore ATV/UTV Club was born, with the mission to “Create a safe and positive future for ATV/UTV recreation and to have fun together as a family-oriented club!”
Today, the club boasts a membership of more than 150 people, including 20 Business Memberships, from Belgium and its surrounding communities. The club’s first ride was up in Mountain, Wisconsin. Members booked a hotel and spent the day riding 120 miles of trails and routes in the Northwoods. That was the first of several club rides.
The club has travelled to Black River Falls, Tomahawk, Shawano, Kettle Moraine, Hurley, and more. They also participate in an annual Charity Ride Event benefitting the Make-a-Wish Wisconsin organization. In 2019, it was up in Antigo, where the club helped to raise $27,000. In 2021, the Lakeshore ATV/UTV Club partnered with the Kettle Moraine ATV/UTV Club and Wisconsin ATV Association (WATVA) to host the event for the first time at the Washington County Fairgrounds where $22,000 was raised for Make-A-Wish. All ages could participate. One family attended with a child who had benefitted from getting their wish.
“It was heartwarming to hear their story and be part of such a great cause,” Kevin recalled.
Community service is a big part of what the club is about. They participate with festive floats in a number of area parades and volunteer at many local events. They even volunteered to staff the Town of Fredonia’s recycling center a couple of times when its waste manager was injured. Keeping a positive public image and being an active member of the community is important to the club.
Safety is of the utmost importance, which is why it’s listed first in their mission statement and promoted throughout their events, rides and training. In fact, several club members have been trained and certified as Trail Ambassadors.
The WI DNR ATV/UTV Regulations require that ATV/UTVs follow posted speed limits and all regulatory signs, be registered, have a license plate, and have their headlights and taillights on at all times. UTVs also have seat belt requirements, just like a car; seatbelts are required to be fastened at all times. When riding on public routes and trails, helmets are required for those under 18 yrs, and anyone born after 1988 must pass the DNR ATV Safety course which covers laws and ethics. Noise regulations must also be met; ATV/UTVs cannot legally be louder than 96 decibels, which is lower than some motorcycles and similar to the decibel level of your lawn mower.
“Personally, I feel safer driving my ATV on the road than when I used to drive my motorcycle,” adds Brenda; “they are on four wheels, so they are wider and more stable, and much more visible to others.”
ATVs and UTVs also flow with traffic, unlike bicycles or smaller scooters. The average size of a UTV is larger than a smart car.
ATVs and UTVs are recreational activities that older riders can enjoy and are accessible to people with disabilities. They can be used year-round and in all kinds of weather. It’s a very popular mode of transportation throughout the state.
While road tripping is fun, the club’s dream is to be able to ride locally. There are over 42,000 miles of routes (a route is a road that is legal for ATVs/UTVs to drive on) in Wisconsin but very few in the Belgium area. The club dove headfirst into researching other municipalities’ ordinances and learning through other clubs’ experiences to ensure that ATVs/UTVs will amicably coexist on local roads.
The club has already worked with the Town Boards in Belgium and Fredonia, both of which approved ordinances to allow ATV/UTV usage on local roads. They are currently working on proposing an ordinance in the Village of Belgium. The club hosts fundraisers that pay for 100% of the signage needed to enact the ordinances as they are passed. Other nearby towns and villages have similar ordinances, such as the Villages of Random Lake and Waldo, as well as the Towns of Sherman, Scott, Farmington, Kewaskum, etc.
The club pointed out that the traffic local restaurants and businesses enjoy for a few weeks a year from snowmobiles could be enjoyed year-round with a passed ATV/UTV ordinance.
After COVID hit our world, the popularity of ATVs/UTVs skyrocketed, as they provide an outdoor family-friendly activity, and as Ozaukee County’s only ATV/UTV organization, the Lakeshore ATV/UTV Club is happy to help nourish this hobby.
Kevin hopes to be able to use his UTV to get around Belgium more, like going to the post office, the bank, the recycling center and restaurants. Brenda wants to be able to drive her kids down the road to visit Grandpa & Grandma on their ATVs. Bob plans to use his UTV to help maintain the cemetery and pick up garbage on the side of the road. He wants to point out that at his age, he really enjoys riding it whenever he can.
Kevin summarizes, “This is just another form of recreational transportation that we want to make safe and legal for everyone to appreciate, and for our local businesses to benefit from.”