Tracks!
First, we're not going to pretend we can provide first-hand accounts of every track or riding spot in the Midwest. Second, there are hundreds of other sites already attempting this (and, well, a few are doing a dang good job). That said, we still feel there are some riding areas worth noting and here they are, listed in alphabetical order. Feedback? E-mail: jholter@midwestmotocross.com.


The Badlands
AMA district: 16
Address: 3968 N. Xavier Rd., Attica, Ind. 47918
Phone: (765) 762-2981
Web site: www.badlandsoffroad.com
What is it? Sand pits, trails and a motocross track.
Open riding: Yes. That's all it is, really.
Current claim to fame: Fun in the sand.
The skinny: This park is big for not being built on public land, about 700 acres. The best part is the sand pits, which provide some sweet hill climbs and a few fun jumps. (The sand is coarse, so you can ride it easily without a sand tire.) It's a good winter spot because it's open all year round, and the sand isn't too affected by moisture. This is a multi-use park, so you need to watch out for guys on ATVs and even dune buggies and 4x4s. Also, avoid the motocross track. It's chopped, rutted, rocky and dangerous. (They don't hold races on it, so it's never prepped.) A few wide trails along the sand pits offer a natural motocross experience and are much more fun if you can live without any serious jumps. There's a shop and food stand on site.

Buffalo Range
AMA district: 17
Address: 1252 North 2803 Rd., Ottawa, Ill. 61350
Phone: (815) 433-2471
Web site: http://buffalorange.tripod.com
What is it? Motocross track, mini track, flat track, sand track/pits and trails.
Open riding: Yes.
Current claim to fame: Variety, dirt bikes only (no quads)
The skinny: While Buffalo Range in its current form has been around since the mid-1990s or so, the area around it long has been enjoyed by dirt bikes and other off-highway vehicles. In fact, if you venture into the woods, you'll quickly find that the trails don't end at Buffalo Range's borders. Just be careful where you trek. One neighbor in particular (a mining corporation) is extremely vigilant about keeping those pesky dirt bikes off its land. The track is a long combination of man-made and natural obstacles, although the man-made stuff provides most of the challenges due to few elevation changes. Watch the jumps. Maintenance is lame, at best, between races and the hard pack can develop some nasty, unpredictable lips.

Byron Motosports
AMA district: 17
Address: Byron, Ill.
Phone: (815) 234-2271
Web site: www.motobyron.com
What is it? Motocross track
Open riding: Some.
Current claim to fame: Races every weekend.
The skinny: While some say Byron's better days are behind it, when it had a national reputation for being a great amateur motocross track, it's not so much the track is not as good now. Other tracks have just caught up. Byron offers a good combination of natural terrain and man-made jumps. Several improvements were made in 2004, most notably the addition of tunnel jumps. (Yeah, we hear you...welcome to 1998.) The race team is certainly experienced and keeps things moving briskly on race day. Since September 11, the few trails have been shut down due to the adjacent nuclear power plant, so don't go expecting to get in any woods riding, unless you don't mind being cavity searched by a large male nurse deep in the bowels of a modern power facility (don't ask us how we know this -- please).

Fox Valley Off Road
AMA district: 17
Address: Wedron, Ill.
Phone: (815) 431-9913 or (815) 539-9021
Web site: www.megacross.com
What is it? SX-style track and trails
Open riding: Yes.
Current claim to fame: Variety, elevation changes
The skinny: Currently, there are numerous trails packed into the couple hundred acres composing the park. Plus, there's a relatively tame SX-style track nestled on the park's far side, bordered by hills, woods and a creek, which supplies the watering system for the track. There's a mini track near the entrance that's off limits to the numerous quads that sometimes lay claim to the place. The owner (Gerhard Ward, AMA District 17 motocross director) also has plans for expansion, which include a larger motocross track on some neighboring property as well as the possibility for some single track.

Hatfield-McCoy Trail System
AMA district: 5
Address: P.O. Box 539, Lyburn, WV 25832
Phone: (800) 592-2217
Web site: www.trailsheaven.com
What is it? Trails, trails and more trails!
Open riding: Yes.
Current claim to fame: One of the best trail systems in the East.
The skinny: Trails range from very easy (basically dirt roads) to extremely tight, rocky single track carved into the side of a mountain. Maps are provided that distinguish trail difficulty by color. (Please note that some trails are heavily populated with sharp rocks; coupled with the extreme remoteness of many of the trails, you could be in for a long walk out if not prepared for a flat). The scenery is gorgeous, the personnel are nice and helpful, and the surrounding communities actually realize the OHV business is good for their economy -- imagine that! Heck, if you have a group large enough, one town even reportedly will provide a police escort to lead your group to the trail head down the highway. The area is damn near OHV heaven, and is sorely deserving of our support so it can thrive and inspire other states to do the same!

Honda Hills
AMA district: 11
Address: 10214 Honda Hills Rd., Thornville, Ohio 43076
Phone: (740) 323-3766
Web site: www.hondahills.com
What is it? Motocross track, flat track and some trails.
Open practice: Yes.
Current claim to fame: Friday night race series.
The skinny: The Honda Hills motocross track is one of the oldest tracks in Ohio. Although long-time regulars say it has slipped a bit from its glory days, the personnel are on their game and the track is great. This is definitely worth a stop if you're traveling through central Ohio.

Joliet MX
AMA district: 17
Address: 27950 Kelly Rd., Wilmington, Ill. 60481
Phone: (815) 476-7433
Web site: www.jolietmx.com
What is it? SX-style track and mini track.
Open practice: Yes.
Current claim to fame: Excellent maintenance and quality SX-caliber obstacles.
The skinny: Joliet MX and Megacross in Mendota, Ill., are the only two fully man-made and race-caliber tracks in District 17, and of those two, Joliet MX is the only one that also holds practice days. While the racing is what would be expected of any professional motocross track, the practice sessions aren't ignored. They feature ongoing maintenance, full-time flaggers and split groups so the track doesn't get too congested and A guys aren't jumping triples while some kid on a 65 is rolling the second jump. (A mini track is provided for the 50s.) Even though Joliet MX is the most technical track in northern Illinois, it has been tamed down in recent years by its owners. Still, beginners should ride with caution the first few laps to memorize what's a double and what's a triple and get a general feel for where their skills are up to par.

Sunset Ridge
AMA district: 17
Address: CR-1100 E, Walnut, Ill. 61376
Phone: (815) 379-9534
Web site: www.sunsetridgemx.com
What is it? MX track and mini track.
Open practice: Yes. (Call for dates.)
Current claim to fame: Professional atmosphere and grooming.
The skinny: This is one of the best MX tracks in Illinois, hands down. Sunset Ridge is a mid- to long outdoor style track with some man-made jumps added. The owner, Bob Pistole, has a long involvement in the sport and knows what it takes to build a good track. His experience shows, especially in how seamless the man-made jumps are built into the natural terrain. Another plus is grooming; the jumps faces and lips always are in good shape, with any negative wear generally the result of that day's riding, even on practice days. Track personnel also water the track frequently throughout the day during dusty conditions. The jumps are mostly tabletops and the soil is loam, making this one of the safest tracks in the state, as well. The mini track is well-done, too, with several elevation changes and challenging but safe obstacles.