You’ve undoubtedly seen or heard about them around campus, either through a sticker plastered on the back of one of their trucks or, more likely, by seeing those very trucks parked up on rails and ledges in the most ridiculous of positions, exposing their finely tuned suspension and welding for all to see.
Although the club started way back in 1966 with just a couple of students and their Jeeps, the tradition of the Poly Goats is still alive and well in one of Cal Poly’s oldest active student organizations.
“Basically, we take what we learn at school and apply it to our hobby,” said Chris Parsons, a bioresource and agricultural engineering senior and active Poly Goat. “But a lot of the time, the experience that I’ve gotten from being a Poly Goat puts me at an advantage in my classes because I’m the only one who knows how to build stuff and use it properly.”
“It’s a great knowledge base to have,” concurred Kyle Feist, also a bioresource and agricultural engineering senior and Poly Goat. “Between all of us, there isn’t anything on a truck that we can’t fix.”
The Poly Goats currently boast a membership of well over 40 Cal Poly students. The club has won the Cal Poly Open House “Best in Show” award the past three years, along with various other Open House awards.
But in the end, it’s all about going out and riding with friends, then hanging out to reminisce about it afterward.
“I don’t even know where I’d be if I wasn’t a Poly Goat,” said Michael Watkins, a mechanical engineering senior and club president. “I thought that it was just a club until we all realized that the people we hang out and have the most fun with are Poly Goats.”
The club has taken many trips throughout California, neighboring states and even occasionally out of the country, all dependant on both the weather at the time as well as the type of terrain sought after.
Whether it’s rocks, snow, sand, desert, forest or mountains, there’s no terrain that the Poly Goats feel they’d be unable to conquer with their off-roading experience and mechanical expertise.
“One of our favorite spots to go ride is the Rubicon trail up by Truckee, which is one of the most famous trails in the state,” Parsons said. “Other than that, we regularly spend time at the Fordyce trail up by Tahoe, which is a less frequented trail, and obviously Pismo and Cayucos because of their proximity to home.”
Holiday weekends are Poly Goats’ most popular times to take trips, Watkins said.
“I think that we have better trips than most college students who go on spring break trips to Mexico or snowboarding trips over winter break,” Parsons said.
The club’s trips consist of simply getting a few guys together and picking a destination, Parsons said.
“We always have great stories from our trips,” Feist added. “Maybe one bad thing will happen, but probably 60 hilarious things will happen at the same time. We always have top 10s from each of our trips, with maybe the occasional top 25 or 100 for the longer trips.”
The focus of the club is to gain knowledge and have fun, but the Poly Goats have also remained active in the community by cleaning up local trails and parks, their conservating and by hauling broken bikes out of the Pismo Dunes at dirt bike events.
The club also makes good use of the forums on its Web site, circulating petitions that all members and alumni can sign to hopefully stave off the multitude of park and trail closures that have plagued the state.
“The abuse of state trails is a really negative thing, so we try to do what we can to help out,” Watkins said. “A lot of people have this negative image of off-road enthusiasts as a bunch of punk kids who like to go out and wreck stuff, so we do our best to counteract that and keep things accessible for us.”
The Poly Goats hold weekly meetings on Wednesday nights.