THIS WINTER, ENJOY THE RIDE
HOW MUCH WILL YOU RIDE THIS SEASON?
By: Tim Hunt
What are your expectations for this winter? How hard will you ride? How many kilometres will you rack up? How far will you push yourself to ride at the next level?
With the approach of a new season, the minds of sledders are filled with excitement, possibilities and many questions. What entices most of us is what to expect. Will this be a banner year for snowfall and fresh powder? Will my sled hold out for another year? Will those pre-season modifications give me the boost in performance I was hoping for? And will I get out and ride as much as I hope to?
Unfortunately, the last question is one that troubles us East Coasters in Newfoundland and Labrador the most. With the promised land of western Newfoundland such a far commute for many, it’s tough to get out as much as you’d like. If you’re anything like me, you can be a tad ambitious with your yearly trip planning.
After Labour Day weekend, my attention shifted pretty much seamlessly from salmon fishing to sledding. The leaves hadn’t even changed on the trees and I was flipping through photos from previous sled trips, anxiously awaiting that first snowflake. Online orders for sled gear were placed as early as Sept. 10. At some point amid the excitement, I convinced myself I could swing a trip to Gros Morne National Park or the Lewis Hills every second weekend.
Having big ambitions for the season to come is certainly not a bad thing — it’s how you improve. But when you get too focused on trying to meet unrealistic expectations, it can take away from the enjoyment of a trip. When it gets to that point, you need to take a step back.
We all know how hard it is to plan around your work and family commitments and arranging schedules to align with your riding buddies. The last thing you need is unnecessary pressure getting in the way once you get out there. The snowmobiling world is full of ups and downs; we all know that. Poor weather, poor conditions, last-minute travel changes and mechanical issues can all throw a wrench into the best laid plans. These are the realities of the sport we love. The trick is to roll with the punches and accept the fact that these things can and will happen.
Last season, our group had a smashed windshield, smashed bonnet, broken ski, broken brake light, busted battery, blown motor, a touch of frostbite and a 670-kilometre truck ride without power steering. Certainly, every trip there was some frustration when rides were cut short because of these mishaps or when the snow conditions or weather forecast didn’t co-operate. Last season, we rode wet, we rode cold, we rode injured and, when we had to, we rode with springs and skis held together with duct tape and rabbit wire. Sometimes, it was hard to keep smiling.
So, when you hit bumps along the road like this — and trust me, you will — try and remember why you’re out there in the first place. Repair bills and gas bills can be totalled up in dollar amounts, but what’s harder to put a price on is the time you spend pursuing a sport you love, challenging yourself to achieve new goals and getting out to enjoy the natural beauty Atlantic Canada has to offer. And did I mention the cold beer and warm fire back at the cabin?