Hone Your Riding Skills
Note: This article was originally published in Sledworthy Magazine (2014). Picture credit to Sledcore Ride Clinics.
By Evan Morgan.
Ever see pro riders or even one of your friends do something really technical on snowmobile and wonder how they make it look so easy. There are certain techniques that can help you maneuver your sled past a tight obstacle, especially when the slopes and terrain get more advanced. Technologies in snow machines change annually, allowing them to do advanced maneuvers but even expert riders need to hone their skills each season. Being comfortable on your snowmobile usually takes hours of seat time each year. There are many ways to help advance your riding skills. Your best option – Riding Clinics. There is a diverse, ever-changing playground out there and each year Mother Nature blesses us with a blank white canvas for us to put our track on. Ride clinics can make that track unique and hard to duplicate to the everyday snowmobiler or part time hobbyist. There are a multitude of different sledding techniques out there. But you’ll only need a handful to be comfortable riding your machine, especially in different conditions.
Any seasoned vet will know when the time is right to grab that extra bit of throttle, and when it’s time to back off the gas and shift your weight. These are the type of techniques that are learned at ride clinics.
Whether you’re a seasoned vet, a typical weekend warrior, or someone new to the sport, techniques learned at a clinic will improve your riding ability. Some one-on-one coaching and a little motivation can make you see terrain you would have considered unrideable before, now rideable!
What do Ride Clinics consist of? Here’s the top 6 list of what most ride clinics encompass, including our own Sledcore Ride Clinics.
1. Body Positioning
Body position is one of the key elements to, for lack of better words, Dangle! All jokes aside, learning to maneuver your 500 lb steed on awkward angles takes momentum, quick thinking and weight control. Don’t be fooled though, many of the industry’s top riders are 175 lbs with all their gear on and a couple of unzipped pockets full of snow. You don’t have to be a big person to manhandle a sled. Just use the proper technique.
2. Throttle Control
Throttle control is imperative to maintain your momentum and get your sled “SET”. Getting your sled “SET” means finding that balance point every sled has, when up on one ski. This type of technique is normally used to carve powder turns and side-hill around obstacles. Ride clinics are most certainly the best way to achieve being comfortable in this aspect of sledding, as it is probably one of the toughest. Once you dial this in, your riding technique will be forever changed. You’ll see things differently and feel more comfortable going in places you never attempted before.
3. Knowing your Sled/Set-up
Having your suspension set up for your weight and the amount of punishment you inflict on your snowmobile is a key aspect of knowing how it will act and react when you are in the field putting it through its paces. Generally speaking, a soft suspension set up works best in deep snow conditions and when springtime arrives and it’s time to go big – crank em’ down.
Commitment to your line ties in closely with throttle control. You’ll need to blip the throttle and throw the machine up on its side for many maneuvers. This may seem a little difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, those downhill pow-turns become much easier. Snowmobiling techniques take a lot of commitment. If you second-guess yourself, it can be your demise! Hesitation = Stuck! You have to keep your eye on the prize, stay focused and learn to work that throttle to your advantage.
5. Putting it all together
Combine all these techniques and your riding will begin to flow with the terrain in front of you. Rider fatigue will be greatly reduced. You’ll find yourself exploring new areas and getting stuck less – or more – depending on how much you want to push it! Your eyes will begin to focus on where you want to go. Newly learned skills and practice take you there with less effort.
6. Having Fun
The fact of the matter is, anytime you’re behind the bars you’re probably having fun! Snowmobile Ride clinics are a chance to get away from everything and sled with people who are much like you. The atmosphere is always electric! Enjoy a new type of snowmobiling seen from a different perspective. It’s all about the trip, camaraderie with the gang and adventure. Nothing beats a sled trip! I guess it’s just my passion. Then again, if you’re reading this you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from