Hitting the Trails: My first ride.
We took the training, now it’s time to apply what we learned! I head to the Town of Hudson Bay for my first ride. Words can’t properly express the feelings of exploration and awe that I felt as I traveled the trails. Much the same way that the pictures will never do the sights justice. Entering the confines of the heavily forested trails, weaving back and forth through the greenery until at last you burst unexpectedly into a massive valley; home to a sky that would swallow you up whole. It’s something I’ve never experienced, and never would have had it not been for snowmobiling.
As I sit down to write this I’m only just returning home from the topic of my next video, The Provincial Snowmobile Festival in North Battleford. Coincidentally enough, there I met someone who was embarking on their very first ride. I gave them what advice I could, things that a first time rider (like myself during this video) might appreciate. Things that might seem redundant to an experienced rider but could provide a little clarity or confidence to a novice like myself. So for my parting words I’ll leave that advice here in the hopes that might help out another first time snowmobiler:
- The hardest thing for me to get over was the sway of the machine on the trail. It seemed to float back and forth slightly, pulling one way or another. It certainly doesn’t ride like a car, or even like a bike. It’s actually closer to boat than anything. Once you realize that it’s normal to sway around a little, you can stop worrying and stop trying to fight it. Fighting it is a good way to tire yourself out. Obviously you don’t want to drift off into the trees, but don’t worry about a bit of swaying, it’s normal!
- If you suddenly feel yourself tugged one way, it’s likely that you’ve just fallen into someone’s tracks. Again it’s no big deal but when you first feel the snowmobile jump into the tracks and come to life on it’s own, it can be a bit startling! Keep your eyes on the trail and you’ll catch on to this. It’s as simple as just hopping out of their tracks!
- Move at your own pace. Don’t worry about “slowing everyone down.” Snowmobilers are surprisingly accommodating folk and don’t mind taking it down a notch and enjoying the sights. Remember that your enjoyment is just as important as the other’s, so go at a pace you can fun with.
- Know your limitations. By the end of the trip I started becoming comfortable and found myself wanting to “play with the big dogs.” I had to remember to check myself and keep in mind that I’m a beginner. Until you’re an experienced rider, just keep it simple and enjoy the ride.
- Watch the signs. They’re there for a reason and something like not slowing down for a corner or not keeping an eye peeled for oncoming traffic can spell big trouble.
- Know what you’re doing. The safety training is very important. Knowing things like hand signs, traffic signs, and basic maintenance are crucial. If you don’t know how to do something like change a belt yet, make sure you have someone with you who does until you learn the skill for yourself. It happened on our trip, and if you were alone you could very quickly find yourself stranded. Have a plan in place.
- Never EVER drink and ride. These are powerful machines, they’re dangerous in the wrong hands and under the wrong conditions. If you enjoy partaking in a beverage or two, save it until the trip is over. It’ll taste all the sweeter after a hard day’s ride!
Oh and most importantly: HAVE FUN! Life’s only as serious as you let it be, and far too short to not spend it snowmobiling.
Don’t forget to check back on March 15th when I ride the wild, wild North West at the Provincial Snowmobile Festival in North Battleford! Yee-Haaww!