Around the 20th of November, I was starting to feel like I might be one of the few people that hadn’t been out on my snowmobile yet. I’m not sure if I connected to more snowmobile people via social media than I had been a year ago or if there are just more people on social media talking about riding and gear and conditions...or if the anticipation of the winter was amplified for me since I found out I was selected as a DSG Ambassador for this season. Whatever caused it, I was ready to get on the snow!
My sled (Penelope), just had a new top end put in so she was in need of some easy break-in miles. After watching the weather forecasts and looking at the snotels, my husband, Keith, and I decided that we’d get out and ride on the Friday after Thanksgiving. If nothing else, just to satisfy our curiosity about what the conditions truly were.
On Friday morning it was a balmy zero degrees with a “feels like” temperature of less than that. We layered up, loaded up and headed up the mountain toward the Snowy Range. When we reached the parking lot, the temperature was about 20 degrees—gotta love inversion. We unloaded and headed down the trail.
The snow on the road was thin. As we came to the first field we always cut off into, we both cautiously let a little loose, dipping to one side and then the other knowing that when there is no snow, the field is littered with large rocks. Our day continued in the same manner, cautious through large, untouched backcountry areas, knowing that there wasn’t enough snow to go all in. At the end of the day we agreed that it had been worth the trip, especially to get some break-in miles covered, but we would probably give it a few more storms before we could really get some riding in.
The best thing about early season riding is the lessons that you get out of it. At the end of our day, here are my five takeaways:
- Order of operations: Knee braces are best put on before you get your base layer, mid-layer, socks and pre-ride hiking boots on.
- Conditioning (this one has 2 parts):
- Thumb Exercises should be a thing! Holy cow, less than 5 miles in my hand was cramping!
- No matter how many miles I run or ride my bike in the summer, the first time I try to walk five feet in the snow I am out of breath!
- Self-Control: That beautiful white sea of sparkling goodness is full of large boulder sharks and log piranhas that love to feast on A-arms. There will be days to bomb through those fields, but probably not in November or even December.
- Muff pot lunch: For whatever reason, lunch cooked in a muff pot is something I always look forward to.
- And finally, enjoy the day no matter what: A 25 degree, calm, bluebird day is rare. If the riding isn’t ideal, get the camera out and enjoy the scenery. A day spent in the mountains is rarely a day wasted.