(ED-We received the following letter to the editor early last winter . it didn't take much to convince us to ask the letter's writer, Karri Parisi, to write an article for us. So, first is her original letter to the editor and then the article she penned.)
I was thumbing through a recent SnoWest Magazine and started thinking. Then I asked my husband, "How do those guys get such great jobs as to ride different machines in different areas and get paid for it?"
Then I started thinking a little more and said to him, "Maybe I should become a writer for SnoWest. The title could be "Snowmobiling Ladylike." My husband laughed, because as most of our riding partners would say, there is very little that would be considered ladylike about my riding.
A little more thinking led me to this letter. One of my thoughts was why do I read SnoWest Magazine. The reason that I came up with is similar to why guys say they read Playboy. They say it is for the articles, but everyone knows it is for the pictures. I want to be in those snowmobile pictures doing what the guys are doing.
I don't read the articles because they seem geared toward a guy's perception. Sorry, but motors, horsepower and chain or belt drives don't impress me much. A machine has to be easy enough for me to handle so I can keep up with the guys without interfering in their fun. After all, the aggressive riding shouldn't be a guy's thing.
The articles about places to ride don't attract my attention, either. They seem to talk about the steep and deep and are geared towards guys who don't have families to take into consideration. I could be wrong because I have not read one of the articles. To be honest with you, I think women would be more inclined to want to hear great detail about the accommodations and whether or not the trails and areas of riding are "family-friendly."
In closing, I am proposing to you the fact that a girl's point of view may be something of interest to your female readers, or should I say "thumbers." If the staff at SnoWest agrees that it may be something to look into, I would be very much interested in having one of those great jobs that those lucky guys have.
(Here is Parisi's
My name is Karri Parisi and I live in Livingston, MT. I have a 15-year-old daughter, an 8-year-old son and a wonderful husband who allows me to stay home to educate our children. Our recreational activities depend on the season of the year. It is obvious we snowmobile in the winter. Why else would I be writing for SnoWest Magazine?
How I came about writing an article for SnoWest was by impulse. I was "reading" SnoWest (really just looking at the pictures) and made a comment to my husband. Next thing I know I am writing a letter to Lane Lindstrom, editor of SnoWest Magazine.
A few months later Lane calls and asks me to write an article for the magazine. That is where this adventure begins. Where it goes and ends is yet to be decided, but it is a ride I don't want to miss.
Because of some of my comments in my initial letter to Lane, he asked me to write about a couple of topics from a woman's point-of-view. I know, you guys are thinking, "Oh great, now we can't even snowmobile without some woman telling us how to do it." Trust me guys, I by no means want to infiltrate your guy thing. I just want to let you guys know that it can be fun for the girls too, and when done right you won't have to "babysit" us on the trails or hills.
What Lane didn't know is that since my initial letter to him, I have gotten a new machine. My first thought was that those topics would be a bit more difficult to write about because of my advancement in technology. That thought soon passed and I began thinking differently. I thought that learning to ride all over again and starting a new project, such as writing an article for SnoWest, fit together pretty well since as they are both about new beginnings.
The Day Of Reckoning
Everyone is going to chuckle when I share my advancement in equipment. By my choice (and very much against my husband's wishes), I was riding a 1991 Arctic Cat EXT Special. Yes guys, it had a 121-inch track. We did put a 1 3/4-inch lug on it rather than the standard track. Other than that it was stock, nothing fancy. My husband had been trying to talk me into a new machine for seven or eight years. I always told him, "When the day comes that I can't go every place you go, then I will be more willing to look into a new sled."
That day came in 2005. Of course the day had to be a day that we are riding with Mark Hoffman (yes, the CMX man) and a few other local boys. My husband and Mark have known each other for many years, but we usually ride the same areas at different times. Thankfully, on that day we had go-anywhere-do-anything-stupid-type of snow. If the snow conditions had been different I would not have been able to go the places we went. Not keeping up with the guys is a big issue for me because I do not want to be slowing them down. That day made me realize that it was time to put my antique equipment aside to gather dust. It was time to bust out the bigger, better, more powerful snowmobiles.
Throughout the summer and fall we were shopping around, looking for what I wanted. I insisted on a machine that was light enough that I could maneuver it around tight cornered trees when we were boondocking in search of other play areas. I was very intimidated by the track sizes. Going from a 121-inch to nothing less than a 144-incher was a pretty big step. My husband is an Arctic Cat man through and through. I wasn't sure that an Arctic Cat was the machine for me. My husband said to me, "The important thing is that you find a sled that works for you. Whether that is a Polaris, Yamaha, Arctic Cat or Ski-Doo, you have to feel comfortable riding it." We then started comparing the weight factor.
We were leaning towards the purchase of a CMX for the reason of its light weight. I had a problem with that. I should not have such a prestigious machine and my husband have an ordinary machine. He is the breadwinner, therefore he should have the prizes. After many conversations, my husband convinced me that it was okay for me to have a CMX so I started considering it. The only thing that stopped us from the purchase of the sled was we were about to build a house. The common sense side of me couldn't spend a large amount of money on a snowmobile when we were about to embark on such a project. Yes guys, that silly thinking of a woman. We don't always have our priorities in the right order. Sleds should come before a house, I do know that.
As it turns out, we bought a 2006 Arctic Cat M7 with a 153-inch track. It was the lightest sled being manufactured when I needed one. Again a stock machine, no bells or whistles. We did accessorize a little by putting Fabcraft Poly Pegs on the running boards for leverage purposes. I still have issues with having a newer sled that my husband. The more I ride it the more I am feeling comfortable with that issue. Imagine that. We purchased the snowmobile on my husband's birthday. I told him I couldn't wait until my birthday if I get a new sled on his birthday. Some more smart thinking by this woman.
We thought that if the M7 didn't work for me, my husband could have my hand-me-downs. (See, getting better with that newer machine issue.) I would continue to research by riding other brands and comparing weights of machines throughout the winter. Fortunately, the M7 is working for me. Many other women riders like their Polaris and Ski-Doos. The key is to let the girl find a sled that works for her.
My riding technique is changing with the advancement in equipment. I am finding that some of my old tricks aren't as easily done on the new machine. An example would be sidehilling on the 121-inch compared to the 153-inch. With the 121-inch I could place my back leg on or near the back bumper, using my weight on that leg to force the back end of the machine down while pointing the front in an upward direction. For the women having a hard time imagining this, I am not sitting on the seat. I am standing on the uphill side of the machine. With the new machine's additional 3 feet (give or take a few) of tunnel and track, that back bumper trick doesn't work anymore. It is not a pretty sight to see a 5-foot 2-inch gal try to reach the handle bars and back bumper and still control the sled.
To make the adjustment, I have started using what my nephews call step-ladders and foot stools, the poly pegs. On the new machine there is a crossbar, the step-ladder, about in the middle of the foot placement area. I place my front foot on the top half (shelf) of that area and alter my weight on either foot depending on the sidehilling situation. Placing my front foot on the upper part seems to help with the weight I put on the rear foot. My rear foot usually ends up on or near the sweet spot. I guess the proper term for the sweet spot would be the pivot point. I do not think the manufacturers intended the crossbar to be used as a step-ladder for the purpose of maneuvering, but it is working for me. Sidehilling a snowmobile is one of my weaker areas of expertise, therefore I am always practicing and trying to improve those skills.
Throwing Your Weight Around
When I am using my weight as a maneuvering device, I have to be sure that I have its placement in the right spot to use it to its fullest potential. Girls, don't be afraid to get your bottoms off the seat and use your bodies to impress your man. It will take practice and patience to learn when and where to place your feet to get the most out of your body when using it for a maneuvering tool.
The most important thing to remember is not to expect instant success. I have been riding for many years and I still do incredibly stupid things that make me fall off, get stuck or just think, "That was foolish." I figure at least it gives the guys something to laugh at and we can all have a good time laughing, even if it is at my expense. The important thing is that we are having fun. The funny thing is that the guys do it too, they just don't admit to it.
If I come across some sort of riding that I haven't done before, I ask my husband his advice and then try it cautiously. I am not afraid to try something new, but I am also aware of my limits. I sometimes stretch those limits but that just gives me more room for growth. I can and will share what works for me. It may not work for other riders and it is most definitely not the only method of riding.
I by no means consider myself to be an extreme or expert rider. I consider myself to be a girl who likes to go play with the guys and not slow them down in the process. I will be the first to admit that I am not the most aggressive woman rider on a sled. I can think of many other women who are much more aggressive than I and probably have more qualifications for writing the article, but I guess I am the lucky one. On the other hand, there have been many men who have been impressed with the fact that I am keeping up with them. And then there is the group of men whom I have come across who simply think I shouldn't be riding with them at all. Those guys are my favorite. I love to get under their skin and drive them crazy.
Not A Guy Thing
I know some of you men don't want women to ride with you because it is a "guy thing." That doesn't bother me at all because those men are missing out on the results of girl on an adrenaline rush. Every man knows what comes from a woman having a good day with the man she loves. If those guys thinking snowmobiling is a "guy thing" like missing out on the bonus at the end of the day that is their loss.
For those men who may be thinking a little differently now, I would like to say one thing. If your girl is an inexperienced rider, take the time to teach her how to ride so she can keep up. My husband's couple of sessions worth of patience have given me the ability and confidence to ride and keep up with him and others. He would say that the small investment of time and patience is worth it in the long run.
In closing I am hoping to open the minds of both men and women to the sport of snowmobiling and aggressive riding. I would like to be able to share my snowmobiling experiences whether they are good, bad or ugly. I would also like to be able to go to areas and ride different machines and then tell women what the riding is like from a woman's point of view. The reason for that is simply because aggressive riding isn't just for guys. For the men I would like to show them that teaching their girl to ride so she can keep up can be just as rewarding for them as it is for her. What better way to spend more quality time with your girl doing something you enjoy and something she can learn to enjoy and appreciate.
I want to succeed at this because it would give me the ideal second job. My first joy is very satisfying but if I can incorporate snowmobiling into my first job, life would have a cherry on the top of it.