(ED—Hager first wrote and posted the following on her blog and then approached us about putting it in the magazine. We couldn’t resist. We’ve tried to keep her writing as close to its original form as possible.)
I just got back from a day of “family” riding. With the fresh snow and bad weather, we’d have been better off going for a “real” ride, but we wanted our kids to grow up loving the sport as much as we do. However, as I sit here with aching muscles and joints, I realize … I just had the hardest ride of my life … and didn’t get to enjoy it one bit. I’d really like to see some of the “big dogs” even TRY to ride like I just did. I’m willing to bet, they wouldn’t make it—physically or mentally. So I’m here to challenge you all … you think you know how to ride? Let’s just see if you can do this.
- Wait until it is 10 degrees + 40 mph wind gusts (when it dies down).
- Get 50 pounds of potatoes and stuff them into a small scarecrow.
- Make sure the scarecrow has a helmet that is at just the right height to a) hit your helmet constantly and b) regularly hit the reverse button on your handlebar.
- Set scarecrow on seat in front of you … it cannot hang on by itself (it’s made of potatoes), so you get to ride with one arm for the entire day.
- Go hit the fresh snow - 3 feet of powder, no tracks … but you are not allowed to really ride in it, because you are riding with one hand and holding a potato scarecrow in front of you with the other.
- Let your scarecrow squeal with delight for 1/2 mile—but lean over and ask it “Are you okay?” every 30 seconds (because you can’t hear if it is screaming in pain, fear or delight).
- To get over some major drifts and near the trail, you must hillclimb and sidehill in interesting positions, because you have to hang onto the scarecrow (keep it safe).
- Oh yeah, do this without tipping over.
- You must keep the scarecrow safe and warm at all times. Therefore, while riding, check scarecrow appendages in attempt to keep all its extremities safe and warm and fully clothed—don’t let any bare skin show or it will get frostbite. This includes the ever-increasing gaps between the mittens and sleeves as well as between the snow pants (that keep riding up) and the snow boots (which keep falling off).
- Every 10 seconds, head butt the scarecrow’s helmet.
- Each 500 yards, without slowing down first, slam scarecrow’s helmet into the reverse button on the handlebar … enjoy removing partner’s hood from your track.
- Stop and wait for your fellow rider who rolled his sled on the flat (riding double with a kid as big as he is).
- Listen to scarecrow whine about not moving and only wanting to “go momma, go!”
- After 6 miles, hit a big meadow and ride around in large circles. Remember, you only have one arm to ride with (is your left arm falling off yet?). And no, you cannot remove the scarecrow to enjoy the powder.
- Get creative trying to switch arms and attempt to ride, seated, holding scarecrow with right hand and run sled with your left thumb on the left handed throttle.
- Stop to see if the scarecrow is okay. It’s not. It’s cold.
- Find hot hands in bottom of backpack.
- Argue with temper-tantrum throwing scarecrow about putting the hot hands inside their coat. Give up and give hot hands to scarecrow’s older sister.
- Scarecrow will not walk around to warm self.
- Start handing out spankings like candy on Halloween.
- Take scarecrow for ride up around corner.
- Stop 5 times in 1/2 mile to wait for tipped over rider.
- Attempt to find place out of wind—this means it is only blowing 30 mph wind gusts instead of 50 mph steady wind.
- Build a fire with a road flare.
- Attempt to warm up reluctant and scared scarecrow ... don’t get too close to the fire, but don’t be too far away.
- Feed scarecrow a frozen candy bar without taking its helmet off.
- Your female scarecrow has to pee … and is too old for a pull-up and her legs are too short to get her snow pants “out of the way.” Good luck. Report back with your experimental techniques.
- Your male scarecrow has to pee … and lucky for you you remembered to find an old pull-up before you left the house. Tell scarecrow to pee in his pants. Expect a fight, because he is a big boy and does NOT pee in his pants.
- Try to protect scarecrow from burned holes in coats and faces, smoke inhalation and blisters where embers landed on bare skin.
- Don’t get mad at holes burned into your Klim coat or when you let the wind blow brand new Klim Togwotee gloves into the fire.
- Give up on fire and head back to truck with frozen potato popsicles ... you have 6.5 miles on your sled so far. Did I mention 3 feet of untracked powder all around you? Yeah. You don’t get to ride in it. And you don’t get to complain about that fact, either.
- Try to eliminate all exposed skin on scarecrow before you leave the fire. This includes using 2 pairs of mittens, 3 balaclavas, a stocking hat, a scarf, some random fleece you had in your backpack and a neck gaiter. Make sure the helmet still fits and isn’t too tight. We don’t want the scarecrow to get a headache!
- Stuff scarecrow with hot hands in multiple and various random locations—but make sure they don’t burn the skin.
- Go 200 yards and stop because scarecrow is screaming about its feet hurting.
- Look behind you for other riders … none to be seen. Get really pissed off at this point because your scarecrow is getting frostbite.
- Go back and find partner, yell, “I gotta get him to the truck so I’m heading out.”
- Ditch riding partners and head down road (they were tipped over again ... their scarecrow is bigger than they are and it keeps pulling them off or over).
- Go as fast as possible ... wind is blowing snow directly onto your scarecrow. There is a lot of exposed skin. Worry about the hospital bill you are about to have and mental trauma you are causing the scarecrow.
- Your scarecrow has fallen completely asleep and is now even harder to hang onto. You must put an additional 10 pounds in scarecrow’s helmet and 3 additional pounds in each hand.
- Continue to keep scarecrow’s helmet from a) bobbing up and down on the bumpy road, b) hitting the reverse button and c) cracking the face of your helmet.
- Gather up and hold the scarecrow’s hands in your left hand, which is also holding it upright - safe and warm, remember?
- By now, your left arm should be completely dead, but you need to continue holding the scarecrow and riding to the truck. To do so, place your left foot on the hood of your sled, then lean left elbow on left knee, the scarecrow’s helmet goes in your left elbow and your left hand should still be holding the scarecrow’s hands into his crotch to keep them warm (or at least from the worst stages of frostbite).
- Ride the last 5 1/2 miles in this position—watch for bumps—and try to keep your hip in its socket.
- Sidehill in deep powder, on very steep hill ... in this position until you drop off towards the creek bottom.
- Very slowly (so as to not wake up the scarecrow), get most of your body on the uphill running boards while keeping the scarecrow safely on sled with left arm—you will probably have to “take a knee” on the seat. In order to steer, you must push backwards on right handlebar with your wrist while running throttle with middle and index finger and continuing to lean over to hold sleeping scarecrow ... you must complete a minimum of 500 yards of this.
- Return to the “seated” position” with left foot on hood of sled, see No. 42.
- Get scarecrow safely to truck without dislocating your shoulder or hip.
- Try to warm diesel motor as fast as possible while sitting on the floorboard trying to revive 2 scarecrows ... one has hypothermia, the other has frostbite and a wet (frozen) pull-up. Add a huge dose of guilt for traumatizing scarecrows. Deal graciously with the resulting tears … and try to cheer the scarecrows up, too.
Congratulations to anyone who has or will attempt this. I’d like to challenge ANY “EXTREME” big dog (aka: single young guys with NO IDEA) to try it. I guarantee you will have extreme whiplash and pain in places you didn’t think possible.
Intense. My scarecrows have wind-burned faces and most of the feeling back in their feet. We will be seeing a family counselor next week. We are waiting until June before we take them snowmobiling again. My neck might just have recovered by then ... but I’m sure my clothes will still smell like wood smoke.
Made it to number 5 before ditching scarecrow with a high school girl and hoggin’ all the powder to yourself you earn the rank of: sucker.
Completed 1-15 before giving up, tossing the scarecrow under a tree and riding for the rest of the day before picking up the scarecrow on the way back you earn the rank of: rookie/novice.
Made it all the way to number 26 before giving up you’re doing good. You earn the rank of: amateur.
There are extra points for completing numbers 27, 28, 30 & 31.
Completed numbers 1-42 … you are ready to compete in the semi-pro division.
Can complete all assigned tasks: congratulations. You are now a parent (and that is the highest rank of all).
Editor’s Note: We tell Lane to do No. 28 all the time.