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Runnin' On Empty

In Need of a Ride

Published in the February 2012 Issue Published online: Feb 28, 2012 Blog LANE LINDSTROM

I don't know about you but there have been times that I've needed to snowmobile. I'm not talking about most of the time when I just want to go riding or times when I'm riding because of my job.

Through October and November, when the deadlines and pressures of work were mounting and providing stress in my life, I was feeling the need to go riding.

That day finally came when we got out on the snow Dec. 9 in Island Park, ID. There was okay snow in the lower elevations of Island Park and decent snow up high, but it was good enough for me.

I just needed a break from the office grind and needed what only snowmobiling can offer-an opportunity to get far away from most everything and be way back in the mountains where you can only get to by sled.

The word that kept running through my mind as we were gaining elevation on our way past Sawtelle Peak toward Mt. Jefferson was "therapeutic." Call it corny or even crazy but to me, snowmobiling can be very therapeutic and that Dec. 9 ride was one of those that helped clear my head and made the world look better. There's something about sitting on a ridge at 9,300 feet with bluebird skies overhead and impressive mountains all around you that will do that for you.

The snow wasn't even that great. It was very decent in spots but in others you had to be on the lookout for barely hidden rocks, stumps and downed logs. The ride was still mind- clearing and refreshing.

Snowmobiling does that for me. Not every ride, but darn close. You've read about some of those rides that were, well, less than mind-clearing for me. I've had my fair share of bobbles on a sled. I even had one on Dec. 9, when one of those barely hidden stumps unloaded me from the sled, but it wasn't enough to ruin the day.

Ironically, when the time between rides has been too long, I sometimes forget how therapeutic snowmobiling is for me. My last ride of last season was May 26-about six months from my Dec. 9 ride. While I may not have completely forgotten that sleddin' feeling, I did know it had been too long and I was in need of a ride.

It didn't take long for me to remember when I squeezed the throttle in early December.

While there may not be much ever studied or written about the health benefits of snowmobiling, on occasion there is something that emerges that reaffirms what I've know for dozens of years: snowmobiling is good physically and psychologically.

I ran a story on www.snowest.com a while back about the health-related benefits of off-road vehicle riding. Here's a link to the story from the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association: http://www.snowmobile.org/pr_10_2010_health.asp. In a nutshell, researchers at Canada's York University found that indeed, off-road motorized riding "is not only fun, but contributes to individual and family emotional and physical well-being." To read more about the study, go to the ISMA link above.

While the study is nice and enlightening, honestly, nobody has to tell me about the physical and psychological benefits of snowmobiling. I know it because I've experienced it and continue to do so on just about every ride. I'm not revealing my age, but even as old as I am, I still get excited to go riding.

In fact, I can't wait until my next ride.

I need it.