October 27, 2011|
|Fall is... Show Season|
We've been going
the rounds at the fall snowmobile shows, just finishing up the Intermountain
Snowmobile Show last weekend. As much work as one show is, I really feel for
the carnies who hit every major fall show from Hay Days to the World Snowmobile
Expo. That's dedication.
What most show
goers don't realize is what goes on before and after the regular show times.
Like two days before the event, trailer vendors deliver trailers and park them in
the exhibit hall. The day before the event, vendors show up early for setup and
stay all day. Setup doesn't conclude until the next day, about five minutes
before the show is scheduled to open. After that, the vendors stay throughout
the show and don't leave until about half an hour after the show ends for the
day. Then it's dinner time.
Most vendors are
back at the exhibit hall half an hour before the second day of the show opens.
For the next 8 to 10 hours, its talking, selling, listening and standing.
Knowing the whole time that when the show ends, the work begins. It takes
another one to three hours to tear down most booths and get them loaded in the
truck, depending on the facility. Maybe they come back the next morning to
finish up. And after all that is over, they get to drive home. It doesn't
matter which show we're talking about--somebody's got a 20-hour drive back
But if you think
about it, you don't come across a grouchy face while you're at a show. These
guys and girls love what they do and love meeting the people who drive the
sport by buying their stuff. There's a few
more shows yet this fall, including the Idaho Snowmobile Show in Boise, Idaho,
November 18-19. Don't miss out.
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October 27, 2011|
|Getting Ready For Winter|
You could see the bags loaded with snowmobiling accessories go out the door during the Intermountain Snowmobile Show this past weekend in South Jordon, UT. There was a lot of enthusiasm as snowmobilers showed that a slow economy isn’t going to slow them down this winter.
The two-day Utah snow show provided a great opportunity for snowmobilers to visit with key industry people about sleds and other products. All four major snowmobile manufacturers had people on hand to answer questions about the new 2012 snowmobile line.
Even one of the radio DJs who was at the site to promote the show got into the action as he purchased a new snowmobile. This shows us that when we expose people to the great sport of snowmobiling, people get converted.
For those who haven’t had a chance to attend one of the several shows around the West, plan now to attend the Idaho show which will be held in Boise on Nov. 18-19.SnoWest Newsletter - October 27, 2011
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October 13, 2011|
There’s a lot of talk of first rides with the storms that left parts of the West under several inches of snow last week. We’ve heard of several people from Colorado and Wyoming who got their first ride logged already.
Personally, I don’t like first rides. I’d rather do my second ride first and skip the first ride altogether.
Why? My first rides go something like this:
Around 11 p.m., I start frantically searching for all my riding gear, which I thought I put away at some point a few months ago. Turns out, I left most of it in a gear bag inside the trailer.
The morning of the first ride, I have this overwhelming feeling that I’ve forgotten something. I reassure myself that it’s just first-ride jitters and hop in the truck with the guys and leave for the hills.
When we get to the unloading zone, I discover that I did in fact forget something. Over the years, that list has grown to include: gloves, goggles, boots, snow pants and helmet. And there have been years where it’s been a combination of two or more of those items.
So the first ride ensues with me cruising down the road with a coat, work gloves, helmet with sunglasses, jeans and Merrell running shoes.
Even if I bring everything, I will undoubtedly do one of the following: get stuck on a wet log, tip over going around a closed gate, back up with ice scratchers down, get lost, get stuck driving up the loading ramp on the trailer, blow a corner on the trail, spit rocks on the sled behind me or succumb to the temptation to carve through a meadow I know is covered in tree stumps. That one gets expensive real quick.
To all you people bragging that it’s October 13th and you’ve already ridden can take your first ride and shove it.
I can’t wait for my second ride.
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October 13, 2011|
|What A Tease|
When you start seeing those big flakes of snow floating down from heaven, it’s hard not to get your hopes up. The throttle thumb starts twitching and the need for speed flows through your veins.
But alas, Mother Nature is just doing that thing she does—teasing us.
Let’s be real, no matter what we want to think, winter doesn’t come in October. Any flakes of snow we see in the valley will be gone before we can even put fuel in our sleds. Snow before Halloween is pretty much no more than an obnoxious rain.
True, the higher elevations might hold on to a little of the accumulation, particularly in those areas that are sheltered from the sun. But unless you are ready to ride the moment the snow stops falling and the sun breaks through the clouds (and willing to chance the rocks, stumps and whatever hazards that are lurking under the snow), even this snow only serves as a glance at what’s to come.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do like to see those big flakes stacking up on top of each other … even though it does create havoc with my golfing plans. But I’ve come to understand that snow in October is much different from snow in November. Although snowmobilers get excited by October snow, it is actually meant to stimulate the hunters. They are the ones who best benefit by these harvest storms.
So for now, I’ll just sit back and wait until the golf courses reopen for the last few weeks of the season. I’ll keep the sled stowed away, perhaps taking a few minutes to polish the hood or tinker with some suspension adjustments.
The time is short. Winter will be here. There’s just no need getting too excited until it’s our turn to enjoy what Mother Nature offers.
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October 13, 2011|
White Outs … (Staff
Snow Show Time
already enjoyed the first snowmobile show for the season in Colorado. And this weekend will be the Washington show in Puyallup.
Then it will be the Utah
show on Oct. 21-22.
is upon us. It’s time to start making winter plans, and winter purchases, as we
get ready for what looks to be a fantastic winter.
haven’t been to a snowmobile show, you are really missing out on an opportunity
to expose yourself to some of the best people in the world—those to spend their
time make sure you will enjoy your time on the snow. At these shows you will
actually rub shoulders with those people to create the products that enhance
your snowmobiling experiences. You can talk face-to-face with those who drive
this industry. Why, if your lucky, you might even get a chance to bump into
Lane Lindstrom, editor of SnoWest (no, not in the show … but perhaps in the
parking lot while your driving your truck.)
Lane is at most of these shows, along with the SnoWest staff. We are here because that’s where we want to
be—mingling with you, the people who make this sport so great.
So plan now
to get to one of the shows scattered throughout the West this fall. You can go
to the snowest.com to find the dates
of the various shows. Take advantage of the great pre-season specials available
at the shows.
you there … and please don’t hit Lane with your truck.
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October 06, 2011|
|The weatherman says “chance of snow”|
Now we’ve all heard it before … a storm front is moving down from the Northwest and will bring unsettled weather for the next few days with temperatures dropping and a chance of snow.
You can feel that nip in the air. Early in the morning there’s a chill. The first ray of sunlight isn’t warming up the air as it does during the summer. The leaves are changing colors. Mother Nature is preparing for winter.
When you add the signs offered by nature to the crates being delivered to snowmobile dealerships across North America, there’s no denying that it will only be days before somewhere, someone will post the first photos of tracked snow.
Just yesterday I was out wandering around my shop, making sure my tools are in their right places and cleaning up a few lingering summer projects so the work bench would be ready for what’s surely to come. I noticed there were a few holdover projects from last winter—some clutch parts and drive belts—still left out over the long summer and waiting for renewed attention before that first ride.
My neighbor had a couple of sleds loaded on a trailer and headed for the dealership to be traded in for this year’s models. Apparently, he too was sensing the change in the weather.
Although we may have a few more days, perhaps weeks, before that first big storm puts down a cushion of white fluff, one thing is for sure: We know it’s coming.
And the smell of fall isn’t complete until we blend it with the smell of two-stroke oil. After all, the weatherman says there’s a chance of snow.
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October 06, 2011|
|Smells Like Winter|
As pulled into the local dealership yesterday to pick up a UTV, my mind was focused on meaty tires, four-wheel-drive, sand dunes and sunscreen.
I pulled the truck and trailer alongside a row of freshly uncrated 2012 sleds. I didn’t so much as blink at the new winter hardware sitting there on the asphalt. I got out, walked around and opened the back of the trailer.
Nearby, a shop technician rolled a new 2012 sled out of the shop door on a dolly. He parked it next to the building, still on the dolly, and pulled the rope. The sound caught my ears, but didn’t divert my attention.
I walked back to the truck, closed the door and started walking to toward the shop entrance to get my UTV.
A puff of white smoke drifted off the propped-up 2012 sled as the tech blipped the throttle. The odors of two-stroke exhaust hit my nose.
It was over.
I stopped in my tracks. Flashbacks from unloading in parking lots on sub-zero mornings as the sleds idled with rhythmic tune nearly took me off my feet.
Forgetting where I was going, I walked over closer to the machine as the tech wicked the throttle a few more times.
Fumes of new paint burning off of an exhaust pipe time filled the air. You could smell a hint of rubber as the track paddled through the open air and sniff a new belt glazing against the clutch sheaves. Here and there you could pick up odors of the new seat cover, the fresh hood paint, the decals and grease that had oozed out of the spindle.
It was euphoric. I couldn’t see anything but scenes from last winter’s rides: Being wedged against a tree as I struggled to climb through chest-deep snow to the front of the stuck sled; frozen air stinging a quarter-inch strip of my cheek skin as we raced toward the mountains. I felt a tree branch strike my arm as I blasted through a tight gap with snow flying everywhere.
“HEY MORON!” The shop tech yelled at me as he backhanded my arm. “What are you doing?”
“Oh. Uh… wow, I uh, I’m not sure,” I stammered.
Un-amused, he shot back, “Get off the damn sled then!”
“Oh. Oh, uh, sorry… I uh, I didn’t realize I was…”
He cut me off. “Why was your face buried on the gauges?!”
“Oh, that? That, uh, that was... I guess I was just smelling—uh, I mean…”
“Get lost, you freak!”
I walked off as quickly as I could. I’ll come back for the UTV tomorrow, I told myself.
And the truck.
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October 06, 2011|
Perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the snowmobile industry is a program sponsored by BRP to support local snowmobile clubs across North America.
The Ski-Doo Club Support program, that has been available for the three previous years, is designed to allow clubs to raise money for trail development and maintenance. BRP donates $10 per each club member who takes the time to submit a certificate at their local Ski-Doo dealership. And it doesn't matter what brand of sled they ride.
Over the previous three years BRP had donated $2 million to snowmobile clubs across the United States and Canada. Each club is eligible to receive $1,500 ($10 x 150 club members). All it takes is club members taking the time to go to a Ski-Doo dealership and filling out a coupon.
The program also serves as a good reminder as to the importance of snowmobile clubs. It's by the effort of these clubs that not only the rights of snowmobilers are ensured, but that the quality of trails is maintained. Being part of a club provides strength and unity of the snowmobile communitym.
SJSnoWest Newsletter - October 6, 2011
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September 22, 2011|
|Looking back into the future|
Occasionally as I visit with
snowmobilers around the country I hear someone say that the sport of
snowmobiling is in decline. The sport isn’t reaching the next generation and as
the current “baby boomers” age, there will be no one left to take their place.
hear the younger snowmobilers are good at going fast and jumping … but they
don’t know how to actually “ride” a snowmobile in technical terrain.
What is the
future of snowmobiling?
Let me assure
you that the future is in good hands. For those who think the “next” generation
doesn’t know how to ride, apparently you aren’t paying much attention to the
winter, on one of our weekend rides with my close group of hard-core riding
buddies, we had a 16-year-old that was tagging along with his older brother.
The best way for me to describe this teen was as though I was looking in a
mirror and I could see myself back 40 year ago, when at that age I was in my
early stages of a snowmobile addiction that has lasted a lifetime.
wasn’t as polished on reading terrain and picking lines. But what he lacked in
experience he made up in energy and enthusiasm. There wasn’t a moment during
the entire day he wasn’t out on the throttle and tracking up snow. The only
time he was off the throttle was when he would bury his snowmobile in the deep
mountain powder. And then even before help could reach him, he in the snow,
tugging his skis and rolling his sled over and out of the hole.
getting worn out just watching.
non-stop riding … and non-stop talking about riding for the next two weeks. And
he wasn’t alone.
seeing young kids, many out riding with their dads, and getting addicted to the
sport we love. Sure there are a lot of other distractions in life for these
kids—video games, internet, etc. But once we get them on a sled, once they
grasp the concept of carving through the snow and climbing steep hills, you can
see in their eyes that these kids have found one of the pleasures in life that
they can enjoy for decades.
had some tough years in our industry. Sales have declined and the price of play
has greatly increased. But both these factors can be attributed to the weather
As long as
we have snow, and as long as we continue to take our kids out to experience
winter, our sport has a bright future to look forward to. After all … I just
looked back 40 years in the mirror. Not only did I see my past, I saw a
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September 22, 2011|
|Time for New Skis?|
As the design of mountain sleds has changed over the past few years to adapt to current riding styles, I’ve been left wondering why ski design has been left in the dark ages.
Now maybe you don’t think that the riding-on-one-ski, wrong-foot-forward riding methods are anything more than a fad. You probably don’t care about what I have to say anyway.
But after taking sawsalls and belt sanders to the outside edges of my skis for the past five years, I can’t help but wonder why some aftermarket company hasn’t picked up on it yet.
Think about it: If you spend the majority of your riding time crawling along steep sidehills, exploring untracked terrain, then you need to look at how your sled is interacting with the snow.
You basically have three contact points in the snow on a slow, “wrong-foot-forward” riding position: 1) inside rear section of the rear suspension, 2) inside ski, 3) your foot.
The rear suspension can greatly affect how the sled handles in this situation, but more on that later. Your foot is a continuous variable. But how the ski works and what it does is critical.
Break it down even further. On a sidehill, the outer edge and rear section of the ski are really where the contact is being made. How those aspects of the ski are designed dictates how the ski will hold the sidehill and if it will have tendencies to climb or fall off the slope. Also, the tail section of the ski dictates how the handlebars react in the rider’s hands and vice-versa. Too much material in the tail section will make the ski want to straighten out on a sidehill, pushing the ski tip into the snow which will make the ski want to climb up the slope.
There are a lot of design functions to consider, like rocker vs straight keel, where the keel is in regards to the centerline of the ski, where the keel is in regards to the spindle, how much material hangs out on each side of the keel, ski tip width, curve and shape, ski tail width, curve and shape… the list goes on.
But what I’m essentially getting at is that mountain sleds need specifically-designed left and right skis. It’s been tried in the past, but under the premise that both skis are contacting a flat plane. Obviously, that’s not how we’re riding.
Something to think about until it snows…
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