Here's stating the obvious: these high fuel prices have got folks' shorts in a wad-big time.
There's no shortage of us snowmobilers wondering about what these insane gas prices are going do to our riding this winter. No doubt there will be some casualties among us-some sledders just won't be able to justify the cost of putting gas in their sleds to ride. Or they may be able to scrape up the extra bucks to fill the sled tank but then if they have to trailer any kind of distance, well, that's usually a lot of extra bucks.
For the rest of us who will do just about anything to ride (I think we're what some people refer to as "passionate" about snowmobiling), we have to be creative in trying to figure out how we're going to afford the gas to ride this winter.
Here are some of ideas that might help. Remember, some of these will be "out of the box thinking." Others are just, well, out there.
Picture Yourself To really make this work and to get your creative juices flowing, you need to (if you haven't already) hang your favorite picture of you snowmobiling in a very prominent place in your house, shop and office-like right inside your front door. This has to be a picture that really makes you ache to snowmobile, one that makes you say, "Man, I can't wait for winter to do that again." Deep powder and blue bird skies does it for me every time. Hang this picture up and it will keep you motivated to do whatever it takes to get back on the snow.
Half Full/Half Empty If you have a lot of riding buddies (and we're talking a whole lot because this might only work once with each group you ride with), don't leave the parking area with a full tank. Then, once you get into the backcountry, get a real worried look on your face and shake your head a lot and mumble about how you somehow "forgot" to fill your sled before the ride. Maybe your buddies will siphon a little out of each of their tanks to hold you over until you get back to the truck. This might work more than once with the same group of friends but don't count on it. And whatever you do, don't let them read this issue of SnoWest so that they don't get tipped off to what you're up to.
Make New Friends And we're talking with someone who owns or manages a gas station, a fuel distributorship, his own tanker or something of the sort. Tell him you'll take him sledding and show him your "secret" riding places that no one else knows about. Tell him you'll do this if he, oh, I don't know, pays for the gas. Seems like a fair trade-off to me.
Beer Or Gas? Come on guys, sometimes you have to make sacrifices to play in the steep and deep. And really, water's not so bad. You can run on water, your sled can't.
Food Or Gas? Okay, never mind. I guess we have to eat but we don't necessarily have to snowmobile. On the other hand, if we skip one meal a day and put that money in the gas fund jar . that could add up over several weeks during the summer.
Pray Yea, pray that it snows closer to home so you maybe don't have to trailer as far to ride. We know this probably won't work for some of you big city sledders, but there is something appealing about jumping your neighbor's fence or pool on your snowmobile-not that you heard that from me.
North To Alaska Not so fast. If you're thinking of pulling up roots and moving to the Last Frontier, you might want to rethink that. Some of the highest gas prices (at least according to our unscientific research over the summer) are in Alaska. How ironic is it that some of those high prices are in towns where the Alaska pipeline practically runs down main street. Now we're not saying you shouldn't sled in Alaska-if there's anyplace on this planet where the high gas prices are worth it, Alaska is that place. It's just that you're going to have to really save your pennies to be able to do so. In fact, perhaps we ought to start an Adopt An Alaskan Snowmachiner Club to help those poor fellas up there out with their plight of how they're going to paying for sledding.
Parental Guidance You might drop your parents a note or e-mail and ask them if you're still eligible to get your allowance from them. After all, look at how good you've been. And, depending on how well that goes, perhaps you could ask them for back allowance-like back to the time you left home. Plus interest. To show your gratitude, offer to mow the lawn for them if they pay for the gas. If the parents route is not an option, tell your kids you're cutting off their allowance. Desperate times call for desperate measures. In fact, you might even suggest that they start to pay room and board.
Vertical Descents After working your way up a gradual slope to the top of the mountain, drop off the face. No gas is needed for a free fall.
Fake A Breakdown At the end of the day, fake a breakdown for a free tow-out.
Remove Unnecessary Weight Look at all areas of the sled and rider for this one. Lighter means less drag and better mileage. Skip a few meals (see Food Or Gas above) to eliminate some of that body weight. "Conveniently" forget your pack (but not the stuff that goes in it) so perhaps one of your riding buddies will carry your food and drink and extra gloves and goggles for you.
Sell Off Parts Not your parts, of course. Start with the guys you least like in your riding group. Maybe a shock here, a clutch there. Small things that will go unnoticed at first. Then, if someone starts to catch on, put his sled on eBay.
I sure hope this helps. Remember, it's going to take some sacrifices to fuel your passion this coming winter. But also remember how it feels to be the first one up that untouched slope or through that blanket of snow covering your favorite meadow. It will be worth it.