Almost Made It

Published in the October 2011 Issue Sledheads Chris Burandt

I really thought this was going to be the year. I have ridden in July many times, ridden in September several times but that elusive month of August has been my Kryptonite when it comes to being able to ride a sled on snow every month of the year. This year I came oh so close and missed a real ride in August by just a week.

This snow season was one I will never forget. I specifically remember checking one of our snotel sites here in Colorado on May 13 and it showed 185 inches on the ground. That's more than 15 feet of snow for those of you who struggled with math in school. At a time when the "typical" snowmobiler had put his poor sled away for the year I was riding some of the deepest days of the year in mid May. It was so baffling to me when I was filling up the sleds at the gas station in town and people were asking, "Is there still snow up in the hills for those things?" With a smirk on my face and a shake of my head I would acknowledge to this poor clueless person, "I sure hope so."

All the while I'm picturing this dude's house under the 15 feet of snow I'm about to go tear up. This will be a snow season I will talk to my kids about much like how my dad talked to me about the "ole winter of '82." Although I was only 4 years old, that was a winter I still remember to this day. My dad had to use the truck like a battering ram to get through the snow drifts to our house before we could open our presents on Christmas.

With the incredible amounts of snow late in the season the past few years I think it's funny how a lot of riders only go out when they think conditions are "prime." Late season especially. If I hear the comment that it was "go anywhere" snow one more time, I swear I'm going to lose it. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say that to me after I had one of the most challenging days, and two out of the four sleds are coming back wrecked, because we couldn't get back out of a particular hole in this "go anywhere" snow people talk about.

It's okay. I just have to remember my definition of "go anywhere" snow and theirs must be a little different.

Early season riding is no different. I always have the good ole boy with the polished tunnel tell me, "You go ahead and go out there and wreck your stuff, I'll be waiting for the deep snow." Erik Woog, my sled builder from VOHK Performance, and I have consistently been two of the first few people to hit the snow each year. We do this for several reasons-testing and tuning sleds. That way when the snow is deep my sled spanks your sled and I'm not having to get used to riding a snowmobile all over again.

Another way early season riding is different is you become a master at reading terrain, feeling what the terrain is giving you and feeling how your sled is reacting with the terrain without the buffer of 10 feet of snow on the ground. Some of our best times of the year have come on those late October days pounding the bumps and jumps on the trail, banging skis and side panels never lifting while drag racing time and time again trying to find a better setup and the feeling of doing your first pow turn so gingerly in just the right spot on that first foot of fresh pow. Man I love early season riding.

So again, I guess my definition of "prime" might just be a little different than others. Get your butt on that sled.

Snow's a coming. Are you ready?

Check out for more info on my definition of "prime" conditions.

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