First a quick trail update. We are expecting even more snow this week so we anticipate that the trails will once again be spectacular all weekend. It looks like temps will start creeping up into the 40′s on Sunday but the base is so good you won’t have to worry. Enjoy what may be the last weekend of riding.

As the snowmobile season draws to a close, I look back on the year and wonder what I could have done differently. One of the things I always look at is whether or not I used my brief winter window wisely. Officially, the snowmobile trails in Minnesota are open from December 1st through March 31st. This leaves you with four months of snowmobiling- weather permitting. Best-case scenario you get roughly 16 weekends to ride. Inevitably some sort of family event always crops up and limits your time even further, add in the fact that some of us feel the need to torture ourselves with horrible Vikings games every Sunday and you’ve lost even more quality riding time. I am lucky because my “job” for requires me to “work” every weekend, so all of my friends and family know what I will be doing every winter, but most snowmobilers are not that lucky. How many times have you been sitting somewhere thinking to yourself “I should be riding right now but instead I’m doing this?” We have all been there and some things cannot be avoided, but others can. Over the years, I have developed a system that can help the average snowmobiler maximize their saddle time.

1. LET EVERYONE KNOW YOU ARE A SNOWMOBILER: Most people have some sort of passion or obsession and their friends and family are usually aware of it. Take for instance a Green Bay Packers fan. All true Packers fans are good at one thing- letting everyone on earth know how much they love the Packers. Walk into the home of any Packers fan and you will see an assortment of Green Bay Packers hand towels and beer mugs, bathroom garbage cans and Christmas ornaments, sweatshirts and hats, and no Packers fan can be truly happy unless they have a nativity scene in their front yard at Christmas time with a baby Brett Favre- errr, baby Aaron Rodgers in place of the baby Jesus. You cannot work with these people without them telling you how great the Packers are all week long and then having them make excuses as to why they lost every Monday. This is a perfect example of letting those around you know what your passion in life is- no one calls a Packers fan during the game on Sunday, no one bothers to invite them to anything that conflicts with game time- because everyone knows that they are going to waste their entire Sunday getting up at 7 AM to listen to the Packers pregame show, watch the game and then spend the rest of the night listening to the post game show. Use this same strategy as a snowmobiler and everyone will know not to bug you on the weekends. They will know that from Saturday morning until Sunday night you will be out on the trail.

2. PLAN THINGS FOR THE “MUDDY” TIMES: Three of my regular riding buddies all made huge errors this winter- one of them sold his sled in the middle of the season because he needs to pay for his wedding (which is in the SUMMER), my second friend went out of town to visit friends over the weekend and my third friend had his in-laws over for dinner on a Saturday. My three friends have two things in common- first their priorities are totally screwed up and secondly they all missed out on some of the best riding conditions of the year. I understand having to sell your sled for wedding money (although it does seem extreme) but at least wait until the end of the season. He claims he wanted to be sure it sold- well of course it sold it was the middle of the season! April and May are great times to get all of your social obligations and honey do projects out of the way. During the melt you cannot snowmobile anymore and your yard is too wet to start any yard work so you might as well take care of all of your other social obligations. This is the time to plan those weekend “out of town” trips to visit friends (especially if your friends live in West Yellowstone) and unless your in-laws usually arrive at your house on two brand new Ski-Doo Renegades then they can wait until spring to come over for dinner!

3. HAVE AN ITINERARY: Before the start of each season we sit down as a family and decide where we want to go and what we want to see over the course of the winter and then we start inking those rides in on the calendar. Sure we have plenty of off the cuff spur of the moment type rides but between my family, snowmobiling friends, and my schedule I pretty much fill up every weekend before the season starts. When you have a snowmobiling itinerary for the year you can pretty much let everyone know when you will be unavailable because you will be riding.

4. GET YOUR FAMILY INTO THE SPORT: The best way to avoid conflicts is to get your family and friends hooked on riding. I was lucky enough to marry someone who loves to ride and can’t wait for the first snowflakes to fall- luckily this trait has been passed down to my daughter so I always have someone to ride with and very little that takes precedence over riding.

Just because winter is ending doesn’t mean the blog is ending. Keep checking in for new articles and new updates for what will be coming up for the 2014- 2015 season.