April gave us a little bit of extra riding with a storm on April 3rd that dumped an additional 11 inches of snow on Duluth. Naturally I showed up at the Snowmobiletrail.com headquarters with my backup sled after blowing up my primary sled just a week before (ironically during another Thursday late season storm). This storm had some real teeth, featuring high winds and an inch an hour snowfall. This made visibility a little bit tough- all you could see of the guy ahead of you was the track he left behind preceded by a cloud of snow dust with an occasional flicker of light in the darkness. The farther we rode the deeper the snow became- at first just three or four inches, then five, then six, then seven, until at last we were plowing through over a foot of fresh powder, enough to make it come over the nose of the sled and blacken out your headlight. Who would have ever guessed we would be stand up powder riding on April 3rd! After 47 miles of trail breaking and busting through some four foot snowdrifts that occasionally cropped up over the trail we decided to call it quits both for the night and as it turned out for me- the season.
After a week of forty plus degree temperatures and the fact that it is nearly mid April it looks like the winter is over. It should be noted, however, that as of this writing, there are still 26 inches of snow on the ground and most of the trails up here still have snow cover. Since the end has come, the question for most snowmobilers is Now What?
This is always a confusing time of year for me because all winter long my weekends have been planned out- now I am suddenly left with two whole days a week to get things done. First I put my gear away, making a note of things I need to replace, then I buzz down to the dealer to catch any awesome end of year clearance sales they may have going on. This is when I always find some really cool things for dirt-cheap. Then of course, there is the spring preview of the 2015 sleds. Now that my old Indy has gone to snowmobile heaven, I might actually take advantage of one of the snow check deals. Spring is a good time to buy sleds because the dealers are desperate to get rid of non-currents or if you are going to go new, you can get great incentives on spring buy sleds along with some features that are not offered at any other time of year. If you are in the used market, it is also a good time to gobble up sleds that no one wants to store for the summer.
Once all the snow melts and things dry out a bit I give my sleds a good head to toe wash and wax, summerize them and put them away for the summer, this is usually when I find out that I really destroyed something on my sled during the season that had gone unnoticed because it was covered in snow and ice. Sometimes if I have major work that needs to be done I will do it now so when next season rolls around I am ready to go. Trust me, you don’t want your sled in the shop undergoing a major overhaul when an early season snowstorm hits, especially when you have friends that come over on their sleds and ride around your house several times to remind you of how much fun you are missing out on.
If you are involved in the local clubs, you usually start looking at potential trail work that needs to be done over the summer or groomer repairs. There are also a number of snowmobile charity events out there that start planning for the next season once June hits. I will also start roughly mapping out my weekends for the upcoming season so I can have a game plan in place once it snows. At the beginning of each month I fire up the sleds, it helps keeps things fresh and moving and helps avoid problems in the fall.
After a summer of mowing the lawn, fishing and going to the beach the leaves will start changing and before you know it Hay Days arrives and you start watching the forecast for snow. Every once in a while you can check back here and see what crazy snowmobiling stuff I’m writing about in July. The best way to be alerted to things is to “Like” us on facebook so every time there is a post it will give you an alert. Believe it or not, I still have some stuff to write about to put a bow on this season. Stay tuned!