Monthly Archives: November 2018


422550_10150642917949788_839019787_9024649_1259376233_nBuddies, we all have them.  Your buddies may be childhood friends or friends that you met later in life in high school or college or at work, regardless of where you met them one thing remains true:  when men are left with their buddies what they do may seem logical to them at the time but to the outside world it makes no sense to any logical person.  I think this really starts when we are children and some of that childhood stupidity never really leaves us. I’m sure that every guy reading this can look back on something they did as a kid and wonder “What the hell was I thinking?”  You know- going to the outdoor hockey rink in the summer time and building ramps from the hockey boards so you can jump your BMX bike, making the jumps higher and longer until finally someone breaks their arm or loses a few teeth, or climbing higher and higher in a tree and jumping out of it until someone knocks themselves out or breaks a leg, or seeing who can go farthest out on the thin ice of the shallow pond in the woods before someone breaks through, or having fights with bottle rockets or roman candles or firecrackers.  As we grow older things like that seem pretty dumb and we grow out of them, or do we? I think back to a recent incident where two of my friends were going to hang out while their wives went shopping at the mall.  One couple showed up at the others house and right after the wives got in the car and left my friend said “hey check it out, I just bought two pairs of boxing gloves and some head gear.” About fifteen minutes later they had moved all of the furniture out of the living room and were boxing each other.  Their wives came back from the mall later that afternoon to find their husbands standing in the middle of the living room taking turns punching each other in the head as hard as they could trying to knock each other out.  Now, most guys reading this story are thinking, “Yeah, if I had head gear and boxing gloves I’d do the same thing, that makes perfect sense,” while most women reading this story are thinking, “What a couple of idiots!”   

Now, fast forward to snowmobile season, these are exactly the same friends that it is not okay to ride alone with, you all know who I’m talking about, that one friend of yours that infects you with what my wife calls “Snowmobile Brain.”  To protect his identity I will call this particular friend Steven. Sure, it’s okay to ride with Steven when you are in a big group, because as a big group you have to be responsible and smart, but if it’s just the two of you then that boyhood stupidity takes over, usually this stupidity starts with a sentence like “Do you think we can _________” or “Do you think we should try _________.” Either way you know your answer to that question will always be yes, because you have contracted snowmobile brain from your friend Steven. “Hey, John, do you think we could clear that road approach?  Hey do you think this nasty muddy 3 mile long swamp is frozen enough for us to get to the other side even though its early December?  Hey do you think we can skip all the way across that stretch of open water?  Hey, do you think if I jump my sled off this cliff face will I clear those rocks?  Hey, do you think we can make it through that stand of pine trees?”  And of course when you have contracted snowmobile brain the answers to all of those questions will be “Yes!” You know you have found your version of Steven when your wife asks you “Who are you riding with today?” and when you tell her she says “Oh no, try not to do anything stupid.”  The funny thing is that when you are riding with Steven, his wife is saying the same thing, “Oh no, every time you ride with him, I am either coming with the trailer to pick up a broken sled or bringing someone to the emergency room.”  Not exactly a shining vote of confidence. 

The truth behind the matter is that boys do stupid stuff and Steven just happens to be a good enough friend that he enables you to tap into your inner boyhood stupidity, so you wind up doing things that you normally wouldn’t do with the other guys you ride with. But Steven isn’t all bad.  It was because of friends like Steven that things like snocross and X Games got started.  And sometimes when you are riding with Steven you do make it to the other side of the road approach, sometimes you do clear those rocks on your drop in, and sometimes you can make it through that stand of pines and the payoff is epic!  Plus Steven did miraculously guide you to the other side of the lake when the two of you got caught in a big storm and the trail markers disappeared, he also towed you out of the woods when you broke down, and he also called you up at midnight and suggested going for a late night ride which turned out to be one of the best rides of the year.  So for every time you’ve done something stupid, you’ve also managed to have a great time and have good stories to tell at the end of the day around the fire, and that is what snowmobiling is all about.     



1a1So far so good! It’s been cold and little by little we keep adding snow. A warm up is supposedly coming Friday but then snow comes right behind it. So as it stands right now there is about 5 inches in Duluth, about 6 around Finland and some scattered pockets over 12 and consistent depths over 12 by Grand Portage. We are watching things closely and with any luck there might actually be some trails that open on time December 1st!


1dt1Have you ever wondered why your local trail develops horrific moguls that rearrange your internal organs as you ride down the trail? Well, we have the answer.

            Moguls.  We’ve all experienced them and, it’s safe to say, that none of us are fond of them.  Moguls are the entire reason that trail groomers for snowmobile trails exist.  Over time every trail will fall victim to the mogul, but understanding the mogul can actually help you reduce their frequency and aid in their destruction.

            There are multiple factors that contribute to the formation of moguls but they all pale in comparison to the main culprit, snowmobiles themselves. 

First let’s look at one of the smaller contributors to mogul development: trail surface.  Many people believe that an uneven trail surface with natural dips and bumps in the terrain contribute to mogul development and to some degree they are correct.  An uneven surface causes the suspension of the snowmobile to rise and fall as it tries to compensate for the uneven terrain, therefore when the suspension falls down into a dip in the trail the track naturally digs its way out of the hole, displacing snow at the bottom of the hole and piling it up behind it, further defining the “bump” in the trail, the next sled will then compress that mounded up snow, reinforcing the bump and subsequently falling into the hole and digging itself out as well, when the track comes out of the hole it is still digging and creates a new smaller hole following the previous hole before it fully recovers to being on  flat surface, creating a new “bump in the road,” this constant expansion and contraction of the suspension continues the pattern and after a while you create a series of bumps aka moguls.   An ungroomed trail on a naturally uneven surface will most definitely create moguls and these moguls will persist regardless of snow depth as the peaks of these bumps will be hard and the valleys soft so even when they are covered by new snow the process will continue.  The good news is that once the snow has reached a depth to fill in uneven terrain a groomer can eliminate these types of moguls by putting a solid surface of trail over the top of them, therefore those that believe the underlying cause of moguls is an uneven trail surface are only partially correct, that is indeed the case until a groomer does its work and then what terrain lies underneath the snow matters much less than how the trail surface is prepared by the groomer. 

            So now we have a beautiful flat trail created by the hard work of your local club but after a full weekend of use we are back to moguls again, how did this happen?  There are two answers to that question:  #1 the snowmobile rider and #2 the snowmobile suspension.  Many snowmobilers try to blame the power and speed of modern snowmobiles for mogul development but it is not the snowmobile that is the problem, it is the rider.  Remember that any deviation in the surface of the trail affects the suspension.  You will often notice that moguls first form before and after corners and before and after road crossings.  The reason for this is that any sudden decrease or increase in speed makes the track spin or rapidly changes its rate of rotation which makes it dig into the surface of the trail creating a small mound of snow, the next snowmobile over that mound compresses it and the suspension reacts and digs out a little bit of snow after the bump creating another bump and so on.  In short, if you hammer the throttle after a road crossing you create a mound of snow and therefore create moguls, when you hammer the throttle after a corner you create moguls, add paddle tracks, high horsepower and the modern suspension and you amplify these conditions.  In short if you managed to keep an even speed you would dramatically reduce the number and frequency of moguls, any time you radically change speeds on the trail you contribute to the mogul problem. 

There is a myth out there that back in the days of lower horsepower sleds that moguls were less common, that myth is 100% false.  Whether it be bogey wheels or slides, 10 horsepower or 150 horsepower, moguls have always existed.  Don’t agree?  Try riding a trail after a vintage ride that had nothing but vintage sleds on it, trust me, you will see some of the worst moguls ever, this is why grooming equipment came into existence.  First it was an old box spring mattress towed behind a snowmobile. That helped initially but it became evident that although this mattress set up smoothed things out for a little while, the moguls quickly returned, that is because all that was happening was the tops of the moguls were being knocked down into the ruts, but the snow in the mounds was still hard while the snow in the dips was soft and after a few sleds rode by the dips were quickly dug out again.  This led to the development of modern grooming equipment with a series of blades designed to cut the tops of the mounds off and churn the snow adding moisture to it so as it settles into the dips the snow is compacted by the drag and the moisture in the snow freezes forming a solid base.  It is essential for a groomer to get down to this solid base when grooming to help prevent new mogul formation.  This is also why groomers operate over night, because it is essential for that trail to have time to set up/ freeze.  When a snowmobile goes over a trail that has just been groomed without allowing the snow time to set the base weakens and makes it easier for the mogul process to begin again. 

The battle against moguls is a never ending task, but there are two things that you as a snowmobiler can do to help prevent them.  First, be courteous and try to keep an even speed throughout your day on the trail especially trying to avoid any sort of activity that results in you creating a mound of snow and second, join a snowmobile club and become a groomer operator, that way you can be sure to have great trails every time you ride!



agiaHere we go- our first trail update of the season! There has been some snow and cold so far which means the swamps are freezing and many lakes are starting to make ice! Parts of the North Shore picked up decent snow this week including over a foot at Grand Portage, also our friends in the UP got hit with over a foot as well! Lets collectively keep sending out snow vibes and get ourselves a season that starts on time!!! Now that the cold and snow is in place we will be hitting you often with all sorts of Blogs and trail updates so stay tuned!