Are you a “Hardcore Snowmobiler”?
So for those of us snowmobilers who seem to have permanent brain freeze 365 days a year this article is for you! You are the riders that proudly display the “summer sucks” t-shirts at BBQs, and would generally be classified as somewhat obsessed by both our fellow riders and family. We are also the riders that persevere through whatever Mother Nature dumps on us, and in some cases, we have found ways to snowmobile without snow.
Besides hiding in the beer cooler waiting for winter to return, what is it that we negative-temperature-loving sled freaks do between April and December?
April is generally dedicated to chores; that honey-do list is now a few pages long. All those weekend sled trips and evening rides left no time for cleaning up the landmines in the backyard, and now that the snow is melting they are starting to appear. Aside from tackling as many chores as possible, us hardcore sledders will be found in between tasks servicing our sleds, trailers and packing away our gear safely ensuring everything is ready for next season. Many of us will work overtime both at home and at work to make up for all those impromptu Fridays off. A select few of us will drive as far north as possible, searching for that last ride, in complete denial that winter will soon end. Finally, those of us who are lucky enough will order a new sled, which unfortunately will make the upcoming summer feel like an eternity.
The month of May is officially the kick off to summer for Ontarians. With the sleds serviced and put away, it’s generally time to turn our attention to recreational properties, installing docks, opening the camp and servicing our boats so that they are ready for the heat. May long weekend / May Run / May 24 facilitates the first camping trips and also the first flies of the season. If you're hardcore enough, you may sneak out to the shed or trailer and start the sleds for some aromatherapy; if you have fogged your engines, I can guarantee you will at least take a few minutes to sit on your winter buggy. Hardcore riders will also make it a point to post and share a few photos from seasons past just to stir the pot.
By the time month of June rolls around, the itch to ride is too much to handle; many hardcore riders enjoy ATVing, Dirt Biking or Motorcycling. If you are as passionate about summer motorsports as snowmobiling, the quad and bikes are ready to go. Hardcore sledders will often return to their favourite small communities, cottage towns and trails to ride in the off-season, reuniting with lodge owners and local friends… you better believe each ride ends with “next winter my sled will…” Riding during the off-season helps us die-hard riders keep our sanity, but also conditions skills like balance, throttle control, and our physical fitness. The end of June marks the first day of summer, as well as the time of the year when the days begin to get shorter again.
The cottage is open, the ATVs and bikes have been well used, and the lake we once rode over has now warmed to swimming temperature. A vast majority of us hardcore snowmobilers will beat the heat of July by spending time on the water. As many of us snowmobilers are action-oriented, favourite past times include wakeboarding, tubing, waterskiing and PWC / Jet-ski riding. July is also a great time of year to get together with our sledding pals and couples – it’s always fun to plan a boat or PWC trip, a motorcycle ride to our favourite sledfriendly restaurant, or a backwoods dirt run to that special lookout or clear cool lake. Rick & Marni do exactly this in their recent article: From Two Skis to Two Wheels—Tips For Those Who Ride Ontario All Year
August marks less than 6 months until winter and our first ride of the season. The nights are now cooling off, and the Weather Network is now starting to predict a downward trend in the overnight lows... Good news! It’s about this time of the year that many riders start ordering and gathering parts like a chipmunk preparing for winter. Even though the forthcoming winter is starting to occupy our somewhat thawed minds, summer is still in full effect. Much time is spent enjoying the cottage and the recreational toys and activities that go with it.
Labour Day has come and gone and we are well into September now. It seems like we have finally beat the heat that we dreaded so much in early April. Time is spent preparing camps and cottages for the coming winter. September is one of the best months for ATVing and motorcycling as the air is cool and the bugs are gone. Local club volunteers hold important meetings, spending time to organize everything and everyone. Those of us that can’t wait any longer will head south to Hay Days or attend a local snowmobile grass drag event.
It could snow any day now. We have all spent a few minutes reviewing long-term forecasts by Joe Bastardi of Accuweather. The parts that we have ordered throughout the off-season are now lined up ready to be installed, we're on a first-name basis with the local Purolator delivery person, and we couldn’t be more excited to grab those last few items at the Toronto Snowmobile, ATV and Powersports Show. Many hardcore snowmobilers are back online visiting sites such as DooTalk, Hardcoresledder, Freedomsledder, Totallyamaha and Arctic-Chat searching for new tips and tricks that will aid us in fulfilling the “my sled will” comment we made at that BBQ back in June. October is also the month we jump online and buy our full season OFSC Snowmobile Trail permits at the discounted rate, this online purchase is easy and quick – it also helps get money to our local clubs to start operations and make last minute unforeseen repairs to equipment. Some of us will even hand out Halloween candy in our sled gear.
Brrrrr…. Rain… sleet…. Hail... SNOW… but will it stay? We are monitoring the weather and radar (check out this "Top ways to track Ontario Snow" article), waiting patiently for that first 15 or so cm’s to fall… just enough for some slider lube, cooling and lawn protection. All those parts we purchased throughout the summer and at the show are now installed; the sleds are pointed at the garage door as we wait in anticipation. I can guarantee that sometime during the month of November, a good percentage of hardcore snowmobilers will put on all their gear and head out to the garage, install the new permit, and then proceed to start the snowmobile and sit there in a hazy daze.
December is welcomed with open arms; the snow has started creeping south and is adding up. It’s now only a matter of days before the province of Ontario’s 200+ local community snowmobile clubs start making available over 30,000km of paradise and we couldn’t be happier... it’s finally time to GoRide!
For those of us hardcore snowmobilers who do all of the above and still can’t get enough of snowmobiling, you will find us at local event parks like the Grand Bend Motorplex or St. Thomas Raceway watching asphalt sleds beat motorcycles and $100k+ muscle cars, or participating/watching at one of the many Ontario Watercross Racing Association events. If you have never witnessed snowmobiles on Grass, Asphalt or Water during the off-season I strongly suggest you attend.
Here’s to a safe, enjoyable and relatively short feeling summer… see you on the snow!