Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Confidence Is Important, but the Sled Makes the Ride

This article is in response to the one that was published on American Snowmobiler.  You can read it here.

The wind chilled my exposed fingers, numbing them almost to the point where I couldn’t fasten my helmet. The sun shone brightly in the sky, promising to warm the day. Behind me, my two boys rolled down the snow-covered hill as they waited for the rest of us to get ready. The other riders prepared their sleds.

Two weeks had passed since I attended Matt Entz’s Mountain Skillz camp, and I was excited to be back out on the snow—especially in an area that I was familiar with. I couldn’t wait to see how I would handle the ride with my new-found confidence, and I wanted a chance to work on some of my new skills.

As the day progressed and the weather got warmer and warmer, it became apparent it was probably the last day we were going to ride. The snow wasn’t terrible—we still found some fluffy parts and made some new tracks—but there was no snow in the forecast and temperatures were supposed to be above 40 the entire week. By the weekend, the snow would be like concrete. That made me very sad, but I was determined to make the best of the day.

How in the world I had enjoyed riding before? I was always so tense, so worried, so scared. Why did I continue to get on my sled if it caused me such anxiety? What kept drawing me back? 

This trip was probably the most relaxed I have ever been snowmobiling. My muscles weren’t tense, I wasn’t worried about the kids careening off the side of a cliff, I didn’t suck in sharp breaths every time their snowmobiles twitched slightly. I just enjoyed the day. I even laughed several times. It was amazing.

I still had moments of hesitation. There were hills I wouldn’t go up, but I did a great job of holding my own. I went up everything my boys did. There were even a few hills we had to go up and back down to get home. Those definitely tested my courage. But unlike other times riding, my heart wasn’t in my throat the entire day—it only leapt there on a few occasions.

For the last quarter of the day, I even rode my husband’s 2013 RMK Pro 163 800. At one point, while playing around in a meadow, I decided to work on tipping my sled. It was still really hard to get my 2006 Polaris RMK 600 on edge, which is why my husband let me ride his. I had no trouble getting the 600 on its side.

Walking it was a different matter, and I fell into deep snow several times. I still need to work on that aspect, but with a sled that tips easily, I’m ready to do it. My goal for next time is to find the balance point so I don’t actually have to get off the sled. I’m sure, though, I’ll fall off it a few times getting to that point.

Without stress, riding is really fun. I mean like amusement park fun. I had no idea I could smile that wide or laugh while on my snowmobile. It makes me want to push myself further in my riding.

I wouldn’t have come to this point in my riding without help. And I’m wondering why in the hell it took me so long to decide to go to snowmobiling camp. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made. It opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

It also opened up another issue: I want to get better, and it’s going to be a challenge if I continue to ride my 2006. Riding my husband’s sled was fun and it was easy to control. I could see myself having a lot of adventures on that sled. However, it’s snow check time, and the 2016 Polaris sleds and options are amazing. So, now I’m faced with the decision of keeping my husband’s sled or getting a new one, which I’m sure will be TONS of fun.

A year ago, I would have never been making this type of decision. I would have been content riding my old sled. The only stress I have now is making a decision on what sled I want to get.