We had a great snowmobile ride on Newfoundland’s West Coast last weekend – but it didn’t start out that way. We stayed at Strawberry Hill Resort where the beds were more than comfortable, the grub was plentiful and satisfying, the company superb and the snow conditions were decent. We rode right from the camp door so we had no trailering issues and with the nearby gas station in Pasadena we were able to fill our sleds and our packs with an endless supply of energy.
“… had no trailering issues”
Sounds like a good start so far? Indeed it was – until we climbed off our sea level perch and started to strike the deeper snow. It was here that I began to recognize the limitations of my rented snowmobile. Though brilliant on paper; a 2014 mountain sled boasting a 153” track with 2” lugs, a powerful 800cc engine, a cool sticker wrap that disguised the manufacturers brand, independent front suspension with modern A-arm assembly – This bugger of a sled exhibited nearly zero maneuverability on the pounce. She just wanted to sit flat and stubbornly refused to track up on a single ski.
“… we stayed at Strawberry Hill”
We swung from the main trail system at the summit with an attempt to break the ‘Little Rapids Trail’ from ‘Transmission Pond’ back to Strawberry Hill but the sled's flat stance continued to push the nose out of the trail and she simply would not respond quickly enough to deviate her course onto a desirable line through the forest. As soon as we struck a clearing wide enough (and this sled needed some arc to get around) we booted it back to the main trail system to regroup and contemplate the day ahead.
Thankfully I am terribly familiar with this country and was able to re-plot a course that would keep us away from the more tangly terrain. Unfortunately, it was nowhere near as challenging a run and missing the opportunity to “Break the Hill” was nettling me to the point that I was starting to grumble; which usually leads me towards the pits of despair.
“… plentiful and satisfying”
Not being one to blame my equipment I became utterly poisoned with myself; cursing my poor physique, my ineptitude in not having made adjustments to the machines suspension, and for allowing myself to become so removed from the sport as to find myself in this position. Eventually I gave myself a head shake and started working through the situation. I reminded myself that no matter how big I’ve become – I’ll never match Napier for weight and he can still boogie on the machine. I then thought about how I would speak to someone else if they were in my position, and finally I remembered one of the most sage pieces of advice I ever received from a fellow (albeit unlikely) rider – Yes the Brizz man!
A few years ago I found myself in a similar situation when I made a comeback in the dirt bike world with a move from my old Yamaha WR450 dirt bike to a brand new Yamaha YZ450. Despite the fact that we had made modifications to make the machine more trail friendly – I was having a rough time of it and was pretty much ready to officially declare my retirement when Brian interrupted my rant with a quiet reminder – “Andrew, you’re not riding the bike – you’re letting it take you for a run.”
“… you're not riding the bike”
With a quiet word of thanks I threw my shoulders back, squared my elbows with the bars, gripped the tank in my knees and declared aloud; “I’m not letting you get the better of me baby. This might kill me but I’m going to make you suffer today!” And what a ride we had. I mauled that beast; heaving her into the powder banks, running her on a single ski even on the flats, sweating like an animal as I strained on every opportunity to make her go where I wanted.
“… decent snow conditions”
Needless to say we put on quite a show for the boys. And while I might have showed her who the boss is – she showed me the importance of good friends, a positive attitude and making the most out of every day we’re able to find snow!
Sweat your brains out boys!