Once upon a time, we used to get snow, lots of snow that never melted until March. Perhaps because I was younger and was always outside no matter what season it was, but I enjoyed every month of the year.
When August clicked off on the calendar I started thinking about snowmobiles. It was the first machine I loved. When I started working as a paperboy I started buying snowmobiles. They were always older machines and I would fix them up, ride them and then sell them. Sometimes I couldn’t fix them. It was just part of learning more about the sport and hobby I loved. I had made a list of all the sleds I owned. I have looked for it, but it was probably chucked during a cleaning spree. I remember having 76 make model and year sleds listed. Add on at least eight more to that.
The first sled I saw was the one that Chili Country Club used to groom the cross country ski trails that I used a lot. I borrowed my dad’s Kodak 110 when I went sometimes trying to capture the landscape beauty that I always saw. Those shots never came out how I wanted, nor how I saw them. One day the groomer sled was sitting near the rental area and I decided to take a picture of every single view of that sled.
When I reached 19 I bought my first brand new sled from the Hardware Haus. A 1989 Ski-Doo Formula MX. I was so happy and proud to have that sled. The mild obsession with the tracked machines continually grew. I taught myself about clutching and then shock building. I went to Ski-Doo Race School to learn how to prep a sled (when they introduced the MXZX).
I love the smell of two-stroke exhaust. I love the ability to travel over land and water and venture places you could never do in any other season.
Today was a bittersweet walk through the land of snowmobiles. The Hilton Snow Flyers sponsored the Rochester Snowmobile Show at the Garden Factory. They had vintage sleds and of course all of the newest on display. But whether you believe in climate change or not, we just don’t get the snow like we used to. The guys I used to ride with are off with their families. I used to stay at my dearly departed friend’s place in Redfield which just intensified my passion for riding and the ADK’s and the Tug Hill. I still love the sound and smell and the memories of riding. I doubt that my passion for those machines will ever wane.
Working on sleds was never a chore, just a labor of love. I used to enjoy going to Jerry’s Sales and Service in Bergen and Earsing’s in North Chili – (I could never get those recoils back together!).
Back in the 90’s when I bought my last new sled, the top of the line was in the area of $7K, Now they are double that. I still read about the new technology and performance mods. I still wish the Marilla FD held it’s grass drags. I still have the Sno Baron’s HeyDays on my bucket list. I still love to see guys and girls out riding.
I hope everyone rides safely and sober. Respect landowners property and join a snowmobile club. Maybe I will find that perfect vintage sled at the right price to cruise the trails again. I have a sticker on the garage door that reads “Still Plays in the Snow”. That is what made winters seem shorters and a lot more fun.