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I'm Quitting Snowmobiling


(4/1/2017)

Not the best snowmobiling conditions this winter.

After about 45 years of snowmobiling, I’m over it. Done. Outta here. Sorry, but that’s where it’s come to after the pure misery of the past four months.

Here’s how it went down:


“I quit!” were the exact words I said to my wife Kate a few weeks ago when it was evident that winter would not show up in central Minnesota for third year in a row.

“What are you quitting honey?” she asked without raising an eye from the iPad she was using to scroll through the lovely vacation photos and political rants of her friends on Facebag.

“Snowmobiling,” I replied.

“Why would you quit something that you hardly do anymore,” she quizzed while simultaneously shoving the dagger a little further into my soul, then giving it a little extra twist?

“That’s the problem,” I shot back! “That’s three crap winters in a row; three years in which our club hasn’t groomed trails and countless plans and rides ruined by that bitch Mother Nature.

“I’m done. Over it,” I added.

She let out a little laugh and shook her head for a moment. I’m not sure if it was directed at me, or the video of a dog licking a cat’s ass that was making the rounds on Facebag that day. Either way, I felt like I was the butt of the joke for believing that 2017 was going to be an epic winter of snowmobiling in the Midwest.

I blame myself.

I should have seen the signs way back in October, when I naively anticipated a cold and snowy winter like the one we had in 2014. The television meteorologists were unanimous in proclaiming that this would be a La Nina year rather than El Nino, which usually means snowier than normal. The annual migration of waterfowl from Canada to the Gulf states began a couple weeks earlier than normal, with the assumption being that winter would arrive sooner and harsher (read: colder) than normal. And then there was that crap from the rag Farmer’s Almanac saying that we’d experience 600 inches of snow, or something like that.

I admit my own behavior helped sabotaged any chance for a good winter. First, I put new bearings and grease in my trailer hubs for the first time since I bought the thing in 1992. Next, with the help of some friends and neighbors, I installed signs on about six miles worth of trail for the Prior Lake Snowmobile Association. That by itself doesn’t qualify as sabotage, but the fact that I did it early, while the ground was still soft, rather than at 2am during the first snowstorm, meant that I was tempting fate. Of course I pretty much assured my part of Minnesota would be snow-free much of the winter by taking delivery of a new 2017 Arctic Cat XF 6000 Cross Country.

I didn’t just screw up Minnesota. Nope, I wrecked it for my neighbors to the east when I bought a non-resident trail pass for Wisconsin.

In hindsight I should have seen what was coming. But as a former snowmobiler, I was hopelessly optimistic.

It doesn’t help that Mother Nature is a devilish prankster. She tossed a few early, teaser snowfalls in early December so that I could get a few photos and fully commit my faith that BIG WINTER was just around the corner.

Christmas came and went. There were a few day’s worth of riding, especially if one was willing to trailer to greater Minnesota. But winter is still young in by the time New Years hits, so my hope was still high.

January showed flashes of greatness, although the best riding in required a few hours in the truck before unloading. Somehow I managed to ride every single day that month (yes, a story is coming on that), but there were A LOT of days that looked more like dirt biking than snowmobiling.

Not the best snowmobiling conditions this winter.

Even still, I never panicked: thinking back to our winter of 2013, when it was brown until Jan. 30 and then we got dumped on, followed by two-plus months of cold temps and great riding. Surely this would happen again, right?

Wrong.

My son and I had one great trip to northern Minnesota in early February, as there was good snow there (and in neighboring northern Wisconsin). A week later, while in St. Germain, Wis., for the Snowmobile Hall of Fame weekend, Mother Nature revealed her true cruel self, in the form of three consecutive days of 60-plus degrees and bright sunshine. What beautiful snow had been on the ground soon turned to brown $#!t.

Again in hindsight, getting a Early Release ZR 8000 Sno Pro with the new C-TEC2 engine midway through February was horrible, ridiculous mistake.

What little faith remained was duly kicked in the crotch when the “High School Hockey Tournament” snowstorms those Minnesota weather historians always reference when talking about early March weather, failed to materialize.

There was a tiny last flicker of hope that resided deep in my soul, but it was unceremoniously and slowly extinguished when the typical mid-March blizzard that NORMALLY dumps a half-foot or more on the state’s North Shore was MIA.

Nada. Zip.

Fool me once, shame on you Mother Nature. Fool me December, January, February and March for the past three years, shame on me and the rest of the idiot snowmobilers.

I am, as they say, a broken man. Sort of like Old Man Winter himself.

And so I’ve decided the best way to navigate future winters is by being an “indoor” person. I’m quitting snowmobiling.

I don’t know exactly what I’ll do beginning next December. Maybe binge-watch every episode of Downton Abbey. Probably do a lot shopping for clothes at the mall. I’ve started to price homes in Phoenix and Orlando, so we’ll see what comes of it. I’ll remember the great times of riding with friends and sharing the stories here.

I’m not sure what will become of ArcticInsider. Maybe some young fool who still believes in winter will step in and make a go of it? Or maybe it will fold into TextronInsider.com?

Dunno, don’t care. All I can say is adios, suckers. There isn’t going to be any winter now. It’s April, and I’m nobody’s fool.

Ruining the last chance for winter by getting an Arctic Cat ZR 8000 with C-TEC2. ArcticInsider.com

 



Comments (22):

B&K Motorsports says:
4/1/2017 7:58:00 AM

See ya next winter John.Not fooling me.
Dinosaur Dan says:
4/1/2017 9:37:00 AM

Maybe someone should get in touch with that Pat Jack Wad guy to see if he can talk John down off the ledge!!!
kevin sebastian says:
4/1/2017 9:58:00 AM

John! awesome April fools write up! Now I don't feel so bad. The biggest difference between us is location and age of sleds. Although the odometers on mine tell the real story. Hang in there! we can suffer through summer together. Then renew our optimism when the leaves start falling.
Joel says:
4/1/2017 10:07:00 AM

John,
I am sure now that you got that off your chest, you are feeling better. You wrote down what many of other snowmobilers are feeling after these bad years. That is what makes great rideable snow so appreciated when we get it. It is part of being a snowmobiler! Chin up! Good snow will be back and we will be riding again. Ya gotta believe!

Mike F says:
4/1/2017 2:45:00 PM

The facebook video "of a dog licking a cats ass"....epic! We are the same age,and we will both be done sledding at the same time. When we are on the long slow ride in the hearse. Happy April 1st!
Tom White says:
4/1/2017 3:05:00 PM

John, I feel your pain! I bought my first new sled since 2001 and put a grand total of 190 miles on it. I've decided if I can't ride it I'm just going to use it for a planter this Spring. From this day forward I want nothing to do with snowmobiling. If for some reason I get weak and fall off the wagon; I'm counting on you to do the right thing and put me out of my misery.

Tom

Troy Halvorson says:
4/1/2017 4:21:00 PM

That's too bad, we were planning on introducing the "John Sandberg Special" next winter and giving it to you for your birthday. Bummer??
Scott Watters says:
4/1/2017 8:04:00 PM

I am with ya John, I have a couple parts left, a few skies, couple bumpers and a few miscellaneous things. What's ever left Wednesday they are going out in the trash. Maybe next season we can get together for tea and a game of chest on a nice snowy day!
ROBERT BREMAN says:
4/1/2017 8:52:00 PM

Well your right it was a sad winter. But I look at it this way. I put 1300 miles on my machine this season only. If next season is better and I hope it is. My sled will last that much longer and I don't need to shell out another 14 k for a few years. I love sledding I take the good with the bad and just keep going. I drive the groomer for the club then host a ride the next day and ride the trails that are freshly groomed. because it is during the week they are not pounded out by weekend thrill seekers.
Cheers every one see ya next season.
Tom Rowland says:
4/1/2017 8:58:00 PM

Finally, this will free up the time you need to chase your dream of trying out for the Voice and American Idol. You'll be great!
Mike Miller says:
4/1/2017 9:17:00 PM

Sure John,
Your like me, what else would you do, we are the last of a dieing breed.
It was April 1st today, I was working on my sons 2012 snopro race sled, polishing on my patriot and spent 3 hours tonight combing the Internet looking for a dick swinging deal on a 137 800 limited that I can buy now for next season.
Don't get discouraged, look me up next year, you can shoot over the pond and ride in the upper part of the lower peninsula, my cabin is right in the snow belt.
Normally we have pretty decent riding.
Vince says:
4/2/2017 1:57:00 AM

LMAO, good write Jonn!!
yamahabandit says:
4/2/2017 9:46:00 AM

Damn global warming! I've quit snowmobiling about 10 times since 2000.
Snowmobiling isn't a sport, It's a disease! Save yourselves!
Paul Nadeau says:
4/2/2017 1:33:00 PM

Ok, I think I feel your pain, but don't hate me, mother has been good to northern Maine this winter, we will be riding on excellent trails for at least another 3 weeks or so, another 8-10 inches of snow predicted for this coming Wednesday, excellent spring riding, put on 100 easy miles this morning. Don't give up yet! Maybe time for you Midwesterners to take a field trip to northern Maine in the name of research, Love that Artic Insider decal John!
Derek says:
4/2/2017 8:41:00 PM

Sometimes I feel sorry for ya guys in the so called snow belt in the US. Up here in Canada's Arctic, we have plenty of snow from October to June. Spring is hitting the Arctic slowly but we can feel the nice change in the air.

If you guys can afford the trip come to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut Canada to experience some awesome sledding during the spring months. And by the way, our annual spring snowmobile races start a week during the Victoria Day long weekend.

We have everything frm drags to cross country. Bring ur 800cc sled as we all race big bore sleds.
Ryan W says:
4/3/2017 7:40:00 AM

This website and its whiny editor sucks. I am going to start spending my time at Polarisinsider.com



Hopefully see you this weekend John!
Todd U says:
4/3/2017 3:45:00 PM

I ALWAYS blame the guys that purchased a new sled for a crappy Winter.... Thanks John! This one is totally on you! You got TWO new sleds!!
Gerry Osendorf says:
4/4/2017 9:59:00 AM

John, Does it hurt much when you have a fever that high???
Kevin Hooper says:
4/4/2017 5:18:00 PM

Well..... I passed on buying a new Ariens Platinum thinking that keeping my old beat up snowblower held together by wire and zip ties would ensure a big time snowy winter. Even that didn't work.
Jim W. says:
4/4/2017 7:55:00 PM

John, You know real sledders never act like that.
Mike F says:
4/4/2017 8:21:00 PM

Don't make me call Roger, and some of the other 681 crowd. Interventions are always ugly. We don't want to put you in an inpatient situation in Goodridge or maybe St Hilaire. Your family "potentialy" could miss you.....lol!
Flintstone says:
4/5/2017 1:52:00 AM

spring check 2012 turbo caused me to re-think the hobby!! That ain't no aprils fools joke. It was a humiliating experience. A sled that is still in the garage today that needs about 10 more payments before she is all mine. Explain that to the wife and kids. Dealers gave me the run around on it, want me to drop names? Your sponsors. I think cat still owes me another grand on it, make rme ride around with a faulty jack shaft and hand,thumb and seat warmer that don't work.. I hope that textron can fix this. Shouldn't have to be a millionaire to go snowmobiling. Oh but the motor is good, blah blah blah.

It ain't the lack of snow that's the problem or the April fools joke

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