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HomeFeaturesApril 22: (Maybe) Our Last Ride of the 2013 Season

April 22: (Maybe) Our Last Ride of the 2013 Season

April 22 2013 snowmobile ride on the Minnesota North Shore

On Monday, six friends played hooky from work so that we could enjoy the endless winter that’s graced Minnesota this year. An early start from the Twin Cities area put us in the snowmobile park-and-ride lot near Two Harbors at 9:30 am.

The mood was equal parts jubilant and incredulous, as none of us could remember riding this late into a Minnesota spring, and certainly not in the conditions that were waiting for us on the North Shore. It’s still full-blown winter there, with 6-ft. snow banks (look in the background) and WAY more snow than we saw in the same area six weeks earlier.

We snapped a photo by the C.J. Ramstad Memorial Trail sign, with a few endearing quips about C.J. told for good measure. Were he alive today, I have no doubt he would have been on this ride.


April 22 2013 snowmobile ride on the Minnesota North Shore

Like I said, winter is still going strong as ever in this snowmobiler’s paradise. I’m guessing there’s at least three feet of packed snow cover here even now as I write this.

The trails had been groomed a week prior; however there must have been a fair amount of traffic over the last weekend because they were rough. Fun rough, in most places, especially for a crew of riders who likes to pretend they’re Joe Racer on occasion.


April 22 2013 snowmobile ride on the Minnesota North Shore

Speaking of Joe Racer, we saw him on that day. In fact, he was one of only five riders we saw the entire trip. Obviously most Minnesota snowmobilers are responsible employees who don’t play hooky like our motley crew.


April 22 2013 snowmobile ride on the Minnesota North Shore

The rough conditions required some suspension adjustment for Kale Wainer (left) and Pat Bourgeois, both of whom are such gorillas that they mangled both spanner wrenches that came in the Cat tool kit.

Unlike riding in the middle of winter, when it’s far colder and there’s often a vibe of we-gotta-get-to-our-destination, Monday’s ride was completely relaxed, at least for me.

There was no time schedule, temps were in low 40s, we’d have see-who-can-hit-the-trail-sign-with-a-snowball contests and the only real goal was making it to the Trestle Inn for lunch. Other than that, there were no expectations.

I like riding without expectations, because such rides invariably are more fun and conversational.

The only bummer about the easy-going approach was that these two goofballs took FOREVER to increase the spring preload on the front arm shock…


April 22 2013 snowmobile ride on the Minnesota North Shore

… which meant I had to maintain this position for about 15 minutes. If you’ve never styled like this for 15 minutes, you have no idea how fatiguing it is.

Pretty good style though, huh?


April 22 2013 snowmobile ride on the Minnesota North Shore

The single best style maneuver of the day belonged to Jim Urquhart, who styled MY sled into the rhubarb and nearly Paul Bunyaned a tree! Jim tried to blame the suspension set-up I had on my sled, but we all knew the real problem.


April 22 2013 snowmobile ride on the Minnesota North Shore

Sixty-odd miles after leaving Two Harbors, we made it to the Trestle Inn on Crooked Lake. A snowmobiling icon, the Trestle is a classic stop along the North Shore/Ramstad trail that exudes character AND contains characters.

From L-to-R: Pat Bourgeois, Kale Wainer, Jim Urquhart, Tom Rowland, Mike Swinehart and the famous ’80s pop-star Phil Collins (aka me, John Sandberg).

We posed for a picture to commemorate the occasion, then went inside to strap on the feed bags.


Guest log at the Trestle Inn

A quick perusal of the guest book showed a lot of familiar names to our crew.

FYI that Snow Goer magazine editor Andy Swanson appears in this log 34 times over the past two seasons, but we were told by the bartender that Andy phones in his name, and that he hasn’t actually been to the Trestle Inn since 1993.


April 22 2013 snowmobile ride on the Minnesota North Shore

On the way home we enjoyed 60-some miles of trail without sight of another snowmobiler. There were constant jokes and constant disbelief that we were riding such fantastic conditions at the end of April.

For most of our group, it sounded like this would be the last ride of the season, even though there will for sure be at least another 10 days of riding in this area no matter what the weather does.

When I know it’s my last ride of a season that’s been so long and enjoyable, I feel only the slightest twinge of sadness. The overriding emotion is satisfaction and gratitude. 

A bonus for many of us was that this was the second time this season that we had our last ride (THIS was our first last-ride.).

I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but anyone in the Midwest who gave up snowmobiling in January because of the lack of early-season snow really, really missed out on one of the best winters in a LONG time. If there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s that winter still happens and you just have to be patient.


April 22 2013 snowmobile ride on the Minnesota North Shore

When we arrived at the parking lot the odometer showed 125 miles. Again, pretty amazing for April!

But like I said above, anyone who’s interested in riding in this area still has some time to make it happen…


April 22 2013 snowmobile ride on the Minnesota North Shore

… because as we started the drive home to the Twin Cities, yet another snow storm began to dump big, heavy flakes. When the storm had finished 12 hours later, another 8 inches had fallen in the area.

So the winter of 2013 continues… into May for sure. Maybe, even longer!?!

Thanks for reading.



  1. Is that a 2014 seat on the 2013 RR ? Feedback if accurate ?
    John , thanks for the stickers– they look great on the company car -trailer-frig ..

  2. Hey John, Rode in the UP today and
    had an awesome day in the trees and on the power lines. This after Zach and I had our last ride of the season Saturday. I guess I shouldn’t be saying last ride.

  3. Looks like it was a fun ride, John the guy in the 3rd picture on the Slow-X we seen him a few weeks back at the Ash Trail Lodge with a #2 on his back and looked like he may race or have raced oval’s…do you know him ?

  4. It’s too bad Cat doesnt have a quick adjust system to adjust the pre-load on the front arm shock like Doo does. You guys could have done that job in about 10 seconds! Hopefully the boys up in Thief River are working on something to catch them up to the Yellow team. I am sick of hearing how much better they ride and handle and how much easier they are to adjust.

  5. Tom: Mike put a current (not a ’14) M seat on his RR.

    Greg: I’m being much more careful about saying “last ride” too.

    Scott: Our group figured out that the Polaris guy is (I think) Brian Rydeen.

  6. An orange mountain seat on a RR? Gotta love it. Almost as nice as the green mountain seat on my XF Sno Pro!

    John, you should have come over to Ely with us on Saturday and Sunday. No one had been on most of the trails and lakes. In the few places where other riders beat us to it, it was a single track only and still very soft and smooth.

    Looks like we will be riding somewhere in Minnesnowta in May this year. Yippee!!!!

  7. Joe Racer’s leathers look an awful lot like Bryan Rydeen. Was there a big number “2” on his back? I believe that was Rydeen’s number. Either way that guy looks pretty cool. Brought back memories of the good old days.

  8. 40 degree temps and wearing full leather. How much nut sweat can those suits hold? Ewwww. Cool story John! Looks like you guys know how to have fun.

  9. I would assume Rydeen is so frost bite from years of racing Eagle River and other ovals that he probably just stays cold all the time and needs to wear that.

  10. When in doubt, throttle out. Too bad that tree was in my line. Thanks for the ski pull Sandberg and Tom Rowland.

  11. Pretty cool! I can’t even remember riding this late in April, ever. So no damage on the bark buster incident???
    Gorillas bending spanner wrenchs. That’s funny. I used to ride with this guy we called the “shaved ape” This dude was so big and naturally strong that we used to call him the “shaved ape” it’s always good to have one or two big strong riders that can do any heavy work or bending in a pinch. That one cracked me up.
    I’ll see you in church

  12. John. I think I just took my last ride of the season today, May 2 over in Baldwin Wi. Crazy they got 12″ of snow last night and here in St Paul we have nothing. I hope your season was a good one.

  13. I love camping on the beach in Santa Barbara. They have some of the best beechas to camp on and the weather is usually quite nice, though it does get a bit cold on the beach depending on what part of the year you come in. I recently had a bad experience and had to move to a hotel in town. Thankfully it was a great hotel and the rest of our trip was a whole lot of fun. The Sandman Inn ( Really affordable and in a great part of town, though we weren’t on the beach anymore we still got to enjoy everything as if we were.

  14. Happy Happy Happy Birthday Dawn! I can’t wait to see all the new and wonderful pics you take with your caerma. I wish I had known it was your birthday ..but there’s nothing like a belated card Have a wonderful weekendBree [url=]nznlgotc[/url] [link=]yqxyeznml[/link]


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