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First Ride of the Year

There’s something special about the first ride of the year for a snowmobiler. It seems like our cares and stresses melt away after suiting up and throwing a leg over that sled. And you’d swear, your snowmobile is far more powerful than how you remembered your last ride before storing it in the spring. I caught myself rejoicing in my helmet, “Damn, this is a phenomenal sport!!” as I spent a day with some friends at Thomas Sno Sports in Ogilvie, MN.

Every ArcticInsider road trip starts and ends with a couple boxes of delicious Mike and Ike Candies!

I’ve talked about it before, but it’s only an ArcticInsider roadtrip if you have a couple boxes of Mike and Ike candies. (I truly need to get sponsored by them) They’re delicious.

This was taken in honor of John Sandberg. The guy LOVES roller dogs at gas stations. I myself would never touch em

As evidenced in the photo, I stopped to pick up my Mike and Ike’s, but couldn’t leave the convenience store without taking a photo of the roller dogs to send to John Sandberg. John is a health food fanatic, but the man had a weakness for gas station roller dogs. LOVES em!  I myself would never touch them.  [Rolls Eyes]

The always friendly, helpful and talented staff of Thomas Sno Sports in Ogilvie, MN

The staff at Thomas Sno Sports is always helpful, energetic and friendly and we looked forward to our arrival.

The TSS shop was full of talent and halotta BS. (L-R) Pat Bourgeois, Paul Hein, Eric Bergstrom, John Anderson and Tom Rowland

We joined a familiar cast of characters in the new TSS building. Here, (L-R) Pat Bourgeois, Paul Hein, Eric Bergstrom, John Anderson and Tom Rowland discuss how bad my riding gear (In Team Arctic bag) would smell considering it hadn’t left the bag since my last spring ride, which happened to be at TSS. For the record, all gear passed the sniff test, but the socks coulda been fresher. And unlike Paul unpacking his gear this year, I didn’t find a half eaten fish sandwich in any of the pockets.

TSS has some truly unique product for sale including this NOS Tigershark Tie. Just what dad NEEDS for Christmas

Speaking of fish, Tom Rowland has a pretty awesome collection of Arctic Cat vintage “stuff”. If you were looking for a tie for dad this Christmas, Tom was getting ready to sell this NOS Tigershark tie online, and Eric vowed he could ship it in time for Christmas.

Tom holds up a set of Chester Boman leathers. Talk about cool!

While leaning up against a coat rack, I noticed some sweet old leathers. Turns out it was Chester Bomans cross country leathers. They wreaked of coolness and were small. Chester must not have enjoyed Mike and Ikes as much as I do. 

Pat Bourgeois modeling his vintage Arcticwear

Pat Bourgeois has been around the snowmobile industry as a writer/photographer longer than my riding gear has stayed in a Team Arctic bag. If you are a Minnesota club, or MnUSA member, chances are you’ve read and looked at his handywork in their state association pub. This trip came up on a whim, and last second we decided to wear an “Ugly Sweater”. Looking through my photos, the only ugly sweater I captured was Pat’s. (Which I don’t think is so ugly) Bonus points for his matching Arctic Cat headband.

Tom recreating the photo in same spot where he went "Tigersharking" last spring

If you ever ride with ArcticInsider, I can guarantee two things: 1. You’ll have Fun 2. You’ll have an adventure to remember. We went on a spring ride with Tom in March. The spot in the above and below photos is literally across the road from the TSS store. On our spring ride (photo below), Tom had gone through this area the day before and there was a couple inches of water on top of the ice, but it was safe to cross. Thinking it was the same when leading our ride, he cautiously kept inching in, but on that day, the ice had pretty much disappeared. At that point, it was too late and the laughs were completely on Tom the rest of the day. Sooooo, we stopped Tom on our ride to recreate the photo, this time with good ice and traversable snow. 

Tom in March had gone through this area the day before and it was fine. He thought it was just a skim of water on top of the ice. Not so much.


When the trails are this nice, it never hurts to stop and share your excitement on how much you love snowmobiling and discuss the obvious regarding how nice the trails are.

The trails in Milaca area were exceptional. You could really sing down some of these corridors. Here we stopped to discuss how perfect conditions were and reminded ourselves just how awesome the first ride of the year is!

The 2020 Riot 600 performed impeccably

I was fortunate enough to be riding a 2020 Riot 600. I’m guilty of getting caught up in the thinking, “I need an 800”. It’s not until times like this that Im reminded how fantastic Arctic Cat’s CTEC2 600 engine is. It pulls really hard out of the corners like an 800 and sings like a sewing machine all day long.

Here’s my $.02 on the Riot – This sled pure and simple puts a smile on my face! For my personal enjoyment, and my riding style, I absolutely love the playfulness of this true 50/50 crossover. That said, buying a true 50/50 crossover comes with compromises. It’s built to do most things well on the trail, and most things off.  If you want a corner-to-corner trail snowmobile, I would direct you to buy a ZR with a 137 Slide-Action skidframe. You’ll be much happier (and money ahead) on a ZR to rally trails all day versus trying to convert the Riot with limiter strap suggestions or buying aftermarket skis or different carbides in hopes of improving the trail cornering.

For those of us who enjoy a trail ride trail, but also want to play off-trail, this is exactly the buyer the Riot was built for. I giggle every time I hit the gas and the uncoupled rear Cross-Action suspension transfers and picks up the skis upon acceleration. I love that sensation and the transfer adds to the Riot’s playfulness and abilities in deeper snow.  

The Mystic Riders trail shelter was a perfect lunch stop

(L-R) Cory Maus, Kale and Tom Rowland park in front of the Mystic Riders snowmobile club shelter. Inside was heated with seating and table options and outside there was plenty of wood stacked to start a fire. We elected for the latter since we planned on having a trailside lunch.

Pat (R) demonstrating to Tom, the fine art of hanging meat from a branch he cut from the coulee behind the shack

In your ride group, you’ve probably noticed everyone has a specific skillset. In this photo, Pat educates Tom about the art of finding the perfect roasting stick from a nearby coulee. A skill Pat honed traversing the bogs of Baudette, MN as a kid. 

Come on Kale. Close your legs.

My skillset is being the object of many unflattering photos. A reminder to close my legs when handling meat around an open flame.

Tom showing his proficiency for burning the coulee stick and not the meat (Rookies)

Tom’s skillset was the ability to burn the perfect roasting stick to the point the brat would fall into the fire making it a corndog. Again, this is a reminder I should close my mouth. WTF was I doing?

Nothing beats Louie's Meats.

Im taking the time to promote Louie’s Finer Meats in Cumberland, WI. Every year I drop a deer or two off with them, and they return the absolute best products. This day, we got to experience one of my Louie’s favorites, the smoked cheddarwurst venison brat. 

Muffpot, Hotdogger, Pffffft. Brand new muffler works perfect for warming buns

Nothing makes a better bun warmer than a muffler on a brand new snowmobile. Like Red Green says, “If the women don’t find ya handsome, they better find ya handy.” There’s alot of that with this group.

After our quick lunch it was nothing but clear, fast sailing on the way back to TSS

Our trip to Thomas Sno Sports for our first ride was a quick one and the trail was smooth and fast getting back to the shop. It was so quick in fact, that I left wishing I had captured some of the other cool stuff Tom had on display and for sale. Oh well, it’s an easy excuse to come back and visit.

I hope everyone is enjoying their first rides, and have a safe Christmas and Happy New Year! -Kale



  1. Cool photos!
    My 9yr old son and i just took out my 04 fighter cat last weekend
    Forgot how hard it pulls with a D&D 900 and
    A few hundred chisels
    We almost flew off the back, lol

    But still not enough snow yet,
    Up here in Manitoba
    to bring out my 18 xf 9000 c.c.

  2. Great to see you guys out on the trails. Your interpretation of a corn dog is great. If possible some time I would like to ride along. I know those corn dogs would taste great. Super trails out there so get out and ride. Want to thank all the clubs that do all the trail work that make our trails so nice to have those super days of riding.

  3. I got a good chuckle from some of these photos and comments. Thanks for sharing a light hearted article. For me, my roadtrip Candy is jellybeans.

  4. This was a funny read this morning. I agree with Louie’s Finer Meats. I live south of Cumberland. Best damn jerky in the state of Wisconsin. Teriyaki or Bloody Mary flavors for this guy. If you get a chance, come ride our trails in Barron County. We’re part of Island City snowmobile club.

  5. I learned my lesson (no I didn’t) in the swamp crossing last spring, the water is easier to cross when frozen! Keep droppin’ those monster Wisconsin bucks Kale so we never run out of venison brats. Note: the campfire image that caught Kale with his mouth open is when he was loudly and deeply belting out “Joy to the World” as Clark Griswold sang in Christmas Vacation, he always sings that song when roasting brats.

  6. Hey I want to ride with you guys! I usually ride with my dad and his buddies so I’m pretty used to being around the old riders. How do you like the 800 Riot? Will there be anything bigger? I’d like to try tailstanding one.

  7. Bobby Flame: you’re going to have to take that Chinese-knock-off can you bought off Amazon off your sled before you ride with us, we always follow the rules.


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