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.
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.
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 staff at Thomas Sno Sports is always helpful, energetic and friendly and we looked forward to our arrival.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
(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.
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.
My skillset is being the object of many unflattering photos. A reminder to close my legs when handling meat around an open flame.
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?
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.
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.
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