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Rolling with the Big Dogs

Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

This past Tuesday our gang of regulars made VERY last minute plans for a day’s ride in southeast Minnesota, where snow depth reports suggested there was just enough white stuff for decent riding.

112 miles, one buried 850 and two disgusting roller-dogs later, I’m here to confirm the reports were correct.

The gang included (L-to-R): Tom Rowland from Thomas Sno Sports and Randy Holland from Roll-O-Flex (CLICK HERE to see Randy’s Roll-O-Flex); Kale Wainer from Arctic Cat; Pat Bourgeois from OSM Magazine (BTW, after reading about Pat’s bowling ball ride a week ago, several people asked me how to pronounce his last name. It’s pronounced “jack-wad”); and me, the documentarian of the bunch.

Everything I write or say is 100% factual.


Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

There was some curiosity in the group because Pat had brought along one of the new Ski-Doo 850s. Heard lots of chatter about this sled on MySpace as well as Snowmobile, Snow Week and Race & Rally magazines, so we were all eager to see how Pat would rally the new machine.

Our plan was to drive southeast of the Twin Cities until we saw evidence of trail grooming, at which point we’d unload and see what kind of mischief we could uncover. It happened about 20 minutes SE of Rochester, just outside of Chatfield.

We grabbed a quick group shot and then hit the trail with only a vague plan.


Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

One mile down the trail, Pat had buried the new 850, flipping over the hood in the process. Interestingly, it was along a section of trail running in a road ditch that everyone else in the group rode without incident. Also interestingly, Pat is an experienced snowmobiler who can get down to the business of snowmobiling like only a true professional.

He was an original member of the Ralph Plaisted Expedition, and he used to perform delivery runs with Wild Bill Cooper.

Next week he’s leading a New Rider’s clinic at ERX. He drives a big truck and he once won a celebrity race at a Canterbury Park snocross while wearing his jeans and high-top shoes.

I’m just sayin’.


Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

After Pat gave us some fodder for good-natured teasing, we enjoyed the beautiful geography that this part of Minnesota offers. Lots of bluffs, rivers and woods intermixed with farm fields.

Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

Several trails in the area were groomed, while others were not. The groomed stuff was great. The ungroomed stuff was ok. Of course, anytime you’re snowmobiling is great, and it’s a bonus to be riding before New Years.


Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

At one of the trailside stops Pat pulled out a recent issue of OSM Magazine, read it for a few minutes, then said, “Does anyone actually believe the crap in this rag? Zero credibility!”

Stunned, the rest of us just shrugged.


Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

After 90 miles or so it was time to refuel our sleds and us. It was there, at the Kwick Trip gas station in Chatfield, that a true travesty to humanity occurred, the likes of which some in our group will probably never recover from.

Eyeing the two remaining roller dogs that had been spinning in uncovered grease for 72 hours, that had been handled and coughed upon by four teenagers, two toddlers and the guy who delivers diesel, and that had been used to unplug the men’s toilet earlier that day, Pat and Kale decided to eat these slabs of mystery meat. Even reading the ingredients (which, in addition to a very small amount of pork, also included finger nails, ear wax and small amounts of spleen) wouldn’t sway them.


Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

Yep, the big dogs wolfed that crap down their gullets and pretended everything was fine.

The rest of the day was mostly uneventful, despite some very painful indigestion for two of the crew.


Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

Rowland instantly hit it off with his new friend, probably because of its color.


Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

I’m a bit biased, but I’d say the two RS Edition ZR 6000s and the Cross Country XF 6000 were the best looking machines. Randy’s Roll-O-Flex would have been a contender had it been on the ride.



Snowmobiling with the Big Dogs in SE Minnesota.

With the sun setting, we took inventory of the good times we’d had and decided it was time to roll back home. Pat and Kale were in no mood to consider another roller dog.

The odometer on my sled read 112.4 miles. Add to that another 150 or so from two other ride days, and I’m pleased as can be with my start to the winter of 2016-2017.

Mother Nature might throw us a few more curve balls…it’s what she does. But the best part of winter is yet to come; yet I’m fortunate to already have enjoyed great riding and even greater experiences with my friends.

And my hope for anyone reading this is that these kinds of experiences will happen soon. Just beware the roller dogs.

Thanks for reading.



  1. It is pronounced “jack wad”….lol! John you are on your game. Great looking sleds, even the orange one that looks like a catfish. Good times!

  2. I always wondered how Pat’s last name was pronounced, now i know, thanks for clearing that up,John. I love reading this site cause i learn so much cool stuff, keep up the good work!!!!

  3. Good report John. I am curious..will you personally be riding & reporting
    on the RS edition sled ? I did tell Santa you had been good & asked him to put one under your tree.
    Merry Christmas !!!

  4. I was delighted to finally experience some of the trails in the SE corner of Minnesota, awesome country! I don’t believe I’ve seen so many turkeys out in the wild struttin’ their stuff, probably saw 30-plus? 34 if I count the guys I was riding with. Lot’s of deer too. I found the small “fence bridges” interesting, had never seen those before. Was great to put some miles on in our home state even before Christmas!

  5. Hiawatha Sno Seekers had all their trails groomed if you could have dropped 15 minutes away in St. Charles or Dover. Scraped 3″ off my parents walk that fell Friday as we drove here but it’s really softened up and shrinking more today.

  6. Roy Campbell whose name is on the shelter grew up two farms away from and went to school with my uncles. He and his brother used to drive over to visit us every year when we were having our first coffee break at the trucks on deer opener. Nice guy.

  7. you crew sure looks like you have fun. took me a few stories before i realized you joke around so much. riding trips with friends are the best. sure enjoy reading about others until we have them ourselfs.

  8. Beards,sideburns,goggles,bush, poker runs and frontcoil springs all went out of style just like rain in December did long times ago!!! Hot dogs at the gas station are in!!!

  9. All right now here’s the real story, as far as those cat riders go if you show up wearing a ski doo suit driving a 800 pro s axys poo its as good as waving a green flag in front of them. Game on they gone.
    As the old man in the group chasing these pickles was fun when I could get a glimpse of them making snow dust thru the dales with the duct tape numbers on there backs 1 2 and 3 they did lead the race (I mean ride) most of the day. As we rode the big drifted ditches along the cty. rd I seen the power company installing line guards as big air Tommy was almost in arms reach of touching them a few times. As we touched down at a shelter I thought I heard Roger Skime reminiscing about I500 races from days gone by. (really) Thanks for the good times.


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