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HomeFeaturesTrailside Chatter #1: Making Plans

Trailside Chatter #1: Making Plans

The thoughtful feedback and comments I get from you guys is one of my favorite things about this website. Beginning this week I’m going to post semi-regular questions that swirl around in my brain.

Snowmobile Incite #1: Making plans


That was how many minutes until the first cross-country race of the season, from the moment that my son Calvin asked the question recently.

He was sort-of joking when he asked the question, but he was dead-serious about his anticipation of going and competing there. He was making plans.

So I pulled the USXC schedule up on the iPad, grabbed the family calendar off the refrigerator, did the math and got the answer.

With the calendar in front of us, I started writing down our plans for the winter. First came the USXC races, followed by other A-list events: SHOF/Ride with the Champs weekend; Waconia Ride-In; Duluth and Canterbury snocross races.

Wow, that consumed a lot of the available weekends!

As the available days dwindled, the possibilities expanded: A family snowmobile trip to the cabin over New Years; one of the F.H.U.C.-S.T.I.C piston burners or races; a bushwhacking trip from Thief River Falls to Grand Rapids, Minn.; a two day up-and-back saddlebag ride to Brainerd, Minn.

And then the biggie that’s tugged at my imagination all summer and fall: a saddlebag trip around Lake Superior.

Thirty minutes into this exercise, Cal had moved on to other things. But I was full-throttle into thinking about stuff I wanted to do this winter.

There were the regular Wednesday night rides with my neighborhood friends, the Thomas Sno-Sports Demo Day; and long talked about family trip to West Yellowstone.

Every weekend from December through March was accounted for, and then some.

I sat for 10 minutes, staring at the heavily penciled calendar and thinking about all the great snowmobile experiences on tap for this winter.

For sure we’ll push some of these plans to next year’s calendar, or the one after that, the casualties of too little time and resources. But we will definitely make good on enough of these plan to satisfy our souls.  

Those are my plans for this winter, and now I want to know about yours.

This week’s Trailside Chatter asks, what are your plans for this winter? What’s on your wish-list?

I have a lot of plans for group snowmobile rides.



  1. A New Year’s ride in the Keweenaw; Eagle River; maybe Alex; a President’s Day weekend trip to the eastern U.P.; and mixing the weekends with some riding with family and friends – probably mixing on/off trail about 50/50.

  2. Continue reading Arctic Insider everyday, I am in same spot as Shawson, riding as much as the job and snow will let me, trying to get a few friends together to ride the Gaspe peninsula in Canada. My snowmobile bucket list includes, a visit to the Arctic Cat factory, meet John, meet Jim Dimmerman, maybe he will let me sit on his Phantom and pretend to be a oval racer,LOL ! Jim has always been my Arctic legend, a visit to Eagle river for the world championship, SHOF/Hall of fame ride with the champs, go to a snocross race and cheer for Tucker, attend a usxc race. Spend a spring day ride with John and his buddies as long as they don’t mind an old easterner tagging along. As much as I love northern Maine, my love of racing makes me want to move to your part of the world. All Arctic Insiders are invited to come and explore my part of the snowmobile world !

  3. Hi John,

    My friend Greg and I will be making the trip from Ontario to join the SHOF Ride with the champs.

    Looking forward to meeting some more vintage sled heads.



  4. My plan is to get out and ride like I have in previous years…2 to 3 days a week. While a lot of my rides are planned on short notice and even spur of the moment several multi day/saddlebags trips in Manitoba and Ontario requiring some advance planning will be in the mix too. One of those saddlebag rides is already in the planning stages…3 day 650 mile Ontario ride mid February riding out of Kenora heading to Dryden, Sioux Lookout, Ignace, Atikokan, Fort Frances, Nestor Falls, Sioux Narrows and back to Kenora.

  5. Attend Duluth National (20th year for me)
    Race USXC – Pine Lake, DL, Park Rapids, I-500, TRF 300
    Race Local – The Jack Race, Clear Lake Iowa
    Cabin Trip with family in March

  6. John….The World Snowmobile Expo will be held March 13-15, 2015 in beautiful West Yellowstone, MT. This is truly an event not to be missed !
    Our WSVSA Vintage snowmobile event will be held again in conjunction with Expo this year. This weekend is very exciting as the weekend brings racing, 2016 sleds, a huge vintage show and racing etc all together. Of all the events I have ever attended, this is by far my favorite. The riding is world class with the weather in March typically being “spring like” A great family event in a beautiful place…Hope to see some Cat fans there !!!!
    More info can be found here:

  7. A lot of the things I want to do this winter mirror what others are saying…I am going to go to at least a few ISOC Snocross races where I can yell and scream for my favorite drivers and teams. I’m going to compete in the Winnipeg-to-Willmar I-500 just because it is too darn tempting not too. I’m going to ride my new Arctic Cat as much as possible on long and short rides. I’m going to save some dates too to get out with friends/family where we can ride our old El Tigres, ZR’s and Bravos. Something new that I am determined to try this year is to take a day and see what it is like to ride snowmobile as deep into the Twin City metro area as the trails can take us. I have spent decades heading out away from the city as far as possible and I feel like there is lots to discover in a place that I have previously always avoided. Just two winters ago some of us in Minnesota were able to say that we rode snowmobile from late November well into April…that is 6 months! Lets see how close to that we can get this season!

  8. It’s funny that you should post this today. Last night I made out a calendar for the 2015 season. Our schedule has opened up on January 23-25. This means that some friends and I will be riding a few Minnesota Icons in the WOBLE this year!

  9. Greg and John,

    My wife and I would be happy to take you through the white earth state forest, and into Itasca park, just let me know when we are going…. We can leave right from my house, it’s on the trail….

  10. Pretty much ditto to what Rusty said.. Hit every snowmobile race I can and put on as many miles as the snow and job will be kind enough to allow. Plus show my friends on all the other brands what an 800 cat will do. Been a lot of chirping from my friends all summer. I stay humble of course…

  11. Pretty much ditto to what Rusty said.. Hit every snowmobile race I can and put on as many miles as the snow and job will be kind enough to allow. Plus show my friends on all the other brands what an 800 cat will do. Been a lot of chirping from my friends all summer. I stay humble of course…

  12. To start the season our annual trip up to the Arctic Cat factory to take the tour,lunch at D’s Kitchen and mill around town/area for the day.Duluth Sno-x opener (have not missed one since 93) and Canterbury.Seeing I am off all winter I will be doing many rides out of my house with friends and family,several trips up to Orr Mn where we do alot of our riding.A ride out of the house up into Wisconsin with John and whomever else joins in and would also like to go up to watch some of the I 500.

  13. All great stuff here everyone, thanks for sharing.

    Sounds like we need to have an ArcticInsider group ride of sorts! Greg Spaulding and I will host it, anyone who wants can join us.

    (Warning though, Greg rides damn fast and I stop a lot to shoot pictures.)


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