November means a couple of things here at SnowTech. It means our next magazine of the season is in the mail. It also means the snowmobile season is now only about 30 days away. That isn’t a whole lot of time to get ready.
Here in Minnesota our dirt bike trails have closed (November 1st) as we clear out of the woods and let the deer hunters take their turn. The personal watercraft have been out of the water for about a month, and the bass fishing is coming to an end as well. The days warm enough to be on a street bike are also getting fewer and further between, but there are sometimes a couple of good days for a bike ride sometime in November.
This is when everyone gets their sleds pulled out of storage and everything gets prepped. Our new test sleds start to arrive at the dealerships, and when they begin to arrive at our facility we can start to compare them to the previous years and the prototypes we tested last spring. There are always changes, some things we know about and some things nobody bothered to mention. It is always curious to see what the surprises are. This year the big unknown would be the new sleds from Arctic Cat, being the newest and most-different machines for 2012. The pre-production sleds we tested were impressive, so we’re most anxious to see how the final product turns out.
Schedules also start to firm up. We never know for sure where we are going, but we figure out when we can get away. One has to chase the snow in this business, so we try to spend as much time closer to home as possible. Why drive 20 hours to ride when we can get to good snow in five hours? It is only logical. We tend to stay in the Midwest when we can, from the Dakotas through Minnesota and into Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (our favorite place to ride close to home).
It’s also time to get out the gear bags, making sure all of the gear is ready to go. New items are integrated into the rotation, some old worn items are replaced, some pulled from the bag that are no longer on our “A” list. One of the new items in the gear bag for 2012 is an insulated jacket from Klim called the Kinetic Parka. We’ve been wearing Klim non-insulated shells for many years, but there are days that getting enough fleece inside of the shell gets to be a challenge. The new Kinetic insulated parka was a welcome addition, along with a pair of insulated “Keweenaw” bibs. We had the chance to try this new gear out late last season and found it to fill the void we had in breathable gear. Good stuff.
About all we have to do now is wait for the calendar to say December and get some cold temps to freeze up the ground and the sloughs, then let it snow. The winter of 2011-2012 consists of 17 full weeks and one partial (from December 1-March 31) so there should be plenty of good riding opportunities. Snowmobilers are eternal optimists – we never give up hoping for good snow, good trails, and good rides. Better get ready.