Table of Contents
Off-Trail Snowmobiling: Anyone Can Learn How!
The season’s first snowfall makes snowmobile enthusiasts crazy with joy. As they do every fall, they are preparing for a dream winter season. For some, it’s like hunting: once the season is over, they’re already preparing for the next one. With every inch of snow, snowmobilers become more and more impatient and excited for new adventures.
Snowmobiling is a very popular activity in Quebec. I am particularly passionate about off-trail riding. I am just a beginner when it comes to snowmobiling: I only discovered this activity last year. It’s really on a whim that I decided that I wanted to try it; but now, I can’t get enough! If you seek new adventures and thrills like me, and would like to know where to start, this article should be of great interest to you.
My philosophy is this: in life, when you want something, everything is possible. You just have to go for it and believe. Some will say that this winter sport is expensive, too physical or extremely dangerous. Others will judge you because you’re a woman or based on your physical stature – which I was.
I think the secret is to find people who are truly passionate. They are the ones who will give you the best advice, who will believe in you from the very beginning, and who will help you get out there, push your limits, and hold your head high. They will be proud of you with every accomplishment. I can tell you there is such a thing. I had the chance to meet some great people last winter, which made my experience one of the most wonderful. Off-trail snowmobiling is a whole world to itself. In the end, it’s like one big family. I find it important to listen to everyone’s stories and let them share their passion with us. It is also important to leave room for learning, to put your pride aside, and to keep smiling. In my opinion, being positive and not getting discouraged is the key to success.
Luckily, there are also off-trail riding guide companies. They will be able to accompany and coach you throughout your learning process, give you the best advice, and above all, be patient so that you have the best experience. They will know how to take you to beautiful places and make every moment unforgettable. Believe me, it’s hard not to love this sport, despite the challenges that you might encounter. It is even more pleasant to be in the company of people who know the territory: it allows us to concentrate on the most important thing…
Everything has its Beginning
Where to get started? Of course, like many, you dream of having your own snowmobile with matching equipment, and being able to control your machine like a pro. It’s all possible. Why not start with a budget? You could rent an off-trail snowmobile to try it out, and buy one afterwards if you feel like it. Like any sport, one ride is probably insufficient to know if you really like it. It’s best to start with mastering basic techniques on easy terrain before venturing into more extreme places. Remember that it takes experience to master a machine perfectly! When learning to ride an off-trail snowmobile, you need to know how it handles, but also how it works, at least the basics. I’ve learned everything from how to change the belt, how to fill up the oil if necessary, and how to make an emergency start. It’s all interesting and very practical.
As far as clothing is concerned, warm and safe clothing is necessary, at the very least. Of course, it’s important to know that when snowmobiling off-trail, you move around a lot; therefore, you must have breathable clothing. I recommend layering several layers of garments, which can be removed if necessary. In my opinion, Christmas is the ideal occasion to complete your set of equipment and save a little money.
A few tips for beginners!
The first step is very simple: know how to listen to yourself and recognize your limits. Indeed, you can’t learn everything in the first day, let alone execute jumps, pull tricks, and master your machine perfectly. Of course, you want a positive first experience, so you have to give yourself a chance. There is much to learn and experiment.
One very important thing I’ve been taught is to always look straight ahead. And by that, I don’t mean in front of your machine, but rather where you want to go. So don’t look at that tree you want to avoid, because you’ll head straight for it. In any case, I’m convinced that you’ll make the same mistake. Tell yourself that the good thing is that it makes for great stories. Yes, I’ve experienced that a few times.
As mentioned above, it’s ideal to practice with guides or with experienced and understanding people. By “understanding,” I mean people who remember that they, too, had to start somewhere.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to accept constructive criticism; the most important thing is to never give up. Keep in mind that you are learning. Not so long ago, I was that person, without a machine, without experience and without knowledge of off-trail riding, but who had an enormous taste for adventure. I wanted to be free, to take on new challenges and to visit those mysterious Chic-Chocs mountains. Since then, I have developed a deep love for off-trail snowmobiling, and this passion continues to grow.
I’d like to finish with a few other practical little tricks. Never venture out alone. Always keep a good distance with your hiking partner(s). It’s best to have a way to communicate easily between riders if there is a problem. Bring a survival kit: a shovel, a folding saw, an extra strap and gas, if possible. Oh, and a shovel!
Believe me: sometimes, often, even very often, all the time, you’re going to need to shovel when you first start. Basically, there hasn’t been a single ride where I haven’t had to shovel. It’s a great time to get to know each other and talk nonsense. You might occasionally run out of patience, but if you remember why you’re doing this sport, the frustration quickly fades away. You can even take this moment to admire the scenery!
One more important thing: don’t forget to bring some snacks. You’ll be spending a lot of energy, so you’ll need a fuel to keep your body going. Above all, listen to your body; it’s the boss.
Now It’s Your Turn!
In conclusion, I think that either you like off-trail riding or you don’t. It takes time and patience, but it all depends on your interests.
I just want to tell you to live your dreams to the fullest and enjoy every moment. And I almost forget: if you want to live the same kind of experience with off-road snowmobiling and visit our little corner of the country, this article could perhaps convince you: ”Two words: Extreme Chic-Chocs – Chicks and Machines”.
Two awesome women have experienced it. You will love it.