I have a hard time sitting still. And the shoulder seasons between mountain sleds and dirt bikes come with a massive learning curve in patience and preparedness. I forget things, machines aren’t ready to go, I put the wrong gas in my bike/sled, I never have the right tools — a whole pile of issues almost always arises during the first few rides and generally smooth themselves out quickly.
Rarely do serious situations of survival or injury come up, but they do. And when they do is not the time to be figuring out what to bring on your ride. My real-life example happened on a dirt bike this year, but it just as easily could have happened on a sled. Either way, it provided a valuable lesson.
During the second ride of my summer dirt bike season, I snapped my leg into three pieces on the wrong side of a mountain ridge from the truck. I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary — in fact, it was a very mellow after-work trail ride. Thankfully, this time my riding buddies and I were prepared to get me out quickly and comfortably (well, as comfortably as you can be with sticks taped to your leg).
I could have made shelter, a fire and signaled a rescue team with the survival essentials in my kit if need be. I even had food, water, cell phone service and the all-important insurance card. I wasn’t going to die, but I wanted to get off that mountain as soon as possible, so I rode out.
So, this fall before you get out on the first fresh dumping of snow, do this: pack an emergency medical and survival kit, invest in a satellite tracker device (SPOT) and don’t ride alone — even if it’s for a quickie. Your survival kit doesn’t have to be complicated and companies like Adventure Medical Kits (www.adventuremedicalkits.com) have decent models set up for you. Know what’s inside and understand how to use it. Shelter, fire, food, signaling and communication (if possible) are most important.
Don’t go blindly. Go ready to rip!
Editor’s Note: Ziegler is a Snow Goer test rider and self-proclaimed addict of momentum and anything that combines a frame, propulsion system and traction, and, of course, talking to people like he knows everything. He grew up in the mountain west and lives in Idaho.