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Snow Near Metro Areas Energizes Snowmobiling Base

By John Prusak
metro riding

Good riding traditions near major metropolitan areas can bring many people back into the sport.

Virtually every snowmobile model built between 1992 and 2003 was on display in some form in the western suburbs of Minneapolis this past weekend, and we loved seeing every single one of them!

Like many parts of the country, February and early March were particularly snowy and cold here at the office of Snow Goer magazine in Minnesota’s Twin Cities metropolitan area – often referred to by the snowmobile manufacturers as the metro area with the most dense snowmobile ownership in North America.

The weather allowed the many fine snowmobile clubs that create and maintain the 1,067 miles of snowmobile trails found throughout the seven-county metropolitan area to get out and groom those trails for several consecutive weeks, creating excellent local riding conditions that haven’t existed here in more than five years.

In turn, that created the unofficial parade of semi-classic iron that we experienced this past weekend – and particularly on Sunday, March 10. From multiple XLTs to Formula 500s, “pogo-stick” wearing Vmax 500s to a rust-colored ZL 600 EFI SS and many, many Indy XCs, MXZs, EXTs, a couple of Mach Zs, Vmax 700 SXes, Indy Trails, ZR 440s and Formula IIIs, we saw it all, riding down the trails, parked outside of pitstops, in the ditches and along the frozen rivers. It was an amazing sight – and vitally important to the future of our sport.    

Re-Engaging A Subset

Many folks who subscribe to Snow Goer or hang out on this website are what snowmobile industry insiders refer to as the “enthusiast core.” They are the people who continue to buy new sleds, parts and/or riding gear, register snowmobiles annually, most-often belong to snowmobile clubs, trailer to the snow line in marginal snow years and get excited every spring when the next year’s sleds are unveiled.

If you are a part of this group, we on behalf of the industry thank you for your amazing dedication through some of the less-than-ideal winters that have occurred lately. Without you, our sport would quite literally be gone – and beyond that, we share your passion for our great sport and often see its members as we trailer our own sleds to the snowline!

There is a larger group out there, though, that is also vitally important to the long-term existence of trails and riding areas: they are the semi-engaged enthusiasts. You probably know a lot of them yourself – the folks who have sleds in their garage/shed/backyard/shop who, for whatever reason, don’t take the time to chase snowflakes like the rest of us. They likely have great memories of riding, but the memories are fading some as the sleds have been collecting dust.

On winters like this, those people (and their sleds) come out of the woodwork! With snow, snow and more snow falling all the time, they found themselves struck by how many other people were out riding locally and realized they were missing out on the fun. Suddenly carbs were getting cleaned, spark plugs replaced, fresh gas installed and thousands of those previously ignored sleds were everywhere on the trails on Sunday – a day after another 4-inch snowfall freshened the trails.

We weren’t the only ones who noticed the uptick in traffic: Today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper featured a very well-written and -researched article on what this excellent winter has meant to some local communities, businesses and riders.

Why It Matters

Some short-sighted super-enthusiasts may not have been as excited as we were to see all of that older iron on the trails this past weekend – trail conditions definitely reflected the high level of traffic, and the overall pace on the trails was somewhat slower than normal. Many of the sleds were also quite obviously being ridden by women and teenagers. 

However, there is power in numbers – having more engaged riders helps protect the trails and other infrastructure that this sport has; helps secure vital funding sources from government and private businesses; props up dealerships and parts-making companies who make our sport work; and drives innovation and product development on the manufacturer and aftermarket levels. Bottom line: We need all the riders we can get if we’re going to keep this thing going for future generations!  

So, give that driver on the Formula Z a friendly wave, tug on the ski of the Indy Classic rider who is stuck in the deep snow, or check to see if the guy with the hood up on the ZR 580 EFI needs any help. Keeping those people around – or, better yet, having them return to their former status as “enthusiast core” riders – is vital to the sport we all love.

Editor’s Note: Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door 6 times per year for a low cost.

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