Happy mid-January. It’s hard to believe we’re already two weeks into the new year. The snowmobile season has gotten off to a slow start for many parts of the Snowbelt, but here are some snowmobile-related things I’ve experienced, seen and noted in the past five days:

  • Snocross Make-A-Wish
    This 14-year-old’s wish came true last week when he got to hang out with snocross legend Tucker Hibbert.

    I witnessed a 14-year-old kid have his wish come true. The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Arctic Cat and Tucker Hibbert made last Thursday the “best day in a long time,” Nicklas Kraml said, after they presented the leukemia patient with an all-access tour of Hibbert’s race trailer and the keys to a 2015 Arctic Cat ZR 6000 Tucker Hibbert RR snowmobile. And then the two went outside and turned a few laps on the racetrack at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota, the site of this past weekend’s championship snocross race.

  • Arrowhead Trail
    I rode through this awesome stretch of the Arrowhead Trail. This photograph was taken a few miles south of Orr, Minnesota.

    I had a wish come true, too. I took Friday off of work and headed to far northern Minnesota with my buddies John and Jeremy to ride all weekend. We hit the trail at about 7:00 pm on Friday and made the 100-mile trek from near Tower, Minnesota, and rode to Lake Kabetogama along the Minnesota/Canadian border. The air temperature was minus 10 degrees F when we started the ride.

  • Ash-Ka-Nam fire
    The Ash-Ka-Nam Resort restaurant was a popular stop for snowmobilers.

    Saturday we tooled around the trails near International Falls with a few other friends and visited the site of the Ash-Ka-Nam Resort restaurant that burned last week – this was one of my favorite trailside stops. Fortunately nobody was hurt, and reports say that the restaurant will be rebuilt.

  • Sunday we saddled up at 9:00 am and headed south toward the truck. With the air even colder than it was Friday evening, I was extra thankful to have a tall and wide windshield on our Polaris 800 Rush demo. Widespread, good snowcover has been hard to find this winter, but we definitely rode on some good stuff this past weekend, and we pretty much had the trails to ourselves.
  • With nearly 500 miles on our 2015 Polaris 800 Rush Pro-S demo, it’s averaging a hair over 13 mpg.
  • Power is really, really strong from the new Polaris 800 H.O. engine. The power wheelies when coming out of corners are quite fun and it’s easy to lighten the skis and skim over bumps.
  • Arrowhead Trail swamp
    After missing a turn at a trail intersection and ending up off course Sunday, I used the Rush gauge’s built-in GPS function to confidently lead our trio back to the Arrowhead Trail.

    I dealt with some inside ski lift from our Rush Pro-S during Friday night’s ride. Saturday I stiffened up the ski-shock springs to help reduce the body roll, but that also made the front end less compliant over the bumps. For now, I’m thinking a slightly stiffer sway bar would be the answer. Conversely, my friend John, who’s 10 inches taller and weighs about 80 pounds more than me, enthusiastically said the sled cornered for him without any ski lift.

  • The Rush’s Pro-XC skidframe worked really well over a 2-mile-long hard, nasty, choppy section, except that it kicked me and bounced my butt off of the seat three or four times when the track/suspension hit some holes. Shock rebound damping probably needs some fine-tuning.

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