Snowmobiling for Beginners
The world of snowmobiling offers fun and function for the winter riding season. From the speed and excitement of taking corners on snowy terrains to the enjoyment of taking a slower ride while surveying the majesty of a winter wonderland, this type of riding has plenty to offer for every preference once you learn the ropes. Here are the top tips on snowmobiling for beginners to get you started on this fun and functional riding machine.
Familiarize yourself with the machine: One of the best tips on snowmobiling for beginners is to get familiar with the machine before you go out on a ride. A snowmobile can be a fast-paced machine with the potential for accidents and flips so you need to know the right way to handle it. If you are brand new to this vehicle type, it would be worth the effort to take a class to familiarize yourself with riding. A class will teach you how to ride while in a safe environment with other beginners. You should also read the owner’s manual for your model to familiarize yourself with the specifics of the machine. When it comes to getting comfortable with the machine, riding it around on some flat, snowy ground at a slow speed is a great way to build up your confidence if classes aren’t an option for whatever reason.
Wear the right clothing/gear: When you ride a snowmobile, the clothing needs to be right for the environment. Since you will be riding in cold temperatures and damp, snowy conditions, the apparel you choose needs to be able to keep you dry, warm, and comfortable. For example, you will need to layer your clothing with the use of long johns or insulated underwear, a base layer to stay warm and trap in body heat, and water resistant outerwear to help keep you dry while protecting against winds. While keeping the body warm and dry is important, you shouldn’t neglect the other areas of your person. For example, you need footwear made for the conditions of this type of riding to keep feet warm and dry while providing proper traction in icy terrains. You will also need to protect your hands with gloves to stay warm and keep your hands useable during the ride. Finally, you will want a helmet and neck warmer to offer total coverage while adding safety in case of an accident.
Know basic safety tips: There are a few basic safety tips to know which will make the ride safer for you and others. For example, never place any limbs near the moving parts of the snowmobile to avoid injuries. You also want to avoid wearing a scarf because it could get stuck in the moving parts. Another tip is to never ride more people to a machine than what is suggested such as two people riding a single rider model or three people riding a double rider model. You should also wear reflective gear or avoiding riding in times of low visibility to avoid danger. It is also a good idea to take it slow when taking turns on a trail or when visibility is obstructed in any way.
Learn the basic rules of the “road”. Another important tip on snowmobiling for beginners is to learn that there are indeed rules of the road even though you are most likely riding over trails or open spaces. If you are doing designated trail riding, there will be signs posted regarding rules and speed limits which you should make every attempt to obey. These are some other important rules you need to know:
- Always ride to the right when on a trail.
- If you are riding on a snowmobile designated portion of a paved road, stay to the left.
- When crossing a road or driving near any pedestrians, stay at 10 MPH or less for safety reasons.
- Know the hand signals snowmobilers use to signal other snowmobilers. For example, you hold up the index finger to indicate there is another snowmobiler in the party and a closed fist signifies a party of one or the end of your party of riders.
- Watch out for wildlife on trails. If you hit a larger animal such as a deer, you will both be injured in the process.
Plan your ride/route/never ride alone: One of the best tips on snowmobiling for beginners is to plan your route before you ride. The great thing about snowmobiles is that they allow riders to access pretty remote areas with relative ease. While this is exciting and fun, it can quickly become a safety hazard, especially in such cold temperatures. It is important to know where you are going before you ride, how to get back, and most importantly, to communicate to someone else where you are going and when you will be back. Things can easily go wrong on a ride and lead to a life or death scenario all too often so these steps will give you a bit of a safety net.
Take special care when crossing waters: When you ride, the odds of coming up on bodies of water such as streams or even frozen bodies of water such as lakes or rivers is pretty common. Unfortunately, one of the leading causes of deaths for snowmobilers is drowning. You should never cross any body of water, frozen or not, until you know if it is safe to do so and remember “when in doubt, find a new route” as a motto. If you absolutely must cross over water on your snowmobile, try to stay on the water as short a distance as possible to get back to solid land. You should also be prepared for any ensuing emergencies involving this aspect of snowmobiling. Make sure you keep an ice pick on your person, not your machine. You can also wear what are called floater suits to help keep you afloat in case the water tries to take you under. It is also advisable to learn what to do in the event of an incident in terms of preventing hypothermia.