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Winter: The Season For Safe Snowmobiling!

Aug 17, 2007
Winter is quickly approaching, and thousands of people worldwide are excited about the upcoming opportunity to go snowmobiling. If you have never tried this exciting winter sport, perhaps this is the year that you will.

As with all sports associated with the cold and snowy season, there are certain risks involved in snowmobiling. But if you take the time to learn how to do it, and are content to gradually master it, you will find that it is one of the more enjoyable activities that take place during this season.

Riding a snowmobile is no different than riding a motorcycle - except, of course, you have skis instead of wheels. You may think that snow would be softer than asphalt should you fall off, but the packed trail and ice can leave you with bruises. Make sure that you wear your helmet and always secure the strap under your chin for a snug fit. The helmet shouldn't be so loose that you can wiggle it on your head, but it shouldn't be so tight that it is comfortable.

Next, sit down on the sled. The best way to figure out how far from the handle bars you should be is to close your eyes and raise your hands. Bring them down slowly; if they fall naturally onto the grips, then you have the proper distance. You should be comfortable enough that you are neither over-reaching or feeling cramped.

Next, place your feet under the stirrups located on the lower front section of the vehicle. Having your feet in this secured position will allow you better control on the turns and help to keep you on the sled. Now go ahead and turn that engine on!

After you have properly positioned yourself on the machine, find the throttle. It will be on the right side of the handlebar. You will be able to control the speed of the snowmobile by using the thumb on your right hand. Of course, just as you want to go, you'll eventually want to stop. You will be able to achieve this by using the brake lever, located on the left side of the handlebar.

It is helpful to know that stopping on hard-packed, more solid snow is more difficult than lighter, softer snow. Just as you do while driving a car on ice, gently pump your brakes. Be sure to give the motor a good amount of gas to get moving. From that point on, control the snowmobile in much the same way that you would command a bicycle.

Use your handlebars to move left and right, keeping in mind that the ease with which you turn is based primarily on the speed at which you are traveling. Turns are always easier when moving at a higher speed. Remember to always lean to the inside of a turn, as this will help the sled stay on both skis.

There is a saying among bikers: "There are those who have fallen and those who are just waiting to take a fall." In other words, everyone, at some point, takes a spill and the same applied to snowmobilers. Keep in mind that falling off will happen sooner or later. You shouldn't preoccupy yourself with the event of this happening, you simply want to be prepared in the event that it does.

Don't fight falling; the more relaxed you are, the better your chances are of coming out of the accident uninjured. Take your time and gradually work up to higher speeds. As with any outdoor sport, know your limits and don't do more than you feel you are capable of.

Keep your eyes open (and of course alcohol and any motorized vehicle do not mix!) and watch out for other snowmobilers. Maintain a distance of at least 150 feet between you and other riders. If you follow these steps, you should have an enjoyable experience this winter.
About the Author
John Edmond runs and writes regularly for Living And Camping Outdoors where you can find more articles on snowmobiling and outdoor fun. Also go to All Year Camping for more ideas on all year camping and much more.
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