As usual, there have been too many snowmobiling deaths; some of these have been the result of speeding trees and, at least one, a speeding dock. A tree, traveling at even a mere 40 miles per hour, can inflict, at the least, severe damage to a sled and extreme pain (and damage) to it's rider. While trees may not be evil, they are solid, and should be avoided at all costs. Experienced riders know this, and have acquired the ability to stay out of their way (or they wouldn't have lived long enough to become experienced). The inexperienced rider, however, is in great danger. Fear of being left behind, or becoming lost, may cause them to try to keep up and ride beyond their ability- did any one warn them about speeding trees?
Guideline #1- Riding one-handed doesn't make it easier to steer around those trees. Telling oncoming sledders that you are first, second, third or last in your group is stupid. ALWAYS ride as if someone is coming from the other direction (because someone will be). Keep BOTH hands on the handle bar!
Guideline #2- when riding with a group (2 or more), NEVER make a turn at an intersectiion until the next rider in the group arrives AND SEES YOU! If it''s straight through the intersection, then you can keep going. This way, slower riders will feel safer and be willing to RIDE SLOWER, thus making it more difficult for speeding trees to hit them. (Oddly enough, a stationary sled wiill never be hit by a speeding tree!)
STAY ON THE TRAIL, STAY RIGHT and SLOW DOWN- three ways to live longer and gain the experience you need to challenge those trees!
Mike Schmid, 40-year rider and FAST Trail Coordinator