Why Backcountry Freestyle Snowmobiling Didn't Exist 20 Years Ago
Freestyle riding has its roots firmly planted with the flat-brim wearing, ramp-to-ramp dirt bike scene. In recent years however, we have seen amazing progression as it crosses over to backcountry freestyle sledding. Today, natural booters and wind lips form launch pads for stunts that, until recently, could only be imagined on dirt bikes—let alone snowmobiles in the backcountry.
We are now seeing backflips over gaps that only the most hardcore would have even considered straight-airing just a few short years ago. This got us thinking; why wasn’t this done before? Clearly it’s not a bravery issue, as we’ve seen huge airs and massive cliff drops going a long way back. Sp with that in mind, here is a rundown of how today’s backcountry freestyle might have gone down back when mountain riding was in its infancy…
Why Backcountry Freestyle Snowmobiling Didn’t Exist 20 Years Ago
Get out of bed and crank up some ZZ Top while you throw a few pop tarts in the toaster oven. You’re a champion and deserve a champion’s breakfast. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are good enough a few times too—positive affirmation is a lost art.
Turn on the television and hope to catch the weather at the bottom of the hour. In the pre-internet days, you missed out on luxuries like instant weather forecasts on a pocket computer; if the weatherman was going to be wrong you had to wait hours to find out.
Head out in the cold and start your truck—yes manually, no push button remotes here. If you want your vehicle warmed up, then it’s either you or your spouse going outside to do it, and I’m pretty sure we all know the answer if you wake your spouse up and tell them to do it.
Arrive at your buddy Dave’s house right on time and start banging on his door to wake him up (because he partied half the night). Again, no cell phones, so no texts to know what was going on. The last time you talked to him was two days ago when you made this 5:00 a.m. plan.
Start the 4-hour drive to sledding paradise over an hour late because your dumbazz friend wasn’t ready to go, as usual. The drive takes about twice as long as it will in 2018, as driving is done at a much less hectic pace—because your brand new state-of-the-art Ford 7.3 Powerstroke was pushing out about 185 raging horsepowers and reaching speeds of up to 80km/h on the downhill sections of your drive.
The brand new Alpine reversible cassette deck you chopped a hole in your dash to install decides to eat your Billy Idol mix tape, putting an end to the Rebel Yell screaming out of your 6×9 speakers. Nothing but empty radio static for the rest of the drive and now you have to listen to Dave snore.
Pull in to the parking lot to wake up Dave and unload. You notice all of the already empty trucks and trailers belonging to other riders who obviously have friends who don’t sleep in. Dave cracks open his first beer.
After unloading, you lose another hour reading barometric pressure and temperature charts along with some topographic maps in order to have the necessary information required to read your jetting chart and clutch charts. Dave opens his 3rd beer.
You have your machine finely tuned and it is time to head up the trail to the mountain. You lead the way because you’ve got the giant 141” track on your machine while Dave struggles to follow with his 136”.
You stop digging long enough to eat a cold gas station sandwich. As the dry, yellow mustard-stained bread crumbles all over the front of your jacket you briefly think, “wouldn’t it be cool if we had some kind of a pot mounted on the muffler that we could use to heat up lunch?” Nah, that idea will never takeoff. Dave cracks open a beer.
Struggle to stand up as your wet, heavy cotton and down-filled gear has frozen solid while you sat. Maybe one day someone will invent a material that wicks moisture and keeps you warm?
You finally make it to the gap that you are going to attempt to backflip. Another 45 minutes pass by while you break trail up to the top of it.
Dave is sitting at the bottom, ready for action, beer in hand. You try to envision the jump in your head; you’re good enough, you’re smart enough and doggone it, people like you.
You hit the ramp as fast as your sled will take you and immediately pull back on the bars, stretching to look around the rotation and spot your landing. At this point you realize that rider-forward sleds with a centralized mass would rotate much easier than this nose-heavy tub you are riding.
You also realize you have not been able to get enough speed through the powder to actually clear the gap. Houston we have a problem.
Your valiant efforts will be rewarded with a solid 270 degrees of rotation—just enough to turn you and your sled into a 750lb lawn dart. Time to eject. The world goes dark.
You awaken from your impact-induced nap with absolutely no idea where you are or why there’s a drunk guy standing over you laughing. Dave can’t breathe through his tears of laughter.
Dave finishes describing the incredible failed stunt to you, ending the story with “MAN, I WISH I HAD A CAMERA!”
With your head still ringing with what is most likely a concussion, you begin working your way back to the truck. On the way down you melt a hole in the top of your piston and weld your engine solid because the temperature has dropped ten degrees and you didn’t rejet.
Dave finishes towing you to the parking lot. Between Dave’s beer, your shot to the head and the lack of video equipment, there is not a person on this planet who knows exactly what happened.
You arrive home and tell the whole story with great embellishment—to your dog. There’s no social media to brag on yet, remember?
You drag yourself to bed. Your life, like your backflip attempt, is one of misery and failure. Tomorrow is Monday and it’s back to work to pay for the parts you now have to order. Maybe you should wait a few years before trying that again.