September 19th, 2017

How to Make Your First Ride of the Winter More Wheelie and Less Bad Feely

What could possibly make your first ride of the winter suck? Surely you’ve been dreaming about getting out on snow for months, so it’s hard to imagine what could come between you and a good time? Well, how about feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck by 2pm? That’s what it’s going to feel like the first time you call upon muscles that haven’t been used in months.


Everything Hurts

I know that it’s going to hurt because I’ve rocked into a sled season with little-to-no preparation before. But more recently, I was treated to a fresh reminder of that pain: a warning shot over the bumper if you will. It came in the form of a mid-September, weekend-long hockey tournament. Hockey, like sledding, requires the use of muscles that aren’t usually stressed under normal, everyday circumstances. Certainly not sitting at a desk at work like I—and many other sledders—do all summer.

It started to hurt midway through the second period. My legs started to feel like jello. Soon my hip flexors became marginally operational. And a fire spread through my lungs. By the end of the game I was pooched, but the worst was yet to come.


first ride of the winter

Uh oh, there goes my left groin. Annnddd, there goes the other one.


Over the next two days (and three more games), it all got worse. EVERYTHING hurt. Like everything. Shoulders, neck, back and quads. I was popping pain killers like candy. I couldn’t stay awake in the evening but it was hard to get comfortable enough in bed to sleep at night. Getting out of bed in the morning was a major struggle. Driving to work it was difficult and painful to lift my leg to depress the clutch in the car. You get the idea.


How to Make Your First Ride of the Winter Not Suck

Mountain sledding isn’t easy on the body; it places a lot of stress on your muscles and joints. Prepping those tissues beforehand will ready your body for the rigors of sledding in the mountains. Not only will your fatigue and discomfort be reduced, but you’ll also be less likely to wind up with an injury.


first ride

Flicking your 500lb mountain sled ain’t like opening a jar of pickles. Everyday activity isn’t enough to prepare you for your first ride of the winter.


Maybe you’ll only do one day your first time out, so your suffering will be brief. But if you’re planning a multi-day trip, your riding enjoyment could be seriously impacted by soreness on the latter days if your body is unprepared. Don’t let this happen to you on your first ride of the season!


More Wheelie and Less Bad Feely

The good news is that the pain that comes with your first ride is preventable, and it won’t take much. Do a couple of days at the gym. Lift some weights and practice some of the movements you’ll make sledding. Motions like squats, lunges, trunk twists, chest flyes and the like. Get the pain out of the way before you hit the trails. That way when you do get on snow, you’ll feel good all day, and you won’t pay for it for the rest of the week. You’ll be glad you did when your pals are tuckered out early but you’ve got the stamina to keep riding.


A little preparation will have you ripping around like a crazy fool on your first day.

A little preparation will have you ripping around like a crazy fool on your first day, no problem! Incredibly In-shape Athlete: Aaron Bernasconi  Photo: Patrick Garbutt


You’ve already been waiting for months for your first sled trip, so why not use that time wisely; make sure that you get the most of our your first ride of the winter.


Read more “first ride of the winter” stories here.


— Pat