How to Measure Your Dedication to Sledding
Sure, we all wish we could ride more. But sometimes life happens and the only shredding you get to do is on your social media feed, where it seems everyone else is posting clips of riding endless powder alongside captions like: “My 187th day of riding this season!”
Have you ever felt those pangs of jealous? Or worse, feelings of guilt? Like is it even worth it? Just how dedicated to sledding are you?
We’ve all been there.
I have been riding long enough to go through a few ups and down of riding free time. There have been seasons when I rode close to every weekend. I have also had seasons when the sled has only come out once or twice, as the calendar ticked by at an alarming rate.
At low points, I’ve sometimes questioned my own dedication to riding. If I love sledding so much, why aren’t I riding more??
The question then, is how much riding is enough to make your investment in sleds and gear worthwhile? And how do we measure that?
How Much Riding Do You Do?
There are basically two metrics that can be used to measure the amount of riding you do:
(1) the actual mileage accrued in a season, and
(2) the number of days on snow.
It’s important to note that these two measurements are not necessarily closely linked.
I’ve been on long access trails into the mountains, where I’ve packed extra fuel and put on over 100 km in a day just getting to and from the mountain—in addition to actual mountain riding once I’m there.
On the other end of the spectrum, I have had deep days where we have been out of gas, daylight and energy and still been basically within sight of the staging area.
This suggests to me that distance travelled as a measure of how much riding I packed into season is somewhat meaningless.
As for someone trying to justify the cost of our chosen sport, one methodology is to look at the investment per mile (or kilometer) ridden over the course of a season. First of all, I would like to emphasize that this is a HORRIBLE idea. Do not ever do this calculation unless you are into some kind of sick self-torture. If you divide your costs by your actual mileage you will come up with a price somewhere between running a jet fighter and renting the space shuttle. Seriously, a ride to space with Bezos will probably cost you less per mile.
So unless you’re exclusively riding trails, it’s best just to forget about mileage as a way to measure how much riding you’re doing.
Number of Days on Snow
How many rides you get in seems like a truer reflection of how much one rides, since it removes the difference between the all day trail rider and the bottomless powder mountain rider.
So, how many days is enough? Well, if your riding season runs mid-November to mid-April then you have somewhere around 20 weeks of riding season. Of course this can be stretched on either end depending on how willing you are to work for the snow, but this is a reasonable season for most riders.
If you get out once every weekend that’s 20 rides. If you get out for both days on each weekend that’s 40 days on the snow. If you can only get out once every second week, that’s 10 rides a season. When we look at it this way, it becomes clear that the guys riding 100+ days a year do not work a typical 9-to-5 schedule!
Again, however, this measurement is not perfect. I have diehard sledder friends who live in states and provinces that have no mountains and (often) no snow. For them, a ride means loading up and travelling somewhere between 12 and 20 hours to hit the white gold. These guys might only make one trip with a few of days of riding per year. Does that make them any less dedicated? Not really.
What Makes a Dedicated Sledder?
What about the guy who can recite every spec on every new model, watches every video, follows all of the aftermarket innovations and dreams of making it to the mountains one day to ride. Are they a dedicated sledder? Of course!
And what about the vintage sled collector who’s been hoarding sleds in a barn since 1972. None of them probably even run, but he knows what he’s got! Dedicated.
The only truth here is that we sledders tend to be an enthusiastic and devoted bunch, researching new models and trends, watching videos, reading product tests and reviews, talking shop online, tuning, polishing—the list of ways we enjoy our sport goes well beyond a simple measurement of seat time.
So whether a rider gets out once a year or every day of the season, remember that being a dedicated sledder is always worth it, whatever your budget and mileage may be.