On Saturday, February 16th, Mookie Brown, The Gerbil, and I met up for a ride in the Alexandria Minnesota area. Friday night involved getting the 400 dialed in for Mookie to ride, and tuning Gerbil's archaic Ski Doo clutches into something rideable. Saturday morning dawned with bluebird skies, and temperatures soaring into the 20's. We started out the day at my house, where Gerbil was excited to install his new fishbones before we took off.
After we suited up, Mookie Brown couldn't be contained, and he was already demonstrating his ultra-aggressive riding style in my backyard:
We headed northwest on the railroad bed trail where we found sufficient snow on the trail and even some decent depth offtrail:
Near Brandon, we spotted a nice little venue on the shore of Nelson Lake for a little photo shoot. Nelson Lake used to be the home of a radar run, but allegedly it's been cancelled recently because of too much public drunkenness in previous years. If that's the new standard in the Brandon area, I don't think there will be ANY public events held in the future. Notice what artistic photographers we are, using an old dead log as a point of interest. Don't worry that it usually covers up the rider, it's the artistic value that counts:
We stopped at Bob's in Brandon to fill up with gas, and eat some greasy deepfried delights from the mini-deli. Heading south out of Brandon, we sampled some offtrail snow near the freeway. I looked across the field at Mookie and Gerbil, and all I saw was a SkiDoo lying on its side. A few seconds later, I saw an arm wildly waving from underneath the Ski Doo. I pinched my flipper and hauled ass over there to see what was going on. The Gerbil had been sidehilling on some ridge and lost it. Somehow he'd gotten pinned under the sled, and the throttle was revving instead of idling. I hit the killswitch and lifted up the sled and Gerbil was free. The only casualty of this incident was The Gerbil's jacket:
We continued on through the ditches which were definitely hit and miss for snow conditions. Deep snow and big drifts were mixed with areas of rock hard finger drifts and icy snow that could challenge the finest sled suspension. We rode a bit more until we spotted some good riding out on a lake. Deep snow on one shoreline, and high ridges on the other, made for a good variety of riding, and enough terrain to keep us busy for hours. We'll have to refer to this area as Lake "X" or "Area Lake" to keep the tourists from finding it. We climbed some ridges and relentlessly beat on the sleds, waiting for another rider to show up:
Eventually, Cornfedd showed up. He quickly showed why his sled looks like that, by burying it on a technical climb. Cornfedd digs out, while Gerbil practices goosestepping on top of the ridge:
We kept relentlessly beating the sleds with horrible landings, and difficult climbs, but our semi-vintage iron kept right on going without complaint:
Eventually the weather changed, and we lost our sun, but we kept riding on "Area Lake" for a little while. The Gerbil didn't make the summit on one climb here, and the Ski Don't is rolling toward him for the second time that afternoon. In the next photo, you see Gerbil and his sled have both slid to the bottom, while Mookie on the 400 makes the top:
We moved on after we'd pretty much tracked everything up. We headed toward the Ski Hill to try out some of our favorite areas over there. Snow coverage on the best hills was pretty lame, so we headed toward some other big cornice areas. On the way, Mookie had some ratcheting problems with the 400. We stopped to tighten the track and I noticed one of the front suspension mounting bolts had come out. Luckily it was still sitting on the running board: imagine that! Since the driftbusting area we were at also held disappointing quantities of snow, we shoddily replaced the bolt with a Leatherman, and proceeded to limp our way toward the Holmes City shop. With real tools available, the suspension bolt was properly replaced and the 400 was ready to rage on. It turned out to be about an 80 mile day, and good times were enjoyed by all.