Once a person gets over their distaste for winter weather conditions, operating a snowmobile can be an addictive winter sport. Being in the wide-open landscape that is covered by a fresh coating of white, pristine powder can be breathtaking and even enthralling for first-time snowmobilers. It is also a great way for families to spend time together while remaining active during the winter months instead of gathering around the television for a few hours every night. After learning the basics of operating a snowmobile, conquering the white blanket of fresh snow will be an exhilarating activity that families and friends will undoubtedly cherish together.
The first thing to always remember is to wear your safety gear before operating your snowmobile. Safety equipment consists of a regulation helmet and a pair of goggles designed for cold weather activities. It is important to make sure this equipment is fastened correctly or else it could cause problems during the snowmobiling excursion. It is also a good idea to wear a snowmobile suit that is specifically designed to protect the body from the frigid elements of winter – such as a waterproof inner lining – so snowmobile riders do not suffer from a case of hypothermia. A good pair of gloves is also vital because the hands will be controlling most of the actions of the machinery. Cold hands do not make for quick reactions, so winter gloves are an absolute essential.
Next, get comfortable with the machinery. Sit on it, move around, and get familiar with the feel of the snowmobile’s intricate details. Find the right distance on the seat so that the handlebars are within an acceptable reach from your body. Stretching to reach the handlebars is not an effective method and neither is sitting too close so that you are scrunched up against them. Keeping the handlebars at arm’s length, as long as it is a comfortable distance, is ideal. Also, place your feet in the stirrups that sit on the front lower area of the snowmobile. Get the feel for the stirrups and do not take your feet out of them when you are snowmobiling. They are designed to help you stay in control of the machinery when you make sharp turns on the snowy terrain.
On the handlebars, find the throttle. This will typically be a lever that is on the right side of the snowmobile’s handlebar. Use your thumb to control the throttle, which negotiates the amount of speed desired. Similarly, on the left, you will generally find the brake lever on the handlebar. It does not take much pressure to pull the brake lever in order to slow down your snowmobile. For rides on softer and less compact snow trails, releasing pressure from the throttle will slow your snowmobile quickly. On more compact and smoother snow trails, however, you will need to apply pressure to the brake lever to achieve a stop. On ice, as you would in a vehicle, pumping the brakes by applying and releasing pressure on the brake lever will result in a smoother and typically safer stop on a snowmobile.
Now that you have found the throttle and the brake (the two most important parts of any vehicle), you are ready to begin moving. To do this, apply pressure to the throttle. Apply ample pressure to slightly rev the snowmobile’s engine until it begins to move. As you move forward, turn the handlebars into the direction you want to travel. When making a sharper and faster turn, it is best to lean into the turn. For instance, if you are making a sharp right turn, lean your body to the right without removing your feet from the stirrups. The stirrups help to stabilize your body while helping to prevent the rider from slipping off of the machine. For beginners, ride your snowmobile on the trails that have been packed and already traveled until you get the feel for snowmobiling. Veering off into unpacked snow might get your stuck or even cause an accident with another snowmobiler.
Following these basic steps is essential for first-time and inexperienced snowmobilers to successfully practice this fun winter sport. As always, safety is the first issue to be addressed before operating any machinery. But above the safety precautions, knowing how to turn and lean into a turn is important for operating any snowmobile safely. Once learned, it will most likely be a winter pastime that will be enjoyed for many frigid seasons to come.