One of my missions as a Divas Snow Gear Ambassador is to promote the sport of snowmachining among women. You may find it curious then, that my first column is directed at men who are already involved in the sport. But bear with me. As an avid backcountry rider you can find me every weekend, and after a good snow dump during the week (playing hookie) in the hills of Petersville or Eureka. I ride an 800 Summit X with a 146” track and am obsessed with the possibility that this will be the day that I find the deepest, lightest, untouched powder. I spend most of my deposable income on all things associated with riding, and can be found in mid-June replaying previous years Go Pro video, reliving my best rides and preparing for winter.
How did this happen? How did a girl who wears designer jeans and carries a Coach purse end up as a complete and total snow addict? Here’s my story:
In 2001, I was a recently divorced single mom working as a pharmaceutical sales representative in Anchorage. I grew up going to friends’ cabins, riding trail sleds and being dragged behind said trail sleds holding on for dear life and loving every minute of it. I was born a motorhead. Neither of my parents had this affinity, so I am not sure where it came from, but nevertheless it was running in my veins. I decided that I needed to get back on a sled and purchased my first snowmachine, a 1998 Polaris 600 RMK with a 136” track. I didn’t have anything to pull my sled with, so being resourceful, I researched the towing capacity on my company Ford Taurus (I’m a rule breaker) and had a hitch installed. I then picked up a two-place trailer, loaded up my machine and was ready to go.
The next step was putting together a riding crew. When I reflect on what must have been the first impression to my future riding companions I have to laugh. Obviously I had determination based on the fact that I was pulling a two-place trailer with a four door sedan. Determination is a good thing in a riding partner. I was lucky enough to be friends with a group of guys who were experienced riders who decided to let me tag along. My first introduction to Petersville was filled with deep snow and views of Denali that were breathtaking. I was stuck more times then I can count, but the group I was riding with took this in stride and all pitched in to pull me out and get me back on the trail. I remember waking up on Monday with every muscle in my body screaming in pain and all I could think about was getting back to the snow and the mountains. Many of the people from this first adventure I am still riding with today, one of which has been my husband of 11 years.
My point is this: I am the rider that I am today, partially because of my own determination and partially because I had a few great guys who were willing to invest the time and energy needed to coach and train me. I often hear men say they only want to ride with other men because there aren’t any women who can ride like them. I am here to challenge that statement.
I am not saying this process is all sunshine and butterflies. In the beginning, my husband and I had plenty of less-than-optimal encounters with each other. He would start the day out saying if you’re not getting stuck you aren’t learning. I took that statement at face value and would always push myself to “grow” sometimes to excess, and often before he had a chance to catch his breath from digging me out of the previous tree well. Over time, I was stuck less and less and was able to perfect new riding techniques and tackle difficult terrain.
For the lucky few, those who put in the investment of time and energy, the benefit is this: Your riding crew consists of your best buddies and your … wife, girlfriend or lady of interest. The men I know that have gone through this process watch as their sweetie carves a line through the trees, sidehills like a pro, or jumps a ravine and they get to enjoy this experience together. Even better, at the end of the day when you crawl into your remote cabin bed you get to snuggle up next to someone who doesn’t smell like dirty socks and exhaust.
I have you interested, but how does a regular Joe find this elusive lady rider? My advice is to look for someone who is interested in the sport and invest the time needed to see them flourish. Think of this time as an investment that has the potential to pay significant dividends. Not small dividends, not medium dividends, I am talking HUGE dividends. My husband doesn’t worry about the money that he spends each season on sleds, gear and trailers. He doesn’t need a kitchen pass, a hall pass or whatever it is that husbands require to spend every weekend away from their wives. He knows that I will be right next to him researching new riding technology, places to ride and checking my weather app to get us to the best riding locations. Best of all we are making unforgetable memories together.
So, if you see a woman driving down the road in a four door sedan pulling a two-place snowmachine trailer, do not laugh and pull over to take a picture to post on Facebook. Follow that car and do everything in your power to introduce yourself. This just might be the woman who makes all your riding dreams come true.
Ladies, stay tuned for future topics to include purchasing a sled, female specific clothing and gear and an introduction to new riding techniques.
Iron Dog student program takes off with Ravn Alaska Next Post:
Be backcountry-ready to have safe fun