Photo by Tom Riley – AKA "Earlham"
Well another "Live on Skis" has come and gone. It was a little scary for us living in Southern Minnesota to see a single rain storm wash out the majority of our snow. A good many of us were concerned that International Falls and other locations may have lost a lot of snow as well.
Two locations were affected and had to postpone: Alliston, Ontario and Lapeer, Michigan. They have rescheduled for the 28th if this month. For everyone else, the event was a go.
I got to International Falls on Friday night, just in time for dinner with my dad, nephews and Doc Jim, amongst a whole bunch of vintage sledders. After several hours of HQBS (High Quality BS), it was off to bed.
Saturday morning breakfast was spent listening to all kinds of stories from Friday activities as well as catching up with Live on Skis friends I haven’t seen since last year.
By about 10:00 AM, all the DNR permits had been signed, people were suited up, sleds were gassed and everyone was ready to roll. I’d been really looking forward to this ride since it would be the first chance to ride a 1976 Starfire – and not just any Starfire! This one was originally raced in the stock classes from the factory by veteran Polaris racer Wes Pesek. Jim Haug did an outstanding job of restoring the sled, and even set it up much like Wes would have run it in the races back then.
I took it for a little "pre-flight" and was taken by how quick she took off the line for a 250. It’s fully studded and carbided, so on the first turn I got a little over confident with it, and nearly rolled it to the left when I went to turn. I was able to prevent that disaster and keep her going.
I’ll have a full story on this sled in a future post.
We lined up all the sleds on the front with this years dignitary: Aaron Johnson from Polaris driving his dad’s Mountaineer. Clearly it was the oldest sled there on Saturday. His co-pilot would be be my dad, Ronald L. Saurdiff. No one did an official count, but I think we had slightly more sleds than we did the prior year. They were lined up just as wide on the lake, but in many placed they were 3 and 4 deep!
The lake was pretty rough from thawing and un-freezing, so we stayed on trails the whole way. They had been groomed earlier in the day, so there were perfect.
The little 250 Starfire performed like a champ – with a top speed of about 65 mph. I did make a mental note that having a lot of carbide on the old sleds is not that easy to drive on a trail. But it also made it feel like I was in a race – which is just fine with me.
The total ride was about 35 miles, with a break in the middle for hot dogs and coffee provided by the local snowmobile trail association. However, a few riders got off on the wrong trail and got to the hot dog spot before the hot dogs! None the less, by the time the rest of the group got there, the hot dogs, coffee, cookies and chips were flowing, along with lots more HQBS.
Everyone was on their own to keep riding, or go back to hang out at the lodge. But a curious thing happened: Races broke out. On a makeshift drag strip in front of the lodge,
everyone kept trying out each others sleds (I rode my first Yamaha SRX, an RX-1 and a Bobcat). As David Johnson is fond of saying "snowmobile racing started when we built the second machine". When two machines found themselves side by side, a race was bound to happen. The racing continued till dark.
A new addition this year was the banquet room. A very nice facility where we could gather, eat and shoot the breeze.
I showed off some new features coming to the website in the very near future.
First is Google Search. I’ve licensed a Google search tool that will make everything on the site easy to find with a simple search.
Next is the new Archive section. Databased, organized and searchable, over 9 years of information on the site will be easily available from the new Archive section.
Last is a new section of the website called "MyGarage". In a nutshell, you’ll be able to have your own web page here on vintagesleds.com Share your collection, your projects, photos and stories with your buddies. We’ll have a link available soon so you can see the same demo Live on Skis attendees got to see.
A collection was taken up by Master of Ceremonies Jim Strandlund to help out with my trucks lost transmission. Just under $75 was collected. I’m going to throw in $25 and the whole amount will go to the Snowmobile Hall of Fame. We also collected money from the T-shirts (which sold well!) to go to the Make a Wish Foundation. I’ll have the total for that as soon as all the other events are over.
This was the first time the satellite events took place, and I think we’ll be doing a lot more with them in the future – it sure looks like they had a good time and that IS what it’s all about.