The strangeness of life never ceases to amaze me. As I sit and write this, we are preparing for a massive snowstorm. I can hear the wind blowing outside and there is a bit of a chill in my basement office, but that’s not all that strange given it’s winter in North Dakota. What is strange is that a trail sled is sitting on a trailer in my back yard. Stranger still is how it ended up there.
As many of you know, the last three seasons I have experimented with cross country racing. I dipped my toe in the water in 2008 by entering a couple of races and proving to myself that it looks a lot easier than it really is. That experience set the stage for being bit by The Bug that I’ve heard people talk about in racing circles for years.
In 2009 I got serious, meaning I got off my fat butt, worked out a little bit, bought a dedicated sled (2009 Yamaha Phazer RTX) and went cross country racing pretty much full time. I mostly abandoned “trail riding.” Cross country racers don’t “trail ride” they “test.” What’s the difference? Well, apart from a slightly quickened pace and the fact that one might have a different set of clutch weights installed, not a heck of a lot, at least from my experience. I suppose we could call it “training,” but that sounds a bit too much like we should be wearing a color coordinated track suit and have a Nike shoe contract.
2010 was basically a repeat of ’09, except I started racing an Arctic Cat Sno Pro 500, along with 1.2 million other cross country racers. OK, I exaggerate, but there were A LOT of Sno Pros running around the north woods last season with numbers on the side.
Well, in my spare time (insert pathetic laughter) I like to build houses and my wife and I decided that we would like to embark on our second family home building project this spring. We sold our house, acquired a temporary house to live in while building, and we’re awaiting the spring thaw to get started. For once, I decided to do the sensible thing and NOT race this winter. For one thing, it would give me the opportunity to save a little cash, but more importantly, I can’t afford to get hurt and since I’ve never had a major snowmobile accident, I figure I’m due.
So, I decided to go out and buy a cheap, older trail sled. Just something to chase the kids around the yard with and yet decent enough to go out and do some serious riding on. My pallet of options was wide open and I happily perused the classifieds, Craigslist, and eBay everyday. My eyebrows raised every time I spotted a gem like a 2002 Arctic Cat ZR600 Cross Country or a 2001 Yamaha SX600R.
One night, I was ready to hit the sack, but I logged on to check my email and most importantly whether anyone had anything enlightening to post on my Facebook page. Right before I shut down I went on Craigslist and simply started typing snowmobile brand names. “Yamaha” yielded a new listing for a 2008 Apex 40th Anniversary edition for a decent price … “Wow, those were nice looking sleds and what a great price,” I thought to myself. But it was a lot more than I was planning to spend.
I wandered upstairs and in husbandly fashion I calmly mentioned the sled and the price to my wife. Now, there is an entire manual filled with responses that women are forced to memorize almost from birth and use where appropriate ranging from “Oh, that’s nice (change subject quickly)” to “are you @#*!% crazy, (insert child’s name) needs braces?”
I no sooner got the words out of my mouth and winced at what I perceived to be the impending response when the angels played harps, the birds chirped, and brightly colored unicorns soared through a cloudless sky.
“Sounds like a good deal, I think you should buy it, we should be able to swing that,” she responded. I stood in front of the kitchen sink chiseling the melted cheese from my bedtime nacho plate in stunned silence. She went on, “In fact, I’m off tomorrow, maybe you should call the guy and we can go and look at it.” I kept thinking I was in a Borat skit and waited for her to yell, “NOT!”
I was so dumbfounded and awestruck, I didn’t even really respond. Of course, I hardly slept that night and called the dude immediately the next morning. Sure enough, Jeanie and I jumped in the truck and went and bought the sled. As the great sports broadcaster Mel Allen definitely would have said, “How about that?”
So, as the wind howls outside my window and with my short racing career temporarily on hold, I think about that beautiful white and red Apex sitting out back with its gleaming gold Ohlins shocks and its 150 horsepower waiting under the hood. I think about my great wife. I think about harps and unicorns. Sometimes, when you least expect it, the eagle of life flies over you and drops a set of keys on your head.
How about that?