Monday, March 8, 2010

Snowmobiling is Family Affair

Justin Palmquist was eight years old when he started snowmobiling with his father. He liked it so much that now at 29, he has become an avid snowmobile rider.
“I like to be in the outdoors and the rush of driving something fast,” Palmquist said.
Palmquist, who works on the technology infrastructure at Horizon Healthcare in Howard, S. D., has ridden all different types of snowmobiles.
Palmquist said snowmobiling has changed. “Most people go west. They ride a little less at home,” he said. “There are a lot more places to ride and see in the west.”
While Palmquist has ridden snowmobiles, Todd Casper rides and also works on snowmobiles year around in his shop just outside of Lake Preston, S. D.
“There are fewer snowmobiles out there than in previous years,” he said.
The reason Casper sees more snowmobiles is because he is open when most stores aren’t. Casper estimates that he does a minor or complete overhaul on 350-400 sleds that come in from around the country each year. “It is a tough industry,” he said. “Snow this year has helped out.”
For Palmquist, snowmobiling has become a family affair. His wife, Kandy, joins him in snowmobile rides that take them to places for dinner or just for fun with the family. In addition, they go to the Black Hills and further west into the Rocky Mountains for the scenery and to ride in places that can be seen only by horse or plane.
In addition, Palmquist drives his snowmobile to work at least once a week when there is enough snow and the weather is at least 10 degrees above zero.
The challenge of riding snowmobile in the mountains is the deep snow. The challenge of riding around Miner County deals with speed and riding with friends. There is not a trail system in Miner County.
The snowmobile riding in Miner County involves riding the ditches and it is important that snowmobilers understand that at each intersection approach there could be culverts that provide obstacles for the skis. In addition, reflectors are part of the snowmobiling landscape through the ditches. When going uphill, Palmquist said it is important to go straight up the hill and carry speed.
“You can go anywhere you want where there is snow,” he said. “It is camaraderie getting together with buddies and riding sleds.”
Palmquist estimates that there are at least 25 snowmobilers that ride throughout Miner County. “We are seeing more snowmobilers because of the snow,” he said.
Casper said snowmobilers have found that there are places to ride around the country. Locally, families who had five or six sleds, now have one or two because there are not the trails to ride on.
“The only thing that impacts snowmobiling is the amount of snow,” Casper said. “This year we had a lot of snow and sleds have come out from storage; sleds that haven’t been used for as many as four seasons.”
Palmquist agrees this has been one of the better years for snowmobile rides. “On a normal year, I might get 100 miles at home and then go out west,” he said. “This year, I already have 200 miles at home.”

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