October 2015

As an organization, the Michigan Snowmobile Association (MSA) is built around safety — safe, responsible riding. As riders, when we plan trips, we need to plan them to be successful. We need to organize, communicate, and create a checklist.

Of course a half-day trip or a one-day trip is easier to plan in terms of organization. Three-day, four-day and week-long trips do require more organization. However, both shorter and longer trips should always include a focus on safety.

Some considerations of a successful ride include all riders carrying medical information, cell phones, other riders cell phone numbers, and a satellite phone if cell phone service isn’t available.

Those on the ride should also consider the size of the group on that particular ride. I’ve been on rides with four to seven people or even 17 people. I’ve also been on trips with up to 60 riders. Those entail a lot more work and consideration to detail.

Know What to Expect

As a seasoned rider I feel it is most important that everyone on the ride should be aware of what is going to happen on that particular ride.

I have found that communication and planning are also important tools of any snowmobile trip. All riders should know what the ride includes from start to finish.

Every rider should know the trail route, rest stops to be taken, stops for gas, and even where and what time lunch is planned. Leaders should communicate all of this to everyone on the ride. The better the communication, the better the ride.

A good rule to follow when coordinating breaks (what time and exact location) is plan to ride 23-25 mph and map those stops along your predetermined destination. Let everyone on the ride know those stops.

Make a Checklist

There are important things to go over with every rider on the trip. People who ride with each other a lot are used to each other and their riding styles, but someone new on that ride doesn’t know other’s styles. Communicate before the ride begins.

We all know that we are responsible for the rider behind us. We know that newer riders should ride close to the front, but we still need to make sure that newer rider is acquainted with checklist.

Be informed, but by the same token, when an emergency comes up have the tools to deal with that emergency. Went I went to Alaska with MichCanSka, we had a six-page safety document with us. Most of us were older riders so we also carried a defibrillator with us. We were prepared for anything.

Leaders are the ones overall responsible for the group of riders. A leader makes sure the speed is right for the riding conditions and expertise levels on that trip. The leader has to constantly make sure that everyone is being safe and the navigation for the route is understood and being followed.

Planning to be successful on the ride you are on is very important and this should always include a checklist of what is expected on that ride. Everyone can develop their own list, but remember safety, organization, and communication when making that list.