Greetings and welcome!
We are up to 39 degrees this afternoon. A look out of the back door does not find any catastrophic melting, but the snow is consolidating a little and the salt on the front step is working well.
Since my ride update yesterday a few people have contacted me with conditions updates. Chris said that they were grooming along Hwy 8 yesterday and that as she got closer to Rhinelander there was a lot more snow. Likewise Gary updated that Townsend had groomed this week and that the trails looked nice.
There were also reports out of the UP that the lake effect snow this week brought as much as 16-20″” in some places, so there are riding opportunities there as well.
The weather continues to frown on us with a forecast of a high of 42 tomorrow and low 30s for Saturday. Sunday is only supposed to be in the upper 20s, but Monday and Tuesday go back to the mid and upper 30s. The long range outlook is for cooler temps and maybe some snow later next week.
Let’s cut right to the chase.. I went for my ride yesterday afternoon and got on probably 15 or 20 miles. I doubt that I will be doing that again until after it snows. I rode and had fun, but it was really scrapey. I left a lot of carbide out there and rode a lot of gravelly spots.
The ride down the town road in Silver Cliff was pretty thin, it is plowed and salt- sanded regularly. Where I could I jumped into the ditch and got a little snow, but there was a lot of grinding on the way.
Crossing into Oconto Co where the road had only been plowed once was a lot better. It had more of an ice layer, and while it was considerably better, it wasn’t great. The shaded spots were good enough, but the sunny ones brought the song of steel on the road again, and I hit the ditch where I could. The snowplow guys didn’t do us any favors, wing plowing the road shoulder down into the gravel and kicking that up all over.
That 3 mile stretch from the boat landing down to the paved part the last few miles before Caldron Falls Rd was hit and miss depending on sun exposure. Some was just good enough, some was pretty scrapey, and again I went for the ditches where it was easy.
The asphalt part was plowed way down and salted/sanded. Where the ditches offered cover I went, but there were places that you just had to suck it up and throw sparks.
Buck’s Ranch Rd heading west got plowed for the first time last week. A lot of it had an ice layer and was ok in shady spots, the rest was just enough layer to just cover the gravel. It started getting pretty bare toward Chickadee where the sun was eating the remaining ice, and there was some bare road.
Chickadee was about the same up to where the Iron Snowshoe trail meets it crossing over from Landing 11. There was an ice layer that was just enough in some spots and not enough where the sun could get it, and it was 3″ of snow on gravel.
North of that intersection Chickadee also becomes the Paul Bunyan Trails. They had been out panning the snow and packing it down. That was more of the same. There were spots that were just good enough, and spots that were making the ski noise again.
I didn’t get more than a mile or two past that and the gas gauge said that I was past the point of no return, so I spun it around and headed back. When I turned around I didn’t know if I had a gas leak, if I was burning it twice as fast as normal, or if the gauge sensor was sticking, so I headed back. I was not amused when I got a few miles down to the stop sign and it bounced back to about where I thought it should have been at that point.
I also did a little cross country riding, and that was umm.. pretty rugged. The 3″ of snow didn’t offer much padding between the terrain features and the snowmobile.
I did get my first ride in, and it went pretty well mechanically other that the gas gauge glitch and the hand warmers not working. It was very gravelly though, and I don’t expect to ride again until it snows more.
There were good spots and bad spots, and enough bad that as I stopped for a break on the way home, the phrase Just Say No was in my thoughts. As bad as I want it, there just isn’t enough snow. I wasn’t going out again until it snowed more, and my recommendation to my friends was not going to be what they want to hear.
Maybe things are better to the north and west where they have an extra inch or two of snow or a little more base.
The new AGM battery off of E-Bay worked very well. The EFI system on the old RXLs is very battery dependent, and in service school they told us to always start the season with a fresh battery. The AGM battery has about 20% more amps than the standard battery and the system really seemed to like that. The fuel pump ran crisper, the cold start bog until all 3 cylinders caught was about 1/3 of what it was last year, and the throttle response was really nice and tight. Last year I used an Interstate Cyletron, and the year before it was a Parts Unlimited battery. This one made a big difference, and the sled has never run better.
Likewise the new ECWCS poly pro long johns performed well. I rode at 25 with just those and blue jeans and was very comfortable.
I could not find my usual riding mittens on the way out. The last that I knew they were in the truck as part of my winter survival package, but a search came up empty. It looks like new mittens are on the shopping list, it is the fastest way to find the old ones.
The quick check of the sled went pretty well. I turned it up and checked for dragging bearings on the suspension wheels and that brought no bad news. The carbides were still in decent shape. A general checkover found no problems, and it started and ran great.
The chain cases on the old Polaris sleds that I have are notorious for leaking out of the bottom seal. Even with a sealed bearing on the bottom and double oil seals they usually weeped at least a little. Last year I got sick of paying $8 a pint for dealer chaincase oil and switched to ATF. If it is good enough for the chain in the transfer case on the truck it is good enough for the chain on the sled.
This Fall I ran that past a top mechanic who also rides 8-10K miles a year. His answer was some 80w-90 axle oil. It is thicker so it will drip less, but it has no problem lubing the chain and bearings. So far it seems to be working well.
The other thing that I couldn’t locate on the way out was my trail camera. I found the battery charger and film card, but the batteries, camera, and card reader remain hidden in the office somewhere. I can’t take my nice DSLR cameras riding, but I might bring one along in the truck tomorrow when I pass by some of the places that I rode today.
I had a great time today. I love riding, and especially at +25F. The sled ran great and did not overheat or break down. Would I recommend it? No. It is ok for a skitch around, but I left a lot of carbide on the road and rode a lot of gravely spots. We simply need more snow.
Have a good Thursday and thank you for visiting!