By Jessie Painter
When you meet people who ride sleds you never really know what kind of a rider they are; do they like to speed through the trails? Do they jump off the trail every chance they get? Do they never even see the trail all day? Do they stop and take lots of breaks? Do they push the limits or are they more reserved?
I find it so difficult to answer this even for myself; I’ve gone from a complete trail rider to backcountry boondocking, practically racing, and Hill climbing- what? Most people just pick one! But all of these different styles have piled up thanks to all the different places and people I’ve rode with over the past while.
I started off strictly as trail rider because it was on mom and dad’s machine and i was cautious and respectful because it wasn’t mine. As soon as I bought my own sled with what little i had as a student, I played and pushed it so hard that I outgrew the short Polaris rush within the month. After another season my boyfriend “proposed” with the key ring to my RMK 144. I was instantly capable of doing everything off-trail that I was previously struggling with- it was awesome! The sled was the perfect fit for me.
This year with moving farther North, different terrain , and getting new riding partners my style has evolved once again back onto the trail but at a much faster pace-one of the guys i’ve been riding with a cousin that races USXC cross country and is trying to convince me to race it next year…hmm.
I also got two chances to ride in the mountains this year; my first time ever was with my family for Dan Adams next level riding clinics and the next time for our friend’s wedding then riding Island Park, ID. Both trips were a blast and full of new experiences, challenges, anxiousness, learning, and an all-around amazing time.
In Alpine, WY with the next level crew I learned lots of basic technical skills that I use in my riding everywhere. There was plenty of snow for us and we started on our side hilling and sled control skills. In Island Park in the other hand- the snow was scarce so we did a lot of climbing! It took me a bit to come out of my shell but at the end of the weekend I was so excited and wished I’d climbed more!
I am very proud of everything I’ve accomplished this year on a sled i feel as if there is a huge difference between where I began and where I am as a rider in the past season. I feel that I’m a way better rider but wouldn’t be able to tell you it’s because I could climb that hill or side hill that slope, make perfect circles boondocking or rip around the trail however fast, it’s more the overall picture, I am a much more who rounded rider but most importantly- I’m a confident rider. I don’t need the boys to help me all the time and I’m not scared to try new challenges and push myself.