Apr 9, 2012

I Rode with Rasmussen!

A few weeks back i got a call from my local Arctic Cat dealer Western Motor Sports asking me if i'd like to attend a rider clinic with Bret Rasmussen, one of the world's best technical freeriders.

Sledworthy magazine had arranged for Rasmussen to travel to Newfoundland, Canada from his home in southern Idaho in the United States to teach 12 fortunate individuals some of the skills he has honed in his career as a professional snowmobilier.  The group would be based out of Stump Lodge located on George's Lake, just west of the city of Corner Brook.  From the lodge the Lewis Hills, which harbors some of the best back country east of the Rocky Mountains, is only a 30 minute ride away.

After an arrival on the east coast of Newfoundland, a riders clinic at Mile One Stadium, and a 7 hour drive across the province Bret was scheduled to hold an in-store rider clinic at Western Motor Sports, which would be free of charge for anyone who'd like to attend.  Providing examples from the 'Schooled' series by Deviant Sleds Works.   Bret communicated important aspects of technical riding such as rider position, handlebar setup and so on.




The legend himself.  Bret Rasmussen




 Bret using video from 'Schooled' to illustrate the techniques he's trying to teach.




In case you are wondering that badass belt buckle reads 
"World Championship Snowmobile Hill climb 2001 Jackson Wyoming Pro Masters Improved Stock 1000"



 

Bret showing proper riding position.




Demonstrating the importance of proper handlebar setup.




Signing Autographs.




Andrew 'Sledworthy' Goldsworthy and Chris Tulk.  Simultaneous Facebook status update?




Western Motor Sports crew with Bret.




Geoff Freake (GM Western Motor Sports) with Bret Rasmussen.



Earlier in the day Geoff was nice enough to loan me a sled for the rider clinic.



There are three key aspects of this sled that can't be discerned just from looking at this image; Sno Pro, 162" and Turbo!  My arms were about 3 inches longer after riding it!



From Corner Brook we left for Stump Lodge and a meal fit for a king!  Immediately following the gluttony Andrew Goldsworthy rounded us together in the common room where Gary Martin, the Newfoundland representative for FXR clothing came in with an FXR gear bag and rather large cardboard box.  Gary was kind enough to supply each rider with a really, really nice assortment of gear.  I won't get into specifics but we'll say that the cost to participate in the clinic was almost entirely off set by the retail cost of the new gear each rider received!




If you don't have any do yourself a favour and get a couple pairs of these FXR socks!  You're feet will thank you! 




A local living legend Steven Lee, otherwise known in select groups as the notorious C1E enjoying some fine new threads!




 FXR's new mountain line of clothing impressed all!


I'm gonna be the first to admit that a few years back i probably wouldn't have bought anything with the label 'FXR'.  After seeing and wearing their products i can admit that i would have no reservations about moving away from the 'other' high end snowmobile brand.   FXR is the real deal and being Canadian in a market dominated by American companies is pretty damn cool and is a company i'll be looking to support in the coming years!

Once all the stoked smiles subsided we got down to a little socializing with the crew.



Richard Jonson and Chris Tulk




Andrew Goldsworthy and Stephen Lee pose with Stephen's freshly autographed helmet!




Chris Tulk, Bill Whelan and Gavin White.  Crazy Birds?





Richard and Chris




Linda from Stump Lodge egging a couple of the boys on!





Stephen Lee and Bill Whelan


Early the next morning we awoke to blue bird skies and the smell of breakfast cooking!  Did I mention how good the grub is at Stump Lodge?   After a huge breakfast and a quick introductory by Bret as to what we were getting ourselves into that day we geared up and headed out the door.  Before leaving Stump Lodge for the day Bret came along with wrenches in hand in order to set up every one's handlebars in the optimal position for technical riding.  The handle bar setups were a surprise to many of us and a real eye opener!

And with that we left for the hills with only a stop along the way to make sure we still had the entire gang together.  

The first real stop we made was to stop by Craig Hiscock's cabin, located literally on the edge of the Lewis Hills to drop our fuel containers and any other unnecessary items.  




Introductions with Craig Hiscock, a local cabin owner who was kind enough to let it serve as our base camp.



We left the cabin in time to get 'Schooled'!  Leading by example Bret went through the first exercise.  Each of us followed his lead while he reinforced some of our battered egos with constructive criticism.




Bret explains the first 'maneuver' to us.





Robert Murphy absorbing!



 Gary Martin (background) and Gavin White hanging on Bret's words.




Justin Daniels dreaming of sidehills and gnarly climbs!  I know from experience he isn't afraid!



Once we had all tried the first exercise he sent us out to practice the skills in the less intimidating terrain of the Blue Hills, the foot hills of the Lewis Hills.  It was a great sight to see a dozen individuals doing things that 30 minutes back might not have been possible! 

An hour later with empty stomachs it was back to Craig's cabin for a hearty lunch of homemade buns, sandwiches, moose soup and BBQ moose burgers.  There seemed to be quite the 'wild' crew gathering inside the cabin!






To be totally honest the moose and beer were pretty civilized.  I'm don't know if i can say the same about the rest of the animals!  :P



We were treated to a lovely song or two by an even lovelier lady.  To say we felt welcome was an understatement!  Huge props to Craig and crew!




With the weather closing in on us we made the decision to stay in the lower hills for the afternoon and had a little fun playing cat and mouse with Bret in the trees.  Some of the places he went left me scratching my head as to how anyone could get up or through.  He had no troubles of course but i'm not so sure i would say the same for the rest of us!

Normally on a day such as this i would have my camera out as much as possible.  With the grey skies and low visibility i only took the camera out of my bag just a couple of times.




Bret Rasmussen side hilling through the trees on an Arctic Cat 1100 Turbo XF.




Effortless!


Although i came home with only a few photos of Bret in action i'm stoked on the new skills i learned as they will be of benefit for the rest of my days on snowmobile!  If there was just one thing i learned from Bret's riding clinic it would be that making a snowmobile 'negotiate' back country terrain is much more a function of skill, balance and technique than it is of brute force!  I'm not a large guy and too see someone of Bret's size ride like he does is truly an inspiration to me!

This last photo says it all!



If you ever have the opportunity to take one of Bret's riding clinics I highly recommend you do so.  You can learn more in one day with Bret than most could learn in several years of riding. 

Such an opportunity can be yours during the winter of 2013!  Please contact 'andrew@sledworthy' if you'd like to get 'Schooled' in 2013 by Bret Rasmussen on the west coast of Newfoundland!

If you aren't already you should follow Bret on his blog here.  You can also check out his website here.

Again, i want to thank Geoff at Western Motor Sports for sending me on this rider clinic and for letting me use the ultra sick Arctic Cat HCR 162" 1100 Turbo!

ps....If you like this post please link it!




RONiN photography (Scott Grant) offers print and image sales, print service, photographic and post processing instruction for both groups and private individuals.  Photography services include weddings, engagement sessions, people and pet photos, corporate events and so on.

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