You wake up the morning of your big snowmobile ride rip-raring to go. You eat a nutritious meal, get dressed, and then head out for the powder. All goes well for the first hour or two, then you begin feeling fatigued. Is it a good idea to stop for a breather? How often should you take breaks when riding a snowmobile anyway?
According to Pennsylvania Snowmobile Ed, about every hour you’re on your snowmobile, you should pause for a break. If you feel you can continue on for longer than an hour, you can, but don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Your alertness will go down, putting you at risk of an accident.
In this article, we’ll discuss what causes fatigue when snowmobiling and how to maximize your break time. We’ll even share some tips for reducing fatigue so you’re more alert on your snowmobile and have a better ride. Keep reading!
This Is How Often You Should Take a Break When Riding Your Snowmobile
Snowmobiling is just like operating any other vehicle. You should be of sound mind and body when you ride, which means being alert and physically capable of making quick maneuvers to avoid accidents.
When you become fatigued, your reaction time slows down. Your judgment may also be impaired, so you assume you’re not as close to that other snowmobiler as you thought…well, until you two collide.
Fatigue is, in some part, unavoidable on a snowmobile. In the next section, when we discuss what causes snowmobiling fatigue, you’ll see why that is. Instead of pushing on and pretending you’re not tired, the best thing you can do for yourself and any other snowmobilers around you is to take a break.
About every 60 minutes, you should pull your snowmobile over somewhere safe where other riders will not be.
As we said in the intro, that hourly break isn’t necessarily written in stone. Sometimes you’re in the middle of a trek to or from your destination and you may go longer than an hour at a stretch. On other days, you’ll feel tired 30 minutes in. Stop and take a break at a time that works best for you, but don’t keep going for hours and hours. It’s dangerous.
What Makes You So Tired When Snowmobiling?
A variety of factors contribute to that tired feeling that starts to set in after an hour or two of snowmobiling. Let’s talk about these factors now.
The average snowmobile goes at a speed of 90 to 120 miles per hour. Even on a day that’s not super windy, by riding so quickly, you’re going to feel the wind from all sides of you. Depending on the weather, sometimes the wind may be your guide and push you along. On other days, it will feel like the wind is actively working against you. This invisible force gets exhausting to fight after a while.
Ideally, you want snow when riding your snowmobile. Unless this is artificial snow, then the temperatures where you ride are probably quite cold. Any shaking and shivering can bring down your energy levels, as can the temperature itself. Compared to hot weather especially, the human body tends to get drowsy in the cold.
On those daytime rides, the sun can also leave you in need of a break. Direct sun exposure creates warmth, especially if you’re wearing layer upon layer of clothes and gear. As you sweat to stay cool, your metabolic rate and heart rate both go up. This is a lot of physiological work on the part of your body, which can contribute to your fatigue.
This one’s quite obvious. Though you may sit on a snowmobile, you’re using a lot of muscles as you ride. These include shoulder and arm muscles, feet and ankle muscles, and your calves, hamstrings, and quads. By working your body for hours at a time on your snowmobile, that physical exertion can leave you sore and exhausted.
Your exertion fatigue even extends to your extremities. Many snowmobilers report thumb fatigue after a day of riding. This is often caused by a misadjusted throttle, but for some models of snowmobile, you may find your thumb fatigue persists even after setting the throttle to the right position.
Vibrations and Engine Noise
Fatigue can occur all over the body, including your ears. Having to listen to the roar of your engine all day can wear on you, as can feeling the vibrations of your snowmobile as you expertly course through the snow. Taking breaks for this fatigue will especially help.
What Should You Do on Your Break?
Through a combination of the factors above, you’ve decided that you could use a few minutes of a break from snowmobiling. You found the perfect spot to stop, but what should you do? How long should your break be?
What you do is completely up to you. You could adjust your gear, tinker with your handlebars if you’re suffering from thumb fatigue, or grab a nutritious snack and beverage. You can also just sit, get your bearings, and relax for a couple of minutes.
How long you take your break is also your choice. Do keep in mind that if you’re riding with others, you don’t want to inconvenience them by pulling over for too long. Also, sitting in the cold for lengthy periods is rarely pleasant, so the chill in the air might be enough to get you ready to ride again.
More Tips for Avoiding Fatigue on Your Snowmobile
As we said before, fatigue is unavoidable in some regard. That doesn’t mean you can’t take some precautions to preserve your energy. Here are some recommended tips to help you get the most out of each of your snowmobile rides.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
If you’ve ever spent half a night tossing and turning, you know how hard it is to get through the next day. You feel like a zombie. That’s the last feeling you want when you wake up to go snowmobiling.
To ensure you’re nice and rested, make sure you go to bed early. You should aim for at least eight hours of sleep a night, so if you’re not already getting that, you have a new benchmark. Since you know you’ll be doing a physically demanding sport like riding your snowmobile the next day, it doesn’t hurt to get even nine hours of sleep if you can.
Not only will you wake up feeling refreshed and relaxed, but you might have more energy to get you through your day.
No, we’re not talking about fueling up your snowmobile’s engine, although that’s important too. You should also maintain your energy by nourishing your body, so you have to fuel up.
What you choose to eat matters. High-sugar foods might give you a boost now, but it’s temporary at best. Once your body processes all that sugar, you have a crash. What’s worse is you tend to feel sluggish post-crash. Also, all those empty calories associated with sugary foods will leave you ravenous in an hour or two, especially when exerting yourself through snowmobiling.
What do we recommend instead? Try these snacks:
- Premade sandwiches: You can make your own sandwiches and pack them with you or buy premade sandwiches off grocery store shelves. Peanut butter and jelly is a sweet treat to reward yourself with, not to mention peanut butter is a good source of protein as well.
- Jerky: Beef jerky is light on calories, high in protein, and incredibly convenient to eat on the go. You pull a piece of jerky out, munch on it, and you’re ready to ride again. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
- Protein bars: You also can’t go wrong with a protein bar. These have all the ingredients for people on the go, including lots of protein and even filling fiber. With so many types of protein bars on the market, you have your pick of flavors.
Limit Ride Times
At some point, you might aim to ride your snowmobile for hours at a time, but that kind of endurance doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re new to snowmobiling, then you don’t want to force yourself to ride for too long. It’s okay if you don’t even get to an hour on the snowmobile those first few rides. You’ll work your way up.
Even if you’re a more seasoned snowmobiler, know what your limits are. Everyone has a cap, and being able to identify yours will take you a long way. If you’re riding with friends, don’t try to impress them by snowmobiling even when you’re beyond tired. You could crash into them or anyone else near you, not to mention you’re not safe from hazards when you’re feeling bleary-eyed.
Wear the Right Gear
Most of the weather-related problems we talked about earlier–such as wind, sun, and cold–can all be avoided by choosing appropriate snowmobiling gear. Wind-resistant clothing is best, as you won’t feel the wind slapping you this way and that. Moisture-wicking layers will prevent you from overheating underneath your clothes, so wear plenty of those.
For your own safety and that of others on the trail, you want to take a break at least every hour you ride your snowmobile. You can fight off fatigue in other ways too, such as packing protein-based snacks, dressing appropriately, and knowing when to call it a day.