Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Buzz on Snowmobiles

Snowmobiles are great little machines: motorcycles with skis, whose engines sound like something taken out of a model airplane and given too many steroids.

Snowmobilers took advantage of last week's snowfall, whining across lawns, lakes, and fields like deranged hornets.

Until the street department came along.

They're on the streets now, at least in town. There's enough snow left on the pavement for the snowmobiles, but not enough to stop police cars: and Loonfoot Falls has ordinances against using other people's shrubbery as an obstacle course.

It must be exhilarating, careening over the snow with a 90 horsepower engine making sure that everyone around knows you're there.

I did a little checking, and found out that snowmobiles aren't loud at all. In fact, the American Council of Snowmobile Associations assures us that "snowmobiles are barely audible from inside a home." That's assuming that the engine and exhaust system haven't been, ah, enhanced, by a fun-loving owner.

Quite a few of the snowmobiles around here would be "barely audible from inside a home" only if you were playing your favorite Metallica album at full volume.

Then, there's the safety issue. Most of the nine people who got killed, snowmobiling last year, hit an unexpected rock, dock, or tree. Considering how many people ride the things each winter, Minnesotans must be doing pretty well.

I'm not knocking snowmobiling, though. People have driven them for decades without blasting bark off trees or decimating the deer. I think the key is ‘enjoy in moderation.'

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