SD Governor's ride experience helps recruit new riders - KOTA Territory News

SD Governor's ride experience helps recruit new snowmobile riders

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By Jack Siebold

Sometimes, you just have to do a story because it's fun.  No issue; no "breaking" element, nothing to shock a reader or viewer.

That's what this weekend's Governor's Snowmobile Ride was.  Sponsored by the South Dakota Snowmobilers Association, the ride is geared to exposing people to the winter recreational pastime.

Those people are mostly state legislators who could help, or hinder the snowmobilers.  But the only snowmobile-related piece of legislation this year is a bill to allow historical license plates.  That didn't keep the snowmobile association from playing host to 17 legislators and their families, part of a group of 210 at the annual ride.

"We're lucky in the Black Hills," Travis Watkins, president of the South Dakota Snowmobilers Association, said.  "We have a great relationship with the Forest Service.  Game, Fish & Parks works real well with the Forest Service."

Still, there are a lot of first-timers that the snowmobile association would like to see on the trails year after year.  Getting people hooked on snowmobiling is easy, once they get a taste for it, according to Watkins.  The challenge is getting people to the trails.  "A lot of my friends say ‘Oh, you snowmobile.  I'd love to try that.  I want to try that.'  Once you get them out here you got them.  But it takes to get them out here," Watkins said.

It took Lewis Rensch 67 years to do it.  This is his first year snowmobiling.  He has some advice for other novices … don't wait that long.  "I'm 67 and just started.  You start at 20, you feel better, your balance is better, your more comfortable with your machine, your reaction is better," he said.  "Grow up with it, start in your teens.  You'll see kids around and that's great."

Christina Poleacovschi, visiting from Moldova, is a young rider probably already hooked after Saturday's ride.  "It's a little bit challenging and interesting at the same time.  Sometimes I feel like I'm gonna make it; sometimes I don't; but it's interesting and fun."

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