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Column: Wow, what a ride — my snowbike experience

From left, Deb McGrath, Rose Perry, Carol McKinney, Phil McKinney, Kris Holmes, John Perry and Lenny Holmes tackle Pats Peak in Henniker aboard their snowbikes. The McKinneys are from Bennington and the rest of the riders are from Francestown.

From left, Deb McGrath, Rose Perry, Carol McKinney, Phil McKinney, Kris Holmes, John Perry and Lenny Holmes tackle Pats Peak in Henniker aboard their snowbikes. The McKinneys are from Bennington and the rest of the riders are from Francestown.

Recently I had the opportunity to try snowbiking at Pats Peak and I believe my decision to try this winter sport with a group of friends from Francestown and Bennington was definitely karma. From beginning to end this snowbiking experience was absolutely and undoubtedly the result of a combination of events which led me from my first ride on the magic carpet at Crotched Mountain to my ride of a lifetime at Pats Peak.

This active and engaging new adventure all began one evening while watching New Hampshire Chronicle on WMUR. In one of the segments, co-host, Erin Fehlau, takes the plunge down the slopes of Pats Peak, both literally and figuratively, on a snowbike. Given the fun that she appeared to be having, along with the commentary that it was as simple as riding a bike, I thought, Wow- how cool is that? But to be honest, I never imagined that I’d actually give it a try; especially given the fact that since my re-entry into the wonderful world of skiing seven years ago, I have never skied anywhere but Crotched Mountain. So I filed the information away in the part of my brain which includes a bucket list of interesting things to do but that I probably won’t.

The following day as I was riding up on the Rocket at Crotched Mountain Ski and Ride with my friends, Kris and Len Holmes, I mentioned the segment on snowbiking — and lo and behold, both had not only seen it, but had the same reaction as I did. It was at this point that we began to hatch a plan to Just Do It! That evening Kris made reservations for all of us — and by the end of that very same week, seven of us, ages 55 to 70, packed up our ski gear and headed out to Pats Peak for a group snowbiking lesson. All of which leads me to believe that Picasso may have had a valid point when he said, “It takes a long time to grow young.”

For those of you who have read my article about my first experience on the new super fast quad at Crotched Mountain Ski & Ride known appropriately as the Rocket, you might remember that I suffer from the “cowardly lion syndrome.” And, as you may also recall, I have a group of ski buddies who believe my enthusiasm makes up for my lack of skill and/or athletic ability — and thus at virtually every opportunity they gently nudge me into reaching beyond my comfort zone. So although I may have been the one who inadvertently initiated this new experience, it probably comes as no surprise that once my ski boots were being fitted to the short skis utilized when riding a snowbike, I seriously contemplated bailing out. But, boy oh boy, I am so glad I didn’t!

According to both the Pats Peak website and our snowbiking instructor, the Reflex Based Learning Method utilized is intuitive. So I automatically began to think that intuitive was just another term for muscle memory and I know from experience that my muscles never remember a thing — nor were they of any help whatsoever when I resumed skiing after a 37-year gap. But surprisingly after a shaky start, and as a result of having a very skilled instructor with an “everyone can do this” approach to teaching, we all discovered that as promised, the snowbike really did “respond to our reflexes, the leaning curve was exceptionally easy, and more importantly, quick.” Within an hour we were all certified, capable of getting on and off the chairlifts while carrying our snowbikes, and zipping down the slopes of Pats Peak in full control, having the time of our lives.

The laughter and smiles on our faces must have been contagious because everyone we encountered was smiling as well. When we were asked if it was true that people of all ages and/or abilities could master the sport of snowbiking after just one lesson, my wonderful “biker friends” AKA “ski buddies” said, “Absolutely — if Deb can do it anyone can!” Hmmm…do you think I should be offended?

The moral to this story?

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty, well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out and proclaiming, Wow- What a Ride!” — by Author Unknown

And wow, what a ride it was! But be forewarned, snowbiking at Pats Peak may become addictive!

Deb McGrath lives in Francestown.

Hi Deb I just finished reading your article on a friend’s Facebook page. I just might be the guy in the yellow jacket that crashes at the end of the Chronicle segment. Glad to hear all of you had a blast at Pats Peak on the Snow bikes.

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