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April 23, 2016

さようなら – Sayonora

RU2 (1024x768)Today’s post will be my last. I have decided it is time to pull back from my career and focus on family and quality-of-life in the few good years I have left. If I include time spent at the dealership, I have been with Yamaha for well over 30 years. And for those of you who have alluded to me having a ‘dream job’ – you’re  correct; it’s been one helluva good run. I can’t imagine another uneducated, country boy with little more than a great love for motorcycles and sleds, slipping past the regulated HR qualification process now. Yamaha gave me ‘my shot’ and for that, I am most grateful.

This blog in itself is testament to the visionary management this company maintains. When we launched in the winter of 2007, there was a lot of trepidation around letting an individual employee go on-line, representing the company with no formal set of rules or policies to fetter and control the ‘conversation’. At the time, no one in our industry had a corporate blog; Twitter had not been born, My Space was bigger than Facebook and ‘social media’ was a new buzz-word companies were struggling to understand (many still are). At the time I was communicating on the sled forums and got singled out by a fellow, hiding behind his key-board, challenging everyone and everything to stroke his own ego. It was frustrating to post legitimate information only to have it discredited as bull-spit . I figured there had to be a better way for me to play!

One individual was extremely instrumental in getting Sled Talk past the corporate goalie: Maggie Fox. I met Maggie at a trade show in 2006 where she was speaking on this new thing called ‘social media’. Sensing some opportunity, I attended her ‘lunch and learn’ on corporate blogging. Fortunately, as things turned out, I was the only one who showed up and received her undivided attention. This was a new venture for Maggie and she was motivated to see this blog get up and running under the Yamaha brand. After several meetings here, it was her compelling presentation to corporate that I believe, broke down the final barriers of risk, putting many of our fears at ease. Maggie’s career since has been a turbo-charged success story. First expanding her former company (SMG) from a family consulting business to a highly successful social media agency with locations in Toronto and Vancouver; then leapfrogging into the corporate sphere to head up Ford Motor Companies global digital marketing operations. I’ve lost touch with her but understand she is now the senior VP of digital marketing for software giant SAP. She once told me, having the Yamaha shingle hanging on the office wall went a long ways to opening those early doors. Well, without her guidance, I would not be writing this ten years later.

Once we established the ‘rules of engagement’ – I was trusted to use common sense and turned loose to talk about Yamaha snowmobiles openly as the ‘lucky guy’ speaking from the inner sanctum trying to ‘tell it like it is’. Truth be known, I have ‘stepped in it’ on more than one occasion. Actually, according to my boss, defending my rhetoric and shielding my ego from criticism has become a fairly regular occurrence for him. On the flip side, his guard has allowed me to write 275 articles and personally respond to nearly 3,500 comments. I’m not really known for sugar coating my delivery so the odds of me peeing on somebodies Cheerios really are not all that surprising. I’m just glad I didn’t have to respond personally.

Today there are upwards to 14,000 unique visitors a month coming here seeking nuggets of information on our sleds. One thing has amazed me from day one. Not one of you has ever gone on ‘the attack’. The comments I receive have always been thoughtful and respectful of the position regardless of whether the author agreed or liked what I had to say. I have approved every comment except one and only because it was basically spam. Nothing I have ever written here has been taken and used against me or Yamaha in any way and for that I am so thankful. Maggie once told me – ‘stay honest and transparent,  your audience will grow and rise to your defense if threatened’ – so true!

And to be clear, comments offered here have been referred to many times in various meetings, in emails and sometimes over beers. It’s been said we don’t listen, that what is being talked about on forums never gets to the boardrooms. I have often used Sled Talk (and TY) to reference or support a point. This site has had an impact on our business and our sleds.

Well; there it is. What started off as an experiment to add some ‘ballast’ on the forums has ended up in a decades worth of conversations with many of you, some I’ve met, others I feel I know from your regular comments here. And you should know, it has been your interaction and feedback that has kept me motivated, to write. I want to say a special thanks to Tom and all the admins at Totallyamaha. You guys rock! Many of us here at Yamaha realize and appreciate what a great service you provide for our customers. TY sets the bar very high regarding QDR standards for the motor-sports forums.

I don’t know at the time of this writing, what is going to happen to this site and the archives it contains when I’m gone. It would be sad to see the articles on specific model development disappear. They are records of our history with very few, if any people left that can recount first hand. I have recognized many individuals in my stories who mean a lot to me and who contributed to many of our snowmobiles in many different ways. In my mind, they are the most important of all to preserve. Yamaha is made up of people – the brand and the products are a result of their passion. They are the real creators of our ‘Kando’ and should not be forgotten. I hope somehow Sled Talk will live on as a resource for no other reason than this.

May 5th is my last day as an employee of Yamaha. It’s a bitter sweet feeling as I’m going to miss so many of the people I have worked with over the years, many of whom I consider close friends. I’m also going to miss opening Sled Talk to see if someone has left a question or comment for me. On the other hand, I am finally going to finish some projects like my Phazer ‘trials’ sled and am looking so forward to being there for my family every day, even if that means holding the end of the dock down on a Muskoka chair while they enjoy our ‘cottage life’.P1020708 (1024x768)

Guys, it’s been a great ride and I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this space. I have – I am truly a lucky guy!

 

cheers cr

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march-07-039.jpg march-07-098.jpg jim1.jpg img_0870.JPG mrk-cr.jpg mar08-086.jpg tim_cr.jpg cover-boy.jpg rx1-pic.jpg jim.jpg group.jpg lid.jpg A-LORES-Brando-strapped in. proto testing march 09 Tapatoo 004 rrrr uuu Gordy 014 YAMscan 082 IMG_6594 pic gf Fuji Moon nobi1 IMG_2763 RU1 image Cr Hat

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Posted @ 6:00 am in Opinions and Insights,Yamaha People and Communication   

November 7, 2014

Carry On or Checked?

Friday noon, looking out the window at the falling snow. The calm before the storm as my calendar is rapidly filling up towards Christmas. We have several tests planned starting end of November right up until the week before the holidays. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Viper chassis responds to the addition of Performance Dampers. I will also be joining in with some of the project guys from Cat early in December to sample some new sizzle and I have a ‘bucket lister’ journey to add another new country to my tally of weird and wonderful places to ride snowmobiles kicking off the season.

The only ball in the air is how to divide and conquer a conflicting date and whether or not I’ll need (or can arrange) to fly to Japan for a couple of days mid December.

Something occurred to me while discussing this meetings agenda with our engineers. Most people, regardless of their brand blindness, will agree that Yamaha engines rank amongst the very best in the world. This is especially true regarding durability and reliability and if you consider the QDR relative to the performance, one could argue Yamaha is the best in mass production motosports power – marine, motorcycle, off-road, snow… My epiphany was – we have never tried to explain what we do differently, what steps are taken in engine development, to deliver the balance of performance and reliability that the Yamaha QDR reputation is founded upon. We’ve spoken to it in marketing over the years but the engineering detail has never been really been exposed. I sense an opportunity and an intriguing project at hand.

Case in point is the all new R1 and R1M MotoGP inspired bikes. @200hp / liter of normally aspirated power packing a full warranty along with the duty cycle of a flippin Corolla. The on-board electronics controlling this engine and consequent power delivery is incredible. I have mixed feelings about having a computer control how I ride but considering the performance levels being achieved and so few Valentino Rossi’s buying road legal sport bikes, I get it.

We are seeing more sophisticated electronics being applied to our snowmobiles as well and I see this only increasing as we move forward. Having learned from my past ramblings allow me to say this ‘just for the record’ – I did not say that the new R1 engine will be available in a snowmobile next year, an ATV maybe  – but not a sled!

cheers cr

 

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Posted @ 12:59 pm in Travel and Events,Yamaha People and Communication   

October 7, 2014

Dancing Fool

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Time flies – here it is October and I haven’t written a thing since early spring. Why? I’m really not sure. I have struggled, knowing SledTalk has a small group of hard-core followers who have shown appreciation for (most of) the content here and who wait patiently for some new sled fodder. I have always taken pride in remaining transparent while walking the tight-rope of ‘political correctness’. Frankly, this has caused me great frustration at times, not being able to share my thoughts and experience completely, especially regarding issues that are veiled with confusion or speculation. It was easier to navigate the quick-sand when I was only representing Yamaha within my ramblings.

Now a days, I am working very closely with the team at Arctic Cat. I have taken on more of a role in specification planning and communications and spend much of my time dwelling in the near future (aka Minnesota). It is this deep involvement with the SRV project (shared responsibility vehicle 😉 that has tempered my blogging and I believe; has caused me to subconsciously shut down over the summer. I have received many questions about our business agreements and future direction, some of which I tried to answer discreetly, with great sensitivity to both companies involved. All that did was raise more speculation. I have even read comments where I am accused of being a liar and purveyor of misleading information. Not a pleasant bit of feedback but everyone is entitled to their opinion and if that is the message I have sent, I accept accountability for it. I am simply not a good ‘dancer.’

So what can I say after six months of silence. hmmmm – Life is good! The snowmobile business is good! And our new snowmobiles are good! For the first time since 2003 I am not going to be on board a 4 cylinder powered sled. I have decided to sacrifice what I still believe is the coolest engine – ever – in a snowmobile and ride a new Viper. I have many reasons for making this choice, not the least of which is the fact, I am working so closely on the project. I owe it to everyone involved, especially myself, to focus my saddle time on the snake.

I have gotten some emails and comments lately from some of you guys, telling me to ‘wake up’ and write something or at least bury Sled Talk in the grave so you can purge it from your favorites (good one T). Thanks – I needed that!

Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to write when I started this post. I had it in mind to be an epitaph, now I’m not so sure. I’ll see how many of you are left out there and decide if I want to risk going forward and being a dancing fool

Cheers cr

 

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Posted @ 12:23 pm in Yamaha Insights,Yamaha People and Communication   

December 7, 2011

Someone Pinch Me!

Closing time last night and Blaicher comes bounding into my office with the winter 2012 edition of OSM magazine tucked under his arm.’ Have you read this one yet?’ To which I replied; ‘No I have been too busy doing what I’m being paid to do, what’s up?’ He dropped the copy, post-it notes clearly marking some pages, ‘well you will want to’… and snickering, off he went.

Checking the BB emails this morning from the throne, I spot a growing thread on the same magazine so while I was waiting for my ‘puter to boot-up  at the office, my curiosity got the better of me and I flipped to the post-it book-mark to see what all the fuss is about.

I haven’t been following the OSM crew of late, not really since they struck off on their own after separating their ties to Supertrax as the official publication of the Ontario snowmobile federation. They have since gone national in Canada and now international  publishing in the USA as ‘On Snow Magazine.’ The publisher, Richard Kehoe, has brought on board quite a list of editorial contributors, many from the USA and is clearly putting a lot of effort into bringing the rag mainstream. But I digress.

The subject of all the attention is an article entitled ‘Throw Down: Real Sleds, Real Riders, Real Trails, Real Results. They captured my interest in the first couple of paragraphs where the author supported my long standing opinion on the validity of snowmobile evaluations performed at the big media events as nothing more than seat of the pants opinion made with very little real world connections.

They took the time to perform some very controlled and quantifiable set-ups and test-runs and unlike most sled evaluations, they used methodology similar to what we would use during a ‘joint test’ evaluation to arrive at their conclusions. The Apex SE was the only 4-stroke of the four models chosen to represent each manufacturer. I was expecting the status-quo dismissal of the Apex as being ‘old and overweight’ in comparison to the latest 2-smoke sizzle.

A couple of the test riders are well known to me. One was a former employee of our competition and a  journalist, well known for his extreme viewpoints. I think these guys were sincerely surprised at the outcome of their evaluations but not as surprised as I was to find they were open minded enough to tell it like it is. The formula for the end result was found in reflecting upon the experience the majority  of riders can expect, with ego in check, on the trail, over the long haul.

There are a few notable quotes in the article but the one coming from Richard in conclusion, sums it up rather well: “The Yamaha Apex SE was the dark horse of the group. If I would have placed a few side bets on this sled, I could have retired, as this sled turned out to be the preferred trail sled of the group. Remember the Throw Down is about real world riders, the norm if you will.”

In case you are wondering, the Apex was up against the Polaris 800 Rush Pro-R, the Skidoo 800MXZ-XRS and the Arctic Cat CFR 800. I know some of you have opinions on the journalistic integrity of the main-stream sno-mo mags being heavily supported by the big-4’s advertising dollars. For the record, OSM doesn’t have a lot of corporate ads with two of the four OE’s being absent (and we are one of them). The magazine is available on newstands in both countries if you are interested to read the whole article. I have tried not to spoil the outcome too much 😉 .

As a bonus OSM uses photography from an old friend and newly appointed Snowmobile Hall of Famer, Wayne Davis and his images alone are worth the price of admission.  cheers cr

 

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Posted @ 11:50 am in Tech Talk,Yamaha People and Communication   

September 21, 2011

Dealer Networking

I just returned to the office along with most of our management team after spending the past week and a bit travelling to meet with our dealers. We kicked off the tour in Quebec City last Tuesday and Wednesday at Wendake native cultural museum. The attendance response from our Quebec dealers was so good we ended up having to rent a big top tent to display all our stuff and was standing room only for staff during the presentations.

I jetted home Wednesday night just in time for our mountain biking race series awards banquet where I proudly watched my daughter receive the ‘best sportsman’ award then it was off to Deerhurst Resort for the next meeting. Our very own Amy McIsaac and her band provided the nightly entertainment and once again we were caught off-guard by the higher than expected dealer attendance.

We wound up the Ontario meeting on Friday afternoon, made a mad dash to cottage and hit the airport early Monday to fly to Halifax for round three. The east coast hospitality was great as we were received in a century old harbor tavern and treated to some more local culture. At the same time, some of our team headed west to Banff where Randy and the boys corralled the western dealers. I heard there were some shots fired and a good time was again had by all.

We had some key business partners join us at all four meetings providing some excellent new product support for the attending dealers. We introduced the new Dupont hyfax and Tuner skis along with new partners, Shark helmets, AXO riding gear and Irish Setter sports wear as ‘exclusive’ to Yamaha lines. We also had the experts from Camoplast and Superwinch on hand along with the brass from Nippon Oil blenders of Yamalube and from YMUS Mr. Yamalube himself Steve Friedrichs who has forgotten more about oils and lubes than I’ll ever learn.

In debrief there was clearly an overall positive message delivered at these meetings and a general acceptance that we are on the right track and moving forward. Of all the product groups we touch the most solid in respect to the consumer has got to be snowmobile. Everything points to a season of growth given just a little co operation from mother nature.

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Posted @ 1:19 pm in Accessory Stuff,Yamaha People and Communication   

May 3, 2011

New Survey – Engineers Retire

As the sun is setting on another sled season, we are spooling up our planning cycle and preparing for meetings abroad. Traditionally the SPPM or snowmobile product planning meeting happens in June with representatives from the key distributors coming together in Japan to review the past season, present our ideas and plan for our future. This year is presenting an odd challenge due in part to the string of tragic events which have resulted from the earthquakes in Japan and also the lingering effects of the economic ‘smack-down’ we received as a large Japanese manufacturing company trading globally.

There is no question, our resources are being taxed with production limitations across the board and the restructuring of the various business groups for greater efficiencies. I imagine many of our team members are sleeping with helmets on. One of the internal reviews that is happening soon will analyse the success of the previous model year launch. We (the distributors) do not attend the P5 meeting directly but in this years case, we have been afforded the opportunity to include some information from the market.

What started out as a customer survey of the new Apex has morphed into a more encompassing look at the trends, desires and satisfaction of all snowmobilers. I posted a link to this survey yesterday on Totallyamaha and already it is growing in responses. It is my hope that it will go viral and find its way onto some of the other brand forums like Dootalk and Catchat and we can get some quantified  sense of what is important to all snowmobiler’s in general. I don’t have an official account on the other forums (as a Yamaha employee) and would not post anything using an alias as this would not be cool under the rules of social engagement. Honesty and transparency all the way!

Anyway, if you would like to complete the survey, I can guarantee you your comments will be presented in Japan on at least two occasions and probably make it into many smaller meetings and conversations.

If you participate in any other snowmobile forums and feel comfortable posting the link to the survey, please feel free to help me out. I think the more people who sound off intelligently on the subject of whats good and bad  (important and not) about their needs and our sleds, the better it will be for our future. Heres the link:

Spring Snowmobile Survey

I received a really nice photo presentation from Greg Marier  who had the opportunity to meet with some old friends. Toshi Yasui, Karl Ishima and Max Aoshima are all engineers who spent their entire Yamaha careers involved heavily with snnowmobiles. They are all retired now but decided to get together for a ‘boys trip’ to the USA to visit some of their old stomping grounds. I understand that they enjoyed as much of our winter as they could, doing some snow shoeing (something learned in the early years of snowmobile development no doubt), some cross country skiing and of course, some snowmobiling courtesy of Masa Saito at our MQTC. From the looks of all the photos, the boys had a pretty good time, hooking up with several other retirees, Jim Gentz, Jim Kedinger, Greg Marier and others. I just think it is so cool to see the god-fathers of what so many people enjoy today, still actively in pursuit of their passions. Yes siree Yamaha is a lifestyle!

cheers  cr

 

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Posted @ 11:01 am in Yamaha People and Communication   

April 15, 2011

Spring Shows – Turk

I had some interesting feedback from the Big4 snowmobile show tour over the past few days. It came as no surprise that Cat was getting a lot of attention in their booth, a brand new chassis and body work tend to do that. We messed up a bit with our signage on some of our units. For example, we had a cut-away of an Apex to show the EPS and EXUP system that was looking somewhat the worse for wear. Our Quebec reps were pretty vocal on how we should not have sleds in the booth that showed their mileage and looked used. Someone forgot to tell them it was the same sled that set the world record for the most miles traveled in 24 hours at the hands of Matt W. Yes, I know, Skidoo is now claiming that record but they don’t mention the fact, they needed to use two sleds to complete the job, using an out provided within the rules… would have made a nice little conversation starter in the booth. Mark L also forwarded a comment from a fellow who went to checkout the new Apex XTX  and decided not to purchase due to the skid-frame / Hyfax wear reputation on the 2011 with no apparent updates on the 2012, ooops. The pre-production show unit had the 2011 skid-frame, where the production units have a much updated version, we just didn’t point it out with a sign… Overall the attendance at the shows was good for all OE’s, up from last year and boding well for the future, hopefully another sign of recovery in the market.

My old pal Masa Saito (aka ‘Crazy Saito’) just celebrated 30 years with Yamaha snowmobiles. The guys in our Minocqua test center where he is currently based,  had a little party for him last week where he was presented a very cool piece of hand-crafted furniture. Not sure what clutch spec they used but I am pretty sure Turk over on TY would be able to make it back-shift better!

And speaking of Turk, I had mentioned when I was out in Brandon MB during the winter, I almost had a chance to meet the TY clutch-tech guru  but missed the chance. I received some bad news from Jim M who told me Turk (aka Mike Broda) has been diagnosed with a very insidious cancer. Here’s a guy that has given a lot of guidance to many less experienced snowmobiler’s who now finds himself in need of all our support. Mike if you happen to read this, know your friends at Yamaha are thinking of you and Live Strong brother. There is a post over on TY (link) where you can read what some of the guys have to say and perhaps leave some words of strength for Mike.

In closing I had mentioned the annual western Yamafest held in Rev’y was once again heralded a ‘must attend’ event but the part I didn’t mention in detail was the ‘fun’ had by the attending flat-landers from the eastern head-office and regions of YMCA. Heres a pic of Dean, our fearless snowmobile tech specialist demonstrating a  creative use of his avalanche equipment. I am told he ended up filing a claim for the newly created mine. An old friend  and BC regular on the mountain submitted the following report on what it is like to guide and ride with the Yamaha flat-landers:

Here’s My perspective on Yamafest: A Flat lander rides on a narrow trail, stiff as a board, Arms and legs straight, bent 45 degrees at the waist, half their weight on the handlebars

1) Slowly slides off a 2 degree off camber @ 3kph never changing riding position

2) Goes as far as possible off the trail and points the nose up hill or into a hole

3) At the last second pin’s the throttle till all motion ceases

4) Keep the throttle on a little longer out of sheer desperation and to disperse any remaining snow from the track area

5) Throw their head back and look to the sky

6) Silently yell- Ohgod,ohmummy,pleasebabyjeez,dontletmediehere, Ican’tbreath, Ithinki’mgoingtospitoutmyheart!! Option: Some elect to scream obscenities out loud (My personal favourite)

7) Incredible patience sets in, they can wait for hours warming the seat cover til someone comes to save them

Incredibly skilled Mountain guy comes in from the high side, nose always down hill not spinning the track, rides past as close as possible a few times to pack the snow and make an escape route

Flat lander looks at mountain guy thinking he is just showing off, flips him the bird and whines about abandonment (if you get too close they try and hit your kill switch)

At some point Mountain guy comes to help out and the Flat Lander rides out on the trail packed by the Mountain guy, Flat lander still feels insulted.

Flat Lander feels as though he needs to write a book or go on the talk show circuit to talk about their “Big Day”

We have grown used to this and have heard “I have ridden trails for 25 years” many times, a new rider is just as good as an experienced trail rider oddly enough

For the record the snow conditions were pretty tough, I cant imagine some of our guys thought it was “Fun” but the stories are awesome : ) … I love Yamafest
BTW- You’re next…  Red.

Nicely put Jeff- I will look forward to it-  😉  Cheers cr


 

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Posted @ 9:53 am in Travel and Events,Yamaha People and Communication   

March 15, 2011

Tragedy in Japan

We have had many calls and emails regarding the tragic events in Japan. For once I am at a loss for words as I don’t know where to begin. From what I can gather all of our Japanese staff are very fortunate not to have any immediate family or friends in the Sendai area but judging from their faces, they most assuredly know people who do. I had planned to travel to Japan this weekend to attend snowmobile meetings in the northern island of Hokaido but the call came through this morning that the meeting is cancelled (postponed). I don’t mind telling you I am somewhat relieved as the threat of a nuclear catastrophe has been weighing heavily on me since the news started trickling out about the potential melt-down of the reactors.

Yamaha operations are mainly focused in and around the Shizuoka prefecture with the main factories and headquarters in Iwata. I was told that the factories will be helping conserve power by participating in the rotating black-outs but are far enough away from the epicenter to have not incurred any  damage. For now all focus must be on the survivors and what can be done to help them through this.

I received a good response to my survey both here on Sled Talk and over on Totallyamaha. I haven’t had enough time to analyze all the data and produce a summary but it is clear to me that the market is opening up in the smaller less expensive categories. Can we take this as a viable business opportunity? It’s a lot easier to market a hi-performance, hi tech, hi-buck machine in some respects because there is more money to be made  within the tight margins which may not be justifiable at a lower price point.  You know its the ROI part that takes all the fun out of spit-balling  a new model, whether it is entry level or flagship… Time will tell.

cheers cr

 

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Posted @ 3:44 pm in Yamaha People and Communication   

March 2, 2011

President Yanagi Ride In Canada

I am back in the office today following the ride with our presidents from Japan and the USA. When I posted last week the weather forecast called for rain and plus 9 degrees on Monday. We rolled into Huntsville Saturday morning, clear skies minus ten and no fresh snow. The lakes were literally skating rinks. I could almost smell the hy-fax just looking at the sleds still sitting, patiently on the trailer. The faces on some of the guys I saw in the snowmobile parking lot spoke volumes. This didn’t look good, but I was hoping the bush trails would still be white and with the odd venture off-trail, we might be able to keep the tracks spinning freely and the temp lights from coming on.

Aaron and I set off north with the temperature climbing under the blue skies. It wasn’t long before the trail softened up and things improved dramatically. We ended up almost in Kearney before we looped back down towards Dwight and finished up our morning at a couple hundred clicks. The only bad parts were the plowed roads which we planned to avoid the next day. Back at the resort, we unloaded, finished prep’ing the sleds and I hopped on my studded mountain bike  for a few laps around Fairy Lake (don’t say it!) as the sun set.

Sunday morning we awoke to  5cm of fresh snow and milder temps. We saddled up and hit the trails to put a time on our loop and check out the lakes which now sported a nice layer of lube but not before we got in a good snowshoe stomp around the forest, scaring up a flock of wild turkeys in the process (and no, they weren’t riding yellow sleds this time). We were back at the resort in time to hook up with ‘Ace’ Oyama to go over the final details of the ride. Our guests arrived on time followed by grey skies and more snow…

Monday morning welcomed us with another 5sm of fresh snow and minus 1 degrees, a far cry from the previouslyforecasted rain-out and 9. We lined up the sleds, briefed everyone on the route and local hand signals then headed north. The pace was a little slow getting going but picked up once we got on the main trail. We had a new 2012 Vector and Venture, both sporting EPS along with 3 Apex’s and a Phazer GT. From what I could tell President Yanagi quite enjoyed the Apex but he also went back for seconds on the Phazer. Pete Smallman-Tew was riding sweep on’the sofa’ and I got a strong hunch after gassing up the sleds, that he was having a little fun off the back. Either that or his fuel tank had a hole in it 😉

We made it to the Bush Company for lunch right on time and after a nice big meal, we decided to run some lakes back. The traction was surprisingly good and all three presidents got to see some impressive numbers on their speedometers. In hindsight I am glad I warned them about the ‘dock bubblers’ on the big lakes as we veered off the staked trails to do a little sight seeing of some of the so called ‘cottages’ on Peninsula Lake. Once back at the Grandview, Aaron had a nice campfire going and we went from saddles to Muskoka chairs (Adirondak for my American friends). Keys pulled and bevy in mitt, I proceeded to toast a round of marshmallows (note: this is not common treat in Japan), passing the first to president Yanagi. Still wearing his nice new Klim gloves  he pulled at the smoldering marshmallow leaving behind the center still stuck to the stick. Before I could react he reached over with the other hand and grabbed the gooey mess pulling it free and in the process coating his nice gloves in molten sugar. What a mess. I am pleased to report my security pass was still functional upon arrival at the office this morning…  cheers cr

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Posted @ 5:04 pm in Yamaha People and Communication   

December 29, 2010

Manitoba Visits

Wednesday the 29th and I am back in the office after a few days off with my family. A new sled is sitting in the back yard, trail pass prominently plastered on the windshield, tank is topped-off, now all I need is some fresh snow. Looking back to the week before Christmas, I traveled to Winnipeg Manitoba and had a good visit with the guys at Wildwood and Winnipeg Sports. Snow was skinny but the cold weather and white dusting had spirits high, hoping for a good season. I traveled west to Brandon and it was a whole new ball game with lots more snow and even colder temps. I came quite close to meeting ‘Turk’ who I have followed on Totallyamaha for a number of years. He is a tech adviser on the forum and one who is well respected for offering up reliable and helpful information to many of the members. As it turns out he lives quite close to  Brandon Marine and Leisure, but Bill warned against disturbing him too early in the day 😉

My trip terminated up in Lac du Bonnet where I got to meet Justin and tour his toy-box. Interesting story he had, where last year he was given the opportunity to ride one of the factory race team FXNytro’s at a couple of regional events stateside, where he came out of nowhere won his heats and mains then disappeared back to the prairies as quickly as he arrived. His own sled (another FX10) sports additional gussets and war wounds as testament to his ‘take no prisoners’ riding style. Also spotted an SXR600 in his shop getting its 20,000 mile tune-up (fresh rings and some bushings) ‘just because’. The owner could afford a new sled but elects to run the high miler because it’s fun to rub it in to his buddies who are now on their  fifth and sixth ‘brand X’ machines over the same period of time.

We copied a bulletin to our dealers regarding track studding just before the holidays started with the intention to ease some concerns  and clarify our formal position. End of the day we do not recommend or endorse track studding (never have). As far as clearance and application goes, if you were to disregard our position it is possible to add studs provided you take the proper steps to ensure enough clearance and proper track tension.

I had sent a little Christmas greeting to some of my friends using an old sled pic of myself playing on a Larven back in the 70’s. I was a little surprised at some of the comments I got on it so I thought I would post it here for you. The Swedish made machine was powered by a little 185cc Husqvarna engine and was simply a motorized track. The bars are fixed and the skis attached to your feet. I didn’t get to read the owners manual but I am pretty sure there is a chapter in there on running over your own ski tips! Cowboy Jim had the best comment of all… ‘by the look on your face you don’t need a lot of horsepower to have fun’. And you know something, he is 100% correct! The older I get the more I realize how much fun is found in the simple basics in direct contrast to all the hi-cost technology and performance. That said, my favorite Christmas present this year is a shiny pair of new snowshoes… go figure.

Happy New Year 😉   cheers cr

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Posted @ 11:36 am in Travel and Events,Yamaha People and Communication