By: Bruce Robinson
I woke up this morning and things had changed, again. That’s because change continually affects our snowmobiling world, both at the corporate OFSC and at the club levels.
It all comes down to handling those changes and if you are like me, the older you get, the harder change is to deal with. Look at this column for instance. I’m doing my first writing for our new Go Snowmobiling Magazine. For 20 years, the president’s message was in one place but now, presto chango, it’s some place else!
As if that’s not enough. I’m also told I need to change my writing style. Seems that everyone wants me to change… even though my wife, Liz, says I don’t deal well with change. Every time the furniture gets moved around or a new coat of paint gets applied to a wall, I sing the same old song: ‘I liked it the old way’. But after a while I always get used to it, until the next time! And that’s what we have to do with snowmobiling, too.
Get used to the changes – like rising fuel prices. I know last winter was bad enough, especially when our clubs got the bills for groomer fuel. My home club spent $20,000 instead of the $7,500 it had the winter before. Fortunately, permit sales were also up last winter, so that extra revenue helped.
But face it, folks, fuel prices have already gone up about 40 percent since then. Meanwhile, the permit fee for the coming season is set the same as for the last four winters: $180 before Dec. 1 and $230 after. Whoa now, that’s five winters without change… have we held the line for you or what! But our clubs are non-profit entities; they don’t have much financial reserve to fall back on.
The only way I can see our clubs withstanding today’s fuel prices is if permit sales increase again this winter. So please do your part by purchasing permits to support your club and take a friend snowmobiling to grow participation. And fair warning: you don’t have to be a fortune teller to know fuel prices along with other rising costs will eventually force a permit fee change.
I bet you’re also wondering how you’re going to afford your own snowmobile gas this winter, right? Well, let’s see… the average rider snowmobiles about 2,500 kilometres per winter. At 12 litres per 100 kilometres, that’s about 300 litres of gas.
At today’s prices, let’s say for high-test at $1.40 per litre, that’s $420. At last winter’s pump price of $1.00 per litre for high test, you would have spent $300. That’s an increase of only $120 for 2008/09 – a real increase of less than .05 cents per kilometre… and even less if you use regular.
If you were visionary enough to have upgraded to a 4-stroke or a direct injection 2-stroke sled recently, you would have already lowered your fuel costs considerably from what they used to be (and some 2009 engines are promising even better fuel economy!).
Which is good, because the old 2-strokes were averaging about 20 litres per 100 kilometres or more, so do the math: that amounted to at least 500 bucks to ride that same 2,500 klicks! So worst case for 2008/09: if you are riding a clean technology sled, the savings you are making at each fill-up means that your actual out-of-pocket fuel cost for this winter shouldn’t be any more for your 2,500 kilometres than it was before your clean technology days.
You may not have gained much, but you are no farther behind either! Plus, you’re likely using less oil. Now if you’re still driving a gas-guzzling sled… I predict a sled change coming in your life, very soon! That’s the one time Liz says I cope well with change…when it’s time to get a new snowmobile!
In closing, let me draw your attention to one thing in life that hasn’t changed much over the years. That’s the hard work and dedication of our volunteers. They’re the ones on the front lines that have to contend firsthand with the constant changes in snowmobiling and in customer expectations. And you know what? Their pay hasn’t changed, either – it’s still 0, nothing, nada, zip, squat. But then, neither has their love of snowmobiling. Thank God for our volunteers!
Till next time, welcome to our new Go Snowmobiling Magazine… and remember, keep your skis on the snow!