Thursday, April 15, 2010


By Luke Lester

Close to the end of this season I got the chance to do yet another story I have wanted to do for a while. Winter was winding down and I really needed to get away from the office for a few days with my pals for a multi day ride.

Ontario is home to a very unique multi day loop ride called the RAP tour. RAP stands for Round Algonquin Park and as the title suggests, the ride consists of 900 kms of some of Ontario’s best trails.

This ride started in my back yard with two of my oldest friends, Joel Potter and Stefan Bjelis. First part of the trip was a long stretch towards Pembroke Ontario and took us across the lakes, then on to the town of Whitney. This is part of a single day loop I ride all the time, but once we got past Whitney, I was in unknown territory. Good thing the OFSC does such a great job of signing the trails and the maps for the RAP tour are so detailed it was a lot easier than I thought.

The second leg of the trip is the route along the top of Algonquin Park from Pembroke to North Bay. It was by far the fastest and least populated. We rode perfectly groomed trails for well over 300km and saw very few other riders.

This part of the ride seems the most remote, but is actually extremely well serviced. We even found a cool little cafĂ© called the Gingerbread. Make sure you stop and check it out if you’re ever in the area.

We rolled into North Bay with no issues at all and had a great stay. We took off the next morning well rested and ready to get home. This was also going to be the most technical in terms of mapping and the longest because of the more complex trail systems we were following. Fortunately we had no issues heading south from North Bay towards home.

We did run into a few minor trail closures but the clubs had done a great job of working with what they had. Up to this point we had been riding nothing but HUGE snow. North Bay lacked an abundance of white stuff, but the clubs know how to spread that snow out as far as they need to.

We finally rolled back home late that evening and finished the ride off with some stories, complaining about sore muscles and an overall sense of achievement.

The RAP tour will test your ability to follow your map, trust the signage and not look back. It will also give you a great opportunity to spend 3-5 days worth of quality time with your friends and riding buddies. Ontario’s RAP tour should be at the top of your list next season.

Visit for more.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lake Running In Ontario

By Luke Lester

This winter we did a story that I was really excited about and I want to share a bit more about why Lake Running holds such a special place in my heart.

From the time I was just a young sapling my dad would plop me on the seat in front of him and we'd ride his favorite loop of lakes from my home in Minden Ontario.

We'd head north to the small town of Eagle Lake, then west through the famed Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve to Dorset, then back south to Minden.

In total we'd run about 30 lakes, put on just under 150 miles and would ride through some of the most beautiful, scenic and untouched landscape Ontario has to offer.

This ride was something I looked forward to all week and it was something my dad and I loved to do together. More than once we'd stop along a particular portage between lakes, or if the stars were out and it was dark we'd stop out in the middle of a big lake and say to each other, "lets always remember this moment" and you know what, 20 years later I still do.

You need to understand that we didn't poke around these lakes. When dad and I would be out riding together we'd be running fast. It was these times with him that solidified my love for riding and my addiction for speed (going fast).

There aren't many places in North America you can actually do this type of running and Ontario is special because of its large concentration of lakes that freeze so solid and are networked so well.

Lake running is about more than just opening up the throttle and trying to break the sound barrier though. Being able to cover so many miles so quickly means you can go further from home easier.

Many riding areas keep you to one set of trails, but in Ontario's lake country you can run every day for weeks and never hit the same trail twice.

The last thing that draws me to running lakes is the freedom. In Ontario there are no speed limits on lakes. I'm not suggesting that everyone should hit these lakes and run 100 mph, but if you're going to, there's no safer place to do it than on a lake.

I do need to stress the importance of safety and common sense if you plan to run lakes. Don't think you should just unload your sled and take off on some random lake. If you're not familiar with the lake your on, or running lakes in general, you simply shouldn't do it alone. Go with someone familiar with the area.

A person with a solid knowledge of the area will know what lakes freeze safely, where dangerous spots might be and where the entry and exit points on that particular lake are. They'll also know what else to watch for, like pressure cracks, rocks or stumps and ice fishing huts. If you don't know what to look for and how to spot these things you can get into trouble fast.

Lake running is something that just ingrained in me. Its what I know, its what I do and its what I love. Its one of Ontario's unique natural attractions and something every snowmobiler should try.

Visit and plan your lake running vacation for next season and click here to watch this segment!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Riding In Traverse City, Michigan

By Mike Lester - Online Editor, Supertrax

One of the many things that make my job great is the amazing people I get to meet on the adventures we're entitled to. This past week, I took a road trip with my brother and two of our friends from high school up to Traverse City, Michigan. What an experience!

We stayed at the Grand Traverse Resort where our new friend J. Michael DeAgostino, Public Relations Manager for the hotel made sure we were well looked after.

It's a good ten hour haul from the Greater Toronto Area to get to Traverse City, but just about 5 hours once you cross the border into Michigan - not too bad considering we were hauling a trailer and 4 sleds. After a long trip though it was good to chill out at a beautiful hotel so we were ready to ride the next day.

We hit the parking lot of Blue Sky Rentals to meet our guides for the day - Jamie Bush and Mike Manning. These are two of the greatest guys I've met and die-hard snowmobilers. Jamie proudly showed off his brand-spanking new '09 Dragon Switchback that he scored a sweetheart of a deal on. We lined it up next to our MY10 800 fire-breathing swtichy for a quick comparo, took some photos before we headed out.

Although milder weather had caused bit of a melt in the previous week, snow had quickly replenished itself and trail conditions were excellent - did I mention it didn't stop snowing the entire day? Winter is definitely alive in Michigan!

One thing I love about riding in this area is that there's an endless selection of great places to eat. On top of that, they're snowmobiler-friendly! A quick lunch and we were back out on the trails. Jamie and Mike took us off trail down a power line to experience some powder too. Just amazing.

Further pampering that night at Aerie Restaurant and Lounge on the 16th floor of the hotel was like icing on the cake. A 14oz steak, good wine and surrounded by friends. It was the perfect end to a great getaway.

Put Traverse City on your list of destinations for this season.

Visit the following links for more information:


Tuesday, February 2, 2010


By Mike Lester

If you caught the show this week, you no doubt saw just how beautiful Pemberton British Columbia Canada is. Believe me, Matt Schween is a wizard behind the lens and was able to capture the wonder of this experience almost as closely as actually being there. That amazing sunset you saw - no Photoshop there, it was the real deal. Matt jumped out of the truck and sprinted out into a field to record that while he and Luke were enroute to ride with Geoff Kyle early that morning.

Meanwhile, I took the day off, got a 90-minute deep tissue massage at Connections from my new friend Sarah Curtis. Yeah, it was a lazy day for me, but Luke and Matt had the experience of a lifetime.

I had my time on the mountain though - for 2 days actually. Ray Mason of Totally Awesome Adventures hooked me up with a new Summit 600 E-TEC and Luke borrowed an M8 Sno Pro from Mark Hamilton at Route 99 Motorsports and we hit the hill for the most insane riding experience of my life.

I've honestly never ridden in powder like this and Ray showed us all the best places to ride making sure we were totally safe and on the occasions we did get stuck, made sure we got out. This trip wouldn't have been what it was without Ray or Mark riding with us.

Another great experience, was hanging out in Mark Hamilton's garage with Geoff Kyle and his girlfriend installing the graphics kit to Geoff's sled while Luke and Matty did interviews upstairs. I was so nervous I was going to mess up the stickers, but Geoff was totally cool about it. He's a class act and for anyone in the film industry looking for the most insane backcountry rider Hollywood has ever seen, give this guy a call.

If you're planning a trip to Pemberton, reach out to Ray Mason and set up a guided tour of the mountains. I highly recommend it. It will enhance your experience and he'll ride to your skill level and show you places that will blow your mind - Plus he's a cool guy to hang with for a day too.

Stay at Pemberton Valley Lodge while you're in town. We had a suite, complete with 2 bathrooms a kitchen and a living room. Following your ride, visit Sarah Curtis at Connections to ease your sore muscles too. Get a couple buddies together and this could be the adventure of a lifetime.

My heart-felt thanks go out to Ray and his wife, Mark, Sarah, Geoff Kyle and of course to Tracey Rozsypalek from Tourism Pemberton for all her hard work in getting us to BC, hooking up the digs and for packing our lunches each day to take on the mountain.

Visit every link below and book now. ADVENTURE BEGINS HERE!







Friday, January 29, 2010

800 E-TEC: Ski-Doo Messed Up This Time!

By Motorhead Mark Lester - Co-Publisher, Supertrax International

Yep, Ski-Doo messed up the 800 class in one swift move. Okay, I had a lot of preconceived expectations in anticipation of the 800 E-TEC's arrival. With the 600 E-TEC re-writing the rules in the 600 class and redefining the 2-stroke engine as we know it, I wanted to see the 800 do the same thing to the 800 class.

I didn't want to pen this short report until I had racked a few klicks on the 800 E-TEC which arrived here on Tuesday afternoon. The snow is back and the trails are superb so I've logged 151 miles on the 800 in two days and have to report I am more impressed than I had hoped I would be. The sled exceeds my expectations and it still needs another two hours of running until it hits the full advance map and cuts the oil pump back.


Everyone was anticipating more power from the E-TEC DI hammerhead injection system however, there's more than just a healthy dose of roost on tap. The way this thing spools power is amazing - Seamless, linear and in abundance. You can trail ride this 800 at easy speeds and it obliges with smooth engagement and nice lift off idle, with nary a surge.

The old Power-Tek frustrated me when threading it slowly down a tight portage or just maneuvering the sled. It was jumpy, edgy and irreverent at small throttle openings. Oh yeah, the E-TEC engine makes that crazy 3 stroke sound at low speed and the cleanest wail up top - short of a General Electric jet engine.

Once under way and setting up for a good carve the engine is electric motor like in its dispensation of thrust. Move your thumb a given amount and get that exact amount of juice. It is way too easy to rip trails with this kind of response. You are in control, in your office and it's a good day with the predictable and positive sensations this motor produces.


Okay, here's the beef. This motor is stupid fast. From 6500 to full shift at 8200 the sled literally leaps up onto its rear idlers and throws the skis in the air – at 50 MPH! The power up top sends even Arctic Cat's healthy new 800 looking for traction. The 800 class just got bored, stroked and Direct Injected by Ski-Doo. This is a totally impressive, better than expected, standard-setting power plant.

I only got 150 miles on it, but the first tank was spot on 19 mpg and the mill is not on the full-power program yet. Included in that 19 mpg were a couple solid pulls up the lake - one at 102 then another at 115 MPH indicated. It uses more oil on the break-in map so I can't quantify oil consumption.


When Ski-Doo landed the 600 E-TEC there was the sound of a drum beating in the distance. All the advantages of a 2-stroke including light weight but better than 4-stroke fuel economy and better than 2 stroke SDI or carb power from the same basic power plant.

EPA 2012 emissions are met with both these E-TEC mills and the only thing I can say which makes any sense is this - Polaris better get some of their much rumored Orbital DI engines in production and if Arctic Cat has a DI program, it's time to pull the sheets off it.

Ski-Doo has opened up a whole new range of possibilities for snowmobile power with the DI E-TEC engine family. In the world of 2-stroke power, economy and emissions it isn't possible to compete with DI technology with anything less than DI technology.

Simply put, no OE other than the fully 4-stroke committed Yamaha camp can afford to miss out on the benefits and advantages of 2-stroke direct injection.

For more great editorial about the 2011 lineup visit

Friday, January 22, 2010

Go Ride Elliot Lake. You'll Be Happy You Made The Trip

By Mike Lester - Online Editor, Supertrax International

Y'know, Elliot Lake Ontario is a place that truly amazes me. Here you have a city where the people just get it. Snowmobiling and the powersports community are embraced wholeheartedly here.

The Elliot Lake Snowbirds snowmobile club does an excellent job of maintaining the trail system, which runs right through town. Thank these wonderful volunteers if you ever get the opportunity. They devote their time so you can have the smoothest ride possible.

You can park safely after a good night sleep at the Algo Inn and unload your trailers and pretty much sled for the whole day right from the parking lot. Oh and there's plenty of snow too!

This isn't a sleepy one horse northern town either. Elliot Lake is a former mining town that at one time had a population upwards of 30,000 people. Today its down to about 12,500 year-round residents that keep the city bustling. There's a lot to do and hey, there's even a Tim Horton's (For our American friends, Tim's is the best coffee anywhere).

Elliot Lake is about a 2-hour drive from the Michigan border and just about five hours from the Greater Toronto Area. Load up your trailer; call your wife from the road and head on up to Elliot Lake for some great riding this winter.

Helpful links:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Honest Impressions of Arctic Cat's Bearcat

By Luke Lester - Host, SnowTrax Television

This season we decided to request a sled for our press fleet unlike one we'd normally ask for. Its a Bearcat utility sled from Arctic Cat.

Honestly, it's a beast and simply put, its HUGE. It boasts a 20-inch wide track, under seat storage, Z1 4-stroke engine and a gigantic bush bar up front just to let everyone know you mean business.

At first, I figured this sled would be reserved for hauling camera gear and possibly for pulling trucks out of the ditch (I'm kidding, though its not entirely impossible for this sled). After the keys had been handed out to the various team members and test riders I found myself in a pickle. I wanted to ride, but the only sled left was the Bearcat. As far as I'm concerned, any ride is better than no ride so off I went. Something happened on that trip that I never expected. I began to like the Bearcat... a lot.

Its a surprisingly awesome sled. For starters, its by far the warmest sled in our fleet as the windshield is as big as the hood of a 66 Coupe DeVille. I've always liked Arctic's Z1 engine and its right at home in this sled delivering smooth, even power. The seat, while super wide, is also very comfortable - sort of like cozying up on your living room couch and, believe it or not, it rides like a DREAM. I can honestly say its one of the best riding sleds I've ever logged miles on.

I'd love to tell you that it handles with cat like precision (pardon the pun), but it doesn't. The wide skis and track seem to work together to provide slightly numb but not unpleasant handling on average speed trails. Verdict; not altogether terrible.

At the end of the day I relayed my impressions to the rest of the SnowTrax and Supertrax crew and they collectively thought I was nuts. Over the course of the next few weeks though, each of them had a turn on the Bearcat like I did and and all walked away as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Even though this sled is purpose built to be a work horse and not a play toy, it does both extremely well. My question to anyone who doubts the Bearcat is simple. If it rides smoothly, its comfortable, quick and handles pretty good, why NOT ride one?

For more information on the Bearcat and other Arctic Cat sleds visit