Bears On the Trail

Winter Polar Bear Ride

MSPN via  Minnesota Offroad  Chisholm, Minn.

Some prove their mettle by taking a polar plunge. The Northern Traxx club does it by wheeling all winter long, including their annual Polar Bear Ride.

Most bears are in hibernation during the winter months, but the Northern Traxx ATV club showed their alliance with the beasts by taking part in their hometown festival, Polar Bear Days.

Polar Bear Days LogoAs a part of the celebration, the club organizes an ATV ride on the 12-mile Chisholm ATV Trail​.
It’s one of the few ATV trails that is open year-round, said club secretary and Region 2 director Erinn Puhek.

The camaraderie that we have to ride in the winter is kind of unique to Chisholm,”

she said. “We insist that our trail is open all winter.”

The ride took place on February 21, and, all things considered, the weather wasn’t bad. It’ was a little warmer than last year,” Puhek said, with a high of about 20 degrees.
“It was about 10 degrees when we started and arguably cold,” said club president Larry Folstad. “But it was calm and sunny. If it was overcast and blowing, it would’ve been miserable.”

A group of about 50 people on 38 machines met at Tom & Jerry’s in Chisholm at about 11 and hit the trail. They’d anticipated 80 to 100 riders, but Folstad thinks the weather may have scared off some people.

The group was primarily Chisholm-area riders, but also included about eight from the Grand Forks area. There was a small contingent from Grand Forks at the 2014 ride. “This year, they rallied and got a bunch of people to come,” Folstad said.

They made their first stop about 6 miles down the trail at the Ed Walberg Memorial Shelter for a bonfire and warm-up. Seasoned wood was ready, but there were some issues getting the blaze going — until Puhek pulled some dryer lint out of her pocket to use as a firestarter.

And there was bonfire talk: about past adventures, about the possibility of lengthening the trail, about electric jackets and more before a snowball fight started.

The group had lunch at the trail’s end at Highway 5 bar before heading back to Chisholm — and making another stop at the bonfire.

The pace is slow.

You’re limited to about 10 mph because anything more and it’s bone-chilling cold on the face,”

Folstad said. None of the machines had track kits this year, and compared to other years, the snow was not deep. This has saved the club a good deal of money in grooming, Folstad said. Still, there was some fun to be had in a gravel pit.

The event wrapped up before dark, and then the gang headed to Jim’s Sports Bar & Grill. “The day ended on a good note,” Puhek said.