With winter just around the corner and the first snowfalls accumulating to the valley bottom, Whistler Ski and Snowboard bums from all over are engaging in a yearly ritual of loading up their snowmobiles into beat up pickup trucks worth half as much as the machines they carry. Now is the time to either put lassie to pasture and trade her in for an upgrade or drag her in for a little pre-season TLC and hope she makes it through another winter with you. Along with the snowfall, the sight of semi-trucks carrying loads of snowmobiles nestled safely away in crates serves as reminder to the rest of us to either save our pennies for next year, or take the current snowmobile in for a little pre-season love at the shop. Snowmobiles are high maintenance. Oh yes, they’re even worse than your “girlfriend” from Yaletown with that annoying purse dog. These machines need a shopping list of maintenance done on them on a regular basis in order to remain functioning. This ranges from clutch and carb cleanings to changing chain case oil and lubing joints. For most of us that don’t have a full garage set up with tools and clutch pullers, most of the shops around town offer specials on pre-season tune up packages. We were lucky enough to catch up with Andrew McBride of Route 99 Motorsports located in Pemberton BC and talk with him about what his fall looks like.
How long have you worked at Route 99?
I’ve been running the shop since November 2010 – 2 years!
How many employees does the shop have?
We currently have 3 full time employees as well as a couple part timers. We run a tight program – work hard, play even harder!
How many snowmobiles will you be putting together in the next little while?
We have already assembled at least 10, and by the time we are done we will have put together over 40 sleds! Building a sled is our favorite job to do at the shop, every single one gets customized differently – skis, graphics, colorful goodies, exhaust, clutching! Everyone has a different taste!
What is involved in getting a sled from crate to customer?
You start by disassembling the crate – the top and all four sides. Then you have to take the bolts out that hold the front of the sled to the crate and cut the strap holding the back down. From here we hoist up the front and install the shocks and skis. Now that the sled has some “legs to stand on” we lift it off the bottom of the crate. We bolt on the handle bars and install the windshield, then we lift up the back and adjust the track tightness. Last up, adjust the length of the throttle cable, fill the bad boy up with fuel (mixed 100:1 with oil for break in) and fill up the oil reservoir. We start the sled up and let it run for a good 5-10 minutes and run it with the track off the ground so that we can rev it up. Once she’s up and running we add all the goodies the customer has picked out!
Tell me a little bit about the more popular 2013 models.
Our most popular model is the M800 – it comes in 3 different trim packages; Standard, Snopro and LTD as well as 2 different track lengths; 153 and 162. The other popular sled is the M1100 Turbo. This sled is a WEAPON! This sled is a 2 cylinder 4-stroke engine (in the same shell as the 800!) that comes stock with a turbo. It has 177 horse power right from Arctic Cat, but runs safely to 220 horsepower on 91 octane fuel with a single $400 upgrade. Anyone who claims that the sled is too heavy because of the 4-stroke engine should check out KJ’s part in Slednecks 15 – he sends his! Every single Arctic Cat sled at our shop comes with Fox Shox, either high pressure gas or air. All the engines are built by Suzuki and are considered the most reliable on the snow.
What local athletes/pros work with your shop? (Snowmobile, ski, snowboard, photogs and filmers too.)
The list of Route 99 supporters is miles long: Famous sledders like Kalle “KJ” Johansson, Brad Gilmore, Tyler Blair, Grant Clarke, Stephanie Sweezey, Khan Yong Gee and Chris Brown. Super shredders like Rusty Ockenden, Wiley Tesseo, Beau Bishop and Vera Janssen. We deal with some pretty awesome photographers too – Russell Dalby, Bryn Hughes and Jeff Patterson. To be fair though, pretty much every single person that walks into our shop is awesome in their own way. We deal with tons of OG shredders and backcountry explorers that are out of the “scene” but still slaying it on a daily basis! (anyone I forgot to name drop I’m sorry!)
Any advice to snowmobile owners for pre-season tune-up musts?
Get a tune up! Do not be a schmo that lets your friends down because you didn’t have your sled checked out by a pro. Chances are if you haven’t done it by the time you are reading this, all of the local shops in the sea to sky are SLAMMIN’ BUSY now.
What is the best part about your job?
I have wanted to run a snowmobile shop since I was 5 years old. I can actually say that I am living my dream! Some days the job is tiring and stressful (what job isn’t?) but when it all comes down to it, I get up every day to live and breathe snowmobiling. Having so many awesome customers and friends that share this passion is amazing… Having a super deadly co-worker/head wrench (Adam Furlong) – thank you!