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So you live in snow country like I do and now youíve decided to take up the sport of downhill skiing. Youíve acquired some fashionable skiing togs as well as a nice set of skis and poles. If you live in southern Wisconsin, you might head over to Cascade Mountain near Portage to learn and practice your new found winter activity. After a few lessons you decide to tackle the Magic Carpet run, one of the easier trails on the mountain.

You find that skiing is really fun and over the course of the winter you graduate to the Schoolmarm run. You find skiing to be exhilarating and every chance you get, you make your way to Cascade Mountain to enjoy the thrill of sliding down the Magic Carpet and Schoolmarm runs. The skiing keeps getting easier and easier and you wonder what other challenges might await you.

A friend tells you about the ski resort at Big Sky, Montana. He extols the virtues of Lone Mountain with its 11,166 foot peak thatís only accessible by tram. He spends a week in the Colorado Rockies every winter and only wishes he could have more time to ski its slopes. He particularly loves the forty-two degree, 2,000 foot long Big Couloir run and finds the challenging terrain of its steep and narrow path heart pounding and breathtaking.

You must find a way to go with him on his excursion this winter to this Mecca of the skiing world. You begin planning how you might be able to free up a week to join the party and ski with the experts. Think about how much you might learn by skiing with them. But are you ready for Big Couloir?

No matter how many times youíve slid down the easy runs at Cascade and felt your confidence build with each successive run, does that make you ready for the challenges of Big Couloir? Even though the Magic Carpet and Schoolmarm runs gradually seemed easier for you, there's still a need for more training before you tackle Lone Mountain.

Is it any different with motorcycling? Riding around town, even if you completed a basic riding course, can make you feel more confident on your iron horse. But thereís a lot more to know about riding before you head out on a week long journey with a group of riders. Besides learning the skills needed for riding with a group, you must know how to deal with a variety of weather conditions. Youíll also encounter a wide range of situations youíve probably not seen before, including fatigue, heat related issues and more challenging roadways than you normally ride.

Jumping from basic riding skills into a much more sophisticated riding scenario increases your risks and reduces the chances of it being a fun and enjoyable trip. To prepare for these challenges, itís best to get some additional training to enhance your skill level to be prepared to handle the new situations you are sure to meet. Like your skiing, you can never know too much about riding to keep it safe as well as exciting.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!