Guest blog by Darren McChristie.
I have to admit that I love my kicksled. My wife bought it about ten years ago when we lived in Iqaluit, Nunavut and it has been an essential part of our winter gear ever since. We’ve used it to transport our children (one standing on the runners and the other on the seat), travel to neighbour’s homes, and to play in the snow and on the ice. We’ve also used it as a dogsled, with mixed results (although our husky likes to pull, she prefers to follow her nose, rather than the trail).
The earliest kicksleds can be traced back to seventeenth century Holland; however, it was the Swedes in the late nineteenth century that standardized the design and mass produced the sleds. Kicksleds became commonplace in Scandinavia through the 1920s and 30s, but they fell out of vogue in the 1970s. In order to preserve the kicksledding tradition, some municipalities in Scandinavia reserve part of the road for kicksleds and maintain a salt-free, well compacted trail.
To propel the sled forward, the driver rides on the foot plates at the rear of the sled and kicks the ground between the runners like a scooter. To steer the sled, the driver twists the handlebars in the direction she would like to turn and pushes out on the opposite foot plate at the same time thereby applying torque on the frame.
On packed trails or snow-covered ice, kicksleds can be very fast (and fun!). Moving a sled uphill may require the driver to step off the rails and push; but it’s still easier to push a loaded sled than carry gear in a backpack and it’s more fun than pulling a toboggan. On downhills, there is no limit to the top speed if a kicksled is driven with reckless abandonment (not recommended if the sled is carrying human cargo).
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Guest blogger Darren McChristie loves winter. He loves the cold, crisp air and how it alerts his senses and makes him feel alive. Living just outside of Thunder Bay, Darren has ample opportunity to enjoy the highlights of winter and, as a photojournalist and publisher of Superior Outdoors magazine, he’s keen to document his pursuits and share them with others in hopes they too will appreciate the experiences of winter in Ontario.