CONSTANCE BAY – For the first time in a month, there wasn’t a snowflake in the sky – it was the perfect day for Constance Bay’s 13th annual Old Sled Run.
The annual event is a tour of the West Carleton snowmobile trails, a hop across the river to Gavan’s Hotel and then back to where it all began at the West Carleton Royal Canadian Legion for chili and prizes.
This year’s turnout was huge with 83 sleds, many vintage, and 114 riders aged from 13 to 81.
People travelled from near and far to participate including Bruce Schoblaska who travelled all the way from Wisconsin.
“I have some good Canadian friends,” Schoblaska told West Carleton Online before the procession of snowmobiles hit the trail. “I’m mixing a visit in with them along with this event.”
Those friends include Roy Taske of Buckingham and 81-year-old Randy Heinle, a retired surgeon from Ohio.
The three friends have two things in common – they love snowmobiling and they love their Diablo Rouges. The 1967 Bolens Diablo Rouge is a tractor-powered sled in two parts.
It is an articulated sled with an engine and treads up front, pulling the seat and passenger behind. It has a top speed of about 40 miles per hour. According the friends, the Diablo Rouge was popular with the trappers because of its tight turning radius.
“They are fairly rare,” Schoblaska said, adding he thinks there are maybe 800 in North America and Europe.
Taske says they’re tough too.
“These guys usually make it back,” Taske said. “We did 100 kilometres last weekend. This is my baby. I like going through the bush a bit slower. I like to look around.”
Taske says he has brought his Red Diablo to 12 of the 13 Constance Bay Old Sled Runs and enjoys it every year.
“Our wives call it a disease, we call this our therapy,” he said.
Event organizer Mike O’Reilly called the Old Sled Run another huge success.
“Everyone was a winner,” he told West Carleton Online today (Feb. 19). “It was a beautiful day in the Ottawa Valley, we raised some money for the Legion, and we filled Gavan’s Hotel in Quyon. Both are central to what we do to contribute to the local communities, here and in the Pontiac. We have an incredible team of volunteers at Branch 616 that make this all happen. The breakfast is hugely popular and we had approximately 130 that morning. Our chili crew ensured that everyone was fed and warmed up on their return. I would particularly like to mention Jeff Campbell and Alain Goulet from Quyon who are the point people on that side of the river.”
Coun. Eli El-Chantiry is one of the co-hosts of the Old Sled Run – a fundraiser for Branch 616.
In the morning he helped serve breakfast to more than 100 people at the Legion during registration, and then, a snowmobiling enthusiast himself, hit the trails with the group.
West Carleton Online caught up with Coun. El-Chantiry today (Feb. 18) at his annual skating party at the Cavanagh Sensplex.
“There were a few breakdowns,” El-Chantiry said. “We don’t want to go too far. We have to take it easy on the older sleds.”
El-Chantiry said around five sleds didn’t make it to Gavan’s. But the sleds are left behind for later retrieval and their riders simply hitch a ride on another participant’s machine.
“The sun was shining, it was a good day,” El-Chantiry said. “The trails were busy. They’re in great shape. They’re well-groomed and hard packed. There was more traffic on the trails then I’ve seen in a while. I’m hoping after the skate to go for another run.”
“As you will see, we had 103 entries,” O’REilly said. “These ranged from as far east as Halifax, NS and as far west as Calgary, AB. We had a couple of special guests from Ohio and Wisconsin as well. All in all it was an amazing day.”
This Ski-doo Elite 450 LC by Bombardier, built in 1978 and owned by Kyle Graham, was a popular conversation piece. This one even has power steering. Photo by Jake Davies
Following the return to the Legion, awards are distributed in a variety of categories, including oldest and youngest rider, long distance award and best vintage suit.
Some of the award winners include:
· Oldest machine: Dan Cousineau of Shilo, MB’s 1964 Hus-ski.
· Best rare iron: Les Carswell of Elginburg, ON’s 1969 Alouette.
· Best rat sled: Ray Ouelett of Arnprior’s 1964 Skidoo.
· Best resto-mod: Kyle Graham of Kars’ 1978 Skidoo Elite.
· Best vintage suit: Remi Levac of St, Bernardin, ON’s 1973 Chapparal.
· Loudest pipes: Bryan Robillard of Fitzroy Harbour’s Polaris 800 Storm.
· Spirit of Vintage Snowmobiling award: Bruce Schoblaska.