Elk River To International Falls And Back, In 1 Day

By John Lauritsen, WCCO-TV

PRIOR LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — It is safe to say that a lot of us are tired of winter, but a Prior Lake man can’t get enough of it.

Last Friday, he did something pretty unthinkable. David Van Wie and his friend Luke Waldriff drove their snowmobiles from the Twin Cities to the Canadian border and back, in less than 24 hours.

“It’s certainly not as the crow flies, but the crow never drove a snowmobile,” said Van Wie.

It is hard enough to make that trip in a car, much less a snowmobile. For the record, the 60-year-old Van Wie will tell you the trip is about 830 total miles.

“It’s a number a lot of people have in mind and I decided to just go for it,” said Van Wie.

About 15 years ago, Van Wie began wondering just how far he could go in a single day. So last Friday, he and his friend Waldriff of Lighthouse Motorsports got an Elk River bartender to sign off at 12:01 a.m., and the two men took off for International Falls — but not blindly.

“I got the biggest windshield I could find and then raised it another 4 inches,” said Van Wie.

Spoken like the true engineer he is, Van Wie had modified his 2005 Arctic Cat, and Waldriff did the same to his snowmobile. They calculated that to make it work, they could only be off their snowmobiles for two hours for gas, food and other essentials.

During the trip their average speed was 38-miles-an-hour and the route was far from a straight shot. They had to jump from trail to trail and sometimes they had to drive where there was no snow at all.

That took a physical toll on their bodies and on their machines, but they stopped at every stop sign and never went above the speed limit. And minutes before midnight, they arrived in Elk River where the very same bartender signed off once more.

“Not a good time for drinks on the house, but it was a great celebration. Although half an hour later, we were in bed. It was exhausting,” said Van Wie.

Van Wie said a police officer actually pulled them over briefly because he thought it was strange they were snowmobiling in the middle of the night.

Van Wie credits Waldriff, a snowmobile dealer, for getting them through.

He said he would not do the trip again, but would help others map it out.

More from John Lauritsen
  • Snowman

    The speed limit is 55. Average 38 mph and stop for all stop signs. I DON’T THINK SO. Somebody is pulling our leg.

    • Ralph

      830/22=37.72. The speed limit on groomed trails is 50. Going off the trail I would imagine it would be what one considers safe. Cloudy nights, going places you haven’t been, you would not be going fast.

    • David Van Wie

      Response to Snowman

      The speed limit is 50 mph not 55 mph. Not risking a ticket and averaging 38 mph is possible on the grade. Any fool would know this. It is pretty simple. How else could we have done this. It is all about the right trail on the right day.

      David Van Wie

    • Curt

      IF you were an avid snowmobiler, you’d KNOW 38 MPG average is TOTALLY POSSIBLE! No one’s pulling your leg — get off your couch and do some riding, talk is cheap and you call yourself Snowman — get serious

  • Brandon

    Ever heard of the Iron Dog? Give that a try if you want a challenge…

  • http://www.hardcoresledder.com/forums/288-minnesota/530854-elk-river-international-fall-back.html#post5724784 elk river to international fall and back - HCS Snowmobile Forums

    […] elk river to international fall and back anybody think they can do it faster than 24 hours. it's only 830 miles round trip… Elk River To International Falls And Back, In 1 Day CBS Minnesota […]

  • http://www.arcticchat.com/forum/general-snowmobile-discussion/296015-830-miles-24-hours.html#post2277978 830 miles in 24 hours - ArcticChat.com - Arctic Cat Forum

    […] […]

  • shawn

    Sounds awesome! Though I would have an otter sled attached with ice fishing gear and hit some lakes along the way and wouldn’t rush it. Have always wanted to do something like this. Nice job fellas. Even more motivated now after hearing this!

  • TCfan

    Congrats to these guys! No matter the speed limit, that’s quite the drive!

  • mike

    Curiuos about the route you took? What trails did you ride on?Did you ride the ditches? On what highways and roads? Please show a map of your trip! Thank you.

    • David Van Wie

      Response to Mike

      The DNR has maps showing each of the 4 quadrants of the state. Tape the 4 maps togather to form a giant map of the state. Hang this 6 foot tall map on the wall and stand back. You will see the mark of Zorro. You will be looking at the northern 80% of our route. This is key. The remaining 20% took up 25% of our time.

      Trails must be solid hard refrozen after meltdown, typical of late winter. A fresh snow will create portions that will take too much time and energy. It may take 2 weeks after a heavy snow. Go to a dynamic snowfall map to determine timing.

      The machine is another piece of the puzzle. No wind buffeting, darting, and bump steer. Seats had extra foam and lumbar support. I had shocks reworked, left hand throttle and a dozen other details.

      Staying warm and dry is important but not stopping to add or remove layers is also important. We both controled temperature with electric warmers. Big windshields create a swirl on the back so we both had a extra back layer.

      Modular helmit and floppy gloves must come off and on in less than 5 seconds. In your group if you are not the person waiting on others you may not be up to this task.

      Call me direct if you have further interest.

      • Vickie

        Be much more fun, David, if you had taken Parker B with!

  • Robert

    two people who experienced more in 24 hours than most of do all winter. Keep in mind that David is 60! I wonder what his next challenge will be? Life is about experiences not things. Way to go guys!

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