Meet Gladstone's very own snow man, Shannon Mason
SNOWBIKING: A planned two-year stay to the US and Canada ended with former-Ambrose resident Shannon Mason to become a professional snow-bike rider.
Now, Mason is planning to make the cut ahead of the Winter X Games Aspen 2018 in December.
It's a far cry from what was essentially a trip to the other side of the world almost four years ago.
"Back in 2014 my wife and I went on a trip to the US and Canada for a few weeks and we loved it to death, so we started planning to do a two-year stay," he said.
"In December 2015, we left our high paying permanent jobs in Gladstone on a journey of the unknown across the globe.
"I had pre-purchased a bike and track kit in USA before leaving home and we then travelled through the States to Canada."
Riding in the bush around Ambrose helped Mason to adapt to ride on a snow-bike and he explained the similarities and the differences.
"Riding a dirt bike certainly gives you a fair amount of the skill needed to ride a snow-bike, but the differences in some techniques are very hard to master," he said.
"The trail, that is the packed snow-covered logging road you ride 15km or so to get to the riding area, is the most difficult to ride due to being hard packed and whooped out.
"Your ski darts everywhere and it is extremely hard on the track kit and the body to hammer it across whoops for long sections.
"I think the only thing I can relate that to with dirt-biking is trying to ride Super-Cross stutters with flat tires on a XL500 and it's a good thing I grew up in the bush and we did stuff like that."
Mason admitted braking is more of a challenge as opposed to on a dirt track.
He explains the one brake on the snow-bike causes a toboggan effect downhill.
"You kind of just have to wing it downhill using the bike like a three-metre snowboard," he said.
"On the race tracks the brake works better as the snow is harder and not as deep."
Mason added that cornering is very similar in feeling and technique and said that to learn to trust the front ski and understand its limits is key to adapt to different conditions.
So what are the other differences between a snow-bike and dirt-bike?
"A snow-bike starts with a dirt-bike of any brand from 250cc upwards," Mason said.
"Then the wheels, swing-arm, rear suspension, brake and air filter are removed.
"A ski is mounted via an aluminium spindle to the front axle and fork tubes, then, a track similar to that of a snowmobile is mounted o the rear frame and engine.
"A shorter chain drives the track and on the other side of the drive is a brake."
Snow-biking is a relatively young sport, invented a decade ago, and its popularity slowly made its way from Idaho to other parts of Northern USA and into Canada.
Mason said the next few months will be used to focus on the Winter X Games Aspen.
"That means I have to aim towards a 25-hour drive to Minnesota in December for the qualifier and a lot of prep work beforehand," he said.
"Next season, I'll be conducting prototype testing for a riding apparel company called CKX and will be doing a couple of short back-country films.
"Now that this season is done, all that's left to do is get the bikes ready for next winter."