Last April, we had the opportunity to finally ride with Troy Burt. We had known Troy for several years but this was our first opportunity to ride together. Troy joined us for a trip to Snowy Cabin Adventure, an all-inclusive winter lodge located at the 34 KM mark of Taylor’s Brook Road. During these few days in the backcountry we got to know more about Troy and what makes him tick and more importantly, what we can all take away from Troy’s perspective on life and motivation. We decided to create a kind of Q&A and add a few additional things in there too.
SW: Where are you from and who introduced you to snowmobiling?
TB: I’m from a little town called Virgin Arm, out around the Twillingate area (Newfoundland). I was introduced to snowmobiling by my father, I can remember he had an old Citation 4500 and for some reason my first memory is putting it into the fence. I was very young but I’ve been hitting everything else in the back country ever since! But the first sled I spent much time on was my old 16 elan. Loved that old girl.
SW: For those of you that don’t know, Troy is an Amputee. Troy, how did you lose your leg and tell us about life before and after the accident?
TB: Growing up I was always fairly active and usually wiping out on peddle bike somewhere and if I wasn’t wiping out I was doing wheelies, I could go for a long time and been hooked on them ever since. I’ve broken a fair amount of bones over the years and been in and out of hospitals but that’s just my way of life and I enjoy it to the fullest! I lost my leg in a motorcycle accident back in June of 2008.
Before I lost my leg I enjoyed sledding very much and made several trips to British Columbia. I was usually always on the move and very active. But ever since my accident I’ve had such a different attitude and outlook on everything you take for granted. I’ve pushed myself outside of my comfort zone so much since and I wouldn’t want it any other way right now. It took the breathe out of me that’s for sure, waking up in a hospital bed with my neck broken (titanium plates and fusing) and missing a foot, I was so sore, everything was bruised. I’m happy for how everything has played out ever since and I’m looking forward to what might happen in the future.
SW: Post accident; tell us about your first time back on a sled?
TB: I remember taking my old 2001 summit 800 151″ out of the garage during the first snow storm of the 2009 winter. There wasn’t nearly enough snow to go riding but I had to know if I could still ride. I had sat on that sled in my Dad’s garage everyday just waiting to go for that first ride. It was a great feeling that first time I nipped the throttle and I knew I still had it; the love of snowmobiling never left me.
I had a long road to get where I am right now and many sores, bad knees, loose bolts, sore necks but I’m stronger now then I was before the accident and I wouldn’t change a thing that I have went through.
SW: Most recently, you did a ride with Burandt and Skinner, tell us about that and how did that experience effect your riding once you got back home?
TB: It was the trip of a lifetime! I’ve been watching Chris Burandt since he made his debut in Slednecks 3 and always wanted to ride with him. My two friends Adam Greening and Scott Critch and I took off to Colorado with the biggest smiles anyone has ever seen. The whole experience was great for bringing our skills to the next level and making us better mountain riders. The whole Burandt experience is great. The service is second to none and watching Burandt ride is a thing of beauty. The man literally is flawless when he rides. He made me realize that I had to be able to react on a dime and always have a plan B. Look where you want to go and incorporate that into your riding habits on anything from MotoX, BMX and snowmobile. Look with your eyes and your body will follow, “some skill set may be required”.
SW: Tell us about one of your favourite rides here within the province of Newfoundland?
TB: How do I choose…..? I’m usually up at 4 AM and drive three hours across the island to unload and hit the fresh before anyone else. Every ride I am smiling from ear to ear. Every blip of the throttle makes me happy. Every ride in the back country is different. That favorite spot last year could be completely different this year with the changing winds, snow conditions, etc… But last April when I rode with Andrew Goldsworthy I learned so much of the backcountry I thought I knew a lot about. We explored Taylor’s Brook road to Western Brook Gorge area, stayed at Snowy Cabin Adventures which was also great. The food and accommodations were incredible. Andrew showed me some great spots to ride but for now I have to keep them secret. I can’t have anyone hitting them before I do.
SW: Since your accident, how have you had to change your riding style?
TB: The biggest thing I have to say is “you have to trust your body” and I have to put as much trust into the prosthetic foot as I do my real one. It’s hard because your mind is telling you otherwise. Again this took a lot of rides and a lot of pain to get as comfortable as I am riding with a prosthetic. Mom always said I was stubborn. It really sucks when your foot turns on you though, trying to do the wrong foot forward and your toes are pointing completely 90 degrees opposite of your self and then I’m into a tree.
SW: What’s the biggest life lesson you have learned from snowmobiling?
TB: No matter how bad of a day you’re having when you get on the sled; once you pull the cord everything is perfect. The days you get stuck on the side of the hill, stop and take a breath and look around at the view. Take some pictures. It’s a huge stress reliever and I’m happy I’m involved in this sport. Snowmobiling is my passion and anyone who knows me will agree. The best days follow snowstorms.
SW: What’s a snowmobiling goal you have set for yourself?
TB: Eventually I would like to share my passion with as many people as possible. Guiding would be a great addition to my resume. Ride more days and spend more time around the Sledworthy crew and everyone else who loves the ride as well. I’m dying to get into a movie and if I push myself hard enough, devote the time and surround myself with the right people, anything is possible. A job with Sledworthy would be a dream of course!
SW: You rode with Andrew from Sledworthy Magazine last season….Andrew commented that “Troy rides like a young bull moose; he just jumps into things and waits to see what happens.” Would you say this is a fair comment?
TB: I don’t like to second guess myself and usually I just swing for a fences and hope for the best possible outcome. When I make it, it’s great and when I don’t, I get great pictures so it’s all good, everyone else usually gets a laugh, there’s always a tree line on every hill. You just gotta try it. I don’t think you’ll ever see me on a snowmobile and not have a huge smile on my face.
SW: Will you be sporting a winter beard for this season…the single ladies are curious?
TB: As always the beard will be returning!
SW: What reaction do you get when someone realizes you’re an amputee and you just rode circles around them or did a wicked tree line on the side of a hill?
TB: Everyone usually finds out after my buddies tell them, while I am attempting something that’s probably way over my skill level. But I usually get laughs out of it and a lot of questions. I like educating people on it and opening their eyes to what is actually possible when you’re as stubborn as a mule! It’s definitely harder though.
Final comments by Troy:
If I were to ever give any advice to anyone wanting to get into or get better at backcountry tree riding; keep it pinned and “don’t look at the tree”. I have a new prosthetic for winter 2016, a full carbon fibre light weight socket along with no doubt the best available foot for an active young person like myself.
I have to send a huge shout out to all my riding buddies over the years. My friends from home and my Clarenville/Port Blandford friends. You all know who you are and I can’t wait to hit the hills this winter.