Snowmobiling in Maine, clubs and activities

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ANDY VALLEY RIDERS SNOWMOBILE CLUB

By Donna Perry, Feature Writer

Selectpersons voted in November to withdraw up to $5,000 from a town recreation reserve account to help the Andy Valley Riders Snowmobile Club buy a new snowmobile to groom 34 miles of trails in town.

The board tabled the club’s request for $19,500 in October to buy two snowmobiles for grooming trails in town. They wanted to review the information before making a decision.

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The club had wanted to upgrade its 2002 and 2006 Skandic drag sleds with 2012 to 2014 four-stroke utility sleds.

The four-stroke sleds are much more fuel efficient with an estimated 20 to 23 miles per gallon compared to 5 to 8 mpg, plus the cost of injection oil for the sleds the club now uses, club President Mark Bickford previously said.

The quotes the club received for 2014 sleds were $10,600 for a 2014 Skandic SWT and $9,000 for a Tundra. They also received quotes for a 2013 Viking Pro for $10,999 and one for a 2012 RS Viking Pro at $8,700.

Selectperson Tim DeMillo asked if the club has any alternate sources of revenue that could be applied toward the cost of the sleds.

The club decided they would sell the two existing sleds, if they can get two new machines, Bickford said.

They could use that revenue to buy one of the sleds themselves and if the town buys one, they could get a package deal, he said.

State and grant funding has become very limited, he previously said.

The town’s recreation reserve account had $159,236.31 in it as of Oct. 22. The town leases some land on its recreation lot for a communications tower. Jay is paid $893.50 a month for the lease and a additional carrier, Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said. That money goes into the reserve account. Revenue from a timber harvest on the rec land previously went into the account.

Board Chairman Steve McCourt asked how much the club had in its operating budget.

The club pays $9,000 to $10,000 per year for expenses, including fuel, and that is kept in the account, Bickford said.

It has between $15,000 to $20,000 in the account this year, he said.

DeMillo said part of his struggle with the request is his concern that other groups may come forward to request money, once the board sets precedent. There is also concern over timber harvest funds being in the account and another harvest won’t happen for decades, he said.

“Is there any way to meet somewhere in the middle?” he asked. He didn’t believe the board was in a position not to help the club.

Bickford said if they just upgraded their oldest sled, the 2002, it would cost about $10,200.

McCourt asked if replacing one sled this year and getting rid of the older machine sounded reasonable. The club could do a 50/50 deal with the town paying about half the cost of one machine, he said.

The town bought a PistenBully groomer for the club several years ago for about $47,000.

By Craig W. Armstrong

Feature Writer

If you are considering buying a snowmobile, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you’ll have to decide which kind of machine to buy. The best place to start is with a friend who is already familiar with the sport. Find out what they would recommend, ask them to take you for a ride, or better yet, take their snowmobile for a ride. Search the Internet to find out if there are snowmobile clubs in your area. These organizations can be a great resource.

Snowmobiling is a great way to enjoy the cold weather and it doesn’t take a lot of training to get started. Most snowmobiles are easy to operate and have many safety features. 

There are several types of snowmobiles available, beginning with entry- level models or trail models. They usually go up to 70 horsepower and feature an electric start and reverse. They are lightweight and easy to handle.

Next, there are performance snowmobiles. These machines have higher horsepower, around 85, and are heavier. The increased weight is due to shock absorbers and a suspension system. Touring snowmobiles are designed for just that purpose. They usually seat two people. The backseat often has a backrest and the machine is equipped with a large windshield and side mirrors. These types of snowmobiles are designed for traveling a long distance in comfort.

If you want to climb, a mountain snowmobile may be for you. These machines are designed for mountain riding. They are longer and narrower than other snowmobiles. They have specially designed long tracks and high horsepower engines. Utility snowmobiles are wider and designed for towing. The wide snowmobiles work well in deep snow and get the job done.

You will need gear to go with your snowmobile. As with any winter outdoor sport, you will need to keep warm. Your clothing should be waterproof. Your best bet is to get a waterproof jacket, pants or bibs, boots, hat and gloves. Dress in layers, making sure your outer layer is waterproof.

Once you have your gear and your ride, don’t forget safety. Never take off on a trek alone and always tell someone where you are going. Always know where you are going by having a trail map. Take a basic tool kit, first aid kit, your cell phone, some extra gloves and, most importantly, a shovel. Even snowmobiles get stuck in the snow. If you do get stuck, a shovel might be the only way of getting your machine free.

Fun in the snow can take on many forms, and there are many sports that offer a thrill when the temperature dips. If skiing or skating isn’t your thing, how about snowmobiling? Riding a snowmobile or snow machine is relatively simple and doesn’t take a lot of training.

RANGELEY

The Rangeley Snowmobile Snodeo will start at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 24. The event includes demo rides, family rides, radar run, poker run, displays and vendors, children’s activities, canoe sleigh rides, Rave X show, parade, and fireworks.

RUMFORD

Black Mountain of Maine hosts a Snowmobile Hill Climb each year. Do not miss the roar of engines on the mountain or the opportunity to earn on-snow bragging rights. Each hill climb will feature timed runs to determine seeding, the top eight racers in each class will move on to the Uphill Elimination event. During the elimination races, snowmobiles will race head-to-head to determine the top dog. First racer to the top wins each round until only one is left. In order to give racers maximum chances to race, each hill climb will feature Grudge Matches: two racers, head-to-head. Classes offered will be men and women, 500cc to open.

CLUBS

Andy Valley Sno Gypsies — www.andyvalleysnogypsies.com in Auburn

Bridgton Easy Riders — www.bridgtoneasyriders.com in Bridgton

Streaked Mountaineers — P.O. Box 203, Buckfield ME 04220-0203 or email streakedmountaineers@hotmail.com

Sno-Voyagers — www.falmouthsnovoyagers.com in Falmouth

Hillside Family Riders Snowmobile Club — ww.hillsidefamilyriders.com in Lewiston

Cochnewagan Trailblazers Club — www.cochnewagantrailblazers.com in Monmouth

Royal River Riders — www.royalriverriders.com in New Gloucester

More Maine snowmobile club information can be found at www.mesnow.com which is the site of the Maine Snowmobile Association. The site states: Maine’s snowmobile trails exist because people who loved to ride realized that in order to keep a winter trail system open, landowner permission needed to be obtained, funds raised, brush cut, signs posted, bridges built, snow groomed, trails inspected, maps produced, grooming equipment purchased, maintained and insured, and access issues and legislative initiatives monitored.

The riders willing to assume this responsibility organized into clubs, under the umbrella of the Maine Snowmobile Association. Early leadership of the MSA pushed legislation to establish a snowmobile registration system that would funnel some money through a state agency to assist the snowmobile clubs in their trail development and maintenance efforts.

Decades later this registration system continues to reimburse clubs for a portion of their trail expenses. The balance of the money needed to maintain trails has always been raised through club membership dues and club fundraising activity.

Maine’s snowmobile trail system now includes over 14,000 miles of trail, including 3500 miles of primary trail known as the Interconnected Trail System. The ITS trails connect across the state and with decent snow a rider may head out from anywhere on the ITS and ride to any other location that is reached by the system.

Many of the 10,000 additional miles of snowmobile trail in the state hook up with the ITS. Think of the Maine trail system as similar to a highway system. You travel across the state using the snowmobile highways, and can exit onto local roads (local trails) to explore a town, visit a gas station, stop for lunch, or enjoy a club event. 

For over 45 years, thousands of Maine Snowmobile Association volunteers have worked to keep this trail system healthy, and they would welcome your support. 

“Snowmobile Maine. Ride Right. Enjoy.”

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