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Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine
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Print Date: January 3, 2019
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The winter season of 2017 – 18 was for many enthusiasts just another miserable winter, and one much like those before it, a snowless bust, while for others it was a near banner year of abundant snowfalls and events of epic proportions. As one avid snow buff put it, “it all depends on where you’re at, and what you call adequate conditions to fulfill your recreational desires.”
Listening to several of my snowmobiling compatriots from states south and west of my own snowmobiling mecca of Michigan, some never received enough of the “white gold” to even open their trails. For some of my closest snowmobiling friends who reside in the southern regions of my own great state, they too, found mostly undesirable conditions with not enough snow to run their groomers.
Of course, both of these situations brought about several complaints that the snowmobile program was not doing its job, even though weather patterns are constantly changing and are nearly impossible to predict, much less conquer. On the other hand, in the Upper Peninsula and especially in the central region around Munising, the Lake Effect Snow generator pumped out a few inches of fresh snow almost daily.
Another locale where both businesses and winter enthusiasts were happy was in the Keweenaw, also a recipient of lake effect snowfalls, and a place where the welcome mat is always out for visitors. In the westernmost reaches of the U P, even with a minimum amount of snow, riders from neighboring states flocked to communities like Ironwood, Watersmeet, and Bergland in hopes of finding ridable conditions, and for the most part, they weren’t disappointed. The primary reason was due to the cold, subzero temperatures, most inland lakes had produced enough ice to permit safe snowmobile travel and old Mother Nature had allowed just enough fresh snow so that cooling and lubrication of the hyfax wasn’t a problem. So, depending on how one looks at it, the 2017-18 winter season could be either good… or bad!
Winter Season- Good & Bad, And What the Cost Might Be!
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Although the 30th annual “For Women Only” (FWO) celebration was a tough act to follow, the 31st annual event was one to remember! It was held February 2-4, 2018, trailside at the snowmobile-friendly Ramada Inn of Grayling, MI. But during this first weekend of February, Mother Nature was once again very fickle, providing just enough snow and cold to tempt one into wondering -- how are the Grayling trail conditions?
When Saturday morning came, a group of diehard riders led by FWO veteran leader Melissa Szymanski rolled the dice and headed out early on the trails. Melissa’s group included several adventurous first-year participants. The fresh snow cover made for beautiful scenery, and the riders enjoyed their morning ride. But icy trails convinced the group to cut it short and head back to the hotel to meet the other participants for lunch.
31st Annual For Women Only Snowmobile Charity Ride
With the New Year starting it is always exciting, and for me it is my birthday month. The more the years go by, some things are harder and some are easier. Some of my buddies and I have always talked about getting old, and the one comment I usually make is, when is the last time you got out of bed and nothing hurt? Yah, every morning something always hurts. Oh-well! So this is what was going on in January 1989.
Snowmobilers are discovering more opportunities then ever in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. That season, trails reached from Ironwood to Sault Ste Marie, from Marquette to Menominee, connecting with Border States and Ontario. Trail signing is better, trails are smoother, and more numerous. Accommodations are snowmobile friendly, as well as people along the trail. Snowmobilers have choices of groomed trails or taking off across the virgin snow, or logging roads.
Doesn’t that sound great? It is still that way today so strap on your saddle bags and ride the U.P.
Remember When: January 1989
Every year myself and my friends generally take a ride off to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and take a look around in different areas for our snowmobiling pleasure. Generally it's for a ride in central Upper Peninsula, but this year was going to be a little different, we would head over to the eastern side of the Upper Peninsula and check out the area between the Soo and Whitefish, and even to the South, all the way to Lake Michigan Shores.
It was an adventure in itself just getting things together and heading north to begin our snowmobiling excursion. After all the weather systems that we had been through the last few days we figured that the snow might be done for a while and it would be a great time to go for a ride.
The lake effect snows that came in after the system snows had gone on through, turned out to be a greater amount and a much stronger amount than any of the systems that had been through in the past week. Driving was not a pleasant experience and the temperature outside was extremely cold.
The snow began to come down rather hard and at times it was changing into ferocious little ice pellets that was coating the road and causing increased hazards for driving, hopefully before too long it would get cold enough that it would all change to snow for a safe crossing of the bridge ahead.
A Long Saturdays Excursion
Groomed Trail is pleased to announce its new online and interactive snowmobile trail mapping solution for snowmobilers in the Midwest. The
platform enables users to forego the traditional paper map and interact with GPS recorded trail data online. Also included are forums, news,
events and classified sections.
“Groomed Trail is the perfect tool for snowmobilers and outdoor enthusiasts of any kind,” says the company’s founder Steven Dove. “It allows you to plan for short or extended trips according to distance, trail conditions, availability, weather, and points of interest. And what’s even more exciting is that you can build and save routes to your own profile. You can even share them with other registered members of the community if you wish!”
Dove explains that the snowmobile trail reporting and trail availability features are crowdsourced and that any registered user of Groomed Trail may post a trail report at the county level or update the trail conditions at individual trail segments. Updates can include a description for the change, as well as a visual indication of the trail status in either red (closed), yellow (caution) or green (open). And signing up with Groomed Trail allows users to subscribe to receive alerts about their favorite riding trails or riding areas.
Classifieds, Forums, News and Events pages also allow snowmobilers and clubs the ability to connect and collaborate with each other. Clubs have the ability to personally add events to the Groomed Trail events calendar. Additionally, lodging owners have the opportunity to list full page advertisements for their accommodations. The ads are displayed on the map, showing their exact location in proximity to the snowmobile trail systems.
“As a snowmobiler, there are so many reasons for you to sign up with Groomed Trail,” adds Dove. “There are the safety aspects because it will keep you aware of any conditions that might negatively affect your trip. But also it will open up new horizons and allow you to become part of the snowmobiling community. It’s new and exciting, and what’s more, it’s free. What’s not to love?”
For more information, visit the website at https://www.groomedtrail.com or Facebook.
Introducing "Groomed Trail", a Free, Crowdsourced Community for Snowmobilers to Interact with GPS Recorded Trail Data
OK, guys, here we go with another Chapter of the Vintage Sled of the Month Show. Ooops… Forgot there for a second. I am in the process of starting my own radio show. Word processor skipped a gear there for a second. But, this really is the Vintage Sled of the Month column. And, this month, I have another really cool sled to talk about.
Back in the day, there were a lot of manufacturers out there. Some made just a sled or two. Others, on the other hand, made lots. Then there were the big dogs. Some of these, like Bombardier, Arctic Cat, Polaris, and Yamaha, survived to live and ride another day. Then, there were others, that were really big way back when, that did not quite survive.
One of those that did really good, only to eventually crash and burn, was the Johnson. The Johnson snowmobiles came out of the Johnson boat and motor company. They had been around for a very long time. Way back in 1913, a tornado destroyed their shop and they relocted to Terre Haute Ind. Then, in 1935, the Johnson brothers were bought out by the Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC).
But back in the early 1960’s, the snowmobile boom began, and OMC got into the snowmobile business. But they had three brands: Evenrude, Johnson, and Snow Cruiser. The first two, are pretty much iconic names from the era. The last, I haven’t heard much about. However, some of the info I dug up said that these were basically the same sled, with different colors.
All had some unique qualities. Like, back in 1971, a Johnson Pegasus set the World Speed Record, at just over 140 mph. Plus, one of the things I can personally remember is that many of these sleds were large. Not exactly the speed demon the Pegasus was. More like a horse with a track and skis. I remember a child hood friend talking about working with his grandfather, skidding out cedar logs with one.
Vintage Sled of The Month
In November, the day after Thanksgiving, I headed north to Indian River and sat down with Travis Conners. He and his wife Renee own and operate, Indian River Sports Center.
The day I was there was their annual Black Friday open house. It had been a while since I had been there, and was amazed to see a very large addition added to their show room. It is about 6,000 square foot and it is beautiful. They can really show off all their products, such as 509 helmets and Klim clothing, of which they are one of the largest dealers in the U.S. They also carry FXR clothing and a long line of boats. And, of course, they sell snowmobiles: Arctic Cat and Yamaha. The Yamaha line is a full line, with generators and power washers and every thing to do with the Yamaha product.
They also rent most all out door toys that you can think of, such as ATVs, Boats, Water Craft and snowmobiles. The ATV’s, water craft, and snowmobiles are all Yamaha products. Personally I feel all three are the top of the line category.
Travis told me that they have about 18 employees that they keep real busy all year around. The work area where the mechanics work is very large and they keep it very clean, and that makes it nicer for the techs to do their work.
Spotlight On: Indian River Sports Center