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Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine
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Print Date: February 6, 2019
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Well, with the early snows falling and the ground becoming a beautiful, glistening winter scene, my anticipation for a ride really got my mind working overtime. What’s more, even though it would be quite a while before there would be adequate snow to ride locally, there were reports of fantastic amounts being received out in the western states, I spontaneously decided to treat myself to a snowmobiling adventure outside of my own very snowmobile friendly state by heading west, toward higher elevations and hopefully deeper snow. Sadly, Mother Nature had other plans that I was totally unaware of, at least in the beginning of my trip!
To begin with, I broke two of the most important rules that I have always adamantly insisted be followed, first, by not asking for anyone’s company on such an undertaking, and second, not letting anyone else know of my proposed destination or other travel plans. In my defense, however, I really didn’t have a set destination in mind and really hadn’t thought the whole plan through! I’m pretty sure a great many avid snowmobile enthusiasts have been in this same state of mind at one time or another, and as I kept thinking about what I imagined would be a perfect getaway, I just threw abandon to the winds, so to speak.
With a hastily packed suitcase and the trailer hooked up to my vehicle, I headed out at first light, getting through Marquette just about the time everyone with any common sense was heading to work, and even with the minor delays and traffic snarls, I made it all the way to Ishpeming before I stopped for fuel and a fast-food breakfast at the BP Station & McDonalds. Although I had no reason to hurry, I still was anxious to keep on the move, and I pushed the speed limits to the max… maybe a few miles over.
Blizzards and Barricades
This story is something that I write and rewrite every couple of years or so. The reasons are two-fold. First, riding the ice is one of the most favorite types of snowmobile riding that I have ever done. But, it is also the most dangerous. For me, a self-admitted adrenaline junkie, it has kind of always been something I have loved to do. I learned to ride the ice when I was just a young kid. But, when I was just a young kid, I also learned exactly the price the ice can take from those to whom it gives so much pleasure.
First, I grew up in Naubinway. Way back in the 1960’s, this was an Indian Fishing village. Like the ones Gordon Lightfoot talked about in his classic song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” At that time, snowmobiles were just coming into their own. And, my relatives, the Indian Commercial Fishermen, just took to them the same as our western relatives took to the horse.
I got my first sled when I was nine. And, not only was it a Christmas present to me, Dad could use it on the lake, to tend nets, with my cousins. At first, I would go round and round in a field behind the house. But, one night, my cousin had come over to ride with me. All the way from the other end of town. (Think Naubinway… Not that far.) And, being a kid, I had to follow him home. The problem was that we weren’t supposed to be riding snowmobiles on roads. It was illegal at that time.
Which, in the town of Naubinway, would probably have not been an issue. Except that the local CO lived just across the street. And, when he heard my sled coming by, decided to stop over for a visit. Dad and mom were not impressed. Their one and only son. Entering into a life of crime. Before the age of 12.
Ice Riding - The Good, The Bad, and The Wet
For most folks it's usually the first ride of the year, the week after Christmas or perhaps The New Year’s holiday weekend. This week generally can be the most stressful and difficult trip of the year.
I see it every year, the guys that wait till the last-minute putting hyrax on the sleds the night before departure or being out in their driveway loading sleds in the middle of the night just trying to make a perfect snow vacation for the family.
It was a tough decision this year whether to head out for a family vacation in between Christmas and New Year's or to stay home and let other people find where the snow was or where it wasn't. They say people are snowmobiling in Munising, Michigan I found it very hard to believe it, doesn't seem as though there could possibly be enough snow on their trails for anyone to have a good time at all.
Our snow conditions at our Brimley home were marginal and icy to say the least. A steady rain had soaked our precious snow and by morning it was flash frozen, we would not be riding our forest roads let alone our trail system.
We had sat at the cabin long enough, it was time for Rosie and I to head out in the truck and take a ride across the upper peninsula just to see exactly how much snow there was in the different places.
Hell Week - Where's da snow?
Founded by Glenn Welch in 1989, Welch Manufacturing Technologies, Ltd., is a New Hampshire based company specializing in the manufacturing of precision machined components to ISO 9001:2008 and AS9100 quality standards, for a range of high-tech industries. Welch holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern University.
As an avid snowmobiler, he enjoys riding in Canada where he logs more than 2,500 to 3,000 miles per season. In 2012 Welch developed and patented a diamond coated tool that simply and effectively sharpene the carbide runners on your snowmobile’s skis.
In fact, it was during a long trip in Canada when - faced with replacing another set of carbide runners – Welch came up with the idea of a portable, easy to use sharpening tool. Back in the shop Welch tested the concept using off the shelf diamond coated cutters. The operation was a success but needed to be simplified.
With his engineering and business background Welch moved forward and designed the BITEHARDER Carbide Runner Sharpening Tool with a clear setof goals in mind;
-To manufacture and sell a consumer product that provides the highest levels of workmanship and quality.
-To provide snowmobilers with simple to use and cost-effective tools that allow them the ability to experience a more rewarding riding experience.
-To maximize safety through better snowmobile maneuverability and control.
Spotlight On.... Welch Manufacturing/Biteharder
For the third time in as many years, the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway, Michigan has been host to the Michigan Snowmobile Association’s Executive Committee for their January meeting. The first official meeting of 2019 and under new leadership, the committee had a full agenda of issues for consideration.
Even though this meeting was primarily scheduled for the seventeen directors that make up the Executive Committee, there was approximately thirty enthusiastic snowmobilers in attendance, all interested in the operation of the association, and in support of the new corps of officers. As is customary at all MSA meetings, all committees have the opportunity to hold a brief thirty-minute conference prior to the official commencement, in order to determine all pertinent information to be shared, and that none is forgotten.
Also customary at all MSA meetings, the pledge of allegiance was recited prior to introductions and recognition of members and guests. The usual process of roll call, establishing a quorum, and approval of the agenda and minutes of the previous meeting followed, then the Treasurer offered a report on the current financial status of the association.
As it is with every newly elected administration, President Jim Kelts appointed, and reconfirmed, Chairpersons to the standing committees, and per the bylaws, each must be a member of the Executive Committee. On the Legislative Committee, Mark Evans will replace Jim Dickie and on the Membership Committee Sarah Long will replace Jeff Biggs. Stu Volkers will remain Chair of Trails Coordination and John Houk remains Chair of the Publications Committee.
Karen Middendorp, MSA Office Manager gave an update on the Ride-In event held at the Kewadin Resort & Casino in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan and is the second annual joint venture with the Indiana Snowmobile Association. Currently more than one hundred snowmobilers have registered to take part in this event.
New Year - New Visions
A few Saturdays ago, the 3rd Annual Snowmobile the Mighty Mack event took place at the Mackinac Bridge. Once again, aficionados of vintage snowmobiles had the chance to ride their prized possessions over one of the engineering wonders of the modern world. This year, about 100 sleds began the ride.
Of those, according to the Official Count from the Mackinac Bridge Authority, 96 sleds made the crossing. However, there were another four that did not quite make it all the way across, and had to be trailered across. Plus, according to event organizer, Charlie Vallier, “We actually had two sleds that did not start. They never made it out of the parking lot.”
But, Vallier added, “A good time was had by all. Which is what this event is all about. We just want everyone to have fun. We had excellent weather. There was actually some concern over the weather being to nice and possibly a problem with the older sleds overheating. But, that didn’t seem to be an issue. And, once again, I am very happy with the turn out. Plus, this year, we even had fans. There were people in Mackinaw City who were sitting there watching us leave. And, a good number of people on the St. Ignace side. Also, we had a lot of very nice compliments about moving the lunch to the Little Bear Arena. The restaurant was good. But, this gave us a lot more room. And, I heard many people say that this made it a whole lot easier to sit around and talk snowmobiles for a while. So, overall, I am very happy with the way things went. And, I am already inviting everyone back for next year, and the 4th Annual Snowmobile The Mighty Mack.”
3rd Annual Snowmobile The Mighty Mack Bridge Crossing