Page 34 - WCM 2022 Winter
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Mowatt explains that the club maintains 60 miles
of trails, and tries to work with the town in hopes
of win-win outcomes. “I think incentivizing club membership could help. It might make people feel more ownership of trails. We used to have events involving other clubs, and our annual SnowFest
on Norway Lake was huge. Drag racers came from all over the state. So many vehicles and trailers
were on the lake that ice was sinking! But, we were financially going backwards. The demise of the snowmobile manufacturers doesn’t help either. You can buy a machine online and have it delivered. The excitement of going to a showroom is gone. I can’t see snowmobiling coming back in my life. But I’ll keep riding as far as the trails take me.”
Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club
Matt Kennedy has worked for the Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club for 30 years. “I grew up in Mexico. My grandparents had a trail across from their farm. I dragged it with a welded bailing wire frame. I’ve been exposed since I could walk. Ronald Sargent started the snowmobiling craze in Rangeley. It’s his trail system we maintain. He let me work on his sleds, and I stayed on until he sold the business. Eventually, I was hired to groom.”
Time spent for maintaining this $375,000 machine is the key to meticulously groomed ITS trails throughout the Rangeley region.
Kennedy explains that as the Barn and Facilities Manager he deals with drivers, schedules, and makes sure everyone has what they need for the job. “I’m a fixer - not a people person,” he says.
“We want to fill western Maine with snowmobile traffic, and every bed in Rangeley, to make it a premiere destination. It’s a sacrifice though; we groom 170 miles of trails daily. You go to the backside of East Kennebago and lose your radio and phone signal when it’s 20 below, and you’ll know what I mean!”
Kennedy explains that an average of 12,000 sleds come through Rangeley in a week, and that Saturdays bring over 100 sleds an hour. “The trails are rough by 4 p.m., especially if it’s warm. You can’t drive a 17,000 pound machine if the base isn’t frozen, because the drag gets full of heavy wet snow. With two feet of base, you can ride into April, but if you’re throttle happy, the berm (pushed up dirt) can get to 4 1/2 feet high, and we start over. A lot of groomers burn out. They work from 4 p.m to 4 a.m. sometimes. Our trails are better than the roads, but they can be destroyed in an hour. I’m not that pleasant in the winter.”
Kennedy oversees a million and a half dollars worth of equipment in his 60 by 60 foot shed. Making sure bridges are safe, abutments solid, and excavation
Night riding can offer dramatically different scenery.
   Shellie Leger
 Courtesy Fryeburg Area Snowmobile Association

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