We received some disappointing news at the Valley Riders Snowmobile Club meeting here on Wed night 3.6.19 that our full time groomer Dr. Dave's health concerns have forced him to give it up at the end of this season. We are in the process of training new operators this season to be prepared to try to fill the shoes of a great man.

We shut the shop down on 3.7.19 and went for a ride on the trails to get a first hand view of conditions after receiving conflicting information from various riders at the shop. We traveled up ITS 87 which seemed to be in pretty good shape to the Dead Water rd, where we then followed the Palmer Pond rd which had not been groomed in several days but was in decent shape, minus some wind drifts that had the potential to be problematic, due to flat and fast conditions for miles between them. When we arrived at the Breakneck Ridge trail, we found it to be freshly groomed with only 2 tracks across it all the way to Monson. After lunch with Mike and Kim at Spring Creek BBQ, we filled up and headed to Greenville on ITS 85 north and found the rail bed to be in great shape minus the Shirley Bog wind drifts and one other closer to Greenville. From there we followed ITS 86 to the Forks and found it to be in pretty good shape as well will only a few bumps in the corners. We stopped into Northern Outdoors for gas and a warm up and found out the had freshly groomed ITS 87 south the night before which was in fantastic shape all the way to our system. From there, ITS 87 was also in really good shape all the way to the other side of the Austin Stream bridge minus the drifts on the Ripple road just after leaving the Chase Pond Rd. After we crossed the bridge, we noticed the groomer had gone up the Palmer Pond road we had been on in the morning, getting that knocked out as, as well as traveling into Tower 30 from that north end into the Wind Mills.

Friday night (3.8.19) I found myself sitting next to Dr. Dave getting my first groomer operator lesson. We took off at 5:20pm went half way up ITS 84 east on Mahoney Hill and saved time by turning around at the closed opening of the Wind Mill travel as the trail proved to be in really good shape. So we go the connector to ITS 87 groomed and then the remainder of the railbed before refueling and heading up ITS 87 north to meet Northern Outdoors. ITS 87 north had its corners banked and a few rough spots but was all and all pretty decent. The responsibility of a groomer driver is no joke. My hat goes off to all that are involved for several reasons, most importantly taking on the responsibility of all that could go wrong.

Saturday our club President Jack Lord went for a mid-morning ride to scout out our trail systems and abutting clubs to give Dr. Dave and idea of what was going to need be tended to the most. He found that by about 1130am ITS 87 was already in pretty rough shape due to all the traffic. So Dr. Dave returned to the trails Saturday night to groom both ITS systems.

Yesterday around 4pm a few of us went out for a ride to mileage the Poker Run we have coming up this Saturday to raise funds for the club and found the following. ITS 87 south toward Solon had a few bumps but was in good shape. Solon's trail system seem to have been freshly groomed Sat night and received less traffic then ours. This was the case on all their club trails as well. Once heading down into Athens corner store from the powerline ITS 84 section, it was quite bumpy but still had plenty of snow and just needed a fresh grooming. While traveling ITS 84 west back to our system meet at the end of Mahoney Hill rd we found to also have good coverage but was rough until hitting our system. In our system ITS 84 was in good shape but getting bumpy in spots all the way to the connector, and needed a touch up with the groomer. The connector trail held up great over the weekend and made a nice short cut to the Bingham General store. Where to connector comes in on ITS 87, south was in good shape to the powerline and down into Moscow and the Austin Stream wire bridge crossing behind Lavallee's Garage. Once crossing the bridge to the right had been freshly groomed, but heading into Bingham General store was pretty bumpy and needed a pipe drag brought through it a few times to get it smoothed out.

That's all I got for now.

This week the temp is warming up with light rain forecasted for Friday and a couple of passing showers on Saturday, with temps then dropping back to the teens Saturday night and all next week. If we can get folks to hold off this weekend, groomers will have plenty to work with Saturday night and prolong next weeks riding to have good to great conditions for late season riding.

Bare in mind that plowed roads, and road crossings are going to start becoming a pain, and the snow will start to begin to be eaten away from underneath the trail. This may cause holes in the trail and ice to open up mean drivers will need to operate with even more caution than normal. But don't get me wrong, there is still a ton of snow and an immaculate base and I am anticipating riding into April at this point!

As always, ride right, ride sober and ride safe!