Let it snow: Tri-Town snowmobile club ready to roll

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The Tri-Town Penguins Snowmobile Club logo.

With winter on their minds, members of the Tri-Town Penguins Snowmobile Club were out on Baker Road in Freeport, near Florida Lake, two Sundays ago, building a pair of 15-foot bridges. The new bridges will allow snowmobilers easier access to the Route 125 side of the lake this season.

The 30 individuals and nine businesses who belong to the club are hoping this winter for more snow than last year. Duncan Daly, club president, put it in perspective.

“I’m hoping for a winter not quite as heavy as two years ago, when it snowed almost every time we got the trails groomed, but a lot better than the last one,” the Freeport resident said. “Last year I put 50 miles on my snowmobile all winter. I usually put on 500 or 600.”

The Tri-Town Penguins Snowmobile Club maintains 45-50 miles of trails. As soon as there are 6-8 inches of snow on the ground, the groomers will be out there, Daly said.

“The winter before last, they had people tell them their trails were better than the ones upcountry,” he said.

The groomers are Richard Dyer and Tim Harlow of Pownal; Wayne Franklin, Jason Cass and John Cormier of Durham; Dean Gilbert and Mike Sikovski of Freeport; and Travis Johnson of Brunswick.

Club members access the trails at Doherty’s North Freeport General Store on Route 125, the Durham Get & Go and the Durham Masonic Lodge on Route 136, the Runaround Pond recreational area in Durham, a spot near Pownal Elementary Store and one near the North Pownal General Store. The trail near the school in Pownal provides acccess to Royal River Snowmobile Club trails, which lead riders to New Gloucester and Gray. Poland and Brunswick are other typical destinations, Daly said.

Daly said that club members get together and ride the trails when the urge strikes, midweek days included. A typical ride might last for three or four hours, he said.

“It’s not about how fast you get there,” Daly said. “It’s about what you see, like wildlife.”

And, it all depends on the weather.

Bob Meyers, executive director of the Augusta-based Maine Snowmobile Association, said snowmobilers hope for the ground to be frozen by early December. Given snow, the first big snowmobiling weekend of the season is around New Year’s Day, he said.

“Last year wasn’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but it was pretty grim,” Meyers said. “Registrations were down 30 percent. If they don’t see snow in their yard, they don’t register.”

The snowmobile registration fee for Maine residents is $46. For nonresidents, the cost is $50 for a three-day registration, $76 for 10 days and $100 for a full season, which typically ends at the end of March or early April.

Based on revenue from the registrations, the state provides funding for snowmobile clubs.

Maine has a 14,000-mile snowmobile trail system, thanks to the clubs and the generosity of landowners, Meyers said.

In an average year, the snowmobile industry generates $300 million to $325 million for the state when enthusiasts pay for lodging, fuel, restaurant visits, and repairs, among other things, he said.

He hopes the dry summer of 2016 will portend well for a good snowfall this winter.

“We’re ready,” he said. “Plus, the Old Farmer’s Almamac says it’s going to be a good winter for us.”

The Maine Snowmobile Association, formed in 1968, includes thousands of snowmobilers across the state and beyond. Club members throughout Maine work locally, regionally and at the state level to promote snowmobiling in Maine as a safe, fun, family oriented winter sport. The organization has an office in Augusta with a full-time staff, including a lobbyist.

On the local level, the Tri-Town Penguins Snowmobile Club meets on the last Thursday of the month, from September to April, at the Durham Fire Station, at 7 p.m.

Daly encourages people interested in joining to call him at 865-6188. Dues for individuals are $20. Businesses pay $30, and get to put an advertisement in “The Maine Snomobiler,” published the the Maine Snowmobile Association.

The Tri-Town Penguins Snowmobile Club logo.

Dick Dyer, in his Chevy Blazer, grooms a snowmobile trail in Pownal last February for the Tri-Town Penguins Snowmobile Club.

Bernie Coombs, trail master of the Tri-Town Penguins Snowmobile Club, tests out his snowmobile that has been in brambles all summer outside his Brunswick  home. Coombs found a nest under the hood, and said it was about time he got the old Polaris up and running.

Bernie Coombs, trail master of the Tri-Town Penguins Snowmobile Club, tests out his snowmobile that has been in brambles all summer outside his Brunswick home. Coombs found a nest under the hood, and said it was about time he got the old Polaris up and running.

A closer look

The Tri-Town Penguins Snowmobile Club, for snowmobile enthusiasts in Durham, Pownal and Freeport, meets on the last Thursday of the month, from September to April, at the Durham Fire Station, at 7 p.m. For more information, call 865-6188.

A closer look

The Tri-Town Penguins Snowmobile Club, for snowmobile enthusiasts in Durham, Pownal and Freeport, meets on the last Thursday of the month, from September to April, at the Durham Fire Station, at 7 p.m. For more information, call 865-6188.