SAM Members Featured in Worcester Living Magazine
Published on Monday, November 30, 2015 in In The News, News & Updates
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Worcester Living magazine features a story in the just-released winter edition about snowmobiling in Central Massachusetts. The story is catered to readers who have never snowmobiled and might be interested.

SAM members and local volunteers, Gerry Balchuinas, Jay Pease, Tony Shaw and Scott Sumner are quoted throughout the article. Read the complete story at Worcester Living.

The magazine article points out the advancements in the trail system and snowmobiles, as well as the dedicated volunteers and the role they play. Here are a few excerpts:

If you haven’t been on a snowmobile for awhile, you might be surprised to learn the riding is entirely different from years ago. In the old days, snowmobiles notoriously left riders stranded almost as much as they brought them to their final destinations.

But today’s snowmobiling isn’t anything like that. Machines are quiet, finely tuned and reliable. With stabilized sleds, riders don’t end up in heaps on the ground like they did years ago.

To all those New Englanders who cringe every time the forecast predicts more inches of fluffy white flakes, Gerry Balchuinas has just one thing to say: “Come for a ride.”

As a lifelong snowmobiler and head of the Phillipston-based Coldbrook Snowmobile Club, Balchuinas says snowmobiling makes winter a season to anticipate, not dread.

“I like to be able to get on my sled, put on my helmet, and go to places no one else can go,” he says. “It’s just you. No one’s talking in your ear, and everything is beautiful.”

Jay Pease, who runs the Ware River Snowmobile Club in Gilbertville, describes a perfectly groomed trail as “white asphalt,” where diligent maintenance keeps the snow packed but not icy.

Ware River snowmobile club

Like anyone who drives a car, members are required to register their snowmobile with the state. And unless you are only going to ride on your own property, you need a trail pass from a snowmobile club.

Clubs are the driving force behind the burgeoning number of riders, and they are the key to keeping the smooth trails every rider loves. The secret, of course, is that the trails don’t appear out of thin air, even if it seems that way. For each perfectly groomed, marked and trimmed trail, there are hours and hours of work throughout the year.

“It’s the toughest part of running any club,” Balchuinas says. “It’s a ton of time.” Balchuinas says he makes the time, whether that means grooming trails at 2 a.m. or gathering everyone in the summer to trim growth that can scratch a rider on an icy cold night.

Tony Shaw runs the Harvard Snowmobile Club, which formed in 1969 and now boasts 130 members. Shaw, who rides every other night and every weekend in the winter, says the appeal is pretty simple. “Just being outside in the fresh air and the sunshine,” he says.

“If you give a nice trail to ride on, they will stay on the trail,” says Shaw, noting that walkers and cross-country skiers also enjoy smooth snow.

Scott Sumner, a SAM staff member, agrees. “People come from all walks of life,” he says. “The faces of snowmobilers are just everybody.”

Worcester Living reflects the unique culture and lifestyle of Central Massachusetts in each issue – with rich color photography and a wide array of local stories.

The magazine is available at newsstands, the article can be read at Worcester Living online.

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