Local snowmobile club out in full force

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Ever wonder how all the backcountry trails get groomed? How about how to be better prepared in case of an avalanche?

The Northwest Colorado Snowmobile Club is responsible for the former and has answers for the latter.

"We are responsible for grooming around 105 miles of trails in the Black Mountain area," NOWECOS president Ralph Stewart said. "But we're not just about grooming and riding -- safety and awareness are a big part of our club."

The club has six members who have attended seminars put on by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center to learn about the natural danger of snow slides. On Jan. 18 the club will host an avalanche-training seminar to share the information its members have learned.

"The new machines can go so much farther it increases the chances for danger," Stewart said. "If something happens it is important to be somewhat prepared."

One way to be more prepared is to ride in a group, something the club provides every second and fourth Sunday of the month. The club meets at the Craig Middle School parking lot, decides where to ride and heads off for a day on the trails.

"Anyone is welcome to come and join us," NOWECOS board member Joe Tonso said. "You get to learn different riding styles and probably new trails. There also isn't any pressure to join the club if you come. We're just out for the ride."

While there isn't any pressure to join, Stewart said new members are always welcome.

"There are a lot of people out there riding who aren't part of the club we would like to join," he said. "It adds to the experience to be part of us and the dues help us to maintain our grooming equipment."

In addition to the Sunday rides and safety seminars, NOWECOS also hosts a Colorado Snowmobile Association quarterly meeting this year on Jan. 7.

"The Colorado Snowmobile Association meetings are just like any other corporate meeting," Tonso said. "We talk about where the money is, the new equipment and where the best riding is."

As far as grooming is concerned, Tonso said that the club puts in 350 to 400 volunteer hours grooming trails every winter. He also predicted they spend another 150 hours putting up signs and maintaining the trails.

"We not only want to make this area attractive for the local riders but we hope to attract out-of-town riders and to help the economy in the winter in Craig," he said. "We see about 15 to 20 people not from the area every time we're out there."

Another way the club gives back to the community is through its annual poker run. After expenses are covered it gives the rest of the proceeds to a local organization of its choice.

The members admit that after getting past the safety and fund-raising they just like to have as much fun as possible.

"When you get down to it, it's an opportunity to meet people that have the same love for riding as you do and learning from them," Tonso said. "Riding with numbers helps us stay out of trouble and we never ride the same trails every week."

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com

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