Colder, snowy weather makes for good riding

  • Carter Bradley, 6, snowmobiles in his yard at his home in Chesterfield as his stepfather, Bill Chirgwin and mother, Megan Shain watch. The family lives in Chesterfield with a portion of the main snowmobile corridor going from Greenfield to Goshen running through their yard. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Carter Bradley, 6, snowmobiles in his yard at his home in Chesterfield as his stepfather, Bill Chirgwin and mother, Megan Shain watch. The family live in Chesterfield with a portion of the main snowmobile corridor going from Greenfield to Goshen running through their yard. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A portion of route 93 that runs through the Chesterfield Gorge. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A portion of route 93 that runs through the Chesterfield Gorge. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Second- and third-generation Burgy Bullets Snowmobiling Club members Frank and Kyle Richard gear up to ride the trails Saturday in Haydenville. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • A clear winter Saturday beckons regulars and locals to Listons Bar & Grill, a hilltown mainstay since its founding during the end of the Prohibition Era in the 1930s, in Worthington, MA. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • Listons Bar & Grill co-owner and head cook Diane Magargal pours a cold beer for a thirsty customer Saturday in Worthington, MA. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • Listons Bar & Grill owner Steven Magargal, center, talks to a customer Saturday afternoon in Worthington. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • Following a string of years with below average snowfall, this year has been a boon for snowmobilers as many Massachusetts trails become accessible. A pair of snowmobiles drive down Trail 93 in the Chesterfield Gorge during a clear Saturday afternoon in West Chesterfield, MA. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • Following a string of years with below average snowfall, this year has been a boon for snowmobilers as many Massachusetts trails become accessible. A pair of snowmobiles drive down Trail 93 in the Chesterfield Gorge during a clear Saturday afternoon in West Chesterfield, MA. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • Following a string of years with below average snowfall, this year has been a boon for snowmobilers as many Massachusetts trails become accessible. A pair of snowmobiles drive down Trail 93 in the Chesterfield Gorge during a clear Saturday afternoon in West Chesterfield, MA. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • Following a string of years with below average snowfall, this year has been a boon for snowmobilers as many Massachusetts trails become accessible. A pair of snowmobiles drive down Trail 93 in the Chesterfield Gorge during a clear Saturday afternoon in West Chesterfield, MA. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2021

  • Two snowmobilers ride down Trail 93 in the Chesterfield Gorge on Saturday afternoon. Following a string of years with below average snowfall, this year has been a boon for snowmobilers as many Massachusetts trails became accessible. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

Staff Writer
Published: 2/21/2021 7:09:50 PM

Jon Tobin, president of the Burgy Bullets Snowmobiling Club, said club members recently rode to Hatfield where they roasted hot dogs outside and their children went sledding, with the snowmobilers taking the kids back up the hill with their machines after they sledded down.

“It was wonderful,” he said.

And Tobin and other area snowmobilers noted the combination of steady cold temperatures and snowfall this winter has made for the best season locally in years.

“The past three or four years have been kind of dismal for many of us,” Tobin said. “The season’s been good so far.”

The Burgy Bullets is one of a number of local snowmobiling clubs that ride, put on events and maintain trails, with the Bullets maintaining about 35 miles of trails in Williamsburg.

Bill Chirgwin, 29, a Bullets member who lives in Chesterfield and has been snowmobiling his “whole life,” said while the season got off to a slow start, it’s been four or five years since there’s been a season this good for snowmobiling.

Chirgwin said it important that the weather has been cold as this helps to keep the snow on the trails and freeze over water crossings.

“The water crossings are important to be frozen,” Chirgwin said. “You go more places that way.”

Jeff Miller, a Leyden resident who is president of the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts, also said while the season began slowly, with sufficient snow falling in the western part of the state in January — “It has come on like gangbusters.”

By contrast to recent years, Miller said that this season the snow has “been able to stay,” which helps the clubs by not having their grooming work melt away.

“We’re not starting over every week,” said Miller.

Stu Caputo, of Worthington, said that he’s been snowmobiling for 40 years. Like others interviewed, he said the past three years have not been good for the hobby with warm rain melting the snow. But that’s not been the case this year.

Caputo said that he and his friends ride in both Berkshire and Hampshire County, and he says, “All the trails are good and open.”

D.J. Pause, who grooms trails for the Savoy Kanary Kats Snowmobile Club, said that grooming has been easier this year. “We have a plan every week,” he said.

Family fun

More snow and colder weather that keeps it on the ground has been a blessing for local families who enjoy long rides on the trails together.

Tobin, who has 13-year-old daughter, Ella, and 5-year-old son, Jonny, said snowmobiling started as a family activity in the area. “Our club was established by a number of families,” he said of the Burgy Bullets.

He said that when Ella turns 14, she will be able to ride on trails with adult supervision under certain circumstances, such as at a rally or a race. As for Jonny, Tobin said his son currently rides with him.

“It’s been great,” Tobin said. “We’re able to go out and enjoy it.”

The Tobins aren’t the only family enjoying this season’s great conditions.

Chirgwin has a 6-year-old stepson, Carter Bradley, who began riding a small snowmobile last season.

“He loves it,” said Chirgwin. “It’s definitely one of his favorite things to do for sure.”

Chirgwin said that his stepson rides his snowmobile in their yard, while on the trails Bradley rides with him.

For Miller, snowmobiling is also a family business, and he said he likes to take his grandchildren out on the weekends.

“My family has four generations of snowmobilers,” Miller said.

As for where he likes to ride, Miller, who has been snowmobiling for nearly 50 years, had a simple answer: “Wherever there’s snow I’m happy to go riding.”

One aspect of the season that Tobin described as “bittersweet” is that the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the club from opening up its clubhouse and bar. However, the club is trying to put together outdoor events and to-go dinners, with a corned beef dinner planned for March. In December, the club did a prime rib dinner to go that proved to be a success.

Miller praised both the landowners who allow people to use their properties for snowmobiling and the volunteers who maintain snowmobile trails throughout the state.

“We have just hundreds of volunteers who do this for nothing,” Miller said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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