|Riding with a “Bully”
On perhaps the nicest day of the winter so far I had the opportunity to climb aboard the Exeter Trailblazers newest and biggest trail groomer, the Piston Bully PB200, with its nine foot wide Mogul Master drag powered by a big Mercedes Diesel and piloted by Robert Hugick, veteran trail groomer.
The Bully is the latest in the fleet of groomers owned by the twelve-year old Exeter club which rose Phoenix-like from a former group of snowmobile enthusiasts twenty years previously. The fleet also consists of three Skanic wide-track sleds with smaller groomers and an older Bombardier BR60+ with an eight-foot drag. Not all of the trails are wide enough to handle the Bully and winter snow grooming is only part of the trail maintenance chore that depends on the generosity of the many landowners who permit trail use and clearing.
Bob Hugick sits at the helm of the bully used to groom local snowmobile trails. (Photo by Terry Crandall)
The New York State funded trail system has about 66 miles which are attended by the Canadarago Snowtoppers, whose eighty plus miles of trails are located in northern Otsego and southern Herkimer counties. It is my plan to ride with the Richfield Springs- based Snowtopper’s groomers and additionally photograph the terrain they maintain. Together, the two clubs link with others nearby such as the Ilion Snowdrifters, the Milford Snow Trekkers, and the Otsego Snow Travelers of Morris. This assures the hundreds of snowmobilers a safe, quality trail system to recreate in our area, thus bringing revenue to our merchants that service their needs.
The beautiful sun brought out herds of deer to graze on nearby fields that our trail connected, as well as huge flocks of wild turkey who scattered at the sight of our rather noisy machine.
The cozy, but bouncy, cabin has a huge window to view the sights, but I found it necessary to use wide angles to minimize jiggle. I reminisced with Bob about my early days of snowmobiling; of drift jumping with a small, agile but light sled quite unlike the behemoths of today. Behind the groomer I see the Thruway-like smooth snow road we have made. Today’s sport is a far cry from what I remember, and even though the sleds are much faster, the trails are much safer and are inspected and exacted to standards by close scrutiny of the State.
From left, Chuck Robinson tends a groomer from on high. Center to right, Travis Dyn and Bob Hugick work on fueling needs. (Photo by Terry Crandall)
We travel on S70 from the temporary storage at Dyn’s Cider Mill, to Schuyler Lake, where we fuel up at the future Trailblazers Clubhouse and garage where Travis Dyn and Chuck Robinson are busy building. From there, we do parts of C7B and S76 and double back on S74 marveling at the scenery in the fields and State land forests.
As we drop back down toward Canadarago Lake the beauty of the countryside is overwhelming and I thank Bob for the invitation to ride with him. His expertise behind the complex controls of the tracked groomer were testimony of his many years experience with heavy equipment, as he snaked the heavy cargo between narrow tree-lined paths.
It was a memorable experience, leaving me with anticipation for my ride with a different groomer.