Whitney Point, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The trails are packed down and the snow mobiles are revved and ready, when the Ridge Riders hit the trails, they do more than glide across the snow.
For over 40 years the Ridge Riders snowmobiling club in Whitney Point has been riding the trails in Broome County. In 1969 a small group of volunteers started the club and now this year it has grown to over 700 members.
Four-year President, Judi Whittaker, says the preparation for snowmobiling season starts a long time before the first snow flake falls. She said, "It’s a consistent communication back and forth of what does the trail need, is there safety issues? If we need to upgrade a bridge or put in a culvert or something to better access safety an area."
A large club can be extremely expensive, but as Whittaker says, the club has a lot of ways to make money. "We retain some of the membership money to keep our club going. We do fundraisers, we do poker runs, we've done some benefit things and cooked food for sports events and that kind of thing."
The club grooms the trails, hangs signs and helps map out the hundreds of miles of trails in Broome County. But there's another authority roaming the trails, one you may not know about until it's too late. State Troopers. Whittaker said, "You may not notice them. A lot of times they may be at an intersection and they'll stop and check all your paperwork and make sure that you are registered and insured."
New to snowmobiling? Or don't know your way around a trail? No problem, there's an app for that! Some apps are available with GPS tracking throughout the miles and miles of trail.
Riding on the trails for days at a time can leave your stomach and gas tank empty. The Ridge Riders are happy that they can help their local economy when the winter months come. Whittaker said, ""it's a great boom for the local economy, buying fuel in the local towns, food in the different restaurants." Whittaker said she has lots of favorite places, but there's one place in Whitney Point that is convenient for snowmobilers, Aiello's.
Regardless of the weather, Aiello's is always busy. Aiello's owner, Charlie Aiello said, "We love the snow, it brings in a lot of snowmobilers and skiers. This area is famous, we have one of the biggest snowmobiling trails in the area and it does help out a lot."
Hitting the trails and helping out the local economy.