Local snow mobile club resilient despite lack of snow
Despite the general lack of snow over the past two winters, the Jasper County Ditch Bangers snow mobile club still meets in full force each month at Cadillac Jack’s in Baxter. While the club, just in its second year, is still rather new, treasurer Michelle Huffaker has high hopes for the future of the group.
“We’re actually really new as a club, this is only our second full season and last year we didn’t have any snow, so it didn’t really count as a season,” Huffaker said with a laugh. “My husband came up with the idea to gather a bunch of people and to form a club, because snow mobiling can be so fun but not a lot of people realize you can do it so close to home.”
In addition to the camaraderie the club brings, as an Iowa State Snowmobile Association-recognized club, the JCDR benefit in terms of safety as well.
“If you have a club that marks trails, it’s a lot safer for the rider,” she added. “You get the word out there better to let people know, hey this is something you can do in the wintertime in Iowa and not be cooped up in the house. Because of the insurance the clubs get through the state association, the landowners are protected tremendously.”
While the club’s meetings follow a formal format, their riding is anything but for the nearly 20 members.
“You don’t have to be a member of our club to come out and ride with us,” Huffaker said. “Anyone who wants to come ride with us, you know, the more the merrier.”
“In the afternoon they’ll start calling or texting saying, ‘we’re going to meet at this place at this time, do you want to come?’ and they’ll ride to another town for pizza or burgers or something like that,” she added. “It’s just fun. We never have a set destination, we just go.”
In addition to the individual rider insurance the club furnishes, joining the club ups the manpower which the JCDR need to supply in order to survey and, eventually, mark established snow mobile trails throughout the county.
“This is really the first year we’ve have a chance to go and survey things, because we didn’t have signs before now,” Huffaker said. “We have a lot of signs now courtesy of the DNR, and the ISSA coordinates things. They supply the signs, we supply the manpower and the stakes to put them on.”
“We’re still trying to establish the best snow route, figuring out where the snow lies the heaviest and where it blows in good and things like that, so we’re working on it,” she added. “But we do have a trail system in mind. Eventually, our goal is to connect with the Central Iowa Snow Mobilers in Marshalltown and the Saylorville Dam Snow Mobile Club in Ankeny and Des Moines, so people can go in one huge loop and not have to go out and back on the same trail.”
Overall, though, Huffaker says the group’s main objective is to promote snow mobiling within the local community and establish not only a framework for riding but a community of riders as well.
“We wanted to get the word out there, get people into snow mobiling, have them do it in a safe manner and just promote the sport,” she said.
If you’d like to join the Jasper County Ditch Bangers, contact president David Huffaker at (641) 751-0622 or Michelle Huffaker at (319) 330-4113. The club meets the third Thursday of every month at Cadillac Jack’s in Baxter at 7 p.m., and meeting are open to anyone interested in joining.
Staff writer Nicole Wiegand may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 422, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.