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Lac La Biche-based snowmobile club raises funds and awareness on 75K trail ride

Sled ride with chili lunch on the trails between Beaver Lake and Elinor Lake draws more than 150 machines

LAC LA BICHE - Now that the snow has settled from last Saturday's snowmobile ride that saw more than 150 machines drawn to Lac La Biche Back Country Riders Club event, organizers say they are pleased with their first organized ride.  

“It was very successful. The ride went really well," said the new club's founding member Rob Kruk, explaining that the $25 entry per adult will help to fund trail-grooming equipment and supplies for the club and create a base to hold future events. 

The success of the event will also help to boost the awareness of the snowmobile lifestyle in the region. With so many accessible trails and a network of local riders, he says the area is a perfect winter destination for riders of all levels.

Many of the participants in Saturday's ride came from outside the community. 

"We got the support from our community and other communities from St. Paul, Elk Point, Marwayne, Gibbons, Red Deer, Edmonton, all kinds of places and lots of people from out of town," said Kruk, adding that the club received a lot of compliments on their first ride.“We had about 12 or 14 riders from St. Paul and they were just blown away by how many people we had. They have had only a couple of events, they’ve been around for a long time and they have only had a couple of events where they had 150 riders, so for us to do that at our first event is pretty phenomenal.” 

The trek began at the Beaver Lake hamlet boat launch near the Young's Beach campsite, crossed the frozen lake and into the wooded landscape, winding through backcountry trails that had been pre-marked by club members. A chili lunch was provided at the half way marker of the ride. With the ride taking place during a three-day break in region-wide freezing temperatures, weather conditions were near-perfect, said Kruk, who operates a local recreation equipment rental, sales and service business.

“The lunch was great and the outdoor atmosphere we had was fabulous because everybody was able to socialize and maintain their distance. It was a fabulous day and event," he said, hoping to see more people join the club or volunteer their time to grow the trails in the area.  “We have definitely gained some support. People might make donations but it's also about the manpower that’s needed to actually physically go out and trim what existing trails there is and to mark where trails are… but we did gain a lot of exposure.” 

Building better communities  

Kruk and the new club members not only see their numbers growing, but also the number of people coming to the community to enjoy the trails.  With an organized club and attention to the trails, he sees the potential for increased tourism exposure for the whole community.

“The group brings people together, it’s good for the community, it’s good for tourism and for local businesses that are going to see an economic spinoff if we can get a great trail system. People will come to Lac La Biche County  for our trails just like we go out of town to ride other trails… we’ve got huge potential if we can do that here.” 

The next event for the club — likely a free, guided family ride — could be as soon as mid-February. 

“We would like to do another family ride around the middle of February and one again in March but it's all weather and volunteer-dependent. But we do plan on doing at least one more this winter— it will just be a family ride not a fundraiser—and we will post it on our social media pages and advertise where we can.” 

As the Lac La Biche Back Country Riders Club looks forward to future events, they are happy with the support and donations they have received from everyone, he said. 

“We are a lot closer to purchasing our equipment. We had a surprise donation about two days before the event from a snowmobile dealer in Grassland, so that picked us up a notch. We haven’t run through all our money to see how much we have… I should know more dollar-wise soon, he said. 

For right now, the big reward has been the positive comments.

“When people come to you and say, 'This is amazing,' ... it's a good thing — and we had a lot of good comments and support for that."