The unsung heroes of snowmobiling - the groomer operator. You may not know it but there are some things the operator wants you to know before hitting the trails.

These tips come from Luc Levesque - 'The Groomer Guy' at Luc is a groomer operator of over 20 years. He says its a good idea to keep these tips in mind in order to stay on their good side.

Its also a good idea to make sure your kids know these rules before they hit the trails.

1. Headlights

Just like on the highway, your lights can be a distraction or even blind the operator. Dim your lights when approaching the groomer from both the front and back.

2. Passing a groomer

Wait for the groomer to stop, or to wave you by him or her. Make eye contact with him or her and don't just blow by whenever you feel like it as fast as you can.

3. Following Groomers

Keep a safe distance, and don't ride right up to the rear. You never know when they're going to have to stop.

4. Meeting a Groomer on the trail

If you pass a groomer that has just laid a fresh trial, do your best to keep as far to the right as possible instead of jumping right on the newly groomed section.

5. Don't tailgate groomers

If you see a groomer taking care of local trails around town, don't follow them around. They tend to hate this.

6. Riding the edge

Don't ride the edge of the trail. Doing this can make the operator lose their bearings on the trail. They need to be able to keep the machine on the trail, and doing this makes it easier for them to lose the trial and get stuck in deep snow.

7. Power take offs

Don't do power take offs. It can leave humps at the edge of the trail that freeze and are like hitting rocks. Ease on the gas to take off.

8. Stopped Groomer on the trail

If you see a groomer stopped use caution. He or she could be out of the machine clearing snow off or moving a branch and you won't see them. Also, if you see a groomer stopped with the hood open, stop and ask if he or she needs help. They may just need an extra pair of hands, but could also be in trouble.

9. Be nice to the groomer operator

Keep your cool when stuck behind a groomer. They can see you and will find a good safe spot for you to pass as soon as possible.

10. Curves

Do your best not to take curves wide open. There are other ways to take turns without coming in hot, breaking hard, then opening the throttle fully. This means groomers have to go back and fix these trails.

11. Keep to your side

You wouldn't drive in the middle of the street, so don't sled in the middle of trials. It makes a rut that is hard to correct with the groomer's drag.

12. Broken down snowmobiles

If you break down on the trial and have to leave your sled there, please move it off the trail. You don't want other riders injured from running into your sled, and you sure don't want the groomer operator to use the groomer to move your sled.

There you go, tips to stay on the groomer operator's good side this winter.

Remember, these men and women give up their time to make sure we have beautiful trails to ride on. The least we can do is be respectful and try to understand the job they're doing.

Happy Sledding!


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