November 08, 2019
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This new book details the amusing, funny and slightly gross parts of Maine snowmobiling

Melissa Lizotte | Star-Herald
Melissa Lizotte | Star-Herald

When Matt Weber got into snowmobiling less than a decade ago, he figured he’d be able to learn quite a bit about the sport by finding a few books to read.

His search for Maine-centric snowmobile books was fruitless, however: As far as he was able to determine, none had ever been written.

Eventually, he got to work changing that, and the product of his labors, “ Making Tracks, How I Learned to Love Snowmobiling in Maine,” was recently released by Islandport Press.

Staff photo/Melissa Lizotte | Star-Herald
Staff photo/Melissa Lizotte | Star-Herald
Snowmobile tote rides are among the fun activities offered during Aroostook State Park's annual Winter Family Fun Day on Feb. 23.

The 145-page volume offers up plenty of practical tips and takes readers to some of Weber’s favorite sledding areas; it divides Maine into four snowmobiling regions and offers a primer on each.

The result is a broad-brush treatment of the sport that will be perfect for someone looking to get into sledding, while also providing some light-hearted storytelling that veteran snowmobilers will enjoy.

Weber has an interesting backstory. He grew up in Stillwater and graduated from Old Town High School, has worked as a snowmaker at Sugarloaf and now lives on Monhegan, a tiny island 10 miles off the mainland, where he’s a lobsterman. Of note: Snowmobiles are not allowed on the island, so every time he wants to go for a ride, he first has to make his way to the mainland.

Weber is also the co-owner and brewer at Monhegan Brewing Company.

There’s plenty of room to snowmobile in Maine, and the Maine Snowmobile Association says there are more than 14,000 miles of trails to explore.

In “Making Tracks,” Weber divides the state into four rough regions — The County, Katahdin and Moosehead Region, Eastern Maine and The Western Mountains — and shares stories of his adventures in each part of Maine. He also offers some pro tips, including places he likes to eat or scenic trails you shouldn’t miss, along with his favorite lodging locations.

At the end of the book, he adds in a valuable “resources” section, which includes some safety tips, along with a directory of some outfitters that rent sleds.

There is one small problem with “Making Tracks”: Weber is a funny dude, and the comic interludes were among my favorite parts of the book. I would have liked to have seen even more, interspersed with the more practical how-to and where-to sections.

Among the funny anecdotes he shared was the description of his father-in-law’s passion for chainsaws: ‘I once pointed out to him that he only has two arms but five saws, and he glared at me, clearly wondering why his oldest daughter had married such a complete imbecile.”

Another favorite tale involved Weber’s youthful attempts to plow snow by tying a shovel to his bicycle.

“Invariably, the shovel would actually plow maybe two inches of the driveway, hit a frozen rock, snap the rope and drive the end of the shovel into my gut — pitching me off the bike and knocking the wind out of me,” he wrote.

And some readers will get a kick out of his on-the-fly solution to a trailside bathroom emergency. I certainly did. I read the passage aloud to a couple of colleagues, giggling hysterically. They were more grossed-out than amused. To each their own

Whether a reader is just getting into snowmobiling, is a longtime veteran of the trails or is just looking to live vicariously through someone else’s adventures, “Making Tracks” will make a welcome addition to the bookshelf.

And when it’s snowing too hard to even think of taking the sled out, reading a few pages may just keep the cabin fever at bay until the trail groomers have time to tidy things up.

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