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Human-powered skate lane groomer

Mon, Nov  9, 2009 - By Peter Foley

There is a new product for sale for those who want to groom their own skating lane.  The Human Powered Trail Groomer, HPTG3 for short, is a unit that skiers can pull behind them as they snowshoe along a trail or across a local field creating a skate lane.  Although this has been tried many times before and in many ways, its developer has applied material science and mechanics to make the groomer as efficient as possible.  The groomer creates a better skate lane easier than homemade devices that are talked about in the Nordic ski world.  The groomer sells for $200 and is available only through www.humanpoweredtrailgrooming.com.

Human Powered Trail Groomer

Made of UHMW, an ultra tough plastic know for its natural lubricity, especially when wet, the material is also suited for the tough winter environment with excellent resistance to cracking in cold temperatures and resistance to water absorption.

Designed to apply maximum force directly into the snow for efficient packing the design also gets snow ready to pack, a key feature in creating smooth trails versus a series of ripples and for creating a solid snowpack in which to plant a pole.  After passing under the weighed packing zone the snow is brushed into a corduroy finish.

The unit requires weight be added to it.  20 to 60 lbs in the form of 10 lb dumbbell weight serves most people well but factors such as snow depth, moisture content, and groomer fitness will determine how much weight is appropriate for each day’s grooming.

Human Powered Trail Groomer

The unit includes features and details such as sizing to fit into the back seat of a car, handles that fit gloved hands, a hole to lock the tow rope into place when not in use, and drainage holes for snow that builds up on the groomer.

Its developer, Peter Foley, who has 25 years of material science and product development under his belt,  developed the groomer over the course of 5 winters during which he got enough positive comments that he decided to sell the unit so others could create their own skating loop.  “I asked a lot of people who have been skiing a long time how they would create a skate lane.  I never got an answer that really worked.  People have tried a lot of homemade groomers; it’s just that none of them have been that good.  So I set off to make one that worked, that makes a skating lane you can really train on.

Human Powered Trail Groomer

He cautions that grooming your own trails is not for everyone.  “It’s great to be able to ski right nearby but grooming takes time and is a lot of work.  Count on grooming taking some time away from skiing but then would you be skiing if you didn’t groom?  Or would you be on the exercise bike?  I keep a couple ½ to ¾ mile loops groomed near my house and it is great for training and getting out mid-week to ski.   I learned a lot about what worked and didn’t work over the 5 winters, you can’t just grab some wood and start grooming skiable trails, there is some science to this.  But as good as I think the groomer is, it’s not a PistenBully or Bombardier.  Think of the engines those machines have and now think of your heart, your lungs, your legs replacing them.  I won’t plan to groom 20km unless you have a lot of friends.  Owning the groomer will teach you a lot about snow and how to treat it right to make the best ski trails.”

The groomer sells for $200, plans to build one, including where to buy the materials, are $50 but require good wood working skills.  Sold exclusively through www.humanpoweredtrailgrooming.com.