Update: The trail signs being provided by the Forest Service that were awarded us by the Resource Advisory Committee under our project request “System Trail Sign Improvement” should be available early September 2012. For volunteering to help install the signs please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Victor DeLeo
It was cold enough to snow and we were about to ride our bikes. There were ten of us that gray morning, shivering at a trailhead that would take us over the Continental Divide within Southwest Montana. The plan–go from Mile to Sheep Creek–would take all day. We were all having second thoughts.
“Maybe we could get coffee in West until it warms up,” one rider suggested. Although it sounded like a perfect idea, that would mean we’d have to ride a shorter, alternative ride.
Some of us jogged in place. Others blew into their fists. Sunset was nine hours away, and we were wasting time.
That morning, before sunrise, I peeled myself from bed like a hangover. I packed lunch, dinner, and enough water I could have showered with it. After eating a breakfast fit for three, I sat, or rather bounced, in a cargo van for an hour and half. While the September weather may not have been cooperating, I was invested in this ride.
“I’m in.” I said. Others followed, some retreated.
And then there were eight.
We started pedaling through a meadow colored like sand. But this was no beach. Long sleeved, we climbed the gradual slope and made our own heat. And soon, the aesthetics of this big, bold countryside had overcome all our senses.
We passed old growth forests and fat yellow aspens. We crossed streams, circled lakes, and flip-flopped through multiple ecosystems. With enough switchbacks to satisfy a downhiller, and single track as buffed as an alpine slide, this journey delivered thrills that squelched exhaustion and chill. And at the pinnacle of the Continental Divide, there it was, the legendary emblem “CDT” on a carved wooden plaque. It was like being granted a trophy for our all-day effort.
Or maybe the trophy was eating lunch on the saddle of Bald Mountain and reaching the remote, high alpine of the Montana backcountry. We’d gone farther than man could reach by foot in one day. To find peace among menacing mountains, to reach views that airplanes provide, and to share it all with the pleasant company of eight adventurers, we were grateful–grateful to have able bodies, a trusty map, and most importantly, our bikes.
If you go…Take a map, carry bear spray, bring a lot of food. The day could last nine hours. Be sure to choose enjoyable company.
Thanks to the Big Sky Mountain Bike Alliance and its accompanying riders:
On Sunday morning, July 17, Canyon Adventures led four customers on a guided horse ride. Near the Beaver Creek crossing, the rear horse was spooked by an approaching mountain biker which caused a chain reaction, scattering the other frightened horses. The biker claimed to have rung his bike bell to alert the horses of his presence, but it went unheard. Two riders were thrown from their saddles and one horse impaled itself on a metal fence post. When stopped, the biker was described as being indignant for the horses “not being in control.” The biker fled unidentified. Unfortunately, one customer cracked his rib and the injured horse will be out of commission for the rest of the summer.
For all those at Canyon Adventures, the Big Sky Mountain Bike Alliance (BSMBA) wants to express our deepest regrets. We discourage this type of behavior and expect all of our members to practice trail-user friendliness. It disappoints us that a fellow two-wheeler would endanger your guests, your horses, and the integrity of your business. At the least, we ask that this unknown biker apologizes.
We request that all mountain bikers, when approaching horses, slow down, get off your bike, and notify the nearest equestrian as soon as possible. Horses don’t like surprises, so please approach them with soft, yet audible voices. As told by guides at Canyon Adventures, they will be happy to let you pass as soon as possible. See the suggested guidelines for biker/equestrian interaction.
The more cooperation among all trail users, the more likelihood mountain bikes will be permitted on trails. The US Forest Service has already forbidden mountain bikes from certain trails in our area. More trails are at risk of being lost, particularly, if we do not achieve harmony among user groups.
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