Indian Summer

aka: Pictures of my bikes in neat places.

aaka: This place sucks!

We are getting a real indian summer this year, unlike last when snow and sub-zero temps flew just before Kevin and I ventured into the Bob for Le Parcour.  I wouldn’t trade that twist away now, and wouldn’t give up the gorgeous frosty mornings and crisp-clear afternoons of this weekend.

Yesterday I drove up to Big Mountain, to investigate the ski area bike trails before snow flies.  The main bike trail up is like Beargrass Highway at Snobowl, but gentler, better groomed, and 2.5 times longer.  It’s a brilliant singletrack climb (and not a bad descent).  Some of the steeper, more technical side trails add variety.

I also rode the main DH trail off the summit, which was a fun and a unique experience.  It’s not exactly technical (in the sense I tend to use it), and pretty easy if you creep down it and catch minimal air like I did.  Slurping back and forth between the massive, well constructed berms was really fun, and would certainly be moreso if I learn to be less of a chicken.

This statue was placed halfway up the ski hill by an area veterans group.  An excellent location (and backrest).

Yesterday evening I attended the inaugural Flathead Valley Roller Derby bout.

I expected it to be moderately entertaining, but was blown away at what a great spectator sport it makes.

It certainly helped that the house was absolutely packed.  I took pictures during warmups and team introduction.  By the time things got rolling for real, all available space shown above was crammed full of all manner of Montanans.  Rollergirl feminism seems to be something the early 21st century American redneck can fully embrace.  (Not that all Montanans are rednecks, but a good percentage of the attendees last night were.)  I’ll leave that, for the time being, without analysis.

Not everything about the evening was wonderful.  The beer was bad and expensive (re-confirmed: PBR is crap), the announcers were an outstanding bland of inane, cliched, and oblivious, and the band that played during pre and half times was (in essence) the worst derivation of a pseudo-Nicklebackian cover band you can possibly imagine (name of Marshall Catch.  WTF?  Like a blend of romantic comedy and fishing tale.).  The cover of “I Will Survive” witnessed during pre-match was enough that, my substantial interest and enthusiasm nonewithstanding, I fled when they lengthened halftime to 30 minutes.  Danni needs to use her litigiuous clout to become FvRD planning commisar and music overlord.

Having seen Whip It and thus having a primer on rules and tactics, picking up the subtleties of execution was immediately interesting.  In the first half 3 women (from both teams combined) seemed to have scored 90% of the points.  Skaters like Cat Heathens (one of the best titles) were very impressive, after the first few minutes she was taking turns with her right skate an inch or less from the inner boundary, and her left leg completely off the ground.  Othere skaters, such as Lil’ Truth (who ironically wrote about roller derby for the Missoula Independent this summer), seemed at their limit to get around the track in one piece, and were absolutely an asset for the opposing team (pileups seems commonplace in roller derby).  On the whole, if you have a chance to see a live bout, go.

Today I had a lazy morning, drinking coffee, eating a burrito (our pepper plants are still producing), and re-re-re-re-reading favorite sections of the Harry Potter series.  By 1030am I did rally, and head off to GNP to inspect how autumn was getting along.

I brought the Karate Monkey, North Fork pack, and Alpacka, intending to ride north from Polebridge along the inside North Fork road and float back.  The air was cerulean perfect.

The NF pack bikes a packrafting load very well.

As I was approaching the above hill (riding towards the camera), a brown-tan blur moved through the trees to the left.  A bear?  A wolf.  It trotted away from me, along the road for 20 yards, before jumping back into the trees.  I stopped, but could find no tracks in the non-existant dust.  Back on the bike, and ~200 feet further another wolf broke from the base of a large pine and ran across the road.  I stopped pedaling and slowed to a stop, just as two more wolves, these stereotype-gray, trotted into the road, stopped, and in unison stared at me for a few seconds before vanishing into the grass.  All from 50 feet away.

I’ve never seen wild wolves from half as close.  As M said this afternoon, a good omen for the first day of work tomorrow.

Beyond visiting one of my favorite river drainages, getting some bike-rafting experience on real moving water was one of day’s goals.

Beautiful though the day was, the river was barely above 1000 cfs, and poking along the meanders at 2.5-7 mph (I brought the GPS) got old and off-schedule.  After 2 hours I beached and deflated the boat, spun back to the truck, snagged a sticky bun at the Polebridge Merchantile, and made it here to the coffee shop with enough time to write all this, and learn that Gilbert won Lombardia in impeccable style.

A good precursor to an important week.

2 responses to “Indian Summer”

  1. Seeing wolves in the wild is always a good omen as far as I'm concerned. It's too bad more people don't feel the same the way.

  2. Agreed on both counts. The wolfanoia is STRONG up here in the Flathead. It's a metaphor for knee-jerk anthropocentrism. My favorite is the hunters that complain that all the deer and elk have been eaten. (Read, they have to get off the ATV now.)

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