Somewhere in Montana



I have a conflicted relationship with mountain biking.  On the one hand, it is the closest we can get to flying while still being tethered to the dirt, and was my entry into endurance sports and all that pursuit has given me.  On the other, use trends and modern preference conspire to reduce many, likely most, mountain bike trails to things whose fun is a little too accessible and polished.  “Flow” trails with their brushed surfaces and machine built switchbacks are, to be gauche, the internet porn of the outdoor recreation world.  That kind of experience too broadly written becomes a new normal, which is emphatically not healthy.

Which is not to say I don’t see the appeal.  60% of the climbing that earned the descent depicted below was spent in either 26×37 or 26×42, my two lowest gears.  A further 35% was spent pushing.  Obviously the way down, and the ride as a whole, was entirely worth it, but I also value an evening or even an all day ride where riding faster than 5 mph is the rule rather than the exception.  Biking at such a slow speed feels inherently off.

But what I value even more than pleasant rides on purpose-built trails is the opportunity to ride in places where bikeability only happens by accident.  The number of places one can legally and responsibly do this in the lower 48 grows smaller by the year.  One mountain bike, ridden responsibly without skidding, is no more impactful than one hiker, but mountain bikers tend to be social creatures, and the fashionable trail soon sees major impact if it isn’t constructed to take such traffic.  In most other states trails like this one are either in designated Wilderness, rebuilt to be more user friendly, or closed to bikes.

For none of the above to be the case the area must of necessity be sparsely traveled, itself a highly desirable attribute.  So naturally, I’m not telling you where specifically this was.  In Montana it isn’t that hard to find.

3 responses to “Somewhere in Montana”

  1. […] A few days ago I went for a bike ride, on many of the same trails featured in this video from last year.  I didn’t bring a camera, and snapped only a few vague photos with my phone along the way, having no intention of discussing specifics.  As I wrote last June […]

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