The Season for Single-Track Minds

By RYAN NEWHOUSE

As our very wet spring starts to give way to sunny, summery skies it can only mean that those beautifully-carved single-track trails in the hills surrounding Missoula are ripe for the picking. Not that it can’t be fun to slop around in some mud with your favorite fat tires, but trail denigration is high when trails are wet and mushy.

There is easily over a hundred, if not hundreds, of miles of mountain biking trails within 15 minutes of Missoula, which makes our fair city a world-class destination for mountain biking. We’re even home to at least one professional mountain biker – Sam Schultz.

Whether you’re into riding alone or riding with groups, Missoula offers trails from the Novice level, up to Expert. The major riding areas around Missoula include the Rattlesnake Recreation Area, Blue Mountain Recreation Area, and Pattee Canyon Recreation Area. In any of these areas you can go for a leisurely half-day ride, an all-day endurance trek or even an overnight expedition, depending on your gumption, gear and go-for-it attitude.

It’s highly recommended that you get your bike properly tuned before heading out for a ride, especially if you’re planning to tackle any technical trails. High speeds and steep slopes don’t give much room for error or faulty equipment, so don’t take any chances out there. There are many great bike shops in town that provide great service and quick turnaround times. Here’s a rundown of said shops (in alphabetical order):

If you’d like to get your pedals wet, so to speak, with a group of like-minded and like-paced riders, you’re lucky to have two great options. These group rides include:

To solidify Missoula’s rank as a mountain biking Mecca, we will be hosting a prestigious event next month, the final race in the 2011 USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour (Pro XCT). The event, held at Marshall Mountain on July 23-24, will bring the nation’s best mountain bikers to Missoula to compete for a coveted spot on the U.S. Mountain Bike World Championship team. The event is expected to bring in hundreds of competitors and their support teams. Owner of Missoula Bicycle Works, Alex Gallegos, dubbed the event the “Super Bowl of biking.” Exciting indeed!

For a list of other racing events around the state, check out the Montana Bicycle Racing Association.

Like this blog by Ryan Newhouse?  Chances are you’ll enjoy reading about his take on Mountain Biking in Missoula in his Mountain Biking Trail Guide.  You may also want to check out his tips for Fixing up Your Bike.

Click here to see Ryan’s blog archive.

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Ryan Newhouse has pedaled through thousands of miles of Missoula’s streets and trails as a commuter, long-distance cyclist, recreationist and former city bicycling ambassador. Although he now works from home, he still uses two feet or two wheels to push or pull himself and his daughter around town.  Back to “Bike It” home page or check out Ryan’s ownblog.