Beers and Gears

Beers and Gears

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Pape, Jay

When gas prices shot through the roof, I challenged myself to explore trail rides that were accessible from my front door. There are two benefits to this strategy. The first is that I get to spend more time riding and less time driving. The second is that I live in the old Northeast neighborhood and it's very convenient to start and finish this virtual Tour de Blight at the Bozone Brewery. Here are three rides that make for perfect post-work stress abatement and are great opportunities to check out the plethora of trails right here in the valley.

Ride #1: Bozone–Story Hill–Main Street to Mountains Trails–Bozone
From the old Northeast neighborhood, Story Hill is just a couple of minutes away. If I ride there, it leaves too much time for after-work chores. My solution? Devise a loop that follows nearly every GVLT trail our valley.

Start at the Bozone, head south and pass the old train station and catch the Main Street to Mountains trail just after the railroad crossing on North Wallace. You will feel cooler air at the river as you enter the old stockyards. Hang a hard right and enter Story Hills proper. Take the singletrack up and the speedy, gravel road back to Wallace and Main Street. Head up Lindley Park’s main entrance and into the cemetery. A gate at the southwest corner provides access to Pete’s Hill. Now climb to the water tower and take the eastward descent and cross Highland Boulevard. Continue east and south around the “tree streets” subdivision and climb up to Kagy.

Now is your chance to tuck like a roadie and burn westward down to a hard left turn at South Tracy. This is followed by a quick left on Spring Creek. A short climb gives access to the Sourdough spur trails where you can meander all the way to Goldenstein. Once at Goldenstein return via the Sundance Trail and back to Spring Creek Drive. Cross Kagy and pick up the Gallagator trail at the community gardens and spin back to the library and cross Main Street at Broadway. The Bozone closes at 8 pm, so make like Lance and sprint a quarter-mile to the last stool at the bar. “Plum Street Porter, please.”

Ride #2: Bozone–Kelly Canyon–Bridger Canyon–Drinking Horse–East Gallatin Rec–Bozone
This ride will satisfy those looking for a multisport outing. First, resist the urge to sample a Bozone Amber before this ride. Instead, take the I-90 Frontage Road east to Kelly Canyon. The solid gravel road takes you by the old Lewis & Clark campsite. Keep climbing until you crest a divide. Be ready to blink away your speed-tears as you hold on through the “don’t skid here” gravel turns down toward Bridger Canyon Road. Hang a left, embrace your inner-Leipheimer, and hammer back Bridger Canyon toward town through the S-curves. On the right is the M trail and to the left is the Drinking Horse trail. Choose one, stash your bike and hike to the top.

There will be plenty of light left, but don’t dally on the way down—you’ve got more riding to do. Head back to Story Mill road and the Main Street to the Mountains trails in the Bridger Creek subdivision, winding through a maze of trails to the East Gallatin pond. Here, you better take a dip before cranking around the lake, back through Bridger Creek, and south along the trail toward the Story Hills. Aw shucks, Bozone Brewery is right there! So ride up the singletrack, blast down the road from the top, catch the trail behind the old stockyard (sound familiar?) to the old train station and ride to a Tour de Blight victory brew. “I’ll take the Amber!”

Ride #3: Bozone–Bozeman Creek–Moser Divide–Hyalite Canyon–Bozone
This isn’t exactly part of the Tour de Blight, but it certainly can start and end at the aforementioned watering hole. If you're doing this after work, take a headlamp for the ride back to town.

From the Bozone, cruise through Lindley Park and the cemetery up to Peet's Hill as in Ride #1. From the water tower, drop down the singletrack to Sourdough Road. Cross Kagy and spin past Triple Tree to Bozeman Creek. Once on the Bozeman Creek trail, use caution to avoid dogs (and hikers) on this heavily used trail. Beware of dog-poop bombs in plastic bags along the trail! At the five-mile point, you'll cross a bridge and come to a fork. Left takes you to Mystic Lake, but go straight toward the Moser Divide. The trail is rougher and overgrown in spots, so you are unlikely to see anyone else. Beware of moose.

Once at the divide, leave through the gate and take the screaming downhill road to Hyalite Canyon Road. Detour up-canyon for a dip in the reservoir if you have time or head down-canyon to South 19th. Hang a right at Nash, left on South 3rd, and right on Goldenstein to the Sourdough trails. Amble back to South Tracy and pick up the Gallagator to the library. Once again, cross Main at Broadway—and sure enough the lights are still on at the Bozone. “I’ll take a growler to go, please!”

What kind of bike?
The speed, freedom and pure joy of riding are hard to beat. And all of these rides deliver dirt, gravel, and pavement. Forget the skinny-tire, carbon-fiber crotch rocket and that squishy downhiller at home. For this type of riding, any ordinary bike will do, but a cyclocross or cross-touring bike is de rigueur. A steel frame/fork with skinny, knobby tires will spike your heart rate, challenge your skills, test your endurance and be plenty fast on the rolling tarmac of the Gallatin Valley. Check out the Kona Jake, Surly Cross Check, or Specialized Tri-cross.

These rides start and end at a pub! Why not ditch the padded Lycra diapers and click-clack shoes? Carhartt shorts, a t-shirt, and tennies or Tevas work just fine.

Lastly, a huge thanks goes to the Gallatin Valley Land Trust for working to improve and expand our local trail system. Pick up their map and consider sending them a donation. These rides simply would not be possible without GVLT.

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