The Bozeman Bicycling Boom

The Bozeman Bicycling Boom

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McCune, Jenny
The streets and trails of Bozeman are alive with cycling.

Whether it’s the Lance Effect or soaring gas prices, the Gallatin Valley’s population boom, people wanting to get fit, you name it, everywhere you look there are people on bikes: young and old, riding everything from town cruisers to sleek race machines, to moms and dads biking while towing junior in a trailer, to youngsters with training wheels.

We’ve seen it at the Gallatin Valley Bicycle Club. Currently GVBC has 264 dues-paying members, and 403 people subscribe to the club’s weekly emails, which list local bicycling events and activities. More riders have also shown up for our Tuesday night race-training rides, including more women. In years past, if three women showed up on Tuesday night it was a big deal. This year, 23 women turned up for a women’s “how to get into racing” meeting, and the number of women on the Gallatin Alpine Sports/Heritage Homes Race Team (GAS) rivals that of the men.

Of course, what’s helped all of this is the support that people give to newcomers. GAS—GVBC’s racing arm—also holds racing clinics. GVBC members organize monthly road tours (long day rides on pavement), group mountain bike rides, as well as trail-maintenance days and mountain biking advocacy activities.

The Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) continues to promote and expand its Community Trails Program. Over the past year, GVLT reviewed trail proposals for more than 20 major subdivisions, and its “Main Street to the Mountains” trail system consists of approximately 45 miles of trails in and around Bozeman. Nearly 30 more miles are scheduled to be added by 2011. The Gallatin County Safe Trails group is advocating more separate bike and pedestrian pathways adjacent to major traffic arteries, including a path from Bozeman to Belgrade.

Cycling activities we can all look forward to in the coming months include:

Critical Mass Rides on the last Friday of the month. These are rides designed to “educate riders and motorists about sharing the road.” They meet at 5:30 pm at the Gallatin County Courthouse for a short cruise around town. Thirty-six people showed up for the inaugural ride on April 28.

GVBC Monthly Tours. Each month the club does a different road ride, anywhere from 15 miles to more than 80. Visit for more information.

Bikin’ with the Eagles, a benefit road ride of varying distances for Eagle Mount and its cyclists on June 10.

The Payden Memorial Foundation’s Blazing Saddles Ride on July 15. This road tour starts and ends in Livingston and aids local families with children with cancer. Mileage options include 100, 81, 65, 45, and 30 miles. For more information, visit .

The Bohart Bash Charity Mountain Bike Race on July 8. This is a mountain bike race on the trails of Bohart Cross-Country Ski Ranch up Bridger Canyon. At press time, it was under consideration as a State Championship race. For more information, visit

GVBC hosts the Montana State Time Trial on August 13. For more information, visit the GVBC website.

GVBC’s second Three Rivers Century will be held on August 26. This ride starts and ends in Belgrade, and two loops are available (100 miles or a metric century of about 108K or 67 miles).

Does that mean everything’s perfect with cycling in Bozeman? Not at all. With more traffic—both cars and bikes—comes more conflict. Yes, there are more places to ride, but many potential riders are scared away from climbing on their bikes because of safety concerns. And while the City of Bozeman and Gallatin County has added pavement, paved bike paths and dirt trails, many aren’t maintained.

Want to help make Bozeman a better place for biking? Consider volunteering to serve on the Bozeman Area Bicycle Advisory Board, helping with GVBC rides, or getting involved in the bike-path advocacy that Gallatin County Safe Trails promotes.

Bike Maintenance
The combination of water, grit, and mud on your drive train will shorten the life of your parts. Keep your bike clean! Follow these steps for a longer-lasting bike:

1.Bathe bike with soap and water, just like you would a car. Use a parts-cleaning brush or a toilet bowl brush. (Best to do while bike is still wet or muddy.)
2.Clean derailleur pulleys, chain, cogs, and chain rings with solvent and a toothbrush and rags.
3.Let bike dry off. Clean frame and parts with Simple Green or similar cleaner.
4.Lube all cables and housings for brakes and derailleur. Next, adjustments and truing (you may want to leave these adjustments to your mechanic).
5.Check the tires; inflate to recommended pressure. (You can run a little less in front than in rear.)
6.Test ride. Make sure it shifts, in all gears, and does not “throw” the chain. Slam on the brakes—make sure it will stop in an emergency.
7.Finally, polish frame and parts with Bike Lust or Lemon Pledge.

Steve Bjorklund owns Summit Bike & Ski Shop in downtown Bozeman. Stop by the shop at 26 S. Grand or give them a call at 587-1064.

It's All Downhill from Here

Big Sky Ski and Summer Resort has some welcome news for mountain bikers: it’s in the process of building new intermediate and beginner trails that start at the Mountain Village base area. “The goal is to build a new four-mile loop that will criss-cross the ski runs,” says Dax Schieffer, Big Sky spokesperson. These new trails won’t require the mountain biker to ride a lift to the top, unlike Big Sky’s existing downhill trails.

Schieffer says there are currently nine marked and mapped expert and intermediate downhill trails as well as additional unmarked trails. Bikers ride a lift to the top and then get to rip it up on the downhill. The resort will also double its bike park, which features a ladder course, dirt jumps, and wall rides.

The schedule for the mountain bike trail and park expansion is dependent on when the snow finally melts on Lone Mountain. Schieffer thinks that the lower-elevation trails could be completed by late June, with the rest finished by August. Of course, all bets are off if Big Sky gets one of its freakish, but not unheard of, summer snowstorms.

-Jenny McCune

Chrome Citizen Bag
San Francisco, CA

The Chrome Citizen Bag is the Ford F250 diesel extended cab of bike messenger bags. It is built to withstand the elements—tough canvas outer; waterproof, lined inner bag; and a cushioned shoulder strap for those long days. The trademark strap with a seatbelt buckle and quick-release completes the tough, no-nonsense look. Unfortunately, like a Ford F250, it’s a little impractical for riding the ten blocks to the Leaf and Bean. My complaints: 1) The buckling system requires an advanced degree and as far as I can tell cuts off the circulation in my armpit, and 2) The bag hangs vertically (protecting your files from getting bent around your body), but until gravity rotates to a left-to-right pull, the contents are in constant danger of falling out the side (top). In the end though, if I had to choose between you all getting to the coffee shop in a Ford F250 diesel extended cab or on your bicycle with a slightly flawed messenger bag… GET ON YOUR BIKE!

-Emily Harrington

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