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I attended the 3rd Annual Helena Trail Fest this weekend here in town.  This is an event that organizers bill as a celebration of the sport & culture of mountain biking on the local network of some 70 miles of trails.  I hadn’t participated in the previous two events.  As a local resident, who already spends quite a bit of time in “the Southies”, the idea of spending $35 on this hadn’t made much sense before.  However, spurred on by three motivators, I decided I’d give it a go this year.  First, after weeks & weeks of training, practically every weekend, the grind, well, gets to be a grind.  The idea of just going out there and riding for the sake of riding appealed to me this weekend.  Second, hey, if Team BSC will pay half my registration fee & I’m getting fed both evenings, I’m suddenly a bit more intrigued here from a cost-benefit analysis.  Third, Big Russ’ team email on this event that he’d sent a few weeks ago.  Have you seen the arms on this fella?  Muscle beach, baby!  When Russ “suggests” I do something…it gets done!
Friday night was registration & then the Mellow Mountain Bike Ride.  About 10 riders showed up for this & we had ourselves a great tour of the following trails: Eagle Scout, Archery Range, Rodney Ridge, Fuchs, T.R. & the Waterline.  The benefit of a “mellow” ride is that you get to see things in a whole different perspective and, perhaps, even learn something along the way.  What’s actually the name of that wildflower you’ve been riding by all season up there on the T.R. trail?  I could be wrong, but I’d recommend trusting Angie over Eric on this botany lesson.  Nobody racin’ & plenty of stops along the way…perfect!  This was my one opportunity to keep up with Eric Grove! We finished our ride at Taco Del Sol, where we had dinner & were entertained by local band called Indecent Exposure, followed by DJ Twixx.  After this, there was a quick stop to The Big Dipper for the Trail Fest special offering of Rocky Trail ice cream (excellent).
My plan for Saturday was to take every opportunity to, as advertised, “ride my ass off”.  Things sorta started off slow, however, as the rains that came while we riders slept the evening before managed to “scuttle the shuttle” for those of us hoping to catch the 7:30 trolley up to the Ridge Line & make it back before the 9:30 group rides started.  Things cleared up & dried out enough by 9:30, so I opted to join up with an amalgamation of The People’s Ride and The Big Guy’s Ride.  About 12 riders were in this group and we hit the following trails: Wakina Sky, Barking Dog, Spring Hill, Flume, Dry Gulch, Skills Course & Don’t Fence Me In.  Our pace was steady and was kept determined as the Betty’s Riders kept nipping at our heels for much of the early part.  As we worked our way up Spring Hill, the rains returned & drenched us pretty good.  However, by the time we’d finished the Flume corridor, the sun was out & we were already starting to dry out.
We returned to the “mothership” of Great Divide Cyclery, cleaned our bikes off & had about an hour before the 1:30 ride started.  I decided to swing by the Big Sky Cyclery to see how things were going there, and to bum a bit of lube for my fast rustin’ chain.  With Jim & Melinda on vacation in Minnesota, I am pleased to report that Mike, Andy and the rest of the crew had things well under control…which means I didn’t see any blood on the floor & customers weren’t fleeing in terror…ha, ha!  After visiting with the great BSC crew, I swung by the Bagel Company for some lunch…opted to eat outside in an opportunity to dry out a bit more from the morning.  If you drove by & saw a barefoot’d fella, with most of his gear hanging off the various deck chairs, that was me.
For the 1:30 ride, I decided to join up with the Ripper’s Ride and take in some of the downhill action.  This crew was made up primarily from the Gravity Guild, a rough & tumble assemblage of the area’s best downhillers.  Without having platform pedals, a full-faced helmet & a 30 lb bike to slow me down, I can proudly lay claim to the fact that I dropped most of these guys on the way up Dump Gulch.  Of course, they guys also brought larger cojones along for the ride as well.  So, at the top of Show Me the Horse, these fellas were unleashed & there was a downhill display the likes I’d never seen before.  Awesome!
Saturday evening, there was a party at Pioneer Park.  Along with dinner, there was a giveaway raffle, dinner & Blackfoot Beer.  Bike jousting, I predict, will soon become the next MTB rage!
Along with getting to visit with several Helena riders out there this weekend, I made new friends from Anaconda, Bozeman, Red Lodge & even Vancouver, WA.  Congrats to Steve Coen, Eric Grove & everyone else that chipped in from the Great Divide Cyclery & the Gravity Guild for making the 3rd annual Helena Trail Fest a success.
With plans to be in New Hampshire next weekend for the Mount Washington Auto Road Hillclimb, I decided not to do this Sunday’s Helenduro.  Too much invested in getting up a mountain next weekend to risk breaking something coming down a mountain this weekend.  Maybe next year.  For those BSC members out there doing the Helenduro, rip it up!


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