The riding has been pretty sweet the last few days. Slowly the trails are being cleared of the winter's gift of downed trees. Mark your calendars. Saturday June 1 will be our big clearing adventure of the year. You bring you saws, loppers, chainsaws, hedgers, work gloves and we'll bring beer and burgers.
We know people in Zootown come down here to ride and we know where you live. Since Lolo NF won't let you do trail work, here is your chance to practice, and contribute to keeping trails open.
Meet at the Spring Creek Campground (Junction of 93 and Medicine Springs Road, halfway between Conner and Sula) at 9:00. If we have enough people we might even manage to get some riding in.
As mountain bikers we love trails, whether buffed smooth or steep and rocky. Luckily the Bitterroot Valley is surrounded by hundreds of miles of trails. So many trails that the Forest Service has a challenge keeping them all open and useable. That's where the Bitterroot Backcountry Cyclists come in. Saws in tow, we clear, repair and sometimes build new trails.
Last year on National Trails Day we cleared 30 miles of trails on and around Warm Springs Ridge including nearly the entire lengths of Warm Springs Ridge, Fire Creek, Porcupine Creek, and Warm Springs Creek to Two Good Cabin. Over the course of the summer we cleared over 80 miles of trails that were impassable due to dead fall. Trails you love whether on bike, horse, or on foot
In addition, working with the Bitterroot Backcountry Horsemen we rebuilt a stream crossing in Coyote Coulee, and working with Como Trails we built a new trail to improve loops for cross country skiing in the winter and biking in the summer.
This year we will be out again with chainsaws, handsaws and lopers clearing off the winters downfall, and with shovels and pulaskis making other trails more sustainable and resilient.
Please join us at the Bitterroot Brewery on May xx [time]… Funds raised will support our 100% volunteer efforts to keep the trails clear with the purchase of equipment and supplies.
Fat Bike Best Practices Courtesy of IMBA
Yield triangle design by Jake Hawkes/Grand Targhee Resort.
Regarding equipment, what is the bare minimum I need to ride on snow?
- Tires wider than 3.7 inches
- Tire pressure less than 10 PSI
- You will not leave a rut deeper than one inch in the snow
- You are able to safely control your bike and ride in a straight line
- You have permission to ride from the land manager
DO NOT RIDE, especially on groomed nordic and snowmobile trails, if you can't meet all of the requirements above.
Best Practices for Riding on Nordic Trails
- Only ride at ski areas that allow and encourage biking.
- Yield to all other users when riding. Skiers don't have brakes but you do!
- Ride on the firmest part of the track.
- Do not ride on or in the classic tracks.
- Leave room for skiers to pass (don't ride side-by-side with all of your buddies blocking the full trail).
- Allow the track time to set up after grooming and before riding.
- Beware of alternative days for bikes and for skiers.
- ONLY ride a purpose-built fat bike, not any old mountain bike. Tire tread must be wider than 3.7 inches.
- Be an ambassador for the sport: stay polite, educate other riders, discourage bad behavior and follow the rules.
- Help out and get involved by joining your local nordic club.
- Donate money for trail grooming.
Best Practices for Riding on Snowmobile Trails
- When riding on snowmobile trails, use a front white blinker and rear red blinker at all times. Wear reflective material on both the front and rear of your body.
- Stay to the far right of the trail and yield to snowmobiles.
- Know and obey the rules of your local land manager. Understand that some trails may be on private property and might not be open to alternative uses.
- Be prepared. Winter travel in the backcountry requires carrying proper gear and dressing properly. Be self-sufficient!
- Use extreme caution when riding at night. Be visible and always use lights.
- Be friendly! Fat bikers are the newest users and the snowmobilers you encounter might not be welcoming. Be courteous and open to suggestions.
- Help out by supporting your local snowmobile club.
- Donate to trail grooming and maintenance efforts.
Best Practices for Riding on Natural Terrain and in the Backcountry
In the right conditions, a fat bike can be the ultimate winter backcountry travel tool. Frozen conditions and minimal snow coverage (1-5 inches) means access to areas that are impassible during the warmer months. But just because you can ride somewhere doesn't mean you should. Be aware and be prepared.
- Do not trespass! Know whether or not you are on private property. Obey ALL land manager rules. Some land parcels are closed to bikes whether you are riding on a trail or not.
- Do not ride through sensitive wildlife habitats. This may be especially important on beaches or in places where animals hibernate. Learn about the area you want to ride in before you ride there.
- Do not disturb wildlife. Many species survive on minimal diets during winter. Stressors or the need to move quickly can deplete their energy stores.
- Learn safe ice travel. Riding on frozen water can be extremely dangerous. Is the ice thick enough to support you? Take ice fishing picks and a length of rope when riding on lakes and rivers.
- Understand changing conditions. New snowfall or warming temperatures can make the return trip much more difficult. Tire tracks can be covered, hard snow can turn to slush, rivers can start to melt. Always know the forecast and be aware of how changing conditions might alter the safe passage of your route.
- Be prepared. Carry provisions in case you have to stay out longer than planned.
- Let people know. Make sure someone else knows where you are going, when you left and when you expect to return.
- Learn to share. Be aware that your tracks might attract other riders. Understand that "your" route might not remain a secret for long.
Special thanks to Fitzgerald's Bicycles of Victor, ID, and Salsa Cycles for their guidance.
It looks like our interactions with the Forest Service may be bearing fruit. Working with Como Trails we have been approved to build a new half mile of trail to replace a steep, narrow connecting trail in
Shannon Gulch. We will be meeting Saturday December 1 at 10:00 to clear out the corridor. Meet a 10:00 where FS 550A intersects Shannon Gulch just south of Lake Como.
Hopefully this will be the first of a series of new trail options for the Lake Como area.
A few weeks ago several of us had the pleasure to meet Mark Smith at Lake Como. Mark is the new Trails Specialist for the Bitterroot National Forest. We were joined by Tony from Como Trails and Cory for the
Como Triathlon and Como Trails to evaluate the potential for increasing trails in the area, primarily for beginners and intermediate riders.
Right now there is a lack of easier, shorter trails for people just getting into mountain biking and also for families with kids. We have identified several old decommissioned roads that with a little pruning and loping could be repurposed for mountain bikes in the summer and cross country in the winter. We also looked at a couple of the user created trails in the area to get an idea on how to make them sustainable.
Mark seemed receptive, and hopefully this will be the first step towards adding new trail to the valley.
Last Saturday we got together with the Bitterroot Backcountry Horsemen
to rebuild a stream crossing on
the Hayes Loop portion of Coyote Coulee. The old timbers were rotting away, and we replaced them with some new wood, and tried to make new crossing horse, bike, and hiker friendly. Great to work with other active trail users. Hopefully this will the first of many collaborations.
Our friends down in Salmon have been busy exploring the Big Hole and Chief Joe area. Here is what they
have to say:
a couple days riding the Chief Joe Pass area this weekend.
Friday was meant to be big mileage exploring...ended up being 6 hours of clearing. ElkCreek Trail (#18) is clear (but for a few ATV deterrents) from the trail start up to Road #1295. The trail is fun and gentle, intermediate level, a bit overgrown in spots of higher moisture.
Saturday saw more miles. Hogan Creek Trail #105 is clear (not our doing). Tough climbing, but makes a good loop w/ Elk Creek.
The CDT (#9) from Gibbons Pass to the junction w/ Hogan Creek Trail is also clear (again not our doing). The upper portion of Hogan Trail, from CDT one mile to Elk Cr Tr Junction, has much deadfall. CDT to Elk is a good loop, or CDT to Hogan (especially if staying at Hogan Cabin). The beauty of the Trail Creek area makes up for riding on the road to complete the loops.
Nee Me Poo Trail is clear of trees (work done by mysterious little non-mechanized gnomes). This trail in itself seems silly and random and short, albeit very fun...but seen as a connector from May Creek to Trail Creek, it is a great way to avoid the highway and looping the May side w/ the Trail, Scooter, Shoofly, Elk side.
I still need to scout the CDT Stevenson Ruby potential connection. It will be two weeks before I have time to do that.
We Salmonites are very impressed with the state of the Wise River RD trails. We are not at all used to clear trails and good signage. Yeah, we cleared Elk Creek, but judging by the fresh sawdust elswhere, someone was headed into Elk this week.
Also, mark your calendar. August 12-19 is Occupy Salmon. Random Mtn-Bikers from far and wide are convening here to ride. This is an unorganized event. Looks like about 20 folks plus the Salmon Crew. A group from Alaska and a group from Moab. The Yeti Demo guy is supposed to be here too for some R&R...we get to ride the demos...he gets to actually ride. If you are interested in joining us let me know. Maybe I should start Tweeting?
This is a link to the actual ride. http://app.strava.com/rides/13402232 Batteries died on GPS. If I were to do this one again, I would go up Elk Cr, down Hogan, then CDT back to Elk and down. Up Elk, down Hogan, then Chief Joe down Scooter would be good to...w/ all the whiney shuttle bitches waiting w/ beers at Hogan Cabin.
The maps show a trail leaving the CDT at the north point and heading along the ridge north and down to Diggins Creek, coming out behind Sula. Know anything about that one? Looks like some others heading up from East Fork of BRoot, Tolan Creek and Reimel Creek show trails. Love idea of potential loops from Sula.
Recently I had the chance to take 10-11 kids mountain biking. For several of them it was their first time. I think the smiles say it all.
Everyone got wet and nearly everyone ended up caked in mud. Despite the thunderstorms everyone finished with smiles and a sense of accomplishment. With 23 volunteers, a Big Dummy with chainsaws, a
couple of horses, a mules, and a bunch of bikes we managed to clear nearly every trail around Warm Springs Ridge. 40 miles of single track now have 200 fewer fallen trees.
With some much help we managed to have 4 crews spread out. One headed up to Two Good Cabin. One cleared Fire Creek and were rewarded with a descent down a cleared Warm Springs Ridge. A horse team cleared down Warm Springs Ridge from the junction with Fire Creek. The last crew turned left at the top of Fire Creek and rode the ridge to Porcupine Saddle, and then down Porcupine Creek to Two Good cabin from the other side.
Luckily the rain held until the afternoon, the trails cleared and everyone was on the way out and heading back for some justly deserved beverages and food. So next time you ride down Warm Springs and you think how nice it is to not have to stop and climb over a log, say a silent word of thanks to those 23.
Sometimes people wonder why we need a mountain bike club. Working with the Forest Service and other agencies can be frustrating and move slower than we like, but an organization can facilitate things. I'm always amazed there is no organized group in Missoula. The Independent just had an article
about free riders building illegal trails around Missoula. Maybe if they had been better organized and persistent things might have turned out better. I can guarantee you that the people opposed to more mountain biking are organized.