We finally managed to dry out on our way to Bozeman, MT after the incredible rains we saw in Sun Valley, ID. The sun started to shine once we drove out of the mountains and we managed to dry out our gear when we stopped for lunch at the Craters of the Moon National Park. A nice desert breeze and our tent was dry within minutes! We took our time driving to Bozeman with a detour through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. After two solid days of sun, we arrived in Bozeman and our first stop was Bangtail Bikes. You can’t miss the shop, just drive straight down Main Street and look for the big white rotating horse… (It was originally a sign for a clothing store that occupied the space in 1968 and is now a historical landmark.)
It was looking promising for riding the next day and we got the rundown on the local trails from Mason and John. Bozeman has tonnes of trails to choose from, local knowledge really helped to narrow it down to a few good ones. After a good chat with them, we checked in at a hostel a few blocks away and tracked down Casey at the Bozeman Bike Kitchen to make plans for a ride. (Casey was the one who convinced us to come down to Bozeman.) The weather was looking promising and we were stoked.
During the night it rained. And rained some more. Unfortunately many of the trails in Bozeman are clay based and not rideable when they’re wet. The rain stopped in the afternoon but not soon enough to allow the trails to dry out to ride. Luckily it was the monthly artwalk in Bozeman and one of the local mountain bike photographers was having a showing. We met up with the John and Chelsea, along with Mason and Shannon at Bangtail Bikes and headed out where we met up with Casey. Later that night we made a new plan to ride with Mason and Casey.
It rained again. Not as much as the night before, but enough to cause us to postpone the ride. Just as I was starting to think we wouldn’t get a chance to ride in Bozeman, our luck changed. The sun came out and we made yet another plan to ride. Instead of doing the ride we originally had planned, we chose to do Grassy Mountain, which is part of the Bangtail Divide. Casey was the only one able to make it out for an afternoon ride so after picking him up, we drove to the Brackett Creek Trailhead and started the ride up. The trail started at 5800′ and by this time I was definitely feeling the effects of the elevation. I’m not the best climber at the best of times and 20 minutes into the climb I was wishing I had an oxygen tank. However the climb itself wasn’t a difficult climb, just long and sustained with lots of switchbacks on a very smooth trail. There were definitely some slick areas thanks to the rain, but only one really muddy area that caked our tires in clay.
After several stops to catch my breath and convince myself that I wasn’t going to die, we got to the top of Grassy Mountain which was at 6690′. From here you can continue on and do the Bangtail Divide Loop or you can turn around and ride down the hill. We chose the latter but stayed at the top for a while to chat and relax before turning around to head down.
The ride down was a blast! The muddy area was like a slip-n-slide and the switchbacks were perfect berms. Casey used the berms like a slingshot, I was on his tail for a good part of the descent until he came to one of the berms at the halfway mark and he was gone! Every so often I would get a glimpse of his jersey through the trees but it wasn’t until we got to the bottom that I would see him again. The descent made the grueling climb up worth it, we were all muddy and grinning from ear to ear.
**It doesn’t normally rain this much in Bozeman during August. It was an unusual year weather-wise.
Grassy Mountain, Bozeman Montana
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