caractere mai micireseteazacaractere mai mari

Cele mai recente contributii la rubrica Album


The State of Montana – A bicyclist’s dream and tenacity

de (30-9-2012)


Montana is truly a world class destination for a vast array of outdoor adventures from its extensive river systems to the daunting Rocky Mountains. The predominately unpopulated myriad of landscapes that can be found in Montana offer a wide range of possible activities to be explored, one of the more intense and exciting being mountain biking in the western section of the state. World class mountain biking trails can be found less than a twenty minute drive from the town of Missoula- a diverse, friendly community-oriented university town nestled into a large valley right along the edge of the Rockies.

One of the most challenging and rewarding system of trails for mountain bikers near town can be found in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area; North of Missoula. There are many miles of trail options in this area, but my personal favorite is what is commonly referred to as the Wallman Trail. The route begins easily enough on a relatively flat and wide trail leaving the small trailhead parking area, offering a gradual and forgiving warm up for the legs and sense of balance before the grueling uphill stretch that is to come.


This warm-up section of trail is a short segment of the roughly ten mile loop, and I begin to feel disconnected from the problems and troubles of life as I head upwards through the tall grass and brush filling the drainage valley and into progressively thicker evergreen trees- the trail all the while beginning to thin out. All I can hear is the sound of my bike chain working under the power of my pedaling and the occasional wind through the pine needled tree branches and, for lack of a better explanation, it is good.

The easy grade doesn’t last long- shortly after crossing a creek, the trail begins to take off headed at an aggressive upward angle towards an unseen saddle on a ridge that rises abruptly from the small valley. The climb is grueling. My legs begin to burn as my heart rate increases and my breathing gets heavier, there are several switchbacks before reaching the transition point to exhilarating downhill riding into the next valley over. The climb itself, however, is not alone the most difficult aspect of this section of the trail.


I find that there is seldom room for thought other than pedal, pedal, get up this mountain, just keep pushing it and the psychological battle can be more difficult than the physical exertion. The first time up such climbs is always the most difficult, and I usually find myself thinking, can I really do this? Maybe I should get off and push here… Maybe I should just head back down. Having friends along to help push my limits and test my endurance has been critical to my being able to work through such psychological hardships.

Aside from the massive amount of physical and mental energy dedicated to pulling myself and my bike up the mountain a solid amount of concentration, balance and agility is required to navigate the many jagged rocks and exposed tree roots blocking the way. Depending on the strength and experience of the group, progress can be slow.


With much sweat and energy expended, and with hundreds of feet of vertical gain behind me, the saddle is eventually reached. The next valley is in sight and roughly twenty feet of trail can be seen descending down the mountain into the thick brush at just as steep of a slope as the climb up. At this point, it is wise to take a break in order to rest the legs and prevent cramping during the white-knuckled gravity ride that will eventually bring me back to the trailhead.

The descent requires little physical energy, but extreme concentration and skillful use of the brakes. The downhill trail has just as many rocks and roots as the uphill climb, and even has some bonus loose, sandy dirt and shale. Managing speed is critical during this steep descent- too much and it is impossible to make it around a switchback, too little and the exposed obstacles become more difficult to ‘float’ over. If the brakes are pulled too hard, it could mean completely losing control and sliding off of the trail and falling down the side of the ridge or, if you’re lucky, into a tree to stop your fall. Perhaps the front brake was pulled too hard before an obstacle, and now the front wheel has stopped moving upon contact of the obstacle and the rider is sent head over handlebars straight into the ground. The many ways of potential injury with mountain biking cross my mind frequently as I begin descents like these; I have experienced all of the previously mentioned falls and do not wish to repeat any of them.


The spectre of fear from previous falls allows me to ride more cautiously and still get plenty of adrenaline and enjoyment from the race to the valley below. Sliding around switchbacks, thinking control, control, control with a big, dirt and dust filled smile on my face, eyes wide- the treeline breaks away and the valley is fully visible, another ridge on its opposite side heading down all the way into the lager valley hosting Missoula, the evening light hitting it perfectly to create a radiant landscape not even Bob Ross himself could imagine up and paint. I have to stop and take in the panorama, this is paradise!

The valley returns to its blurred whirring of green and brown to the sides of me as I start down the ridge once more, the fall colors of deciduous underbrush sometimes piercing through in vibrant yellows, pinks, and oranges. At this point I remember, yet again, that all of the difficulty in reaching the top of the ridge is worth it for this descent, and knowing that I reached the top through my own power becomes an extremely satisfying experience. MontanaFive minutes later I will be on the floor of the valley, returning on a mellow dirt road to the trailhead parking lot which I will leave, head back through Missoula’s ever-eventful downtown to stop by at The Badlander bar for some local jazz musicians and a cold, Missoula brewed glass of beer to share war stories from the trail- mud and blood! The endorphins are still surging through me, and I pleasantly anticipate my next return to the Rattlesnake.


Dacă doriţi să scrieţi comentariul dv. cu diacritice: prelungiţi apăsarea tastei literei de bază. Apoi alegeţi cu mouse-ul litera corectă (apare alături de mai multe variante) şi ridicaţi degetul de pe litera de bază. Încercaţi!

Reguli privind comentariile

Citește articolul precedent:
A Word to Rioting Muslims, by Pat Condell

We will not be told what we can and cannot say. Not by you, not by anybody. Not now, not...