The seasons are dramatic in Montana. Long dark days of winter stand in stark contrast to the euphoric long and pleasant days of summer. As I near a decade of living in this place that once felt so quiet and remote, I sometimes wonder how life would be different if I lived in a more moderate place. Would I get used to it and only ride on the most perfect days? Or would I get out every day like I do when the weather finally turns in Montana, working myself to a point where snowed-in trails are almost welcome after five months of manic riding? Whatever the answer, it is hard to explain the motivation that comes after a 6-month long winter. The dreaming, planning, and longing for those special Montana Summer days just might be worth the wait.
Bozeman, Montana is a magical place to mountain bike in the summertime. Last year’s trip was epic, so this year we wanted to re-visit this quaint little mountain town. While we were there last month, I was able to shoot Adam Sklar’s latest project, the Sweet Spot 29er MTB. While Adam usually takes on custom bikes, the Sweet Spot will be the brand’s first production model. The Sweet Spot is made in Bozeman, Montana, just like all Sklar Bikes. The aim here is to lower wait times, while not sacrificing quality. It also enables Adam to sell a model that is in-line with his philosophy on mountain bikes.
Remember that sick Black Sheep we shared last week? Well, the owner of that bike, Sam, has been tinkering in his garage and building some really unique bikes. Granted, he calls them “hunks of steel” and “kinda weird” but as a cycling photographer I couldn’t pass up shooting his 135mm spaced Rohloff fatbike.
Last year, a group of framebuilders converged on the bustlin’ little Montana town of Bozeman for what we called Home Grown Builders Camp. Each day, we’d take to the mountains around Bozeman to ride alpine trails. While driving to these trails is just something you expect, riding straight from town is always a treat and that’s why I really loved riding the local Townie Trails, aka the Gallatin Valley Land Trust‘s Main Street to the Mountains trail network.
I don’t even know how to start this one off. It’s such a weighted story, with so many levels. First off, Bob Allen is in the MTB Hall of Fame for his photography. Then there’s the bike we’re featuring here, the last Cook Brothers Racing frame made in their original SoCal workshop. Then there’s Bob’s own career, which is tied directly to this bike and a specific photo of MTB legend Hans Ray. Then there’s the fact that Bob had only ridden this bike twice in the past twenty-some-odd years until this week’s Supper Club Shred with Alter Cycles where I was able to grab a few shots of him riding the bike… so bear with me here!
Titanium bikes. They’re often referred to as “lifetime bikes” due to the metal’s oxide barrier, inhibiting it from rusting in the traditional sense of the word. A Ti bike will last for a lifetime with its only limiting factor being the technology of the components and the riders ability to adapt the bike as their tastes in life change. So yes, in essence, a titanium bike can be a lifetime bike, but how often are they really? Well, working at Summit Bike and Ski in Bozeman, I found a true to form “lifetime bike.”
Trail dogs are the best! This morning our friend Mason Griffin went neck and neck with Tulip, the trail running puppers, as we careened down the Leverich trail.
“Come to Montana this summer, it doesn’t get too hot, there are no mosquitos, and the mountain biking is awesome!” At least one of those was true and luckily, that’s all that matters at the end of the day. This was Adam Sklar’s invite to a handful of frame builders and makers, welcoming us to ride bikes in Bozeman for a week in an event initially dubbed “Sklar Camp” but later was turned to “Builder’s Camp.” This idea stemmed from the disdain of trade shows and convention centers and a love of riding bikes, something many frame builders just don’t have a lot of free time for. It happens every year at NAHBS, usually Saturday evening after the show has closed and people get a few drinks in them. A lamentation of epic proportions take hold as someone blurps out “Why don’t we just skip NAHBS next year and ride bikes instead?” A few more drinks and a roundtable discussion ensues, resulting in “Ok, yeah we need to go to NAHBS, but let’s make plans to ride bikes this year!”
We talk about this a lot. Supporting your local bike shop. But what can your LBS do for you? Alter Cycles’ Steve Bretson recently penned a beautiful, heartfelt idea on their Instagram, related to our Supper Club Shred gallery that I really wanted to share here on the website. Click through to read Steve’s post…
We interrupt what would be more bike galleries from the Builder’s Camp in Bozeman, with an interjection of stoke. Stoke for the ride we did last night and the community at large, with emphasis on that word, large.
Every Tuesday night in Bozeman – during the warmer months – Alter Cycles throws an event they call the Supper Club Shred. It’s an open invite, all-are-welcomed ride, which ping-pongs around the various trails surrounding this quaint lil’ mountain town. Since meeting Mason and Steve from Alter, I’ve been following them on Instagram, checking out the local scene through their lenses and I must say, the internet doesn’t do it justice.
For one, the riding community here is as superb as the riding. Last night, over 50 people showed up for the party ride up to Emerald Lake via one of the chillest and most stunning singletrack climbs we’ve taken on thus far. As a self-described desert rat, I don’t often find myself deep in forests, or lush thickets such as this. With this form of riding comes a summoning of throwback skills from learning to mountain bike in the hills and mountains of North Carolina. Steep, slick, rocks and roots await!