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.
A few weeks ago one hundred cyclists from all over the country identifying as women, transgender, femme, and non-binary gathered in Whitefish, Montana for the first ever WTF Bikexplorers Summit. The Summit was organized to support, celebrate, and connect the community of W/T/F/N-B who use their bicycles to explore and a collective effort for a movement away from patriarchy and toward a liberatory cycling culture.
“This Summit is about bikes, but it is not really about bikes.” -Tessa Hulls
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…
The serendipity of road trips is the unexpected, except when routes take a bit longer than expected. I was planning on having content posted all day today but got held up on a relentless traverse in Northern Idaho en route to Bozeman that tacked on an extra day of driving. Whoops! I don’t want you to think I forgot about y’all.
I’m in Bozeman now, ready to ride, explore, and document the community here, so stay tuned. Tomorrow we’ll be looking a bit deeper into Portland as well, so turn in first thing in the morning.
A friend of mine once said “It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun.” Follow Chris Shalbot, Scott Rinckenberger and Justin Olsen as they enjoy/curse the Continental Divide Trail between Montana and Idaho.
Sawyer’s Dirt Drop Miyata Sportrunner
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor
Bicycles need not be complicated. They need not be expensive. Yet it sure is nice when they have character. Sawyer’s Miyata is a simple reminder that a Craigslist find and a few easy mods can revive the joy of having a rad bike on a shoestring.
Pete Costain has been called the Godfather of Whitefish. He helped build many of the trails on Spencer Mountain before taking his company, Terraflow Trail Systems, full time in 2009, further expanding their trailbuilding networks.
Here’s the latest video profile from Freehub Magazine:
“Maintaining 100 miles of trail is not easy, a fact Ben Horan knows all too well. As Executive Director of MTB Missoula, he is an advocate for both our land and our sport, working with countless others to ensure that our trails not only exist, but thrive.”
I’m really enjoying these videos, guys! Keep them coming.
Freehub takes us on a ride to Big Sky in Montana with Tom Owen, the operator of Gallatin Alpine Sports. Tom uses his shop to share his love for mountain bikes and the opportunities to explore public lands with everyone who visits his store.
Montana has many great cycling destinations and in this episode of Path Less Pedaled, Russ and Laura head to Dillon for some dirt road riding.
Double Vision in Montana and Utah
Photos and words by Locke Hassett
This gallery is the product of dirt, light, stupidity and celluloid. The following images are accidental double exposures. Most of the time, this hack in an analog cameras’ mechanics is used for artistic effect, like purposely exposing a silhouette onto a leaf, or a friend’s face onto a bottle of Chartreuse. These images are not intentional. After shooting a roll of Portra 400 on a bike tour-party that was hosted by myself and the Freecycles crew, I wound the film back. But not quite enough. When I went to load my (t)rusty Pentax K1000, whose meter was killed by the #DFL Divide trip, I grabbed the same roll of Portra, not knowing that I would be exposing a 4-day ride of Kokopelli’s trail onto images of slingshots and drinking bagged wine from a frame bag.
Most photographers (myself included) don’t normally enjoy surprises. When I got this roll back, I was initially quite upset, until I began to review the images. Whether it be Whitney FT emerging from a hailstorm wearing goat horns, Sir Thomas Danger Kitty McKean pounding up a hill next to my boss, or Jess navigating a boulder field as Cameron cruises shirtless, I began to see that these images reflected the absurdity of bike touring, as well as the inherent unpredictability of the trail. Embracing accidents often leads to some of the best memories, and this roll is photo-proof.
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“It’s a long ride from here. 80 miles, and the first 20 are uphill. The train leaves at 5pm, and we have to be there at 4, because we have bicycles. It should be a good day.”
That was when I knew that my new job was not your ordinary bike shop gig, and never would be. Bob Giordano, the founder of Free Cycles, Missoula’s community bike shop, warmed his hands with his breath as the sun broke over Logan Pass and illuminated Heaven’s Peak, which was in our view as we stopped for morning coffee on Going to the Sun Road. This was a casual employee bonding ride: Missoula to Glacier, over the pass, catch a train to Whitefish and hitchhike back to open the shop on Tuesday. Pathologically optimistic, barely planned, and wonderful. Our plan was as loose as what got us there and without hesitation, we kept on riding. We were unsure of what would happen, but we knew it would be good, and that is the magic of Free Cycles.