Thursday, December 27, 2012

The most important tool

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gravel Grinding: Big Sky Style

Dec. 1, 2012.

     It was windy, that's for sure. 50 degrees. It was clearly snowing in the Bridgers to the West, which I hoped to avoid. A crisis of motivation resulted in a late start which had me racing against dusk.  It was nearly 2pm when I parked the car and unloaded my bike and headed out. I had a rough route in mind of a loop going through the tiny town of Clyde Park but hadn't been on all the roads yet. So it was a recon mission of sorts. I wasn't sure how far I would be going but figured I could bail out and take the highway back to the car if neccessay.

    For a bike I was riding my steel Kona Unit 29er, rigid with gears. It has 35c cyclocross tires on there right now and they are perfect for this type of riding. So much faster than normal mtn tires! This is the bike I have been riding exclusively since I bought it. The way it is set up it really is a great dirt road bike which is the vast majority of my riding these days. I also raced my first season of cyclocross on it this fall, so it is a pretty versatile bike overall.

     The views from nearly anywhere along the Shields are dominated by the Crazy Mountains to the East. Picture perfect snowcovered alpine peaks in their own little isolated range, the Crazies are quite inviting.

     Traffic is minimal to nonexistent on these back roads. Occasional ranch truck = diesel 4x4 dually with flat bed, and the requisite pair of Blue Heelers running back and forth on it.

    We have had some moisture in the weather lately so the dirt roads were perfectly damp and wonderful. Too much moisture and the clay soils in the roadbed often become impossibly muddy but this was the perfect riding surface. Fast, grippy, no dust.

    These places are the ones that most folks drive past on their way to Somewhere Important. It is hard to put into words how it feels to be out in these places moving through this incredible landscape on a bicycle. Constant awe, amazement, reverence, gratitude, happiness. The last vestiges of the American West are here.

32 miles, 3 hours, and made it back to the car just before dark. Success!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Higher Ups

This picture is from just below Pine Creek Lake in the Absaroka Mountains just south of Livingston. It is an awesome stout little hike, with about 3000ft of elevation gain in 5 or so miles. This was maybe 2 months ago now when it just started snowing up high. The lake elevation is near 9000 ft I believe and the peaks surrounding are taller. I wasn't planning on going all the way up but all of sudden I was past halfway there and just decided to go for it. Much of the drainage you hike through was burned over this summer by the Pine Creek fire and there are large areas that are burned down to the ground with only blackened tree trunks left standing. 

Monday, December 3, 2012