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Friday, July 20, 2012

Sheep Mountain (twice in a week)

Sheep Mountain loop, taken from the Missoula Thursday night ride web page.
Jen and I are training for the Butte 50, which takes place next Saturday (July 28). This week our training culminated in two trips up Sheep Mountain, one on Monday and the other today, Friday.

Sheep Mountain is Missoula's test piece mountain bike ride. It doesn't get a lot of traffic, because it's long (26 miles), remote (you end up in the middle of nowhere), hard (4,000 ft of gain from Missoula to Sheep's peak, not to mention the ups and downs in between), and technical. But all of these things are also what make it Missoula's best ride (hands down in my opinion) and one of the best rides in Montana.

Anyway, Jen and I tackled the ride on Monday, and in the high of finishing the ride, made plans with others to do it again at the end of the week. Over the next days, though, we realized how taxed our bodies were. After too much wine on our anniversary last night, it was a hard start this morning, but we got into the swing and enjoyed the company of friends and studly bikers Edgar Smith and Sarah Halvorsen.
Sitting on Wisherd Ridge Monday with Sheep Mtn in the background.

From the same spot on Friday, with Ed and Sarah.
Ed, Jen and Sarah on Sheep Mtn summit.
Bear grass is blooming.

creek crossing on the way down.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Back in Montana

On the Continental Divide Trail, between Pipestone and Homestake Passes, Butte in the background.
Don't get me wrong, Europe is great, and I love Helsinki in particular, but it's wonderful to be back in Missoula; I'm convinced that there's no better place on earth (though I'm sure many as good) for me.

In the three weeks since I've been back, I've been biking a lot with Jen. We're getting ready for the Butte 50 by doing some long rides and also racing twice in Missoula's Wednesday night XC series.
Jen and Kelly always battle it out.
Edgar and I battled in out in the last race -- in the end I couldn't hang with him.
We also spent 5 days and nights over 4th of July week camping at our property on the Dearborn River. It was a grand time: great weather, lazy days of reading, swimming, and evenings with Jen's family. It's the longest stay we've had up there for a couple of years, against the kids' will, so we count it a victory.
Alex built a jump to pass the time.

With the forest fire scare as it is, we built our campfire literally on the river.
Jen's Uncle Larry and Aunt Peg's swimming hole upstream from us a couple of miles.