Chronicles of Rider Dave PART I
by dave peck
I wake up in Big Sky crust-eyed and weary from my high-speed race across Montana. I'm banged up with burning muscles and trail rash. Yesterday's bike ride in the Black Hills and an over-the-bars crash in the Badlands the night before add to my weakened condition. A day earlier I'd left my family in Illinois, then blitzed through Wisconisin and Iowa in my minivan, dreaming of the life ahead. It's late May and we're relocating to Montana seeking adventure after a decision to leave a hectic life in the Chicago suburbs. My mind is abuzz with anticipation about our future. Where will we live? Will I find work? Where will my children go to school? What is the mountain biking like? Leaving our jobs and moving a family to the Wild West is unlike anything we've done before. But our recent trip to ski the Bozeman-area mountains cleared up any doubt-we were moving to Montana, come what may.
After shaking off the cobwebs, my first impulse is to find a trailhead and begin probing the backcountry. I hit a local restaurant for some strong coffee and huevos rancheros, then head out the door with a purpose. My book on Bozeman-area mountain bike trails leads me to Porcupine Ridge Trail. I mount the bike and take off.
The first few minutes are deceptive; I'm thinking, this is a breeze. But the grade soon steepens and I begin to feel the effects of being 7,000 feet above my comfort zone. The double-track splits, then splits again and again. Now I have the additional concern of retracing my path through this maze. Several miles later, I plunge down a steep, exposed pitch with tires slapping the rocky single-track. I enter a dense stand of firs where I see the trail interrupted by a stream crossing. Instead of splashing through, I skid to a complete stop and quickly look around. I'm not alone. Fifty feet away, the eyes of a bull moose are trained on me. I cautiously pick up my bike and walk through the water to the nearest tree. The moose goes back to grazing and I quietly exit. Two more hours of climbing single-track in alpine meadows, and I'm at an intersection with a sign pointing me back to the trailhead. I shift into my big ring for a long, white-knuckle descent.
TO BE CONTINUED