by Mr. Wonka
Brooklyn, New York
April 24, 2005
Fast forward to 2004. I’m riding in a heavy-duty truck, barreling down South 19th Street away from downtown Bozeman. The sun is shining, and the air is crisp—perfect weather for a bike ride in the Hyalite Canyon, led by our fearless guide, Mason Griffin, from Bangtail Bikes (508 W. Main St., 406/587-4905). I ask him where, specifically, we’re heading, to which he replies, "We’re going up." Great. Perfect. I’m totally up for a hardcore, uphill trek by mountain bike this afternoon... no, seriously.
As we reach Lick Hood Creek Trail, located deep in the bowels of Gallatin National Forest, the refreshing smell of pine trees and firs greets me as I strap on my helmet and get acclimated with my bike. To say that my trusty steed this afternoon is a top-of-the-line model would be an understatement—the folks at Bangtail Bikes take care of their patrons.
My blood starts pumping. The muscles in my legs become tense. I’m ready to go. I ride my bike every day in New York, so this will surely be a piece of cake.
And then we hit the clay. Then we hit the mud.
For most of our initial trek up Blackmore Peak, we were forced to stop every quarter-mile or so to rid our tires of layers and layers of wet mud, clay, and even a little animal feces here and there. I literally couldn’t even get my wheels to spin. Mason assured us that the trail normally isn’t this muddy and that heavy rain the day before was to blame. This was no sandbox—this was practically mud wrestling!
Once we reached the peak, stopping to chat with two bow-hunters along the way, the scenery was absolutely gorgeous. The grueling ride up and getting covered in mud was well worth it—this is truly beautiful country.
The path back down rode much more smoothly, winding through a maze of trees and eventually opening up to a picturesque reservoir of water. The last part of our ride was on paved roads, and wouldn’t you know it, yours truly ended up stayed the cleanest out of our four-person group. That it had anything to do with my childhood aversion to sandboxes, I can’t say...
From journal Yellowstone Country: Biking