Tag Archives: Mountain Biking

Summer Cycling Sojourns

How have I spent my summer so far? Traveling and riding my bike, although the former gets in the way of the latter sometimes. I spent the week of June 20 in Boston and did quite a bit of walking, went for one run, and rode a borrowed mountain bike (without enough air in the tires) through a leafy, hilly Boston suburb only to return and find out where the pump was.

I only had one week at home before my next trip. My son was in a short afternoon basketball camp (only 2.5 hours each day) and between doing laundry after one trip and packing for another, I was not able to ride that week.

But our second trip was all about bikes! We packed 5 bikes on top of our Audi – it looked like a Tour de France support vehicle and needed someone hanging out the window adjusting a derailleur! We brought road bikes and mountain bikes for mom and dad and my son’s mountain bike. It was a long drive across Nevada, up through eastern Idaho, and up through western Montana all the way to the top. We had rented a condo at Whitefish Mountain Resort. This beautiful area of Montana offers both awesome road bike rides and mountain bike trail rides on the ski hill.

On Tuesday July 5, we went to Glacier National Park. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have come to Glacier 4th of July week and have it be the week they were close to opening Going to the Sun Road to car traffic but because they were still plowing through a 50 foot drift near the summit, an 11 mile section was open to cyclists and hikers only – no cars. This normally would occur in May, but the snowfall totals were extreme this year. Our friends Jim and Peggie were with us. They rode up Going to the Sun Road while Stan, Andy, and I rode on a bike trail through a campground (every loop!) and then to West Glacier and back. When Jim and Peggie were done, they took Andy so Stan and I could ride. It was so nice riding without car traffic. I could hear birds singing!

At Whitefish Mountain Resort, you can put your mountain bike on the chairlift, ride the chairlift to the top, and bike down. Since we are used to climbing hills, we rode up the mountain on our bikes. The bike trails went through the woods and across the ski slopes.

With the epic snowfall of the 2010-2011 winter, July mountain biking in Montana included a snowball fight. From the top of the mountain you could see Glacier National Park to the east,

and Whitefish Lake and Flathead Lake to the south.

We also did a great road bike ride from the bottom of Big Mountain Road around the north end of Whitefish Lake. There was hardly any traffic and the scenery was lovely – lots of trees and glimpses of the lake through them. The road ended in an area of really nice homes and what seemed like a peaceful rural setting, until a train came through the woods across the road. When I got back to Big Mountain Road, I rode up the hill – about 4 miles and 2500 feet of climbing. Thankfully, I had been doing weekly hill repeats on my street. This was as steep as the steepest part of my street – probably 8 to 10 % grade. Also, thankfully, a cold front had come through the night before so I wasn’t climbing in 90 degree heat.

Then it was time for the long drive back to Reno.

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stung on the tongue!

Today I did my hill repeats, up and down Manzanita four times. On the second to last downhill I got stung on the tongue by a yellow jacket or a honey bee. (Yes I was descending with my mouth open, my allergies make it hard to breathe through my nose when I’m riding).  I had to spit it out and then I got a bitter taste on my tongue that I had to scrape off on my glove. As I climbed the hill two more times the front left of my tongue began to swell up. I wanted to finish my workout but I was also wondering how much it was going to swell. I did finish and went home and took my shower. By about 45 minutes after the sting the swelling had gone down. Now my tongue is not swollen or sore but it does feel a little irritated. 

It felt good to get back on the bike and it feels good to be writing about it again. I have had some great ride over the past few weeks – like the climb up old Highway 40 from Donner Lake to Donner Summit. I did it with my friend Tracy and unfortunately it was a day with a really strong and kind of chilly west wind. There was a beautiful view of Donner Lake from the top. 

Tracy looks down above Donner Lake, whence we came

 

Taking a break above Donner Lake after the blustery climb

 

 After the overlook we climbed to the summit, which was a howling dust storm of wind. We rode down to Kingvale and decided to turn back because of the wind and because we didn’t want to miss the food at our husbands’ company picnic at the West End of Donner Lake. Tracy called her husband Jeff and he came and picked us up just above Soda Springs. 

In the last few weeks I have also ventured back out on my bike after seeing a mountain lion and lots of tracks. I wear my knife clipped to the waistband of my cycling shorts and I don’t even notice it’s there. 

I had a fun ride with my neighbor Amanda. She is a triathlete, and only about 20 years younger than me. But we have kids who play together and we had a lot to talk about as we rode. She loves to climb like I do. 

Over Labor Day weekend I went on a couple of mountain bike rides. One by myself and I tried to climb the steep hill on the way to our friends’ property where we were camping. I couldn’t do it. More judicious shifting and more practice on my mountain bike and maybe I’ll be able to do it Memorial Day. I rode a loop ride around the meadow and the mountain with Debra and the rocky dirt road we had to ride up from the west was intimidating me. It had been a few years since I tried it, and I hated it back then. All the road biking I have done over the last year helped my mountain bike handling, not to mention all the climbing I did all summer. That dirt road was easy this time!

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