Mountain Biking at Big Sky

Cody and I were up bright and early for our day of mountain biking. We hit the road at 4am-- Tokyo time!

Big Sky is a Ski Area about an hour south west of Bozeman, complete with wonderful Resort hotels and facilities. In the summer time they attract visitors looking to hike, take fly fishing lessons, mountain bike the network of downhill trails, or simply relax in a beautiful mountain-scape. The vertical from the base to the top of the lifts is 1600ft, and the gondola stays open in the summer to shuttle hikers, bikers and sightseers to the top of the trails.

Neither Cody or I have tall suspension Downhill bikes. Mine is a Gary Fisher Sugar 2, while Cody rides a hard-tail Trek. Since both of us are old-school Cross Country riders, who believe you don't deserve the downhill until you do the uphill, we said "screw the lift" and rode the service road to the top.

It was an uneventful ride up an easy grade. I tried to take my time and pace myself, since I knew we had a much longer and arduous ride planned for later in the day.

At the top we saw people getting off the gondola. We queried a few riders for suggested downhill runs. Most said that Soul Hole was big fun. As it was spoken, so was it done.

Soul Hole, was a screamin' blast. It weaved through trees and careened through gullies like a bobsled run. Many of the turns were augmented with man-made burms allowing for tight carving through otherwise insane corners.

Time for a gravity check...

About three quarters of the way down Cody hit a jump, got a bit sideways, and went down hard. It took him few imnutes to clear the bats from the belfry, but fortunately nothing major was broken. Oddly he came away with scrapes that bore a remarkable resemblance to those from Rom's crash the other day. He also jacked his right leg a bit, crushing the calf muscle under the frame or on the pedal (hard to tell when you are busy falling).

He was still able to ride, so we made our way down the mountain. Back at the Truckster Cody's leg was bothering him way too much, so we had to bail on the XC ride we had planned for later in the day. Instead, we decided to stay longer at Big Sky.

While Cody chilled out and relaxed, I had a good time playing on some of the rollercoaster-like ramps and dirt jumps they have recently built near the bottom. We took some pics and chatted with a couple of downhillers who were enjoying the day-- another guy named Cody, from Leadville Colorado, and Martin from Slovakia. They've been working at Big Sky all summer and were busy getting in the last few runs of the season.

While watching these guys effortlessly clean the ramps and jumps, I was once again impressed with the agility of the long-travel bikes. Their design is like that of motocross cycles, able to take what looks like a massive gap and turn it into a fun little hop. I tried most of the same jumps, only shying away from a couple of the gnarly ones. In my mind's eye I saw my XC bike unable to handle the 4 or 5 feet of air, and me laying sprawled out on the ground shortly thereafter asking myself, "What the hell was I thinking."

All told.... before this entire 4am adventure has come to a close, I'd really like to get in a full-blown day of downhilling and hooking up big air on one of these long-travel mountain monsters!