For a final ride in the Flathead region I opted to hit the “Beardance” trail which has a bit more of a climb-once, descend-once backcountry style. This is your basic “big mountain” ride layout.
The trailhead is located along the eastern shore of the lake and there’s a network of trails and forest roads which can be linked for a single long loop from the bottom. (It’s also possible to shuttle the descent if you have the right connections.) For the ride I did, you’re looking at 60% sweet singletrack, and a few kms of logging grade and a couple kms of forest access road to set things up as a loop. There are a couple steep uphill pitches which are easily portaged.
I took off up the initial section of the climb (which was rubbley scree on a pretty steep pitch). It’s basically a few seconds after the parking lot and you’re right into redline effort up the hill with lots of top-effort tech-y rock balancing. I never stopped to look at my Garmin until I finally got knocked off the bike by a loose, scrabbley 25% pitch. Instantly I recognized I was off course, a little. (Just 800m. Sigh.) So I pulled a u-turn and descended to the previous fork and rerouted to the correct trail from there.
On the way down off my mistake, I passed Lucy and we chatted a while. She was off on a different loop and we weren’t supposed to be on the same route at all. Oopsy.
I then rode back up the mountain to the top, over the ridge, and along a forest road to pick up the rest of the trail at the “shuttle drop” trailhead. From there, I slowly arced, crossing over the ridge again on very gentle terrain changes. The top of the hill was amazing singletrack. An 8″ wide ribbon with nary a root or rock. Sweetness. Slowly the trails levelled out and then a very slight downhill grade. With such a smooth, straight track, the speed you can sustain on this slight slope is really pretty cool. Whee. Finally the trail entered a set of twists and then I had to dismount for a suspended log.
Oh no! Where is my bearspray?
I guess I dropped the darn thing somewhere.
Better not see any bears… So of course, what happens? Beardance! (But I lived to tell the tale.) Another great ride.
The beardance trail is really cool, with a bunch of drops, a few jumps and some really killer skinnies. It’s like a mild DH track, with one fun thing at a time and some nice interludes to reset. All of these moves are “options” to the sides of the main tread and easily avoided if you want to take it down a level.
I ripped to the bottom and as I pulled into the parking lot, I see Lucy sitting in the van with my bearspray. Luckily it fell out of my pack on the first trail I descended, and Lucy picked it up when she passed it on the trail. Crisis averted.
I checked the spray can over for new damage and noted that the company that makes the bearspray is from Kalispell, MT, right here. Back where it started in two senses. Just a few extra dents and a few more miles on it.
Total time: 02:57:54