August 5, 2016

MT: Bozeman - Bangtail Divide

When I was planning this roadtrip out I wanted to make certain I did a ride in Montana. It just seemed like a really cool place to ride. Bozeman was the closest logical stop on our way from Yellowstone to North Dakota so what was there to ride? I dig some digging and found there was an IMBA Epic ride nearby, the Bangtail Divide. I also recalled my buddy, Dylan, lived in Bozeman.

I met Dylan a couple of years ago when he was down in AZ riding the AZTR750 and happened to be riding with another friend, Josiah, as they rolled through Tucson. We kept in touch after the race and I followed his progress the rest of 2015 as he completed the Tour Divide & Colorado Trail Race, knocking out the incredibly difficult feat of the bikepacking Triple Crown. So, to say I was a little stoked when he agreed to take me on a Bangtail Divide tour was an understatement.

We made things a bit less complicated by setting up a shuttle. We'd drive Dylan's car to the start and have K pick us up at the north end, saving a bunch of sketchy pavement riding back into town. We initially thought the ride would be around 3 hours, but, as you know, mountain bikers tend to underestimate such things.

The ride is almost all singletrack, climbs a ton at the start, then undulates across the ridges before a long descent to the end.

The climbing was divine. Well graded, nice rounded switchbacks and good dirt.
The views came quickly.
 I was prepared with bear spray too, but Dylan informed me that he's only seen 1 or 2 in all the years he's lived in town. None of which were of the grizzly variety. That put me at ease and I really didn't think about it the entire ride.
The man.
We had been climbing for a while and took a quick break. I asked if the climb was ever going to end and was told we were about halfway up!! Dang. It was good riding, but I needed to pick up the pace!!

Some of the trail we just came up.
Topping out, things began to open up.
I didn't get too many riding pics on this trip.
Rip it!!
Dylan riding into a postcard.
The trail up top was incredible. Huge views along open meadows, then dive bombing down into the forest on a bobsled track and back to empty fields and distant mountain views. Apparently a bunch of trail work had just been completed because Dylan kept warning me of upcoming ruts, chunk and blow out. It never came. We were hootin' and hollerin' on every descent.
A few short climbs mixed in along the way.

Crazy Mountains to the east.

One last climb before the final 4+ mile descent to the trailhead.
Seal of approval.
There's our pickup road.
Bangtail Divide in the books.
K was waiting for us and not at all surprised that we overshot our 3 hour estimate by 45 minutes. Oops. It was such a fun ride and great to have Dylan's local knowledge of the surrounding area. I'd love to explore more around Bozeman, it's a cool town.

Thanks again, Dylan, for the tour and hospitality on our trip, much appreciated.

After lunch, we pointed the car east towards North Dakota the following days race on the Maah Daah Hey 100.

Full photo album: flyover


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