Visiting northwestern Montana has many treasures to explore and one of the best known is Glacier National Parks Going-To-The-Sun Road. When the road opens to vehicles, in the summer months, is how most visitors experience this epic road ride. But for the few who can visit the area in the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall, the road is a huge sidewalk. The road is gated at the first signs of winter in the Fall and during Spring during plowing activities and, of course, current conditions dictate how far you can ride up the road safely.
I had a guest from Michigan visiting for a few weeks this Fall. She arrived in the cold rain by AmTrak in the dark and for the first week of her visit saw nothing but rain, clouds and mud as she rode trails around the Whitefish Bike Retreat and town. She was smiling and laughing and just so happy to be here in Montana - nothing could change that.
The rain that fell around Whitefish was snow and ice in Glacier Park. I played hookie from Retreat work for a day so she could experience more of Montana so we went to go play in Glacier National Park at the sign of the first sunny clear day.
We had to been the luckiest people on the planet that day!
We had this epic road all to ourselves - just 4 hikers down around Avalanche Area and that was it. I live here and I never experienced a day like this - proof that this majestic land still amazes me in every season! Yes it was cold, very cold indeed but knowing we had a truck with a heater to return to made dealing with the cold bearable.
We lived through the cold with all our digits will intact and saw Montana in all its glory!
The Whitefish Bike Retreat is fortunate to be located centrally along the Whitefish Trail. A 35+ mile single track trail which stretches from just outside of Whitefish to north of the Beaver Lake Area. We are here to always help our guests find their own way to enjoy the Whitefish Trail. So it is really cool to find one of the maps used beyond its potential. Then to talk to our guest after their ride as they smile and laugh and describe their experience out on the dirt - or as in this case the rain - STILL SMILING AND LAUGHING AND WAITING TO RIDE ANOTHER DAY! They did not want to end their ride even as the map was falling apart in front of them. That is definitely a sign of a GOOD DAY!
SLEEP - WAKE - RIDE
Epic Montana Single Track on a Fall weekend riding with friends and ending the day with a "blow the kegs" party back at the Whitefish Bike Retreat. Our Kegerator needed to be emptied and cleaned for hibernation until next season. Our staff and friends came to the rescue :)
The kegs did not have a chance!
THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED CLOSE DOWN OUR OFFICE!
This event will surely become an Annual Epic Event For the Retreat!
Get ready for the annual Whitefish Legacy Partners Run on the Whitefish Trail on October 9th. The Whitefish Bike Retreat is honored to be hosting the event this year.
Book a room or bunk at the Whitefish Bike Retreat and enjoy some chill time before or after the race with your family and friends!
This family friendly run offers something for everyone…long distances on single track trails and shorter options for families.
The Whitefish Trail Run and Half Marathon takes place in the Beaver Lake Area of the Whitefish Trail. This year, we are excited to offer NEW courses! A half marathon will explore brand new single-track surrounding Dollar and Little Beaver Lake, the 10K+ will loop Murray Lake, the 5k+ will circle the South Beaver Loop, and a two mile family fun run will meander through mature forest. The half marathon and the 5K are run 100% on single-track, while the 10K and family fun run will have some small sections of dirt road.
The 2016 Whitefish Trail Run and Half Marathon is sponsored by Whitefish Therapy & Sport Center and will be hosted at the Whitefish Bike Retreat, a beautiful facility set on 19 acres, offering trailside lodging. Family and friends can gather at the Whitefish Bike Retreat to celebrate with a post-race lunch, local craft beer, and award ceremony.
SLEEP - WAKE - RUN
Just me, myself and I with my bike on a warm sunny Fall day with miles and miles of empty Montana gravel roads having a lite BikePacking day (aka along day ride). It ends with a peaceful soul and a smile on my face.
Fall riding in Montana is our secret season! The Larch Pines are starting to yellow and the colors are starting to pop all over. Soon the dirt will disappear for the white stuff but for now it is time to enjoy the warm sunny dry days and then pamper yourself with the stay in the Retreat Lodge during the colder evenings! Our off-season rates start October 1 so check out the online booking for availability.
The Whitefish Trail is over 35 miles of cross country single track right out the back door of the Retreat waiting to be ridden if gravel roads are not your thing. Looking for some more challenging terrain - Spencer Mountain is calling!
Those 3 words are quite powerful! Why, you ask? Let me tell you a long story.
I cannot take credit for those words – they belong to Klaus, a Swiss ski instructor from a video that some good friends gave me on 'how to ski' 12 years ago. Klaus was right – if you want to become a better skier you have to FACE THE DANGER. You have to turn your body and face down the slope to gain control, the one direction you do not want to go. So, you may be wondering, what does this all mean??
For this particular story, it is about facing the danger in bikepacking, more specifically, "motor-bikepacking" :)
During all of the years I was out riding and racing the Great Divide Route, I would come across the Dual Sport motorcycle guys riding the same trails. While riding my bicycle for endless hours and with nothing but time to ponder all things, I wondered what it would be like not having to pedal every hill, and maybe even carrying a few luxury items. I watched them, talked to them, researched bikes and learned everything I could. I figured I could take my techniques for bikepacking on a bicycle and apply them to going lightweight on a motorcycle. With the help of a motor I could enjoy the Divide in a whole new way.
A year or so back I purchased the perfect bike in my eyes for the Divide, a BMW 650GS, and decked it out for dirt. I purchased the bike without ever touching one, so when I went to pick it up, I was not even sure I would be able to ride it home! I found myself riding the fine line between “FACE THE DANGER” and “STUPID THING TO DO”. Personally, I tend to be of the belief that those “STUPID THINGS TO DO” make my life much richer. I made it home safely.
Once it was home, I guess I had never really considered handling the weight of that motorcycle – I went from a 22 lb mountain bike to a 400 lb motorcycle. That was when this particular fear entered my life. I treated that motorcycle so cautiously and never took it anywhere that I could not turn around or knew I could not handle it. I second guessed my decision to buy this motorcycle for sure. I worried- ‘What if I drop it? How will I pick it up alone? I will never be able to handle this thing over rough terrain or single track, it is just too big and heavy! How do you change a tire and the chain, I have to be self dependent out there!’ – there were so many things I needed to figure out. All of these fears were stopping me from enjoying the motorcycle for the reason I bought it- to ride.
I even bought a smaller 230 motorcycle and thought about selling the 650. I didn’t follow through. The 650 really was the perfect bike for what I wanted to be able to do. I had a plan to ride this thing everywhere and anywhere the dirt would take me. I did my research and knew, in theory, how to do most anything to that bike in any situation that might arise out on a long solo journey. (That is important- do your research!) But, I confess, it still sat in my garage for a long time, with me just hoping one day it would all work out.
That strong urge to do long dirt routes self supported has never left me. As adults we all know that things don’t just happen, you make them happen. So finally, last week, I packed up the 650 and went out for a learning weekend alone- just me, that motorcycle, and my fear of it. It was time to FACE THE DANGER. Plan A quickly turned to Plan B, and through it all I rode 4 days straight on as much dirt as I could find. I lived off that bike, I got lost, I got stuck and I even dropped it. I figured everything out and made it home in one piece with a giant smile on my face. I gained a new confidence and LOVE for that 650! It was one of the best trips I have EVER experienced!!
SO again, what is the point of this long story?
Those 3 words can make you feel so alive. My story is not just about the motorcycle, it is about the process to truly FACE THE DANGER! I hear things all the time from people like, ‘I cannot do that! It is just to hard for me. I am not good enough. I am too scared to try.’ This story was not the first time for me to FACE THE DANGER. I wanted to share this particular story because I want to show that I too struggle with those same fears as most everyone on this planet. We all have the power to do something we want to do, to make changes, and to grow. That something could be anything from mountain biking for the first time, to starting a new business, telling someone you love them, a solo journey across the country, or trying a new food – whatever your fear is – FACE THE DANGER – and don’t let it hold you back any longer. Life experiences are richer when those fears are left behind.
Just as I write this I thought, I never write and share anything very personal on FaceBook - maybe I should not post this BUT then Becca quickly reminds me to FACE THE DANGER and post it!