Source: Longtime locals Chase Peaslee and Emmett Purcell know that the best direction in Helena is down.



“HIPPIES BUILT THAT,” Timmy says as we pedal past a crumbling stone kiln on the edge of the road, his fullface helmet resting on top of his head. It’s a large limestone oven, roughly the size of a small trailer, built into the side of a hill. It looks historic, like it should have a plaque commemorating its construction. “We got a hippie problem in Helena.”

He’s kidding. Helena, Montana, is a working-class town of 30,000 filled with people who hold state and federal jobs. Timmy is the closest thing Helena has to a hippie, with his shoulder-length blonde hair and endless stories about Burning Man. He showed up 15 minutes late for our group ride this afternoon, apologizing because he had to blow dry his hair.

I’m pedaling slow and steady up a onelane road with a group of Helena’s core riders—Emmett Purcell, Taylor Anderson and Timmy Wiseman—the guys who put sweat equity into the town’s South Hills trail system, a 75-mile network of singletrack coursing through the foothills on the edge of town. South Hills is a mix of city park and Forest Service land, comprised mostly of sloping meadows, tall pine trees and narrow canyons with Wild West sounding names like Grizzly Gulch.

Purcell, one of the longtime visionaries of the system, leads us off the paved road and starts pedaling up a dusty trail that traces the seam of one of the forest’s narrow, dry creek beds. Soon, the climb moves from slow and steady to steep and relentless. The slopes rising from the ravine are covered in a tall, gray grass with hundreds of dead lodgepole pines scattered across the ground like massive pickup sticks—the work of an invasive beetle that’s systematically eating its way through the forests of Montana. The ravine we’re pedaling is called Dump Gulch; miners used to come up here to ditch their trash. You can still find broken glass mixed in with the crushed-limestone dirt. Dump Gulch is one of the classic bike routes into the South Hills trail system, leading to long ridgeline trails with epic views, rocky domes and fast descents.

Estás leyendo una vista previa, regístrate para leer más.

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