Local mountain bikers blaze area trails

Neil Patrick Healy -
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
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Enterprise photo by Neil Patrick Healy

Livingston locals Rob Lahren, middle, and Matt Stot, right, fist bump before riding a trail at Bracket Creek, Thursday.

Every Thursday at 5 p.m. during the summer months, one will find a group of Livingston locals meeting at Timber Trails on Park St. to go mountain biking. They load their bikes in the car and drive out to the trail or course picked out after the previous week’s ride. It’s a tradition that embodies what many enjoy about the summer in the area.

Thursday Night Rides is a weekly event put on by Timber Trails aimed at locals who want to go out and ride different courses around the area. Anywhere from four to 14 riders meet up and head to courses within an hour from Livingston.

“We’re not like an organized club,” said Rob Lahren, Timber Trails employee and organizer of Thursday Night Rides. “We’re just a loose group of people that have a small text string and we say, ‘hey, we’re going to ride this ride this week.’ We’re just a group of guys and gals that likes to get out and go riding.”

With the Livingston area in the midst of growth, more people who move to the area enjoy mountain biking and look for areas that are the most bike friendly. Unlike other areas in the state, however, the Park County area lacks more of the traditional bike paths and courses specifically aimed for mountain biking. The Thursday Night Riders, not wanting to be held down by circumstance, have scouted out areas both made for biking and those more aimed for hikers that they ride.

“Right here locally, we don’t have those bike-specific trails, but just drive over the hill and Bozeman’s got a little more biker-friendly trails because there’s more people biking there,” Lahren said. “Here, we’re just kind of dealt the cards and we ride anyways. It’s all fun. Even though they’re not as bikefriendly as we want them to be, there’s still trails we can ride and develop skills on.”

Trails the riders have found to be more biker friendly are West Pine Creek and North Dry Creek, while Wicked Creek and George Lake are traditional hiking trails that can be used for riding.

“Some trails are a little easier, some trails are a little more difficult,” Lahren said. “Bottom line is you gotta get up the mountain to get down the mountain, so if you’re not willing to sit in your saddle and spin up a mountain for an hour, it probably won’t be your kind of riding.”

Other than exercise and a weekly adrenaline fix, the group of riders shows up weekly for social reasons. Those making the ride up and down the mountains often share common interests and it results in building friendships.

“(The rides provide) camaraderie amongst the group,” Lahren said. “I don’t think we consider ourselves too much of a club, but more just as Thursday night riders. We like to get together and find an excuse to go riding … We’re just looking for a good way to get fit, get out in the woods and have a beer in the parking lot.”

The last ride of the summer, which will be moved from a Thursday evening to a Sunday morning, will be 10-mile ride at Trespass Creek on Aug. 26.