Mountain High

| August 17, 2006

Commuting by bicycle changed my life. No joke. It was the summer of 2000 and I was bored and disenchanted with my second job in as many years—so much so that I was going out to movies in the middle of the day and taking long naps in riverside parks instead of atrophying at my desk. As you can imagine, showing up for work on time also became a low priority. So one day, instead of taking the subway from my apartment in Brooklyn to my job in Manhattan, I climbed on a Diamondback hybrid bike that I had gotten from a pawnshop on the advice of a friend and rode it to work.

As it happened, I got there on time anyway. Even better, I felt good when I got there. Instead of spending some of the earliest parts of my day crammed into a poorly ventilated steel can with a bunch of other people who didn’t want to be there, or where they were going, I was riding across the Brooklyn Bridge on an elevated bike path, the whole of lower Manhattan spread out in front of me. Talk about a change in perspective.

So I stopped riding the subway and my relationship to the place where I lived changed. I stopped participating in my transportation passively and instead became my own motive power. I got healthier and happier. Other changes started to flow from that one simple choice to get off my seat and onto my bike. Eventually, my changed attitude sent me on a trip halfway around the world that I never really came back from—but that’s a whole other story and not too important to the moral of this one.

If you’re wondering what that is, and that would be a fair question three paragraphs in, the moral of the story is that getting in the habit of pedaling from place to place can generate a lot more benefits than you might imagine. But if you’re nervous about getting into traffic, you’ll never make it as a bike commuter. That’s why Missoula’s Bicycling Ambassadors are inviting participants ages 18 and older to go on free rides around town designed to build your confidence. Two of these Bike Skill Rides take place this week: one on Saturday, Aug. 19, that departs from the Bicycle Hangar, 1801 Brooks St., at 9:30 AM and a second on Tuesday, Aug. 22, that takes off from the Bike Doctor, 1101 Toole Ave., at noon. Call 552-6352 to let them know you’ll be coming.

Get up to Glacier for three days of camping and climbing with the Rocky Mountaineers, who plan to camp at Two Medicine and take a variety of hikes in the area from Friday, Aug. 18, to Sunday, Aug. 20. Visit rockymountaineers.com to see the whole itinerary and find out how to let them know you want to go. Alternately, just call 327-0566.

If something is pulling you west instead of south then take advantage of the opportunity to join the Great Burn Study Group, which heads to Sheep Mountain in Idaho from Friday, Aug. 18, through Sunday, Aug. 20.

Day-trippers will be glad to hear the New Rocky Mountaineers are planning a 10-mile loop up and back on a rock route (as opposed to the couloirs they often use) up Kakashe Mountain in the Missions near St. Ignatius on Saturday, Aug. 19. Call 549-4769 to rock out with them.

Looking to have some fun and induce an elevated heart rate while mixing up your methods of exercise? If you swim 300 yards, bike 13.3 miles and run another 3.3 miles during the Seeley Lake Challenge triathlon, which begins Saturday, Aug. 19, at 9 PM, at Riverpoint Campground in Seeley Lake, you’ll likely have plenty of fun and aerobic exercise both, and do so multimodally. You will also have contributed to the Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the charity that benefits from the triathlon thanks to Holly Friede, who’s putting on the event for her senior project. To join the race or just give Holly an attagirl, call 677-2880.

While we’re on the subject of public input, the rangers down in the Darby district of the Bitterroot National Forest are up to some management activities in the Trapper-Bunkhouse Project area, about 35,000 acres so designated for the drainages that bound it. If you’re curious about what’s being proposed, you can head down for a 4 to 7 PM field trip on Wednesday, Aug. 23, when specialists and researchers will be on hand to discuss the plans. Call 777-7415 or 821-4244 by Monday, Aug. 21, to register for the field trip, which is free and includes transportation as well as water.

Finally, there are a couple of picnics that might be of interest to the Mountain High readership. The WildWest Institute—now there’s some folks sure to be along for the Bitterroot National Forest field trip—holds its annual summer picnic at Kiwanis Park from 4 to 9 PM on Sunday, Aug. 20; bring some food and drink as the event is free. Also, don’t forget to stop by the Missoulian Angler, 401 S. Orange St., for the barbecue at 6:30 PM on Saturday, Aug. 19, that caps off their Poverello Fishing Fundraiser; bring some cash to donate for that one.

Or have your own barbecue. ‘Tis the season, after all.

calendar@missoulanews.com

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