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Mountain High

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Road bike junkies, get ready for your big fix. If you're looking for an excuse to skip town and head east towards Georgetown Lake, I've got an endorphin-pumping treat in store for you this week. The Pintlar Classic state championship bicycling road race begins in Philipsburg on Sun., July 25, where you'll pedal it up with other spandex-clad cyclists on the Pintler Scenic Loop and Skalkaho Road. It begins with check-in/registration at 8:30 AM at Philipsburg's Town Park, with the races beginning at 10 AM. The 93-mile ride for men kicks off first, followed by a variety of other races for men, women and children that span 78 miles to 39 miles, depending on your ability. $30 day-of-registration/$25 advance/free for junior racers. Also note that you'll need a USA Cycling annual license, or a one-day license, which can be purchased at the registration booth. Pre-registration also closes at 6 PM Fri., July 23. Visit montanacycling.net to download the event flyer and to register online, and call John at 543-6608.

Of course, we've got more ground to pedal, so let's reverse our spokes. On Thu., July 22, you can snag tips on how to best navigate the backcountry with your furry friend when REI Missoula presents the workshop "Backcountry Hiking and Camping with Your Dog," which begins at 7 PM at the store, 3275 N. Reserve St. Ste. K-2. Free. Instructors with Montana Outdoor Experience and Canis Major Dog Training lead the class, which covers things like how to properly fit Fido's pack, and what to do if they get injured or sick on the trail. RSVP by visiting rei.com/stores/72 and call 541-1936.

Or give nature a tip of your hat and a pat on its mountainous back during the UM Wilderness Institute's fourth trip to the Ten Lakes Wilderness Study Area in the Kootenai National Forest. This week's trip takes you to Stahl Peak, and runs Thu., July 22–Sun., July 25. Expect to be mapping and monitoring non-medicinal weeds, as well as taking part in campsite, road, trail and critter inventory. Oh yeah, the views are awesome too. Visit www.cfc.umt.edu/wi to sign-up or call 243-5361.

You could also be the Lance Armstrong of mountain biking, at least for a day, during the Bohart Bash 2010, a mountain bike race on Sat., July 24, that consists of a series of five-mile laps, mostly on a single track, which kicks off for beginners at 9 AM at the Bohart Ranch, 16 miles north of Bozeman on Hwy. 86. Races for more seasoned bikers follow at 10:10 AM and noon. $35/$25 advance registration online at gascyclingteam.com. You'll also be glad to know this race has a charitable intent: All race proceeds go to Bicycles for Humanity, an organization that donates used bikes to people in Africa.

Later on Sat., July 24, chew the fat in more ways than one with your conservationist friends during the Western Montana Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation's annual roundup/banquet, which starts with family games from 2–6 PM at The Hole in the Wall Ranch, located 16 miles up Fish Creek near Alberton. A silent and live auction, along with a buffet, kicks things into high gear at 6 PM. $35/$20 for children, with camping and lodging available. Proceeds from the banquet go to conserve mule deer, blacktail deer and their habitats. Reserve your ticket by calling Chelsea at 721-7171.

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Look into a skull for answers on Mon., July 26, when the Bitterroot National Forest continues its 2010 Moonwalk Interpretative Series with the program "Skull Moon," which begins with a guided hike at 6:30 PM at the Upper Lake Como Campground, near Darby. Free. Wildlife expert Fred Weisbecker ends the night on a boney note with his 7:30 PM presentation on wildlife skulls, which covers things like how to ID the buggers. Call 363-7100 for specific directions.

Pull on something noxious and slightly unsightly in order to better a local park on Tue., July 27, when the Northern Rockies Chapter of Wildlands Restoration Volunteers gets its restoration fix on with the Ben Hughes Weed Pull, which begins at a TBA meet up time at Ben Hughes Park, off of Easy Street, just before East Missoula. Free, with snacks and refreshments following the pull. Visit wlrv.net/nrockies to sign-up and find out the meet-up location, and e-mail Graham at graham@wlrv.org with questions.

Take a moment to chill on Thu., July 29, with movies about nature, in nature, when the International Wildlife Film Festival (IWFF) presents the program "Outdoor Movies," which begins with activities like volleyball and swimming in the Bitterroot River, at 6 PM at the Dunrovin Ranch, 5375 Terry Lane in Lolo. As for the moving pictures, they include selections from the 2010 IWFF and start promptly at 9:30 PM. For those who want an extra shot of adventure that night, horseback riding lessons are also available for a fee. $15/$5 child for the movies and $20/$15 for the horseback riding lessons. Visit wildlifefilms.org and call 728-9380.

Finishing up, I'll leave you with the good word on something coming down the pipes. On Aug. 8–14, you can get your stewardship kicks with the Montana Wilderness Association during a trails project in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Here's the 411: The jaunt takes place at the Boulder Creek Canyon Trail, on the base of Trapper Peak, where you'll work with eight to 10 people to keep trails and campsites looking spiffy. The trip is expected to cost no more than $75, and there's a $50 deposit to reserve a space. Call Liz Johnson at 734-755-8734 to RSVP, or e-mail her at bisondust@yahoo.com.

All right, now who's up for a spandex party before that race?

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