Enjoy three rides - including one for tykes - during the annual Tour of the Bitterroot fundraising bicycle ride on Sunday, July 16.
The rides all start from Red Barn Bicycles, owned by Chad DeVall, and end with a family-friendly barbecue and live music by Pinegrass.
Emy Royce, Bitter Root Land Trust program administrator, said the event is possible thanks to three dozen local sponsors and volunteers. Money raised during the ride benefits the land trust.
“This is an event that brings the community together to enjoy the outdoors,” Royce said. “Part of the ride you can go right past a conservation easement and know that the land will always be open.”
The first ride totals close to 50 miles and starts at 7 a.m. The Skalkaho Mountain Tour goes up Skalkaho Highway, over the Skalkaho Rye Road, then back around Sleeping Child.
“It is a really beautiful loop full of great scenery,” Royce said. “The ride is fully supported with water stations, people to cheer on the riders and Lost Trail Ski Patrol emergency services on the downhill. We encourage kids to be 15 and older to participate.”
The second - and easier - ride is the Sleeping Child Road ride that begins at 10 a.m.
“It is an out-and-back ride that you can go as far as you like. You don’t have to do the whole thing,” Royce said. “It is a really fun family ride to do with little kids, so we encourage all ages to participate.”
The third ride is the free children’s Dirt Road Derby at 1:30 p.m.
Tour of the Bitterroot registration is $50 per person, with no charge for children age 12 and younger. Registration, available online at tourofthebitterroot.org, includes the ride, a swag bag, and a barbecue luncheon. Food is provided by Homestead Organics, beer from Bitter Root Brewing and live music by Pinegrass continues until the event wraps up at 3 p.m.
“It is really fun,” Royce said. “If you don’t ride you can come cheer someone on and enjoy the barbecue for donations of $10 for adults and $5 for kids, to help support the Land Trust’s mission of conserving wild and working lands.”
Royce said the Mountain Tour is capped at 150 riders; last year 136 riders participated and she anticipates more this year. Guests number in the vicinity of 230 and nearly 40 volunteers support the ride.
“We still have open spots and are looking for folks to help out,” Royce said, adding that people can contact her at 406-375-0956. "I can point them in the right direction. We have opportunities to help at different times of day on Saturday and Sunday.”
Red Barn Bicycles is located at 399 McCarthy Loop in Hamilton. Take Highway 93 south and make a left onto Skalkaho Highway, make a right on Sleeping Child and a right on the second McCarthy Loop. The Red Barn Bicycles barn is past the house.
Royce said July is Montana Open Land Month.
“Open Land Month is a call for Montanan’s to get out and celebrate the outdoors, recreate and enjoy the beautiful state,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to be in the moment and enjoy why we live here.”
Royce said the Bitter Root Land Trust has exciting work under way that benefits from activities like this. She notes that the trust is about to reach the 7,000-acre mark in conserved water resources, wildlife habitat and working farms and ranches from Sula to Florence.
“It is pretty cool," she said. "The projects right now include important fisheries along the Bitterroot River. It is really significant for our trout populations and a benefit to the people that enjoy fishing.”
Two additional projects are as in core agriculture areas in Corvallis and the Burnt Fork.
“We look forward to celebrating those milestones, hopefully, by the end of the year,” she said. “We are so close to the 7,000 mark, it is really exciting.”