Recently I challenged myself to explore bike rides that could start from my front door. There are two benefits to this. The first is that I get to spend more time riding and less time driving. The second is that after a vigorous pedaling session, I can snag a guilt-free growler of cold beer from my favorite local brewery: Bozeman Brewing, aka the Bozone. Here are three rides that offer fresh air and stress relief, are great opportunities to check out the plethora of trails around town, and pass right by the Bozone for a jug o' suds on the way home.
Ride #1: Story Hill – Main Street to the Mountains Trails – Bozone
Story Hill looms large on the east side and makes for a great lung- and thigh-burner, especially in the spring before you're in cycling shape. But it's a short ride, so I've devised a loop that follows a goodly chunk of the GVLT town trails on the east and south parts of town.
Starting downtown, head east, then north on Broadway and pass the Bozone, then the old train station, catching the Main Street to Mountains trail just after the railroad crossing on North Wallace. You will feel cooler air at the river as you enter the old stockyards. Tool through the Story Mill Park, then exit onto L Street and and enter Story Hills proper. After the cattleguard, take the doubletrack up and the speedy singletrack back, then exit out L Street to Wallace and up to Main Street. Tool up Lindley Park’s main entrance and into the cemetery. A gate at the southwest corner provides access to Peets Hill. Now climb to the water tower and take the eastward descent and cross Highland Blvd. Continue east and south, along the singletrack bordering the “tree streets” subdivision, and climb up to Kagy.
Now is your chance to tuck like a roadie and burn westward downhill, to a hard left turn at South Tracy. This is followed by a quick left on Spring Creek. A short climb gives access to the Sourdough spur trails where you can meander all the way to Goldenstein. Once at Goldenstein, return via the Sundance Trail and back to Spring Creek. Cross Kagy and pick up the Gallagator at the community gardens and spin back to the library and cross Main Street at Broadway. The Bozone closes at 8 pm, so make like Lance and sprint a quarter-mile for the last growler-fill of the night. "Plum Street Porter, please."
Ride #2: Kelly Canyon – Bridger Canyon – Drinking Horse – East Gallatin Rec – Cherry River – Bozone
This ride will satisfy those looking for a multisport outing. First, resist the urge to imbibe a Bozone Amber before this ride. Instead, take the I-90 Frontage Road east to Kelly Canyon. The solid gravel road takes you by the old Lewis & Clark campsite. Keep climbing until you crest a divide. Be ready to blink away your speed-tears as you hold on through the turns down toward Bridger Canyon Road. Hang a left, embrace your inner-Leipheimer, and hammer back Bridger Canyon toward town through the S-curves. On the left is the Drinking Horse trail; stash your bike and hike to the top.
There will be plenty of light left, but don’t dally—you’ve got more riding to do. Head back down the new paved trail, hanging a right on Story Mill Rd. and slipping onto the Main Street to the Mountains trails in the Bridger Creek subdivision. Wind through a maze of singletrack into the East Gallatin Rec Area. Here, you'd better take a dip before cranking around the pond, then across Manley Rd. and around Cherry River, and finally back through Bridger Creek and south through Story Mill Park. Whaddya know, Bozone Brewery is right there. “I’ll take the Amber!”
Ride #3: Bozeman Creek – Moser Divide – Hyalite Canyon – Bozone
Put this one on the calendar for later in the spring, once the snow melts up Sourdough. It isn’t exactly an in-town ride, and it takes a little longer to complete, but it can still end at the aforementioned watering hole. If you're doing this later in the afternoon or early evening, take a headlamp for the ride back to town.
Cruise through Lindley Park and the cemetery up to Peets Hill as in Ride #1. From the water tower, continue south down the singletrack to Sourdough Road. Cross Kagy and spin past Triple Tree to Bozeman Creek. Once on the Bozeman Creek trail, use caution to avoid dogs (and hikers) on this heavily used trail. Beware of dog-poop bombs in plastic bags along the trail! At the five-mile point, you'll cross a bridge and come to a fork. Left takes you to Mystic Lake, but go straight/right toward the Moser Divide. The trail is rougher and overgrown in spots, so you're unlikely to see too many other people. Beware of moose.
Once at the divide, leave through the gate and take the screaming downhill gravel-grinder to Hyalite Canyon Rd. Detour up-canyon for a dip in the reservoir if you have time, or head down-canyon to South 19th. Hang a right at Nash, left on South 3rd, and right on Goldenstein to the Sourdough trails. Amble back to South Tracy and pick up the Gallagator to the library. Once again, cross Main at Broadway—and sure enough the lights are still on at the Bozone. “Fill 'er up with Hopzone IPA!”