The routes racers will follow during the Big Sky Biggie Aug. 25.Big Sky Biggie organizer Natalie Osborne saw the need for a cross-country bike race in Big Sky and Southwest Montana, so she decided to create one. She hopes the Big Sky Biggie will become a flagship annual event, bringing in racers from around the country.

It’s a biggie deal

Help needed for race on a massive course

Sixty days from race day, Big Sky Biggie organizer Natalie Osborne had a lot on her mind. Trails needed clearing, routes needed finalizing, and more bikers were still signing up. There’s a lot of unknowns in a first-annual event, but Osborne is looking forward to Aug. 25-26, and hoping she can get about 100 volunteers to help out for the event.

     Osborne moved to Big Sky three years ago, and summers for her meant a lot of long drives to compete in long-distance bike races. She saw successful races taking place in Breckenridge, and thought, “Hey, this place is cool. But we could do this in Big Sky. Why aren’t we?”

     That started wheels turning for what’s become the Big Sky Biggie. The 50- and 30-mile race—Saturday, Aug. 25—starts and ends in the Town Center. Up to 300 competitors will climb 9,000 feet in the longer race, scaling Buck Ridge and Beehive Basin. 

     There’s also a spectator-friendly race for bikers not quite ready to tackle the 30- or 50-mile course. Affectionately called “The Shorty,” it’s scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 26. The 1.5-mile short track event happens in the Town Center on a relatively flat course through sagebrush. 

     Finding and setting 50 miles of connected race course in Big Sky was the biggest challenge for Biggie organizers. When Osborne first started asking around to see if anyone else would be interested in the race, she discovered most people were supportive of it, but warned her it might never happen. Skeptics thought working with landowners and the Forest Service would involve too much red tape.

     It’s true, said Osborne, a lot of the work organizing the two-day event has been working with landowners to allow trails to pass through their property. Two months from the event, Osborne said the course is still changing frequently as she finalizes negotiations. 

     Osborne gathered advice and assistance from a group familiar with the process: the Big Sky Community Organization. Through BSCO, Osborne was introduced to landowners. She’s talked to six so far—and with the BSCO’s backing, Osborne has had success gaining permission to use the land for the race course. 

     Osborne’s also found the Forest Service to be one of her biggest supporters. 

     “Everyone has been very receptive to the idea. They didn’t try to over manage things, and they’ve been great about walking me through the process,” said Osborne. “They even gave me safety plan templates to use. They’ve been not only supportive but educational. A true partner.”

     A big event like the Biggie requires many, many partners. Osborne is hoping to have about 100 volunteers helping out. Opportunities include lending a hand at packet pickup Friday night and early Saturday morning, or helping on the course at one of the eight aid stations spread out over many race miles. 

     “It sounds like a crazy number, but it’s real,” Osborne said of the 100 volunteers needed to make the event a success. She’s planning to hold volunteer sign up events in the coming weeks. “We’ll take help for a few hours. If you want to hang around all day, awesome. It’s also a good opportunity for racers’ family members—If they want to cheer them on, we’ll find a role that allows them to do that.”

     For Osborne, her first priority is the safety of the racers. To that end, a number of course marshal volunteers will be needed—stationed at crosswalks, on the course directing and stopping traffic, as well as sweeping the course once racers are done, picking up course markers and flagging. 

     Proceeds from the race will go to the Big Sky Community Organization to directly fund its trails program. Around 220 racers are signed up so far, and registration is still open. To sign up to compete or to volunteer visit www.bigskybiggie.com.

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