Patrick Rooney, accompanied by his dog, Juneau, had a trailer of sorts attached to his bike, carrying a variety of tools. Many people on Mountain to Meadow on Sept. 19 had done trail maintenance before, including some Terraflow folks. Rooney encouraged volunteers to ask questions and not go all in with an axe right away. “A lot of times less can be more, and again it’s easy to get overzealous, but ultimately we’re going to make the trail better,” he said.



Conversations about developing a Big Sky chapter of the Southwest Montana Mountain Biking Association (SWMMBA) began in June at Beehive Basin Brewery. A group of four that started meeting weekly formed the board—Regan Teat became the president, Shannon Steele the development director, Max Erpenbach the trails director and Megan Caron the secretary.

Teat had a connection with Ian Jones, the president of SWMMBA, and the Big Sky folks talked with Bozeman SWMMBA members about what it would take to start a Big Sky-specific focus. Overall SWMMBA, formed in 2016, builds and maintains mountain bike trails and advocates for mountain bike access on public lands.

Chapters are formed in communities to engage local audiences and conduct events like group rides or trail maintenance days. Currently, there are about 75 members in the Big Sky chapter. Steele mentioned many of these were part of SWMMBA overall and once the first chapter was formed in Big Sky, they transferred.

To roll out the announcement of SWMMBA’s first chapter, a trail maintenance day was announced on the Mountain to Meadow trail. Bikers met up outside Rad Bikes—Shawn Berry and Rad Bikes sponsoring the event—at 10 a.m. Sept. 19.

As luck would have it, it poured earlier in the morning. Having the trails a bit wet was helpful as it made the dirt easier to move and pack into place. Raincoats clad the backs of just about every volunteer, around 20 or so, for the first part of the day until they were shed when pickaxes and bike tires hit the ground.

“This is the first event that we’re doing that we just want to kick off, letting everyone know that we are starting this chapter and we want the community to become involved, and there will be future trail work and fundraisers to come,” Steele explained.

The coolest thing about the trail workday was how many people from different towns—one person came all the way from Livingston—communities and backgrounds, after receiving just one email reaching out for volunteers, spent their Saturday morning and afternoon doing manual labor to improve Mountain to Meadow and provide a better riding experience for bikers.

“The future vision of this all—we just want to have, someday, like having clinics and having group rides and having more events centered around mountain biking, whether it’s a weekly race where we have an event afterward, but we don’t know how that’s going to look with COVID,” Steele said.

Teat, in his biography on SWMBBA’s website, said he firmly believes in mountain biking’s ability to transform communities. These people obviously did, too.

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