Mountain High 

Helena may be no Missoula when it comes to sheer numbers of farmers' markets and cultural events, but it sure does have some nice places to rip it up with your bike. This week, you can find out for yourself with a mountain biking trip through prime hills in the southern part of the Queen City during the WERKS Mountain Bike Race, a jaunt fit for those who like to pedal hard and fast that begins at 1 PM Sun., Sept. 12, at the Davis Street Trailhead in Helena. Once there, you'll zoom around on 4.5 miles of trails on the hilly parts of south Helena (70 percent of it is a single track)—and you'll do it for either five, three or two laps, depending on your race category. Race-day registration occurs at 10 AM and costs $20/$15 students, and all participants must have a USA Cycling license to participate. One-day licenses will be available on-site for $10. Call Trever at 439-8547.

Now let's change gears and pedal back to the present. On Thu., Sept. 9, those of you who need some advice on packin' it up with your backpack should head to REI Missoula's Backpacking Basics class, which begins at 7 PM at the store, 3275 N. Reserve St. Ste. K-2. Free. RSVP by visiting rei.com/stores/72.

If by chance you're still lacking chops in the mountain biking department, feel free to use Thu., Sept. 9, as an excuse to sign up for the UM Outdoor Program's Introduction to Mountain Biking course, which whisks you through a number of trails around town and occurs on Sun., Sept. 12. $20, with registration due Sept. 9. While we're on the subject of biking, you might as well learn how to properly lube your hubs and tweak your two-wheeler to perfection by signing up on Fri., Sept. 10, for the Outdoor Program's Bike Maintenance Class, which occurs at 6 PM on Tue., Sept. 13. $50. Call 243-5172 to RSVP for either class.

Avoid an alien probing later on Fri., Sept. 10, by keeping your eyes on the sky during another installment of Blue Mountain Observatory's public observing night, which begins at 9 PM. Free. Visit www.physics.umt.edu/bluemountain for directions and call 243-5179 for cancellation updates.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Feel free to tape those binoculars to your face on Sat., Sept. 11, in order to tickle your irises with birds when the Five Valleys Audubon Society presents a birding field trip to Ninepipes and Kicking Horse, which begins with a carpool meet-up at 8 AM in the middle of UM's Adams Center Parking lot. Free. Visit fvamissoula.org.

You could also cure that urge to ogle birds up north when the Flathead Audubon Society presents its fourth annual Raptor Day, which runs from 8 AM–4 PM on Sat., Sept. 11, at Lone Pine State Park, southwest of Kalispell. The day kicks off with a bird walk at 8, a family bird walk/scavenger hunt at 10 AM and then features an array of birding programs throughout the afternoon. Free. Call Mary Beth at 755-2706.

Sweat out those dirty, dirty toxins on Sat., Sept. 11, during Run Wild Missoula's Sweathouse Half Marathon, which begins and ends at Victor Park in Victor, with the marathon starting at 8 AM. $40/$35 Run Wild Missoula members. Visit runwildmissoula.org to register.

Better yet, take some snappy pics of nature's bounty on Sat., Sept. 11, when the Montana Natural History Center (MNHC) presents its Saturday Discovery Day: Nature Photography Between Seasons, which begins at 9 AM at the MNHC, 120 Hickory St. What follows is a full day of capturing beautiful scenes on Morrell Mountain with photog Lance Schelvan. $35/$25 members. Also, bring your camera. Call 327-0405 to register.

Chew on a root while doing your part to clean the 'Root during the Bitterroot River Cleanup, which occurs on Sat., Sept. 11, from 10 AM—4 PM at various locations on the river from Sula and Painted Rocks Dam, up to Missoula. Free to participate, with a barbecue at 4:30 PM at Angler's Roost in Hamilton. Call Don at 363-3146 to sign up.

Get water wise on Sat., Sept. 11, when the Watershed Education Network presents a free stream monitoring training, which starts at 1 PM at the Greenough Park Pavilion, just off Monroe Street. Other trainings occur at the same location at 4 PM on Tue., Sept. 14, and Wed., Sept. 15. Visit montanawatershed.org.

Runners can kick their heels up in the heart of our pretty city on Sun., Sept. 12, when Run Wild Missoula presents the Missoula Mile, a series of five races for various running categories that begins at 9 AM in downtown Missoula. $20 on race-day/$15 advance/free for kids. Visit runwildmissoula.org to register. Oh yeah, this is also part of Sunday Streets Missoula (see our calendar section for details on that event.) And while we're talking about Run Wild Missoula, you should also check its seminar "How to Get Faster," which starts at 7 PM on Mon., Sept. 13, at Runner's Edge, 325 N. Higgins Ave. Free. The organization also has two yoga classes this week tailored for runners, plus a core strength training class, so visit its website for specifics.

On Mon., Sept. 13, two different groups of bird gawkers meet to discuss their obsession when the Five Valley's Audubon Society holds its chapter meeting at 7:30 PM in Room L14 of UM's Gallagher Business Building, and the Flathead Audubon Society gets its avian appreciation on during its monthly meeting at 7 PM at The Summit, 205 Sunnyview Lane in Kalispell. Free for both. Visit fvamissoula.org and flatheadaudubon.org respectively for details.

Finish off your packed week with an adventurous multimedia presentation when UM presents "Michael Hoyt: Climbing Montana's Bitterroot Mountains 2010," a presentation by Hoyt of his recent hiking/climbing exploits that begins at 7 PM Thu., Sept. 16, in Room 210 of UM's McGill Hall. Free.

All right, now who's up for taste testing some stream samples?

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