Mountain High 

At the intersection of bicycling bliss and musical philanthropy you'll find one heck of a bike ride this week. I'm talking about the 112-mile bicycling beast known as Cycle for the Symphony, a ride on Sat., Sept. 18, that begins and ends in Philipsburg, with a route that shoots you north through the Pintler Scenic Loop, whisks you to Drummond and then steers you past Deer Lodge, Anaconda and Georgetown Lake. This ride doubles as a benefit for the Missoula Symphony Orchestra—also known as the organization that brings us full-on symphonic concerts each seasons, a free outdoor August concert called Symphony in the Park, plus other musical delights. If 112 miles sounds a little too grueling, you can also opt for an 85-mile, 50-mile or 25-mile ride, instead. Here's what you need to do: Pay $120 to ride, and fundraise $50. So hurry and click to missoulasymphony.org to sign up and for specific details, and call 721-3194 with any questions.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Before you slap on those spandex cycling shorts, let's move back to the present. On Thu., Sept. 16, learning how to lube your chain and fix a flat is where it's at when REI Missoula presents a Bike Maintenance Class, which meets at 6:30 PM at REI, 3275 N. Reserve St. Ste. K-2. Free. Visit rei.com/stores/72 to register.

Or you could get nutty with an outdoors nut when Michael Hoyt—a mountaineer, photographer and author of Hikes and Climbs to Bitterroot Mountain Summits—presents "Climbing Montana's Bitterroot Mountains 2010," a multimedia presentation on his most recent exploits, which begins at 7 PM in Room 210 of UM's McGill Hall. Free. Visit umt.edu/outdoor.

All the ladies in the house who are looking to run and relax in the company of fellow XX chromosome holders are hereby invited to Run Wild Missoula's Women's Running Camp Retreat, which begins at 4 PM Fri., Sept. 17, in Tarkio and continues until mid-day Sun., Sept. 19. It entails a weekend of road and trail runs in the company of professional runners, as well as yoga sessions, foot soaks, nutritious meals and plenty of camaraderie. $250 for the weekend/$135 for Saturday only. Visit runwildmissoula.org for a registration form and details.

Then again, you might want to dig your intellectual claws into "The Wolverine Way," a talk on the elusive animal with author and wildlife biologist Doug Chadwick that begins at 7 PM Fri., Sept. 17, at the Montana Natural History Center (MNHC), 120 Hickory St. $4 suggested donation/free MNHC members. Visit montananaturalist.org.

Afterwards, trip out on the moon's craters when the Blue Mountain Observatory presents its final public observation night of the year, which begins at 8 PM at the observatory, on the top of Blue Mountain. Free. Visit http://www.physics.umt.edu/bluemountain/ for directions and call 243-5179 for cancellation updates.

On Sat., Sept. 18, herald the call of fall when the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club presents its Fall Colors on Carlton Ridge/Carlton Lake hike, which occurs in the Bitterroot Mountains. This 9.5-mile roundtrip outing also takes you up 2,600 feet, so expect some splendid views. E-mail Mary at mowens320@gmail.com to sign-up and for info on where to meet, and do it quick as the trip is limited to 15 people.

Go ahead and hum Vanilla Ice's tune "Ice Ice Baby" while viewing ice age features near Hot Springs when the MNHC busts out of town for its "Saturday Discovery Day: IAFI Fieldtrip to the Giant Ripples of Camas Prarie," a bus tour from 8 AM–5 PM on Sat., Sept. 18, starting with an 8 AM meet up at the MNHC, 120 Hickory St. $45/$35 members. Call 327-0405 to RSVP.

Mammals get all the attention on Sat., Sept. 18, when the MNHC presents the program "Magnificent Mammals," an afternoon where kids learn about mammals and get to meet a few of the critters too, starting at 2 PM at the center, 120 Hickory St. $5/$3 members.

Bust a smooth running move for fun—and to help a local learning institution—during the Missoula Community School Run for Fun, a race on Sun., Sept. 19, that begins with a toddler dash for kids ages 3 and under at 1 PM at McCormick Park. A 5k race follows at 1:15 PM, along with a three-fourths mile fun run at 2 PM. $15 adults/$5 for children ages 12 and under/free for toddlers. Proceeds benefit the community school, as well as the Poverello Center. Visit Runner's Edge, 325 N. Higgins Ave. to register, or click to runmt.com/cal1.html for a registration form. Day-of registration also occurs at McCormick Park from 11:30 AM–12:30 PM.

Alternately, let your soles hit the road on Sun., Sept. 19, in order to help those living with paralysis during the Run for Bob, a 5k race in honor of late Missoula police Sgt. Bob Heinle that begins at 1 PM at the King Ranch Golf Course, 17775 Mullan Road in Frenchtown. A 5k fun run, wheelchair events, as well as a barbecue and karaoke finish things off after the race. $40 for the 5k/$35 for the 5k fun run/cost TBA for families. Visit runmt.com/cal1.html for a registration form, or visit active.com to register online. Also, disabled individuals who need a ride to and from the event can get one by calling 239-9485.

On Mon., Sept. 20, get the word on upcoming cross-country ski trail grooming sessions and skiing events when the Missoula Nordic Ski Club hosts an informational meeting for anyone interested in the club at 6 PM at UM's McGill Hall. Free. Check missoulanordic.org for the exact room location.

Bow out on Thu., Sept. 23, by fertilizing your mind with the Bitterroot National Forest's 2010 Moonwalk Interpretative Series presentation titled "Pollinator Moon," a talk about the importance of pollinators and how to attract them to your green patch that begins with a guided hike at 6:30 PM, followed by the presentation at 7:30 PM, at Blodgett Creek Campground, four miles west of Hamilton. Free. Call 375-2606.

So get your chain lubed up, and turn on some Vivaldi while you're at it.

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