Mountain High 

Mountain bike racing. A single word description? Barfifying. If you've never been in a cross-country mountain bike race, try this out: make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; mount your bicycle at the bottom of a long switchback-strewn hill; put the entire sandwich in your mouth; squirt some water from your water bottle in your mouth; now, pedal as hard as you can up the hill without stopping. Repeat. And repeat. This may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but for some of us, this is our idea of fun. Racing is challenging. It can take some of the fun out cycling, but if you take it just seriously enough and avoid certain pitfalls (becoming a weight weenie for example), racing is a blast, especially when beer is involved. This is the case for the Kettlehouse Weekday Race League held at Marshall Mountain for three consecutive Wednesdays. The approximately 5K course is the same one used by pros and Olympians alike, including Missoulian Sam Schulz, who was recently chosen to be a part of the U.S. Olympic team headed to London in a few weeks. The organizers allow riders to choose between one, two or three laps, which features single and double track, 850 feet of climbing and an updated downhill section that is a bit less technical than last year's course. The purpose of the series is to prep it for the Hammer Nutrition Missoula XC race that takes place on Sat., July 14. So, besides making the course ready for the pros and visiting riders, the Beer League allows us locals to meet like-minded riders, have dee-lish brew and scope out the course, picking up a little home field advantage.

The Kettlehouse Weekday Race League takes place on three consecutive Wed., June 27, July 4 and July 11, at 5:30 PM, on the Marshall Mountain race course. Cost is $10 each day but a USA Cycling license must be purchased for $5 per day or $60 for the year. Visit missoulaxc.org/p/beer-leagues.html.

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FRIDAY JUNE 22

The FWP and the USFWS hosts a three-day Becoming an Outdoorswoman Birding Workshop at Ninepipes Lodge near Charlo. The workshop features big-time bird watchers from throughout the state and tours galore. $98 includes all meals. Call Liz at 444-9940 to learn more.

The 4th Annual Blackfoot River Challenge is exactly what it sounds like, a three-day paddling-palooza, with clinics on Friday, a 10-mile downriver race on Saturday and slalom races on Sunday. Proceeds benefit the Missoula Food Bank. $10 for clinics/$5 with food donation. $20 per event or $25 for more than one (bring along some non-perishable food items, too). Visit blackfootriverchallenge.blogspot.com.

The UM Outdoor Program hosts a Fundamentals of Kayaking Class that teaches basic strokes, how to read whitewater and boat safety. The cost includes gear, pool rental and transpo. $185. Register by Fri., June 22. Call 243-5172.

This week's Beavertail Hill State Park Evening Program: Glacial Lake Missoula examines the impact of the lake and particularly jö¬®kulhlaups. Beavertail Hill State Park, 26 miles east of MIssoula on I-90. 8 PM. Free.

SATURDAY JUNE 23

The Sierra Club hosts a Women's Only Blodgett Canyon Day Hike which boasts surreal views of the canyon, 1200 feet of elevation gain and nine miles of rambling. Contact Mary at mowens320@gmail.com to go along.

Get outside and let the UM Outdoor Program worry about the transpo during their 8-mile Cha-Paa-Qn Day Hike. $30. Call 243-5172.

Make Pliny the Elder happy and join the good eggs at Five Valley Audubon for a peek at the common loon up around Seeley Lake and Clearwater Lakes. Meet at the UM fieldhouse parking lot at 8 AM. Free. Call Larry for more info. at 549-5632.

Teach the children well or have Missoula area Ducks Unlimited do it at their Greenwing Event, which teaches kids about duck calling, decoys, nesting, dog training and more at the Western Montana Retriever Club. 9 AM–4 PM For more info., go to ducks.org/montana/events.

Haul your big ol' booty up the Swan for the 10th Annual Celebrate the Swan Race, which features a 10K, 5K and 1-mile fun run as well as a half-marathon. The race benefits the Mission Mountains and Swan Range Backcountry Rangers. 9 AM. Race day registration begins at 8 AM. $25/$20 adv. Visit swanecosystemcenter.org.

Celebrate the arrival of summer and bueno fishing during Salmon Fly Days at the Rock Creek Fisherman's Mercantile, where there is a fundraiser called Reel Recovery, which provides fishing retreats to cancer patients, tunes by The Lil' Smokies, food and a silent auction. Not to mention plenty of BS to go around, no doubt. 73 Rock Creek Rd. 5 PM. $5.

TUESDAY JUNE 26

Help give them bears room to breathe and get yourself some brews at the Vital Ground Pint Night at Flathead Lake Brewing Co. Black Mountain Boys grass it up at 7 PM. 5–11 PM. 424 N. Higgins.

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