Billings: Train whistles, Zimmerman and the Back 9

Today’s forecast was for warm temps, so we got up early–not because we wanted to ride but because the BNSF trains go through Billings just about every hours 24/7 and they blow their whistle–about 100 yards from the campground.  Needless to say, even half deaf Butch didn’t get much sleep.  On the way to billings we saw many long trains carrying coal east and some carrying double stacked containers.  Just west of Billings is Laurel MT where there’s a big rail yard.

We started our ride at Zimmerman Park–up above the city of Billings on rimrock.  The park commemorates the two brothers who built a road up from town to the top, saving about 15 miles one way to heard their animals.  The topography is a bit like Moab and Bend– lots of slickrock-like trail sections, good technical sections and fragrant forests.  We found a post about riding west from there, through a gap in the fence and down the road to another network.  IT was Saturday morning and we could see the mtn bikers parked at this other trail head.  It is locally known as the Pawnee Straight and the Back 9.  Great riding.  The top is easy– just travels along the top of the rim.  The middle is more technical and very fun.  After the ride we headed to Deer Lodge, just past Butte. Butte’s a pretty big place (pop 69,000) with a great big madonna looking down from the ridge above.  Butch thinks it’s the bigger sister to the one in my backyard.  On to Missoula in the morning to ride.

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