BIG SKY BIGGIE COURSES50 Mile / 30 Mile
First, this race would not be possible without the cooperation and generosity of several land owners and managers in the Big Sky area. Our courses travel in and out of private and public lands. Putting the routes together, while being mindful of hazards, roads, horse traffic, easements and just good ole’ fashioned manners was not easy. There were numerous conversations, edits, phone calls, meetings, more edits, and then more favors being asked. And there are still negotiations for route travel on the table. All that being said, the course maps are 90% confirmed.
Secondly, the course maps shown are intended to provide participants with an idea of the type of terrain, mileage, and elevation gain. GPS and downloadable maps will be available in mid-summer, close to the event date. Some sections are open to the public, when weather permits. Some sections of the courses are not even ride-able until mid-June, depending on the winter snow pack. And some sections are not open to the public, except for this race. And that, my fellow riders, is the main reason you should register.
Both courses start and finish in Town Center.
The main difference between the 50 Mile Course and the 30 Mile Course, is that the 50 Mile course adds the Yellow Mules loop.
GPS / Downloadable maps will be available in Summer 2018
50 Mile Course
ELEVATION GAIN: 9,000+ ft
30 Mile Course
ELEVATION GAIN: 6,000 ft
START TO NORTH FORK
Starting in Town Center, participants will ride pavement winding through a small subdivision to the Lone Mountain Ranch property. You will then gradually start climbing on a double-track (dirt road), which will hopefully spread out the pack, for roughly a mile. The course narrows to a straight, single-track, steadily climbing for another mile or so. You’ll cross a bridge (North Fork) and ride a double-track to the North Fork trailhead parking lot.
From the North Fork trailhead parking lot, you will climb the Ridge Road, and then get on the Ridge Trail (FS 403) and climb all the way to where it ends at the Beehive Basin subdivision. This is a 4 mile climb at a 6% grade, climbing approximately 1,400 ft, also known as “NF Trailhead to Beehive Pavement”.
Once at the top of the climb, you’ll be routed quickly through a quiet subdivision to Beehive Basin Road, where you will ride a trail that parallels the Beehive Basin Road, all the way to the top of the Cascade Lift. You’ll then descend steeply down underneath the Cascade Lift, and go through the skier tunnel (under Highway 64). Watch for signs and turn right towards Moonlight.
MOONLIGHT (MADISON LOOP)
You’ll now be riding in the Moonlight Basin area, as you make your way on smooth single-track past Ulery’s Lake, around the Madison Loop and back over to the Big Sky Resort base area. This is section is fun, smooth and fast. Enjoy it! There is some climbing in this section, but it won’t feel like much.
BIG SKY RESORT / Andesite Mountain
From the Big Sky Resort Meadow Village (base of Swifty), you’ll climb to the top of Andesite Mountain for an elevation gain of 1,300 ft. The exact route to top of Andesite is still being determined, as a new uptrack may be in place by race day. If not, we will find an acceptable route that doesn’t obstruct their DH traffic.
From the top of Andesite Mountain, you’ll descend legendary flow trails built by TerraFlow Trail Systems – Snake Charmer and part of the Mountain to Meadow. These are classic downhill-only trails at Big Sky Resort, and there could be non-race traffic on these sections. You are expected to use proper trail etiquette. If you want to pass, let the rider in front of you know, but wait for them to acknowledge and move out of your way.
You won’t be descending the entire Mountain to Meadow trail. About two-thirds of the way down, you’ll take a hard right turn, and spin over into the Spanish Peaks subdivision, through a mix of double-track and single-track for a short two or three mile climb. This route is still to be determined, as new trails are being built in Spring/Summer of 2018. After the climb, you’ll start another long 2.75 mile -4% descent on a flow trail, locally known as Fishcamp. This section is on private land and NOT open to the general public. You’re going to be grinning from ear to ear – this section is awesome. But be mindful that the trail crosses a paved main road in three places. We will have crossing guards, but please ride safely when crossing, as you will be approaching with significant speed. At the bottom of Fishcamp, riders will cross a bridge (Ousel Falls West Fork) and ride a short double-track section over to a paved road.
This is where the 50 Mile course participants turn right, crossing the paved road to do the Yellow Mules Loop.
The 30 Mile course participants will turn left, as they head towards Ralph’s Pass. We will have signs, crossing guards and course marshals at this critical junction to make sure nobody takes a wrong turn. This is also the location where a time cut-off may be in place for the 50 Mile course participants. And if there is a thunderstorm on Buck Ridge, at the top of the Yellow Mules Loop, with lightning strikes, this is also the place that we will make a judgement call and direct all racers to the finish route.
(30 Mile course participants – jump down to the next section for the finish route.)
YELLOW MULES LOOP – for the 50 Mile Course only
From the paved road, you’ll ride 1.5 miles to the Yellow Mules junction. This 1.5 mile section will have two-way traffic. This is the only place on the course with two-way traffic, and with how spread out the 50 Mile riders will be at this point in the day, it shouldn’t be too concerning. But please ALWAYS YIELD TO THE UPHILL RIDER. Bombing down this 1.5 mile section without regard for uphill traffic makes you look like a jerk, and it will not win you the race.
Once you reach the junction, you are going to turn right onto Second Yellow Mule. There are signs here, and it will be well-marked. Now, find your happy place and start climbing. The entire Second Yellow Mule climb is approximately 10 miles, 2,800 ft gain at about 4% average grade. The first 4 mile of this climb are not bad. You’ll cross through some streams, and it’s rocky in some sections, but for the most part, it’s a smooth, continual climb. Then you’ll get to the bridge. Make sure you are eating and drinking. And prepare yourself for the final steep, grunt of a climb. The view at the top of Buck Ridge is worth it.
Once you’ve reached the top of the climb, you’ll be riding on top of Buck Ridge heading East towards First Yellow Mule. We will have a Safety + Aid station setup here. There will be some search and rescue staff, as well. The weather can be much different up on Buck Ridge, compared to the rest of the course, so it’s wise to have some sort of light shell you can throw on if there is a thunderstorm rolling in.
Descending First Yellow Mule might be the highlight of the course. It’s rugged. It’s old-school. And the view is incredibly distracting. Depending on the season, there might be a trench, so watch for pedal strikes. If you just crushed that climb on a long-travel bike, open ‘er up and let it rip! You’ll be descending for 5 glorious miles, and once you reach the Yellow Mules junction, you’ll turn right, and go back out the 1.5 mile two-way traffic section. You’ll get to the paved road, and LOOK FOR TRAFFIC, and then go straight across the road to the single-track on the other side. Again, we will have crossing guards and signs here.
FINISH ROUTE – for the 50 and 30 Mile Course
It will feel like you’re almost done. And you are close. But we hope you saved something, because this last section is a little bit of an ass-kicker at this point in the day. You’ll ride Ralph’s Pass, a newer, smooth-as-butter trail to connect you from First Yellow Mule to Uplands. Ralph’s Pass is funky – steep in sections – and the switchbacks may have you cursing, or walking.
Oh, hey, check out this cool video from BSCO about the construction of Ralph’s Pass »
Be mindful of other riders and foot traffic, especially now that you’re getting closer to Town Center. There are several places this trail crosses another trail, and some roads, but we will have it well-marked.
Ralph’s Pass ends at Uplands, where you’ll turn left. And now, you are definitely close to the finish. Enjoy the last bit of single-track down to the Uplands & Hummocks Trailhead. Then turn right onto Aspen Leaf Drive and follow the paved road all the way to the Finish.