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Back-country biking ... on a guided tour.

Back-country biking . . . on a guided tour

With thousands of miles of unpaved roadswoven throughout the West's scenic public lands, it's no wonder that back-country bicycling on rugged, 15- to 18-speed mountain bikes is rapidly becoming the two-wheeled equivalent of backpacking.

We know of six firms offering guidedmountain bicycle tours in some of the West's most spectacular natural areas, including Utah's canyonlands, Colorado's aspen forests, Yellowstone and Glacier national parks, and the eastern Sierra Nevada. Three outings combine bicycling with whitewater river rafting.

The trips are designed for riders of varyingability (read the brochures for details). Be prepared for a workout: each day you ride about 25 miles, some routes go as high as 8,000 feet, and many include challenging uphill stretches, rocky or sandy spots where you must walk, and possibly a stream or two to portage.

All this hard work has its rewards, however.At times you'll find yourself cruising through quiet glades, riding along vast canyon rims, or coming upon serene lakes and lush meadows. One tour visits a ghost town. Most routes keep you well away from heavy traffic.

This kind of biking calls for more upperbodystrength than regular road touring. It's wise to prepare by working out with weights or a rowing machine, by doing push-ups and pull-ups, or by heading out on some strenous local bike rides.

If you haven't ridden a mountain bike,these tours give you a thorough introduction. Leaders will help you learn technique, shifting, and balance. You'll find that the bike's low gearing, strong brakes, sturdy frame, and tough tires will help make your tour pleasurable and safe.

On multiday tours, food, drinking water,camping gear, and repair equipment are carried in a support van in which weary riders can rest at any time. Meals are typically prepared by your guides and run from mundane to magnificent, but you may be asked to help with camp chores. Overnighting is usually at campgrounds, but some tours stop at hostels, lodges, or guest ranch cabins.

On most one-day tours, you carry yourown gear and food.

Six tour operators in five states

All have rental bicycles. If you use yourown bike, bring a water bottle and fanny pack. Fee for multiday trips includes food, campsite or lodging fees, and maps. Groups are limited to 12 to 20 riders, and riders under 18, 17, 16, or 15 (depending on the operator) must be accompanied by an adult; the brochures have details.

Arrow to the Sun, Box 115, Taylorsville,Calif. 95983; (916) 284-6263. Six-day rides as follows: Humboldt County redwoods, mid-May; $335; meet near Garberville; camping and hotels. Feather River area, mid-August; $320; meet in Taylorsville; camping. Plumas County, mid-August; $320; meet in Taylorsville; camping. Bike rental costs $50, including helmet.

Bikecentennial, Box 8308, Missoula, Mont.59807; (406) 721-1776. Five-day tour in July in and around Glacier National Park; $490; meet in Kalispell. Two five-day tours in July and August near Yellowstone National Park, including a float trip on the Gallatin River; $550; tours start in West Yellowstone, with airport pickup in Bozeman available for $20. You overnight in campgrounds, hostels, guest ranches. Bike rental $75, helmet rental $10.

Kern River Tours, Box 3444, Lake Isabella,Calif. 93240; (619) 379-4616. Trips in the pine forests and meadows of the Kern Plateau, mid-April to mid-October. Cost; half-day $30; full day $60; half-day ride plus half-day river trip on Upper Kern $60. Starting point: Kernville. Bike rental $15 per day, helmet included.

Rim Tours, 94 W. First North, Moab, Utah84532; (801) 259-5223. Van-supported tours in and around Canyonlands National Park, April through October. Cost: one day $35, two days $90, three days $200, four days $260. Starting point: Moab. Bike rental $15 per day, helmet included.

Sierra Bicycle Tours, Box 5453, InclineVillage, Nev. 89450; (702) 831-3576. Three-day biking trip, Bodie area and eastern Sierra, in June; $145; meet in Bridgeport. Five-day Sierra Nevada trips, with three days biking and two days rafting on the American River, in August; $355; meet at Serene Lakes, near Soda Springs. Bike rental $55; bring a helmet.

Timberline Bicycle Tours, 3261 S. OneidaWay, Denver 80224; (303) 759-3804. Five-day rides as follows: Canyonlands National Park, late April and mid-September; $295; meet in Moab; overnights in motels and campgrounds. Crested Butte area in central Colorado, July; $395; stay in lodges. San Juan Mountains, mid-August; $395; stay in lodges. Last two trips start in Aspen, with free pickup at Aspen and Denver airports. Bike rental $60, including helmet.

June through September, Timberline alsoruns guided one-day rides from Aspen, Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, and Winter Park. Fee of $25 includes bike, helmet, and picnic lunch.

On most other organized bike tours in theWest (see the Sunset Travel Directory pages for details of some), you're welcome to bring a mountain bike; study the brochures for details.

Photo: Rest stop along White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park gives mountain bikers dramatic views of the Colorado River canyon

Photo: Knobby tires, upright handlebars, andsturdy frame help cyclists negotiate rocky surface of back-country road

Photo: All the comforts of carcamping--but you carry only water bottle and fanny pack. Tents, chairs, and food come in an accompanying van. Here, friends on a Sierra outing share morning mirth along with their hot breakfast

Photo: A later lunch stop includes pocket breadand a choice of cold cuts for hungry riders

Photo: Stately conifers in Tahoe National Forestoffer shady shelter on five-day tour that starts near Soda Springs off I-80
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:The West
Article Type:Directory
Date:Mar 1, 1987
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