Growing up in Frenchtown, MT on what must be one of the tiniest haying operations in the state had its perks and seeming infinite places to ride a bicycle and wander were to big ones. Learning to drive truck and tractors earlier than most was also great fun. Receiving my first motorcycle was something I’ll never forget though. Having a motor and two wheels created a lot of freedom to explore the area near where I grew up. There was a lot of wonder and excitement for me tooling around on the roads and trails, finding out where each one ended or what it connected to. Being on the lookout for the next new trail to follow down its rabbit hole absorbed many of my evenings. Over the years I put a lot of hours on that old Honda CR80, which was my first motorcycle and created a lot of great memories in the process.
After high school I came up with this crazy idea that I wanted to see and live somewhere other than Frenchtown, MT where I had spent 18 years of my life. I decided to go to school in Denver, CO. While I learned a lot and enjoyed my time in Colorado it never really felt like home. I wanted to get back the wide open and unpopulated spaces of Montana. After graduating from a small tech school in Denver, I returned home to Montana.
On my drive home to Montana I visited a friend that lived in Bozeman, MT at the time and decided I kind a liked the place and wanted to stick around and check the place out. Being freshly out of college and pretty broke I didn’t have the money to buy a dirt bike again at the time, so I settled for a bicycle and some climbing gear. I spent my first few years in Bozeman biking the trails and traversing the crags and cliffs in the area via pedal power and grip strength. I knew one day I would get back into riding but after I had funds for another dirt bike and a truck to haul it with.
When that day finally came that I had the money, I found an inexpensive WR426 with a “minor” issue. The minor issue turned out to be a mysterious weird bog in the middle of the RPM range that took a couple years to solve. The bog never managed to keep me from exploring the trails in the Bozeman area and it’s a good thing too. Through word of mouth I eventually found out about this dream land called “Pipestone”. I remember some of my first trips out to Pipestone, of course I had to make a stop and the famous Ringing Rocks. I became familiar with parking my truck in the lower gravel parking lot and riding out to some of the connecting trails. Over the years many friends and I spent time out camping and riding in what is Whitetail Pipestone Recreation Area just outside of Whitehall, MT.
One day I happened to be over at what’s now Blitz Motorsports in Bozeman looking for parts and they had a sign on the counter that said a group called “Friends of Pipestone” needed some help maintaining trails in Pipestone. I contacted the group and volunteered for service, this is how I met Mona Ehnes, Russ Ehnes, and Dave Cole. Mona, Russ, and Dave were running Friends of Pipestone and welcomed me in. Through Russ and Mona, I learned about the MTVRA and a lot of history of the “fights” to keep our trails open that happened over the years and those battles that were still going on to keep us all on the trails.
About this time a gentleman named Rich Winget showed up at a Friends of Pipestone meeting and was interested in starting a OHV club in Bozeman. I met with Rich who was clearly very serious about getting something going in Bozeman and we set a date for a meeting with a few people and Russ to get a club going. Approximately two years ago we formed Five Rivers Trail Riders to help serve riders and trail systems in Bozeman and surrounding areas. Five Rivers Trail Riders (5RTR) is a “100% club”, meaning that its members are also MTVRA members we received a spot on the MTVRA board. Through coincidence I become the official representative of 5RTR to the MTVRA board for several yearly meetings. As part of this process I got to know the good people that make up the MTVRA board. During the most recent meeting I was asked to be the President of the MTVRA. I felt honored to have been asked and am grateful for the opportunity to serve the riding community of Montana.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about that carb issue on the WR426? Well it turned out to be one of those “hanging chad” issues. The early WR426 carbs were two halves and there was a gasket between them, my carb’s gasket wasn’t fully punched out at the factory and every manual or technical guide I ever found said absolutely, under no circumstances should you ever separate the two halves. In desperation I eventually split them and finally found my issue.