The first stage includes the steepest part of the Mount Helena Ridge Trail, featuring tight corners and short sight lines. Some corners are bermed, some are outsloped. A practice run or good trail reading skills will be key. After a short, loose, lung-busting climb, the stage continues down Emmett’s Trail to the bottom of Grizzly Gulch. Watch your handlebars on E Trail, and stay alert for two sneaky hairpin turns. Your legs will be burning at the bottom of E Trail, but make sure you still have enough in the tank, because it’s time for the first of the day’s two big climbs. Climb back up Mini Ridge and transfer along the Mount Helena Ridge towards the Show-Me- the-Horse Trail.
*NOTE: For Juniors, Stage 1 ends at the top of Emmett’s Trail. They transfer directly to Stage 2 without descending/climbing Emmett’s/Mini Ridge.
What can we tell you about Show-Me- the-Horse? If you’ve ridden in Helena, you’ve ridden this trail. It’s classic old-school flow, blazed by grazing horses and loved by mountain bikers. But don’t let the flow deceive you: this trail is absolutely littered with square edged rocks, and has claimed more rims than any other 1.5 miles in Helena. Inflate your tires appropriately. Stage 2 will start on the hillside above the Show-Me- the-Horse junction, offering some fantastic high speed flow. At the bottom of the trail, transfer down Grizzly Gulch to the McKelvey Trailhead, and start the biggest climb: to the top of Mount Helena.
This stage is the most technical of the course. Hogsback Trail is loose and very rocky, with big steps and tricky lines. At the bottom of Hogsback, a left turn puts you on upper Prospect Shafts, and watch your pedals: lots of potential strikes here. A right turn puts you onto the main fall-line alignment of Prospect Shafts. This trail is loose and rocky, and deserves your resepect. After another sharp left turn, the loose rubble is left behind, but you’re not out of the woods yet. When you are, you’re at the main parking lot and trailhead for Mount Helena, with just one stage to go. There are vault toilets at the parking lot here. Transfer past them to the north side of the parking lot, where the last stage starts next to the reservoir.
The final stage has an uphill start to the top of Daisy Hill. From the top, you drop down the south side onto Adams Street, turning onto Howie Street. There is one last sprint climb here to the crest of Howie Street before you drop down and across the Morelli Bridge. Hook right on the far side of the bridge, and rail a flat turn to pass underneath the bridge and into Reeder’s Alley. Remember that old bricks aren’t the most grippy braking surface, make the turn around Bike Helena’s headquarters, and you’re home free.