The Dusty Bandita offers a new racing challenge

SEELEY LAKE – “The Bandita in us is pushing boundaries and breaking our inner boundaries. Together, along with our fellow Banditas, we are one,” reads The Dusty Bandita website. “Him Head down, eyes up, with a determined smile. It’s time to break through, shine and be free.”

A new race will take to the gravel roads around Seeley Lake on May 21st. Dusty Bandita is an event dedicated to increasing the presence of all women who identify in cycling events by providing a safe and supportive environment where one can build confidence, push boundaries, explore beautiful places and experience an invigorating camaraderie inside and outside of cycling. the bike.

Race director Bri Lui said the idea for Dusty Bandita was a couple of years in the making. A cyclist who enjoys racing for the personal challenge, Lui felt intimidated into racing in the male-dominated sport. He too has seen the popularity of gravel biking grow in recent years.

“I feel like the spirit of gravel biking is less intimidating and a little bit more adventurous,” Lui said.

Lui reached out to other top cyclists she knew in the Missoula-area cycling community to see if they would help her organize a women’s gravel bike race. Five women joined her committee and came up with the name “The Dusty Bandita”.

According to the website, “Dusty” was an obvious description of the group when it comes to gravel riding.

However, “bandage” is not an English word and has no true definition. The six creators drew from their diverse backgrounds and chose a name that would represent the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community of which they are a part.

“For us, Bandita is multiple. Bandita is someone who is confident, both inside and out; someone who is willing to pursue their dreams and passions with determination and perseverance,” the website reads. “Furthermore, a Bandita is someone who joins others who have similar intentions. Banditas respect and empower each other to rise up, push their own limits, and expand their self-confidence in new ways!”

Lui has ridden in the Seeley Lake area. She felt it was a great place for the opening race as there are a lot of gravel roads and it is beautiful.

The Dusty Bandita includes a 45-mile and 80-mile course, beginning and ending at Camp Paxson. The 45-mile course will follow Fawn Peak-Jocko Road and return via Placid Lake Road for around 2,500 feet of ascent. The 80-mile trail will double the route by adding the trail over Rice Ridge for 5,000 feet of ascent.

Lui said they are working closely with the Seeley Lake Ranger District to ensure the roads are roadworthy. Runners will also cross Highway 83 twice, so he asks motorists to be on the lookout for bicyclists that Saturday.

The winners of both races will be recognized at a podium ceremony. The prizes will include various products and other gifts. All levels are invited to participate.

photo provided

The Dusty Bandita logo created by Sierra Pete.

Lui hopes The Dusty Bandita will challenge riders in a supportive environment and extend that camaraderie to other races in the area and across the country. She also hopes that they will tell their friends about her and encourage them to participate next year.

“I hope it will provide a fun, encouraging and challenging experience,” said Lui. “And keep women coming back for more.”

Lui thanks all of his sponsors, especially his platinum sponsors Northern Rockies Orthopedics, Zillastate, and Great Northern Cycle and Ski. All proceeds will benefit MT Alpha Cycling, a women’s cycling team of motivated girls and women focused on cultivating skills and confidence on the bike while increasing the presence of women in competitive events. Lui said that their mission aligns well with The Dusty Bandita, so they want to support them.

The Dusty Bandita is almost three-quarters full. For more information and to register, visit