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Casey Cassidy and her friends straddled their bikes, helmets on, sunglasses shielding their eyes, ready to tackle some trails just before noon on Friday.

A bicycle is Cassidy's preferred means of transportation, even if she's pedaling in New York City.

“It's so much faster than going by car,” she said.

Closer to home, she enjoys the views and the experience.

“You get to see the land, the vegetation, the people, the flowers,” she said. “I go every other day.”

Cassidy was just one of the cyclists supporting the Gallatin Valley Land Trust by participating in its annual Longest Day of Trails event.

“It's a bike-a-thon, celebration, membership drive, all at the same time,” said EJ Porth, GVLT's communications and outreach manager.

Each year on the Friday in June nearest the summer solstice, GVLT holds the sunrise to sunset event, featuring bike rides and membership sign-ups. This year's event was headquartered in front of Montana Ale Works on Main Street where GVLT representatives answered questions, handed out information, signed up new members and renewed memberships for others.

“There are a lot of people that don't know how to access them or where they connect or where they go,” Porth said.

Nona Chambers, one of the people riding with Cassidy, said she hasn't ridden a lot of trails in town. She was looking forward to riding some of those on Friday.

“It's a beautiful day to get out and enjoy Bozeman's trails,” she said.

GVLT board member Hal Stanley, who was also getting ready to ride, said work still needs to be done to connect the trails on the north side of town.

The nonprofit has been active this past year with the city's Trails, Open Space and Parks projects.

Two projects GVLT will be involved with on the north side of town are the construction of a paved pedestrian and bike path from town to the “M” and Drinking Horse Mountain trailheads and trails at the new Story Mill Park.

In another TOP project, GVLT also sold land north of Bozeman Pond Park to the city of Bozeman to expand the park.

The money raised at Longest Day of Trails goes to help GVLT build and maintain trails.

As Bozeman continues to grow, it is important that this work is done now, Porth said.

“If someone is a trail-user or simply enjoys the outdoors, we encourage them to become a member because we couldn't do it without them,” Porth said.

Just before noon, about 50 people had stopped by the GVLT headquarters on Main Street.

While Porth said she would like to raise $8,000 to $10,000 at the membership drive, the annual event is more about enjoying Bozeman's bicycle paths.

“The main purpose is to get people out onto the trails,” Porth said.

GVLT was founded in 1990. The nonprofit has helped expand the Main Street to the Mountains trail system to over 67 miles.

Erin Schattauer can be reached at 582-2628 or She's on Twitter at @erinschattauer.

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