Thursday, March 3, 2011

Time to dust off the road bike and explore some of Boise's road biking loops

Hi all,

Well, here we are in the beginning of March, the tulips are beginning to sprout in my front yard, the days are getting longer, and the roads around Boise are free of snow and ready to ride.

It might be wet or a bit chilly in the next several weeks, and it might even hail or snow on a given day. But if you dress for it, now is a great time to dust off the road bike and start getting your legs in shape for a great summer of biking. Plus, the city is begging people to stay off the dirt trails in the foothills, so there's another reason to jump on the road bike. Give the foothills a break, put the hammer down and see how your legs feel.

I just re-printed the Boise Road Cycling Guide after the first edition sold out after Christmas. I'm excited about it because Northwest Printing in Meridian had a line on some cool printing stock that is made out of rock powder. The maps are still waterproof, tear-proof and, with this stock, they won't fade from sunlight or whatever. The maps are chlorine-free and take zero water to produce. That's a real plus for a printed product.

The guides cost $12.50. They've available in all of the bike shops in the valley, including REI. I don't want to toot my horn too much but the two-sided map with 30 rides valley-wide is the only road biking guide in the Boise area. Here what Mark Solon of Boise said about the guide. "It's my bible for road biking in the Boise area."

In this blog, I'm recommending four particular road biking rides to get your legs warmed up, starting with a couple of easy rides and working up from there. All of them are less than 30 miles. The road cycling guide has more than 30 rides overall, and almost all of them, with the exception of the Ride to Bogus, are snow-free.

1. Municipal Park to Barber Park Loop - Rated easy. 10 miles. Ride time: 1 hour.

Start from Municipal Park in east Boise, near Idaho Fish and Game headquarters on Walnut Street. Go east on the Greenbelt 4.2 miles. Turn right and take the path to Barber Park. Follow the paved path to the left of the park entrance and follow that through a number of neighborhoods for several miles. Ride on the detached pathway along ParkCenter Blvd., turn right on River Run Driver, follow the bike lane to the paved Greenbelt access and ride to Broadway bridge. Cross the river at Broadway, turn right, and return to Municipal Park.

2. Municipal Park to Discovery Park (foot of Lucky Peak Dam) - Rated easy to moderate. 9 miles one-way, 18 miles round-trip. Ride time: 1 to 1.5 hours.
Start from Municipal Park near Warm Springs and Walnut. Go east on the Greenbelt 9 miles to Discovery Park. It's slightly uphill - 140 feet of gain. But wind will be a much bigger factor on the ride. In the winter, you may ride into the teeth of an east wind on the way out, and zoom back with a tail-wind. In the summer, it's the reverse. Take a breather at the park; do some stretching, have a snack, drink some water, and ride back to Municipal Park.

3. Municipal Park to Hilltop Summit and back - Rated strenuous. 27 miles round-trip. Ride time: 2.5 hours at a recreation pace.

Now is a good time to ride to Hilltop because the traffic isn't nearly as heavy as it is in the summer. Watch for mule deer and elk. Start from Municipal Park near Warm Springs and Walnut. Go east on the Greenbelt 9 miles to Discovery Park. Jump on Idaho Highway 21 and climb the grade to the top of Lucky Peak, and keep going to Hilltop Summit. It's an additional 4.5 miles from Discovery Park to Hilltop. Don's Kodiak Grill is at the summit if you want to stop for a beverage or something to eat.

4. Boise Bench Airport Tour - Rated moderate. 21.2 miles. Ride time: 2 hours.

This is a good tour of the upper Boise Bench. It can get really windy out on Gowen Road so be ready for that. Start at Municipal Park near Warm Springs and Walnut. Go east on the Greenbelt 6.7 miles and turn right on the Idaho 21 connector to Gowen Road. There is a good shoulder. At the junction, with Gowen Road at mile 10, go straight and beeline to Orchard. Enjoy the tour of the National Guard facilities and the Boise Airport. At mile 14.3, go right on Orchard. Go three miles and turn right on Kootenai, a leafy neighborhood on the bench. At mile 19, go straight on Protest, drop down the hill, follow Beacon over to Broadway. Turn left on Broadway, cross the river, and take the Greenbelt back to Municipal Park.

- SS

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