Thursday, July 14, 2011

Go mountain biking in Sun Valley this weekend; enjoy the Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival

Ride Sun Valley! (Courtesy Sun Valley Chamber)

The trails are amazingly smooth and contoured (Courtesy Sun Valley Chamber)

Post card views around every bend (Courtesy Sun Valley Chamber)

I love to ride through aspens ... this was in Lamb's Gulch in Croy Canyon

Part of our crew on the Little Basin-Big Basin ride near Stanley. Those young boys can ride!

Crossing Big Basin Creek is a bit chilly
Hi all,

Cycling enthusiasts are faced with a vexing choice this weekend -- do you stay in town to watch the Boise Twilight Criterium or head up to Sun Valley to participate in the Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival and watch the USA Cycling National Mountain Biking Cross-Country Championships?

That's a tough decision, but in my mind, the participatory-nature of the Sun Valley bike festival makes it a pretty easy choice that tips in favor of heading up to Sun Valley. Former Olympic road and mountain bike racer Greg Randolph, a.k.a. "Chopper," who is now heading up the Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce, has put together a super cool week of events for the bike festival. Maybe you've read Greg's advice column in Bike mag.

The Ketchum-Hailey-Sun Valley area has more than 400 miles of singletrack and 32 miles of paved trails. We know we're blessed in Boise with more than 200 miles of trails that stretch from Bogus Basin to the Greenbelt. Imagine if our trail system were doubled in size ... then maybe you can begin to imagine the huge sweep of trails that lace the mountains in the Wood River Valley. Check out an interactive trail guide produced by the Blaine County Recreation District and you'll be amazed.

But you have to experience it yourself to truly understand what a fantastic place it is to ride. I was up there last weekend for my son's baseball tournament, and I snuck away multiple times to ride some new trails west of Hailey in Croy Canyon and the Greenhorn-Mahoney Loop north of Hailey. We wrapped it all up with a gorgeous ride with four teenagers on the Little Basin-Big Basin Loop near Stanley on Sunday.

Chopper is making it easy this week by leading a series of show-me rides every day through Sunday. Here's the schedule for the weekend:

Friday, July 15

RIDE SUN VALLEY LOCAL STOKER - Departs at 9:00 a.m. Free to public space limited.

Cold Springs-Warm Springs. 16 miles, 2,400’ vertical, 3.5 hours. Ride from SV Visitor Center climb back side of Baldy via Cold Springs and rip around to the Warm Springs side via Warm Springs Trail. Apples BBQ awaits for riders at conclusion.

Saturday, July 16

RIDE SUN VALLEY LOCAL STOKER - Departs at 9:00 a.m. Free to public, space limited.

Easley Hot Springs aka Curly’s Trail. 11 miles, 1,500 feet, 2 hours. Break out your longer travel for one the valley’s classic brake warpers. Make two laps if you are feeling cheeky. Shuttle to and from Baker Creek.

Sunday, July 16

RIDE SUN VALLEY LOCAL STOKER - Departs 9:00 a.m. Free to public, space limited.

Fox Peak to Ketchum via East Fork Baker Creek. 22 miles, 2,100’+ vertical, 4.5+ hours. This is the mother of all Local Stokers! Strenuous, technical, long, hard, super awesome. Ride from Baker Creek back to Ketchum on over 22 miles of railer singletrack. Pack extra energy food.

The thing I love about riding in the Wood River Valley is that the trails twist through shady aspen groves, pine and fir forests, punctuated by wildflowers that are popping everywhere right now. It's postcard gorgeous around every bend. And the gradient of the trails is much more moderate than they are in the Boise Foothills, especially in the lower part of the rides. Many of the trails are pure butter-smooth singletrack, and they're a hoot to ride.

I rode the Fox Peak to Adams Gulch ride featured on Sunday for my book Mountain Biking Idaho, and that one is a truly a premium ride. It starts with a moderate climb up the Baker Creek Road, and East Fork Baker Road to one of my favorite ski huts of all time, the Tornak Hut and sauna, which looks out at a stunning display of the rocky Boulder Mountains. You ride a bit more toward Fox Peak, and then it's a wickedly fun downhill spanning several thousand vertical feet to Adams Gulch. Even if you can't do that ride Sunday, you have to do it sometime.

About 650 of the best mountain bikers across the nation are competing in the cross-country mountain bike races. Here is the schedule. Many of the events are located on Bald Mountain, including the downhill courses. You can check in on the action in the River Run area (the turnoff is just before you enter Ketchum on Idaho 75) and see where it might be best to watch your favorite event. The races run through Sunday.

If you have time, go home via Idaho 21 in Stanley and ride the Fisher-Williams Loop or Little Basin-Big Basin Loop a.k.a. "Potato Mountain Loop" on your way home. Both of those rides are a total blast.

To find a place to stay in the Wood River Valley this weekend, check here for the options that may work best for you. If you want to camp, there are many places north of Ketchum where you can pitch at tent or park your camper in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. I camped in a no-fee dispersed campsite north of Baker Creek last weekend.

In Hailey, you have to stop at the Power House and have a beer and a sandwich. It's a unique spot because it's a bike shop, bar and restaurant all wrapped into one venue. They have wifi. I was in there last weekend doing some online work, and their password made me chuckle ... "beer&bike." That says it all!

Have fun!
- SS


GarnetStreet said...

Thank for the shout out for Power House Steve. Hope you're back to visit again sometime soon.

~ David / PH Admin

Steve Stuebner said...

You bet! I love the Power House! What a great concept ... bike shop, plus food and beer!