Thursday, June 7, 2012

Weiser River Trail Bike Ride; North Fork kayak races; SWIMBA 20th anniversary event ... lots of fun things to do this weekend

Fun underpass section of the Weiser River Trail, north of Council 
There are numerous planked bridges along the Weiser River Trail.
Here's Steve on the Weiser River Trail south of Cambridge ... the upper end is mostly forested. But the southern part is worth riding as well ... plenty of open space along the Weiser River away from U.S. 95. 

Hi all,

This is one of those weekends where you may wish that you could be in two places at once, or even three ... because there are a number of fun events going on, and you'll have to choose which ones work best for you.

There's still time to sign up for the sixth annual Weiser River Trail Bike Ride on Saturday, June 9. This is a fund-raiser of sorts for the Weiser River Trail -- the longest rail-trail in Idaho -- and it's a great cause to support. Plus, you can have fun riding 28 miles mostly downhill on the upper end of the Weiser River Trail!

I've ridden the Weiser River Trail multiple times over the years. It runs for 84 miles from Rubicon, a few miles west of New Meadows, to the city of Weiser, along the Weiser River. The surface is compacted gravel for most of the route. The upper end is the most scenic and fun, in my opinion. After you pass by the Evergreen sawmill, the trail winds along the upper Weiser River canyon, and you can really crank up the speed through here, with the aid of gravity. You'll pass by occasional meadows and ranches in a forested setting.

The tour stops for lunch near a WRT trailhead by Starkey Hot Springs. You will have traveled 18 miles by this point, and have 10 miles to finish. Once the downhill section ends, the final push to Council is mostly flat through a tranquil valley away from U.S. 95 most of the way.

The event starts at 9 a.m. Saturday in Council, where you can register, pay fees, get a T-shirt and board a shuttle vehicle to the start of the tour. Volunteers with Friends of the Weiser River Trail will take good care of you. The bike ride costs $35 for members, and $45 for non-members. Be sure to join the Friends of the Weiser River Trail and support this wonderful trail!

You can register at this online link, or for more information, contact Ride Coordinator Ed Allen at or call 208-630-4836. Be sure to dress warm if you go ... it might be quite chilly on Saturday morning at the top end of the trail.

Another can't-miss event this weekend is the North Fork Championship on Friday evening and Saturday on the world-class North Fork of the Payette River. On Friday evening, starting at 5 p.m., a ton of expert paddlers will race downriver from Otter's Slide Rapids to Banks, a distance of about three miles, in an all-out downriver sprint. The top five finishers will join 30 pre-selected elite paddlers who will compete in a slalom course on Class 5+ Jacob's Ladder and Golf Course rapids beginning at noon on Saturday.

Jacob's Ladder is the gnarliest and steepest rapid among the many Class 5 drops on the famed North Fork. Jake's flows into Golf Course, named so for its many "holes" (recirculating frothing reversal features). Racers will have to maneuver around four gates on the course through Jake's and Golf Course. There will be time penalties for hitting the gates or missing them. Ultimately, the winner will be crowned "King of the North Fork," along with a cash prize.

Map of the mighty North Fork and its many Class 5 rapids  from my book "Paddling the Payette"
I'm planning on going up to watch both events. It will be a total rush to watch the downriver race on Friday evening, and see local paddlers like Jim Grossman, Jared Alexander, Tyler Allyn, Will Parham, Joe Carberry and many others vie for those five spots to compete on Saturday. On the "Lower 5," the paddlers will negotiate Otter's Slide, Juicer and Crunch, all Class 5 drops. The North Fork is running around 2,000 cubic feet per second, which will be plenty of water for the competition.

Beyond the paddling competition, there will be lots of fun stuff going on in Crouch in terms of food and drink. Check out these videos to get a sense of the kind of rapids these guys will be running.

On Sunday, the Southwest Idaho Mountain Biking Association (SWIMBA) will be turning 20 years old. Wow! Some of you may not realize that I was the founding president of SWIMBA, so this anniversary is especially meaningful to me.

We formed SWIMBA in 1992 to protect our access to trails, maintain trails in Hulls Gulch (this was before Ridge to Rivers existed), build new trails and work on mountain bike manners and etiquette. The group has thrived over the years, and gotten stronger through the Fat Tire Festival and significant funds generated through that event. My proudest moment was working on the Boise Foothills Open Space Campaign and winning 60 percent of the vote, securing $10 million to preserve open space, build new trails and bring some existing trails into public ownership.

Anyway, there is a group costume ride Sunday morning at 11 a.m. Need a costume idea? Well, what were you wearing 20 years ago on a mountain bike ride? There's a bike and gear swap from noon to 5 p.m. in Hyde Park by Joyride Cycles, and there will be beers and burgers happening at Harry's.  Sounds like a blast to me!

If you're hungry for more bike events, the Boise Bicycle Project is sponsoring Pedal 4 the People June 9-23. See the event calendar for details. There's a whole bunch of cool stuff planned.

- SS

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