Thursday, April 4, 2013

Barking Spider mountain biking, trail-running race a great springtime booster for fitness, fun

Scene at the finish line (courtesy Wild Rockies)
Rider descending "Skateboard Park"
Entering "Skateboard Park" section 
Looking back on climb along finger ridge on Trail #400 
GPS tracks of the Barking Spider course 
Hi all,

It's April and the first Wild Rockies mountain bike and trail-running race is coming up on Saturday, April 6. It's called the 18th annual Barking Spider Bash, which is kind of hilarious. Ever heard a spider bark?

The race is held in the Hemingway Butte area of the Owyhee Front, a place that's normally used primarily by motorcycles and ATV's, but on Saturday, the course is set aside for mountain bikers and trail-runners. Even if you're not a serious racer, Barking Spider is a good warm up for the mountain bike and trail-running season. I've logged the course and provided directions here so if you want to try the course another time, you can do so.

The big highlight of the 9.3-mile course, in my view, is a downhill section called the "Skateboard Park." It's this cool little canyon where you're riding or running downhill inside a canyon and going up on the walls of each side as you descend through tons of S-turns over the space of 3-4 miles.

The rest of the course is challenging even though Wild Rockies says rates it "easy." With lots of sand, rocks, gravel and technical features, one loop around the course will seem like a longer ride than nine-plus miles. I hope it rains in the next couple of days to knock the dust down. Experienced racers will zip through it with ease, I'm sure. In the race, beginners have to ride it around once, Sport-class riders will do two laps, and Expert Pro will do three laps. Whew!

The trail-running courses are broken into a 10K (6.2 miles) and 9.3 miles.

When I logged the loop last night, my GPS indicated that the whole route featured 864 feet of vertical gain/loss. But with four mini loops within the course, you climb and descend on each one. It'll feel like more climbing than the elevation gain suggests.

Anyway, give it a shot! Race begins shortly after noon on Saturday. You can register online. Sandwiches will be provided by Paul's Markets and beer is provided by Ninkasi Brewing Co. in Oregon. Food and drink are provided as part of the registration package.

How to get there: Go west on I-84 to Nampa. Take the Franklin exit and follow signs into downtown Nampa. Follow signs for Idaho 45 or 12th Avenue South and go south of Nampa on ID 45 to the Snake River. Cross the highway bridge, and go left at the Y toward Murphy. Turn right on Reynolds Creek Road, go past the feedlot, and pull into the BLM Hemingway Butte trailhead.

If you don't do the race, visit the Hemingway Butte area in mid-week, preferably when the course is still marked, and enjoy the the ride when the OHV traffic isn't that heavy. BLM officials do not recommend trying to mountain bike or run in the area on weekends, when the OHV traffic is heavy.

See the course map on the Wild Rockies photo page.

Spring cleanup opportunity: Volunteers are needed to pick up litter along the Snake River near Celebration Park on Saturday. Contact Idaho Fish and Game, Dennis Hardy, 465-8465, if you'd like to participate. Meeting time will be 9 a.m. at Map Rock and the project should be complete by noon. Ask Fish and Game for directions.

Have fun!
- SS