Thursday, February 19, 2015

Five springtime road bike rides that'll get your heart pumping; or ski the dust on crust

Get some friends together for a fun road ride! Drafting is good! 
The Cartwright Three Sumits Loop always delivers. 
Selfie on Swan Falls Road ... very little traffic 
The nasty Swan Falls grade  
Hi all,

We've got a little weather moving in on Friday that might bring a little rain in Boise and a little snow in the mountains.

The forecast for Brundage Mountain looks promising with at least 1-3 inches of snow expected on Friday and a little more on Saturday, then sunshine on Sunday. Less accumulation is forecast at Bogus Basin, Tamarack and Sun Valley, but I'm sure they all will take what they can get.

If a little bit of new snow gets you excited about hitting the slopes, you could ski some new dust on crust on Friday or Saturday, and then hit a bluebird day on Sunday with some fresh fluff! The same drill goes for cross-country skiing. A little bit of new snow will be a welcome change.

However, if you'd prefer to stay closer to home, I'm recommending five springtime road bike rides from my Boise Road Cycling Guide.

The word from Ridge to Rivers is that the freeze-thaw cycle we're in this week has caused a lot of moisture to rise up on the foothills trails, creating big patches of muddy trails. Check out the trail report as of today (thursday).

But with the nice weather we've been having -- more of that 50ish weather is expected next week -- it's time to dust off your road bike, if you haven't already, and get it ready for some spring rides.

I'm motivated by being part of a team that's participating in the Lyle Pearson 200 in late May. There are lots of other road cycling events this year, including the Bob LeBow Blue Cruise in late June and the Cascade 4 Summit Challenge in late July.

Here are my five springtime rides:

1. Ride the Boise River Greenbelt from Municipal Park to Discovery Park. Distance: 9 miles out, 9 miles back; 18 miles round-trip. Travel time: 1 hour. Moderate to strenuous. Take Warm Springs Avenue to Walnut, turn right, and park in Municipal Park on the left. Take the Greenbelt east out to Discovery State Park. This is a good warm-up ride. The biggest factor is always wind, because the trail is mostly flat. Note that the ride includes brand new smooth greenbelt through Marianne Williams Park. Big improvement!

2. Cartwright - Three Summits Loop aka "the dump" loop - 17.7 miles. Travel time: 1:15 - 1:30. Strenuous. Start at the junction of Hill Road and Bogus Basin Road. Go north on Bogus Basin to Cartwright. Turn left and climb to the first, short summit. The second summit is much harder ... it's like a fricking vertical WALL. Fly downhill from that summit, bear right on Cartwright, and cruise through the Dry Creek Valley before conquering the last summit on Seaman's Gulch Road. Turn left on Hill, and return to the start.
Lake Lowell Loop 
3. Lake Lowell Loop, Nampa - 26 miles. Travel time: 1.5-2 hours. Easy to moderate, depending on the wind speed. Vertical gain is 381 feet. Start/finish at the Lake Lowell boat ramp. I suggest doing the ride in a clockwise direction, but either way works. You'll jig-jog on several streets going around the east side of the lake, and then when you turn onto Lakeshore Drive, you'll ride through the most scenic section next to the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge.

4. Ride to Swan Falls, Kuna - 42 miles. Travel time: 3+ hours. Vertical gain: 1,710 feet. Strenuous. I love this ride, even though it can be painful at times in big winds. Start/finish at the Kuna Visitors Center as you drive into town. Go south on Swan Falls Road and ride the waves of sagebrush fields out to the Snake River rim (take a break if you wish at the BLM interpretive site) or drop down to Swan Falls Dam. Bring a lunch and plenty of water. Climb up that steep heinous grade and crank it back to Kuna.

5. Snake River Canyon Scenic Loop - 41 miles. Travel time: 2.5 hours. Vertical gain: 1,000 feet. Start/finish at Walters Ferry. Ride ID 45 to Map Rock Road, go left and ride along the Snake River. Hopefully the wind isn't that bad (go early to avoid heavy afternoon winds). Ride west to Marsing. You'll jig-jog to Chicken Dinner Road and pull into Marsing. Cross the Snake River and then take ID 78 on the south side of the river back to Walters Ferry. You should have a tailwind for this part of the ride, assuming the wind is from the west.

There you have it! These are all great springtime rides to get those legs in shape for bigger rides coming up!

The Boise Road Cycling Guide is available at most bike shops in the valley. It's also available via my web site, It features over 30 road rides in the Boise Valley for all abilities. It's a full-color tear-proof, waterproof fold-out map made out of organic paper. Cost is $12.50.
- SS

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