Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Mountain Biking, Boise Style

During the July 4 weekend, we spent several days at a cabin together with Chelsea's family. It was about 20 miles south of Stanley, Idaho. It turns out that area is a mountain biking mecca. That whole Sun Valley/Ketchum/Stanley area is really great for it. Tons of trails.

Saturday morning Dave, Blake, and I went to sample the wares. The first trail was basically a road. There was supposed to be a ghost town at the end. We found the remains of a cabin or two, but that was about it.

Next we tried a hiking trail. It wasn't listed on the map as a biking trail and we soon found out why. It was pretty rocky and steep in places. There was too much hike-a-bike for it to be fun. It was pretty good coming down, though.

Yesterday, on the way home to Washington, we decided to make a quick stop to visit Chelsea's grandma. The quick visit turned into an hour, then dinner, then an overnight stay. It was actually really nice to stay in Boise for the night.

Chelsea was going to spend some quality time with her grandma, so I found myself in Boise with a free evening and my mountain bike. That equation can only go one way. After some quick research on the phone, I found a place with some trails and a bike shop where I could get a map.

Before I go into the trail, I have to say something about Boise itself. Since marrying Chelsea, I've been there easily half a dozen times (not counting blazing by on the way to Utah) and each time I've had some time to explore. This time I spent some time driving through the neighborhoods in northeast Boise as I was on my way to the Camel's Back Reserve.

This area bears a striking resemblance to the Avenues in Salt Lake. Everything is similar except for the hills of the Avenues. In Boise, it's basically flat (maybe that's why so many people were riding bikes around). The main similarities are the feel of the neighborhood, the nature of the people, and proximity to dusty foothills. It's uncanny. I've often said, I could live in Boise, and I still think that. It's a nice town.

Now, the trail. I did a loop that went along three trails: Kestrel, Crestline, and Lower Hulls Gulch. All together, it was about five miles and change.

Kestrel starts out with about a sandy 300 foot climb in a little under a mile. I've done much worse trails, but I had two things working against me. I'm used to my sea level air which is heavy with oxygen. Also, it's been a long time since I went mountain biking with long sustained climbs. When it intersected with Crestline I stopped for a breather. As I stood there, I was surprised to find I suddenly had the impression I was going to be reviewing dinner. That's what I get for going biking after a big dinner.

After a few minutes the feeling passed and I was ready to get after it again.

The Crestline was really a fun trail. It had some gradual climbs and some ups and downs. There was plenty of sand on this one, too. Some areas were a little slippery. Towards the end, it followed to contour pretty close. I got to see some neat vistas of Boise, too. I was too early for a sunset, but that would be cool from up there. With a sharp eye, you can spot the airport in the distance.

At the end of Crestline, the trail turns down and follows the creek bottom as the Lower Hulls Gulch Trail. Now, up to this point in my life, I've found that trails with the work "gulch" in the name can be a little...ummm...tricky. By this point, I had climbed around 625 feet. That's not a lot for Utah and Idaho trails, but it is more than I'm used to. On Lower Hulls Gulch I came back down all this. The trail continued the theme of sandiness. Of course, sandiness with downhill momentum makes for some pucker moments. Add to this a fall-off to the creekbed on the left and a hillside to the right. Oh, and there are tons of rocks. In one spot I lost my line and wrecked on the hillside.

With a few new scratches on my helmet I got back on the trail to notice that my handlebars were crooked. I stopped to straighten them and accidentally touched the brake rotor with my calf. After a nice downhill you can imagine what condition that rotor was in. It was special.

Before starting the trail, I talked with a local who told me the downhill was easy and that there was just a single "potential" hike-a-bike. I can only imagine this the spot he was talking about:

Yeah, I hiked the bike over it. Deride me if you like.

The rest of the ride went great. It was good to get some trail time. Now, it's back to Washington for some shady trails.


At 5:11 AM, Blogger Haymonds said...

Tom, you know I don't bike, but I really enjoy your style of writing. It's quite funny. Thanks for sharing! (ps this is holly. obviously.)

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Miriam said...

"Reviewing Dinner"? Never heard it referred to that way before :) I'll have to remember it. Glad you had a nice stay in Boise, I think it's a great town. Make sure and share pictures you think would be good for the shutterfly book.


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