2012 Mountain Bike Trip: Sun Valley

Another year, another awesome bike trip. What started in 2009 as just me and a rental bike in Santa Fe, NM turned into a party of 7 riding epic trails for a week in Sun Valley, Idaho. Austin and Paul (who made appearances in bike trip 2010 in Portland) drove in from Portland, Jason (my riding buddy for last year’s week of riding in Colorado) flew in from Pittsburgh, and Bob/Jim/Charles flew in from Atlanta for a few days.


Everyone had a slightly different trip, and on my rental Turner 5.Spot from Pete Lane’s Mountain Sports I ended up putting in about 20 hours of riding, covering 150 miles, climbing almost 19,000ft, and topping out at 9125ft above sea level. It was a little harder to breathe, but the main trouble was the super long steep climbs that required quite a bit of hike-a-bike, and the super long flowy fantastic downhills that required sharp concentration to prevent wiping out on. My only fall ended up being a minor one on my last day, and on the other end of the scale Jason got 6 stitches in his leg. (After a temporary fix and the rest of the day of riding and dinner and beers of course.)

There we saw some a lot of epic views like:


and ton’s of super well maintained and well marked and tons of fun trails like:


The play-by-play:

  • Day One: River Run, Traverse, Bald Mountain, Broadway, Warm Springs, Wood River - With fresh legs and a bit too quick of a start, we rode up to the top of Bald Mountain and came flying down Warm Springs. Ski Resorts are weird in the summer, and this was our first encounter with more hike-a-bike than expected, but it's a route I would do again. The Warm Springs portion will be on the US Nationals XC course in a few weeks.
  • Day Two: Greenhorn and Mars Ridge - Our biggest mileage day, we cruised south of town ona nice paved bike path, up the super nice Greenhorn trail, and then did hike-a-bike battle up to Mars Ridge. The hills were steep, the views were great, and the downhill on Red Warrior Creek was a mix of technical and crazy fast that put smiles on everyone.
  • Day Three: Heidelberg, Suny, Shady, Adam's Gulch, Pork Chop, etc - Our first day with the full crew, and our first day on 'classic' Sun Valley singletrack. Just aboue everyone had a mechanical in the first few miles, and many rear derailluer limit screws were adjusted. Apparently we went 'too far' up Adam's and 'nobody does that'. The hike-a-bike about killed a few people, but again, lots of fun flowy singletrack and the fact that we all ran out of water didn't stop us. We stopped once to try and use Bob's filter, but the mosquitos were far too bad.
  • Day Four: Chocolate, Fox, Oregon - This was our only day doing something other than straight to the top and straight back down, and the continual mix of uphills and downhills was pretty strange, and pretty nice. For the most part it was no walking required. While without the views from the tops of mountains, there is something to be said about seeing in front of you miles of singletrack stretching down a hill, through a meadow, and around a distant peak. Once the 'short day' people peeled off, those of us on the 'deathride' crew headed up the steep side of Oregon Gulch. After hiking up the hill, Bob shared his Cherry Coke with us and we tore down some of the best downhill on the trip.
  • Day Five: National Championships XC Course - In the morning, we all went to a shooting range to shoot some skeet, and all of us hit a few of the clay piegons while most of them made it to the ground safely. We dropped off people at the airport, and headed back to down. Down to just Jason and I, and with me feeling a little sick, we tackled the 2011 XC course. No world records were set, the uphill was pretty killer, and the downhill was a blast. I can imagine how crazy it would be to race on the trails and they're changing the start of the course this year to give people more places where they can pass.
  • Day Six: Greenhorn and Imperial - I'd been feeling sick but thought things might get better, so we headed back down the bike path to go up Greenhorn and decide what we would do next there. Deer Creek is apparently fantastic, but by the top of Greenhorn my spirits had left and I was ready to get home. We rode a little more uphill on Imperial, and go to enjoy one of the most senic descents of the day to get back to the road.

6 days of riding was plenty, and there’s a chance that a hair less than 6 days is the sweet spot for a bike trip as I was pretty beat up by the end. The trails around Sun Valley are all pretty great, but it’s a network of trails and we did a bit of work to get to places we wanted to be, much of which involved walking bikes up steep hills for hours. Talking with people in bike shops and other mountain bikes, we hit all the ‘must ride’ trails in Sun Valley (except maybe Deer Creek), but there are a lot more trails, many of which are apparently ‘Ride it once and cross it off the list’ kinds of trails. Last year’s trails in Colorado had more variety, less time on bike paths and unpaved roads, and more climbable climbing (and more climbing), but at the expense of spending as much time driving a rental car around as actually riding bikes. I’m happy to cross Sun Vally off my list, it was a week well spent.

Aside from bikes: beers were drunk, steaks were eaten, skeet was shot, and Sharktopus was watched, and it’s going to be interesting to see how next year’s trip will manage to outdo this one.

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