Friday, December 11, 2015

Fall Riverside State Park Loop

Riverside State Park is a great place to hit early and late season.  It doesn't get as much snow as we get here in Sandpoint, and with it's slightly warmer temps, what snow it does get melts of sooner.  In the Fall, again temps tend to be warmer there and snow comes later.  Oh, and there are a hell of a lot less people during these off times.

We recently took a little road trip and did the 25 mile Perimeter Trail.  That is the actually name.  Get yourself a map at the Info Center, it is helpful.  The trails is pretty well marked, but it is always nice to track your progress and see where you have been.  I have done the 24 Hour Race and I have ridden a lot around the park.  The trails are all fun, but do tend to all feel similar.  When you do the 25 Mile Trail, you will see parts that you probably did not know existed.  You will also ride some trails and see some alternates that are very different from the trails in the heart of the park.  So, do yourself a favor and go check them out.

Oh, and one last word.  The perimeter trail has recently been re-routed along the backside.  I liked it before, as it went through some cool sand dunes.  Yes, sand dunes.  Not any more.  And so the 25 Mile Perimeter Trail is now more like 22.5 miles...but who's counting.

usually, you would have a better chance of seeing a Krampus than this guy in a picture

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Winter Fatty Season is Open

Been riding the fatty on the Schweitzer Rec District Trails for a couple weeks now.  Conditions have been great.  A fair amount of fatty traffic is keeping the trails packed in nicely.

Recently, I was asked to go with a group on the Basin Trail.  We had some fresh snow, so I thought this sounded good.  6 of us rallied down from the roundabout to the Red Barn.  The trails are in amazing shape for fatties!  Everyone had a blast.  Features were mostly rideable, and tread was stable.  Go do some Rec Distric loops and then bomb down the Basin for a great big fatty day.  As a note, the "road to nowhere" at the roundabout has yet to groomed this season and is tough going...proceed with a high stamina.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Buckhorn Ridge Ride Report

I recently had a birthday.  The numbers were 44.  It only seemed appropriate that I ride Trail #44, or Buckhorn Ridge, in celebration of said day.  It really worked out good in my mind, as not only did the numbers work, but it really is one of my favorite rides in North Idaho.  Now, before you go pack up your bike to go do this ride, let me warn you it is not for everyone.  I mean, anyone "could ride this trail," but not everyone (or many people probably) will list it as their favorite ride in the area.

This ride has epic "potential," so let me explain a little.  Although this ride has epic views, epic geographical character, epic descents and epic terrain.  It also features epic climbs, one of the most epic hike-a-bikes in the area, epic rocky sections and an epic drive to trailhead.  I think it is all worth it, and more, as it tops my ride list.  I really can't say enough about this ride, but it should be taken for more than just a ride at face value.  It is an adventure, an exploration and a ride all in one.  Anyways, here are some pics...

the best sidehill ride in North Idaho

a favorite lunch stop along the way...old cook site

the "epic" hike-a-bike

summit beers at Line Point

one of several state line markers

Weather was great for the day.  Fall brought out the many colors that abound on the sidehills and peaks.  Trail was awesome, as were my riding partners.  It was a long, hard day.  And a totally worthy day for ringing in another year of riding.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

2015 Global Fat Bike Day +1

By now the masses are starting to realize how awesome fat bikes are, nonetheless there is a Global Fat Bike Day to help.  It is a day to celebrate all things wonderful about fat bikes and maybe introduce someone new to the growing sport.  Now the actual Global Fat Bike Day is Dec 5th this year, but a lot of people work on Saturdays.  So, once again, we in North Idaho will celebrate Global Fat Bike Day +1...or celebrate ALL weekend if ya want.  Here is what Greasy Fingers Bikes has planned for this year's celebration, on Dec 6th:

  • Meet at the Schweitzer Roundabout (across from the fire station). We will have warm drinks and hot dogs to warm your insides and a fire to warm your outsides.
  • FREE Surly Fat Bike Demos 10-1pm. Ever been fat bike curious? Now is your chance to come try one out. We will have several sizes (sorry no kids), and a short course set up on the groomed service road leaving from the roundabout. First come, first served.
  • Group Fat Bike Ride leaving at 1:30pm. Go ta fat bike already, meet up and we will do a intermediate level ride for about 1.5 hours on a variation of groomed roads and trails in the roundabout area. Need a fat bike for the group ride? Call Greasy Fingers ahead and reserve one of our rentals for $20 (available at 1:30pm after the demos).
  • Co-sponsored by Schweitzer Mountain Resort, a big thanks to them for that!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fernie Road Trip

Yup, this time of year I start getting a little antsy to get out of town to ride something different.  I used to go to Canada a lot when I was younger.  First, for family trips, then cause the drinking age was lower and finally for BC powder days.  Then the exchange rate flipped and it has been a long time for me.  Now, the exchange rate is 30% and Fall weather has been amazing, so a Fernie road trip was dialed up.  Fernie just meets my weekend road tripping perimeter at 3 hours door to door.

First, Fernie has a brewery, coincidently named Fernie Brewing Company (or FBC).  They were closed while we were there, because it was Canadian Thanksgiving.  However, many watering holes had their beer on tap, along with many other local brews.  I must say Canadian beer seems to have come a long way.  Or at least in my mind from back in the days of going up to drink the "special" Kokanee Gold you could only get on the other side of the border.  Anyways, beers were good.

Fernie has some 5 bike shops, or something close; impressive for a resort town.  Anyways, I hit most of them.  The guys at Straight Line Bicycle were more than helpful with trails and map info.  They also had some socks I could not live without.  Anyways, 20 minutes in the shop talking trails and we had rides laid out for the next 2 days.  Not that 2 days is really enough to ride a fraction of the trails surrounding Fernie.  They have a huge network of trails flanking both sides of the town, 4-5 days of riding might cover a majority of them.  If you go, you will want a map, and I elected for their trail book as well.

Day #1 we rode a network of trails, with an epic rock scurrying hike-a-bike up to Castle Mountain.  Views were amazing, and winds were high at the top.  Ride down included several more trails.  In all, I think we rode 8 different trails that day.  Again, the guys at Straight Line were great in laying out the master plan for the day.
"Private Sign, Do Not Read"

pretty far North for Southern Comfort

Lots of banked turns, roots, steeps, funny trail names, funny trail signs, killer views and burning legs highlighted day #1.  KM conversions were somewhat lost on me, so not sure total mileage or elevation for day.  Let's just say mileage and climbing were plenty.
Day #2 included 2 different rides, we really tried to cram in as much as possible in our short time.  First, we hit the Swine area trails which provided a different perspective of Fernie and the valley from the day before.  Mostly because we were on the other side.  Big ride loop with nice steady climb followed by really fun, brake testing descent.  
actually, "yes" I was happy to see this sign at the top

We then loaded up in the car and went and rode the Lazy Lizard Trail to Island Lake Lodge.  Fernie has some of the most creative trail names.  But Lazy Lizard was not "lazy."  What I read into the name, and what my legs were hoping for, wasn't exactly what we got.  Steady climb up to resort with several bridges and guess what else?  Roots.  Once we took in the views at the top, it was more brake testing on the super fun, flowy and fast descent back to our car.  Day #2 was more of the same with climbs galore, roots, bridges, funny names, funny signs, impressive mountain views and just some damn fine riding.

We found that Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving much like we do, except for the poutine, which we did try.  Anything seems to go good with a big Canadian beer.  Trails and signage are great in Fernie.  Most trails seem to all go up or down (not much flat) which is similar to North Idaho.  However, I would say they are a little steeper, trails rating favor technical, feature more roots and have better trail names.  I would love to go back to Fernie and explore more of the trails, I feel we hardly scratched the surface of them...and I think some local beers were untested.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Fall Whitefish Road Trip

Ever have writer's block?  I have had a touch here recently.  It seems to come and go for me, not really anything I can do but let it run it's course.  I have been trying to carefully draft a write up for a ride I recently did, and every time I sit to write I cannot get words on the screen that make me happy.  Now I realize I am just writing about bikes.  These are not a thesis on nuclear physics or some medical breakthrough.  However, I do take pride in what I put out there for the 5 or so people that read this blog.  So, I have decided to shelf that post for now and move I am getting backlogged.

Let me just say that about a month ago I went back and did some riding, and beer sampling, in Whitefish.  It is a mere 3 hour drive over there.  3 hours is really about my limit for a weekend trip.  We left after work on Saturday and made happy hour.  Woke Sunday, had some coffee at the Red Caboose, rode bikes, sampled more Montana beer, woke Monday and replayed Sunday, then drove home and was in bed by 9pm.  You see the timing works great.

Damn that writer's block, words are just flowing now!  Which is good because I forgot my camera for this Whitefish trip.  In addition, the camera on my phone has not been working since an unfortunate incident on the river last summer (don't worry I am up for an upgrade soon).  No pics.

Anyways, day #1 we rode to the top of the Whitefish Resort.  Started from town at a little over 3k' and topping at 6,800.  Great network of trails to the top, hell of a climb.  Grade is very consistent.  Amazing panoramic views at top as a reward for your effort.  Descent back down was over in a flash, careful not to get on one of downhill trails, unless of course that is your thing.

Day #2 was on the Whitefish Trail System, specifically the Spencer Lake area.  There is a perimeter trail, and I hit that with a couple alternates.  I have ridden a fair amount of the Whitefish trails and I love them all.  The trails are all great and signed well.  Spencer has a lot of brand new trails.  However, some trails in the network are old, and look to have been there a quite while.  Horses use the area a lot.  And by the looks of some of the trails I was on, motorcycles hit em too.  There are some very steep, albeit short, pitches along the loop.  Fun riding, but I will admit given all the other great trails in the area not one of favorites.

I hope this motivates you to plan a road trip and check out the trails.  My recommendations: upon arriving in town hit up the Great Northern Brewery to settle into the local vibe, get your pre-ride caffeine fix the the Little Red caboose and finally get a trail map (and maybe some socks) at Glacier Cyclery...them guys are pretty cool.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

2015 Annual Veteran's Day Cruiser Ride

This will be the 6th ish annual installment of this very important ride.

Who: Anyone with a bike
What: Ride bikes and drink barley grenades
Where: Meet at Sandpoint Marina Parking Lot
When: Wed, Nov 11th @ 6pm
Why: (1) cause we are FREE and we can and (2) pay a little homage to those that have served

We'll meet, cruise the Sagle Bike Path to the end (that's 14 miles RT so start training now if need be) and end at The Hound to warm up, rehydrate and tell wars stories. For those of you needing some pre-ride tips, bring some lights and a helmet as there may be insurgence.

Friday, October 23, 2015

US Bike Route #10

Recently, I attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Route #10 that runs through North Idaho.  They also unveiled the new road sign that will designate this new route.  This is a pretty big deal for North Idaho and pretty progressive, if I may say so.  Thanks to those locally that worked so hard to make this happen, Pend Oreille Pedalers, Idaho Walk & Bike Alliance and ITD.  And, if you know nothing about the National Corridor Plan or Adventure Cycling and all they work they put in nationally on these route, here is a little light reading to get you up to speed...

Idaho Walk/Bicycle Alliance

FAQs about USBRS

National Corridor Plan

ITD News Release on new Route #10 section

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bulldog Point Trail

This will be my last post on Priest Lake riding...for a little while at least.  There is this little trail off the Woodrat (or Hoodrat) Tr called Bulldog Point.  It is only 2 miles long.  There used to be a good scenic overlook, but it is getting pretty overgrown now.  A little below the actual lookout, there is actually a better view spot these days.

Anyway, the Bulldog Tr is a really, really fun ride.  Good climb up to lookout, then a great descent to road.  Not really worth driving all the way to Priest to do this one trail, but in combination with the Hoodrat Tr you would be in for a good afternoon of riding.  Check it out next time you are up there.

that is not a bulldog

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

PSA: American Falls Tr

I found this cool little unmarked trail up at Priest Lake the other day while roaming around.  It led to this bench.

sounds profound

That is not what this post is about though.  I thought you might like to know that the American Falls Tr is closed.  There was some major work occurring on the trail this summer, mostly on the bridges.  Then came some wildfires in that area.  Those fires continue to burn and will more than likely burn until snow fall or major rain.  A sign at the trailhead warns of fines for walk/riding the trail while closed.  Might wanna save yourself a long drive up there and wait until next year.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Priest Lake Ride Report

The day started innocent enough.  Morning coffee on Reeder Beach at Priest Lake.  Lake was flat, sun was out and I had no committments for the day...except to go ride.  I got a lift to Beaver Creek Camp with an idea to start riding North from there.  Other than planning to head up Plowboy/Navigation Tr and knowing that I needed to end my day back at Reeder Bay Camp, I really was just gonna play things by ear.  I quickly made my way up Plow/Nav Tr and it was in great condition...had 4 down trees.  Got some great views and soaked in some sun.

From this point on, there may be some numbers and simple warned.

While taking in the following view at the top of Upper Priest Lake, I started to plot my next move.  I had just ridden 9 miles.  From Beaver Creek, I would have another 18 miles back to camp.  Meaning if I turned around then, I would have ended with 27 miles.  Respectable day, with lots of sweet singletrack.  But I really had an itch to go ride Trapper Cr which I hadn't done in a couple years.  It is one of my favorite trails.  I forged on feeling pretty good.

Ahh yes, my next stop was on the East side of the Upper Lake.  Another 8 miles from bridge I stopped at before.  Upper Trapper Creek was amazing.  Although lots of bear scat.  Warning more math.  8 more miles from our last math problem, means 16 miles (round trip) from this last leg would give me 44 miles of sweet singletrack for the day if I turned around now.

Things get a little fuzzy here, but I was starting to feel a little tired.  44 miles sounds like more than I wanted to do now.  However, I really wanted to ride the rest of Trapper Creek.  So, I thought I would continue on down to Geisinger Camp and attempt to flag down a boat to haul me across the thorofare.  Then I could make my way over to Plowboy Camp and head back down to Reeder Bay with 31 miles.  31 sounded better than 44.  And a boat ride sounded fun, although somewhat of a gamble.
When I got to Geisinger it was about 3:30 and weather was changing to overcast and breezy.  I waited for 20 minutes and no boats.  I decided to head down to Lion's Head and see if I could find a boat on the other end of the thorofare.  I was already committed to this plan now.

Whereas the upper section of Trapper (to Trapper Camp) was amazing and all clear, the lower section of Trapper to the end was in terrible shape.  I have noticed over the last 3-4 years that as trees go down on that trail, less effort is getting put into clearing them.  This last year has been particularly bad for this area.  Root balls have ripped up sections of the trail and downfall is piled up in layers.  There are some reroutes around some of the worst sections.  Some rideable and some not.  Honestly, I don't know that I have seen such wind damage on a trail.  Sadly, if the last few years are any indicator, this section of trail may be on it's way out.
pics don't really capture the magnitude

Anyways, I did make it to Lion's Head.  I was able to flag down a nice family who haul me across the water.  I jumped on Lakeshore Tr and headed back down to camp.  One note on Lakeshore, it is probably the driest I have ever seen in my life and in awesome shape.  Great day of riding, tired legs and grateful to the generous family who gave me a boat lift.

All this kinda made me think it may be time to bring back the Round the Lake ride...