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.