Saturday, August 17, 2019

Ride to Nowhere at Palisades Fondo

As evidenced by the photos, The Palisades Pie ride started early this morning in cool conditions. Sasha was the only local to opt for the 113 mile distance featuring about 11,000 feet of climbing. As far as we know he is still out on the course somewhere. **Update  (Sasha successfully completed the long ride.  He describes it as very difficult with sections of full-suspension mountain bike type conditions), The rest of us registered for the short course, 60 miles with 6000 feet of climbing.
The organizers mentioned the need for some route finding but we did not take that warning as seriously as we should have. There was an intersection about 10 miles in—a hard right from a major gravel road onto a smaller gravel road. Jeff, Ryan, Chris, and I were all together, just behind a couple of Jackson riders when we blew past the intersection without a second glance. (It was “marked” with pink tape). We did not realize we were off course for almost 20 miles. Jeff was the first to feel uncomfortable, I was the last, happy with our steady progress on good gravel. By the time we recognized our mistake and returned to the missed turn, completion of the course would have required 90 miles of total riding.
We opted to return to the start. Our total ride was 51 miles with 4000 feet of vertical through high meadows with small streams and grassy hillsides, evocative of Copper Basin. By almost any standard it was an outstanding ride although not the one that we were planning on.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Aiden Takes Home Second Place at 4 Peaks Gran Fondo

Aiden all cleaned up post-race after he cleaned up at 4 Peaks!

Aiden had a great day in Inkom/Pocatello today, ascending all four local climbs in record time to take home second place in the 4 Peaks Gran Fondo

Sponsored by several local businesses and benefiting the Pocatello Pioneers NICA MTB team, the 4 Peaks Fondo makes great use of the iconic Pocatello climbs in a fun and challenging format. 

John, Aiden and I woke with the early morning thunderstorm and hit the road before daylight, arriving in Inkom, where the Start/Finish was located at the local park. We had plenty of time to get outfitted before the announcements and neutral roll out from Inkom up to the intersection of the Mink Creek Road. 

The format for this Fondo is to time only the climbs, with most starts and finishes correlating closely with now well established Strava sections

Over the years, we’ve ridden variations of these climbs in a variety of ways. Usually we start in Pocatello, riding Buckskin, Pebble Creek, Crystal, and Scout Mountain in that order. 

Since this ride starts and ends in Inkom, avoiding some of the more heavily trafficked areas in Pocatello, the order is as follows: Crystal and then Scout Mountain, Pebble Creek and then the backside of Buckskin. 

Aiden was in the lead group from the start, while John and I hung out with some veterans in what I jokingly called the second chase group. As John and I ascended Crystal, Aiden must have passed us by descending, as we didn’t see him again until the top of Scout Mountain. 

Each summit sported a well stocked aid station with very helpful volunteers. There was plenty of cold water, Gatorade and goodies for hungry riders. After John and I topped off our bottles we descended Crystal still a bit chilly in the shade. 

The climb up Scout Mountain was scenic and well paced with some of our second chase group tapping out a challenging cadence. John and I ended up finishing the climb with a fellow on a custom bike with a 1x setup that featured a monster cassette on the back which topped out at 50 teeth on the largest cog. We would soon be envious of his setup on the climb to Pebble Creek Ski Area. 

After a nice break at the Scout Mtn. Campground we descended with gratitude for the break all the way back to the intersection with the road back south to Inkom. There was a stiff headwind from the South that would only blow harder over the course of the day. John and I paced ourselves reasonably here until the rest of our chase group caught us up and helped pull us into Inkom. Some dropped off there at the aid station, while John and I continued up to a shady spot where he could make a quick saddle adjustment.

The climb up Pebble Creek was, as always a slugfest.  The initial climb up along East Green Canyon Road is exposed and steep.  Most of us were just trying to find a cadence that was sustainable, and more than a few riders put a foot down to rest on the way up.  As the sweat poured off of my brow, the meager padding inside my helmet was not enough to stem the flow of salty drops into my eyes.  

Somehow we powered our way to the switchbacks and enjoyed a respite both from the lesser grade as well as the brisk breeze that pushed us south to north.  This breeze was a double edged sword though as it turned into a headwind at each turn of the road.  On the last turn north, a little sign taunted us that the summit was only 500 meters ahead.  Beyond the KOM line there was another well stocked aid station with lots of salty and sweet items, water and sunscreen.

Aiden and his leading pack were still at the top when I arrived, and as they rolled out, John rolled in.  I briefly had a thought to take a picture, but that thought fled quickly in the haze of heat.  John and I turned downhill to follow the leaders, and enjoyed cheering on the other riders headed up as we made swinging turns down the switchbacks before hitting the straight sections that I’ll now always mentally refer to as the “Bombing Run”.  

Aiden told me later that in an email there was a note to riders not to exceed 35 mph on the way down.  With my son’s new Trek Emonda with under me, I’ll confess that in my ignorance I broke some regs.  For a couple of moments I watched the speedometer tick up past 49.9 to 50 mph before gently bringing the throttle down on my craft with the help of excellently engineered SRAM hydraulic disc brakes.  Discs on a road bike?  Yes.   

The end of that run found me christening the sleek matte black steed the B2 (aka Stealth Bomber). We may not be as fast ascending as we’d like to be, but we can certainly descend with stealthy and well controlled speed.  

After the quick return trip to the valley, John and I again found ourselves in a chase group pretty much alone on our ascent up the east side of Buckskin.  This is a long slow false-flat up Rapid Creek before turning west and then climbing up towards Buckskin.  The timed portion of the climb was interestingly positioned just above a little downhill section, and was much closer to the final summit that we’d guessed.  At the same time, after pedaling it out in the noonday sun few if any were complaining.

John and I worked our way up the final climb to the summit of Buckskin and enjoyed a few minutes of rest in the shade at the aid station there before turning back towards Inkom, taking a moment before saddling up to snap a picture. 

Topped Out!: John and Jeff at the summit of the last climb up Buckskin
On prior rides we’d almost always made this descent in the early morning, but on this ride we were having to pedal our way downhill against the wind which was gusting close to 20 mph at times. We took turns taking pulls into town and were happy to make our way onto the streets of Inkom and out of the gusts that were funneled up the canyon. 

The finish area had a picnic lunch of BBQ pork setup and cold drinks waiting for the finishers. We were welcomed in by a small but enthusiastic crowd of spectators and students handing out finishers medals. 

All in all it was a great day on the bike: a challenging route with good support and great riding companions. Aiden represented the Rexburg crew well, and we made friends with fellow riders representing all the local bike shop rides in east Idaho. We three chose to cap our day with a visit to the favorite 5th Street Bagelry in Pocatello. 

We hope to have many more join us next year!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Bike BBQ Monday August 19th

Bike BBQ Monday, August 19th 6 p.m.
Dave and Dawn Anderson home 324 S. 3rd E.
Please bring a side dish, salad, or dessert.
Invite your family. Invite your friends.
Live Music with David Peck and Thorz Hammer

Sunday, August 4, 2019

South Fork of Horseshoe to Mahogany RAD Ride - DON'T Try This at Home!

Ryan's been spending the summer at the Teton Valley Resort in Victor.  It's just at the southwest edge of town on Highway 31, and boasts Teepee's, RV spots and luxury mini-Cabins.  Soon to come are a spa and Lodge.  Our family had been up a couple of years ago at Ryan's invitation to checkout the cabins he and his crew had been working on.  We had a wonderful stay then, but the place two years ago couldn't hold a candle to the new digs.  The changes and additions are impressive, and a true testament to Ryan's hard work and craftsmanship!

Since this is Ryan's home base, we started out with a vague idea to go for a gravel ride on the east side of the Big Hole mountains that we know and love.  We've been all over the west side and figured we ought to do a bit of exploring on the "other side of the mountain".
Fateful Crossroads of Decision: Take time to read the whole MTB Project Description!
So we jumped north from Hwy 31 to 8000 North and from there headed west towards the foothills of the Big Hole range.  We passed by my friend's the Kearsley's Tree Farm, and then down through the river bottoms, up to the foothills through the farming communities of Cedron then Bates.

Ryan riding to his peak (Ryan Peak at the head of Horseshoe Canyon Road)

As we passed by 3000 S, we saw signs pointing to Mahogany Creek, but figured we'd continue north to Horseshoe Canyon.  We made the turn west at 1000 N and then onto the Horseshoe Road after a bit.  At that point, the ride could not have been more pleasant.  We stopped at the sign and consulted the MTB project app to see if there was a connector from Horseshoe back to Mahogany.  And, yes, there was!

Here's what we read: “A great climb into the Big Holes followed by sweeping views and fast descending.” — Jake Hawkes

Here's what we didn't read (until afterward):


9.7 mile point to point
100% Singletrack


Ascent: 1,589'
Descent: -1,810'
High: 7,873'
Low: 6,257'


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)
Yeah, I saw the map and was thinking like many trails on the west side that this was going to be an old logging road or ATV trail.  No indeed.  It is a technical, steep, single track.

Beautiful Teton Views, marred by exhausted bodies that couldn't care much

Ryan and I have done some epic journey's in the past - see our description of the Fish Creek to Trail Creek loop which was pit trapped fire roads and then true route finding without any trail at all to single track.  That was intimidating.

We did the Tour of Moody Loop a couple of years ago on the MTB bikes and the lower end of the Webster Dam trail was a true bushwhack.  

This trail nearly killed us.

Topping out: yeah we did a fair bit of walking, and leaning heavily on our bikes

Some day we'll go back on the full suspension mountain bikes and see if it's as bad.  But 7% average grade on a 1x gravel bike (Ryan) or even a 2x (me) was a killer.  When I say "don't try this at home", it's not an exaggeration.  Really, honestly, this is not a trail for gravel bikes.  Only our stubborn stupidity and compulsions pushed us on.  

The trail itself up to the top of the ridge is a very nice single track with challenging roots and rocks but negotiable with the right MTB gearing.  That's in part what kept us going.  We met two guys who passed us on motor bikes on the way up.  At the time I thought they were being overly generous with their praise.  Little did we know.  

We met another group at the junction with the Long Ridge and Canyon Creek Loop.  Those guys had just climbed up Mahogany Creek trail.  They confirmed it was all downhill for us from there.  Yeah, downhill; like for Downhill MTB bikes.  Randy probably would have loved it...

For us the descent was as hard and strenuous and more stressful than the ascent.  Even walking the bikes was a hazard in some of the steep rock gardens.  How we descended with only one flat was a miracle in and of itself, and provided a much needed rest after we'd used all our matches on the climb.  

Ryan narrowly avoids tipping over as we exit at Mahogany Creek

In fact, by the end we were both burnt out - to a crisp.  I didn't realize it until later, but I'd burned both arms in-between the shaded sections of the ride.  Ryan wisely decided to spend a bit of time resting in the shade of the tree farm on our way back.

Casualties: Gloves, Legs, Ankles, and a few of the Horseflies who dared take advantage of me.

So, here's the wrap up.  Don't use the MTB Project to plan a gravel ride.  We didn't die, but probably wish we had.  Humbled and burned up we'll stick with our gravel rides on Roads; gravel, asphalt or dirt are fine, but single track deserves its designed steeds.  

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Cycling Embraces Risk, Reward and the Super Tuck - The New York Times

4 Peaks Gran Fondo 1 Week to go!!!

It is almost race week and we are so excited!!

A couple of quick things to note:

First, we will see you Friday night 08/09/2019 6-8 pm for packet pickup at Barrie's Ski and Sports 624 Yellowstone Ave, Pocatello, ID 83201. The great people at Barrie's will also be feeding us an amazing spaghetti dinner to get your carbo load on courtesy of Barrie's Ski and Sports.

Second, the park venue will be the same as last year as we have outgrown the old park from our previous years. We are now at Stuart Park Pavilion 476 Dean Street, Inkom, ID 83245. There will be better parking and it's a bigger venue so we'll be able to accommodate our growing ride!

Third, if you haven't signed up, don't miss your chance! Online registration closes early Friday 08/09/2019. Then it's in person registration Friday night and Saturday AM. We can't wait to see you there!

Fourth, this year is a big year for us!  #5!!  Thank you to all our many sponsors, our volunteers, and especially our riders that make this possible!!  To celebrate our milestone, this year instead of an event Tee, you'll be getting an amazing snap back that you will love!  We do (we may be a bit biased). 

Fifth, don't forget it's not too late to put a team together if you're interested in doing the team relay in lieu of doing the full ride. 

Lastly, all jerseys that have been purchased through the online store are shipping out this week.  Additional jerseys can be purchased at Barrie's Ski and Sports or still on our online store. Any additional online purchases at this time will be completed in a separate batch and sent out to your mailing address when the batch closes. 

And, a huge thank you to our many sponsors and volunteers that have made this event come together. We couldn't have done it without them!


o 6:00 to 8:00 pm - In person registration/packet pickup/spaghetti feed at Barries Ski and Sports, 624 Yellowstone Ave, Pocatello, ID 83201.

o 6:00 am - In person registration at Stuart Park Pavilion 476 Dean Street, Inkom, ID 83245.
o 7:00 am - Relay and 4 Peak riders roll out.
o 9:30 am - Valley Riders roll out.
o 11:00 am - Lunch vendors arrive
o 2:30 pm - 4 Peaks Gran Fondo Awards Ceremony
o 3:00 pm - End of support for ride

Thank you for riding with us this year!

-4 Peaks Gran Fondo Committee

Monday, July 29, 2019

Olympic cyclist Kelly Catlin could do it all. Until it all became too much. - The Washington Post

This is a long article--the most ambitious attempt that I have seen to tell the story of the life and death of Kelly Catlin. Over the years we have lost a couple of friends from the TNR to suicide. Hopefully something positive can come from these tragedies--a willingness to offer help and support when we can--and a willingness to reach out for help when we need it.