The Dirt is Going to Fly

Mountain biking is a big part of what makes Sun Valley so amazing. Come get your ride on this week.

Mountain biking is a big part of what makes Sun Valley so amazing. Come get your ride on this week.

If you see more smiling, dirt-spattered people in town than usual this week, it’s for good reason. Ride Sun Valley returns to local trails beginning June 26 and dips, plummets and races its way the grand finale event on July 5. This festival celebrates singletrack and all pursuits on two wheels. It is an ode to one of the activities that makes the area so amazing and is the perfect start to the holiday weekend.

Ride Sun Valley is back and with it, a celebration of mountain bike culture

Ride Sun Valley is back and with it, a celebration of mountain bike culture.

Though many rides and races cater to accomplished, competitive mountain bike athletes, there is definitely something for everyone during Ride Sun Valley. Amateurs, enthusiasts and spectators alike are all part of the action.

Riders who may not qualify for the US Marathon Mountain Bike Nationals (most mere mortals!), scheduled for July 5, have many other options for getting involved. One great way is by riding some trails with local experts. Free, guided rides on fantastic singletrack are being offered throughout the weekend all around the area. Organizers of Ride Sun Valley call it one of the best ways to get your stoke on!

Rides leave from the Sun Valley/Ketchum Visitors Center, located at the corner of Sun Valley Road and East Avenue (adjacent to Town Square) at 8:30 a.m. on June 28 and 29. The format is first-come, first-ride and participants should bring food, water and spare/repair equipment. Space is limited so try not to be on Ketchum time! The rides are appropriate for visitors and locals alike and will be led by people who know all the best singletrack secrets.

Experienced mountain bikers will take to Baldy during Ride Sun Valley for some daring runs.

Experienced mountain bikers will take to Baldy during Ride Sun Valley for some daring runs.

Shuttle rides and bike transportation are provided to remote trail head start locations on both days.

The first ride is at Fox Creek which boasts not only great singletrack, but some of the most gorgeous wildflowers in the area. The ride lasts two hours and encompasses four miles of bike path and six miles of singletrack, climbing 700 feet. The technical level is moderate and difficulty is medium.

Expect something like this on the free, guided bike rides. It is this beautiful. (photo Tal Roberts)

Expect something like this on the free, guided bike rides. It is this beautiful. (photo Tal Roberts)

A longer ride also goes out that day and lasts 4 – 5 hours covering 21 miles (mostly singletrack) and a 2100-foot elevation gain. This gorgeous ride takes you to Fox Peak and ends up back at the Expo.

Sunday also offers two rides, one out Corral Creek and one on Red Warrior to Greenhorn Gulch. The first is a one-and-a-half-hour ride that covers four miles of bike path and six miles of singletrack. It is rated easy on the technical scale and climbs 340 feet.

The second ride lasts about three hours and stretches over 11 miles of glorious singletrack. Elevation gain is 1500 feet and shuttles take you to and from Ketchum.

No bike? No problem. Stop into Pete Lane's in the Sun Valley Village. The selection of rentals is great.

No bike? No problem. Stop into Pete Lane's in the Sun Valley Village. The selection of rentals is great.

For a full schedule of events (and it’s long!), please click HERE.

Mountain biking is one of the most wonderful things about Sun Valley. Be sure to get out there on the trails yourself and cheer on the pros bringing their talents and enthusiasm to our hills.

It’s bike season!

–RES

Go With the Flow

We all know that Bald Mountain is one big playground and next summer, expect to see new, updated, state-of-the-art places to play.

New mountain bike flow trails on Baldy will make the downhill even more fun

New mountain bike flow trails on Baldy will make the downhill even more fun

Picture this: It’s a spectacular Sun Valley summer day. You load your mountain bike onto the gondola at the base of River Run and hop on the next car, enjoying the scenic ride up the hill. At the summit, you strap on your helmet, snug up your sunglasses, mount your saddle and prepare to go with the flow.

In the works on Baldy, are nine new “flow” mountain bike trails that will, in the next five to six years, provide nearly 20 miles of new buttery single track that promise to get riders into a groove unlike any they have ever experienced. The first is expected to debut early summer 2014.

 

Construction is well underway on the first flow trail on Baldy

Construction is well underway on the first flow trail on Baldy

Flow trails have become very popular in recent years, but have historically been hard to access for recreational bikers. Not anymore. According to Sun Valley’s Julian Tyo, an avid and accomplished mountain biker who is involved in the concept, design and implementation of these trails, Baldy’s new terrain developments are a game changer. Tyo explained, “flow trails optimize the mountain bike experience for riders of all ability levels,” and ours will be accessible by chairlift.

The concept sounds tantalizing — downhill trails that have an intrinsic, smooth rhythm, a “terrain-induced roller coaster experience,” according to the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). Pedaling and braking are kept to a minimum on flow trails. Instead, features including banked turns, rolling terrain, jumps and consistent and predictable surfaces are what transport the rider through wooded glades or under bluebird skies.

Sun Valley is already singletrack Nirvana and is about to get even better

Sun Valley is already singletrack Nirvana and is about to get even better

Like a skier or snowboarder, the mountain biker carves back and forth, flowing down the mountain without worry of abrupt corners, obstacles or drop offs. Riders can revel in this experience without concern to their fitness level or skill set. There are no logs to jump or rocks to navigate on the flow trails being built.

Tyo concurs that this is what people can expect on Baldy. “We envision riders of all ability levels using the new flow trails,” he explained. “The design of these trails is for riders of different ability levels to have a variety of experiences on the same trail. Our goal is to provide trails that keep all riders wanting to come back for more.”

A comparison to winter sports might be the popular Family Cross and Skier Cross courses offered on Dollar Mountain in the snow season.

On flow tracks, the terrain and gravity do the work. You have the fun.

On flow tracks, the terrain and gravity do the work. You have the fun. This one will be ready for action for summer 2014.

The first phase of construction on Baldy’s flow trails is underway, which will result in the scheduled opening of the first at the beginning of summer 2014. Phase one is a “four-mile, green rated flow trail (with ratings similar to winter ski trail ratings) on Forest Service land from the top of the mountain to Roundhouse,” Tyo said.

The new trails are user-specific and unidirectional, available only for downhill mountain bike traffic. In addition to the flow trails, two new hiking and uphill biking only trails will be part of this upgrade. The design maintains existing use patterns on the hill.

How vital is this project to enthusiasts who visit or live in the area? Very! “This project is important to the Resort to increase summer offerings on Bald Mountain consistent with the goal of year-round recreation on public lands,” Tyo enthused. “The addition of these trails completes the picture of Sun Valley and the Wood River Valley as the ultimate riding destination, with nearly 450 miles of singletrack, two pump tracks and now a contemporary lift-accessed bike park. Our goal is create a ‘ski season for the summertime’ on Bald Mountain.”

Lift accessed downhill mountain biking is a scenic experience in Sun Valley

Lift accessed downhill mountain biking is a scenic experience in Sun Valley

Next May, when the snow has melted, your skis are tucked away for the season but it isn’t quite nice enough yet to get on the trails, just remember, soon, very soon, you will be able to get your groove on.

For Tyo, “adding new downhill trails on Baldy has always been a dream.” A dream, that is about to become reality.

–RES