When Sun Valley goes big, it really goes big. The area has a whopping 400 miles of singletrack trails for mountain bikers, lift-served riding on Bald Mountain, and the biggest bike event in Idaho. No offense, Exergy Tour, but Ride Sun Valley June 29 through July 9 is going to be a doozy.
You can ride your bike on cool trails, you can race (even if youre not a pro or an expert), you can watch some of the best mountain bikers in the country compete, and you can party.
In only its second year, Ride Sun Valley has become a marquee summer event.
Its really cool to see the whole town come alive, said Greg Randolph, organizer and director of public relations and social media for Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce.
You may be thinking, of course he says that, he works for the Chamber of Commerce.
But heres the deal, Randolph is a former professional mountain bike racer who was raised in Idaho and has ridden nearly all the trails in the Sun Valley area. He knows about great mountain biking, and what makes a good mountain biking event.
The goal of the festival, he said, is to showcase what Sun Valley has to offer mountain bikers, as well as give Treasure Valley riders a chance to escape the heat of the Foothills and get in some cool, scenic and fun mountain riding.
Because therein lies the irony of Sun Valley.
National mountain bike magazines often name it as among the top destinations in the country, but its often ignored or overlooked by Treasure Valley riders.
Boise mountain biker Dan Kouba recently rode intermediate/advanced trails there. He was impressed by everything from riding and hearing running water and aspen leaves rustling to the quality of the trails.
They were technical, but still flowing and fast, he said. It keeps you on your toes with the changing terrain.
Hes planning to return with some of his mountain biking friends this summer.
Theres no excuse not to go, he said.
Here are some reasons why you should give it a try:
Did that 400 miles of trail catch your eye? The interlinked trail network is almost overwhelming in its magnitude.
With that many trails, you can do anything from a scenic family bike ride near the resort to a soul-testing singletrack marathon across vast mountain terrain.
For beginners, or those who just want a stress-free sampling of local trails, Randolph recommends the Croy Creek trails west of Hailey. The trails are in rolling hills so theres no intense climbing.
The Croy Creek trails were also built for mountain biking, so they have excellent flow that keeps them fun and interesting for all riders, not just beginners.
Another option for beginners and families is the Corral Creek Trail north of Sun Valley resort, which is an out-and-back trail with gradual climbing. It goes about 4 miles out, but if you dont want to go that far, you can turn around at any point and head downhill to the trailhead.
A good option for intermediate and advanced riders is the Greenhorn Gulch trail network southwest of Ketchum. It offers a variety of trails so riders can do short loops or longer rides by linking loops together.
For advanced riders, the options are almost unlimited. Most of the trail networks in the area have connector trails so people can ride long, challenging routes through the mountains. Most trails in the area are well marked with signs, and most drainages lead back to towns or paved roads.
Finding trailheads and trail information: There are several options to learn about Sun Valley area trails.
Ketchum-based 4 Points LLC recently released the Sun Valley Trails iPhone app, which is available at the iTunes store. It provides an interactive map of trails that you can use even without cell coverage. The app gives trail profiles and directions to trailheads. Go to the app store and search for Sun Valley Trails. It costs 99 cents.
Adventure Maps has a traditional folding map for Sun Valley trails, which is tear-resistant, waterproof and easy to carry on your ride. The topographic map shows biking and hiking trails with descriptions of different routes, including length and difficulty. It is available at bike shops and sporting goods stores or at adventuremaps.net.
Sun Valley resort has a trail map for Baldy and trail information at sunvalley.com/mountain/hiking-biking.
There are several guidebooks available for the trails in the area. Do an Internet search for Sun Valley trail guidebooks, and some are specifically for mountain biking, including Good Dirt, Good Dirt II and Mountain Biking Sun Valley.
Note: If youre interested in group rides led by local riders, see below about the Local Stoker Rides during Ride Sun Valley.
Lift-served mountain biking opens Saturday, June 30.
A single ride up the lift for an adult is $25 and an all-day pass is $30. Kids passes are discounted.
Baldy tops out at 9,150 feet, has about 28 miles of trails and a 3,300 vertical-foot descent back to Sun Valley. Trails are suitable for most riders with singletrack experience, and its downhill, so fitness is not as critical as with other trail riding in the area.
For details go to sunvalley.com and click on Summer Activities.
RIDE SUN VALLEY FESTIVAL
There are so many events for this festival it has its own website at ridesunvalley.com where you can see the whole schedule and all the details on biking and bike-related happenings. Heres an overview:
Saturday, June 30: Galena Grinder Cross Country and Marathon race. This is a recreational race for all abilities and a chance for expert riders to qualify for the USAC National Championship on July 7-8.
Sunday, July 1: Baldy Super Duper Downhill. This is another recreational race open to all riders. The race goes from the top of Baldy and descends a total of nearly 5,000 vertical feet. But its not purely a gravity race. There are flat sections and climbs, so it wont necessarily be dominated by riders who have the beefiest, long-travel suspension bikes, nor will those bikes be needed on the smooth Baldy trails.
Monday, July 2: Third Annual Pump Track State Championships. This is a spectator friendly event for adults and kids at the Ketchum Bike Park. A pump track is like a miniature BMX course with lots of jumps and bermed corners. Both adults and kids compete in this recreational race.
July 2-7: Local Stoker Rides. These are trail rides led by local experts. Vans will shuttle riders from Ketchum to nearby trailheads, and riders will do trail rides and work their way back to town. The rides are free, and best suited for intermediate to advanced riders in good physical condition.
Tuesday, July 3: Fat Tire Criterium. This is a fun event featuring costumed riders racing on a course through downtown Ketchum. If you dont ride it, grab a beer and watch the fun.
Wednesday, July 4: Hailey Fourth of July Criterium Bike Race. This is an event for the roadies on a closed course in downtown Hailey. Think of the Twilight Criterium, but in a mountain town following its annual Fourth of July parade.
Friday, July 6: Shimano kids race. This is a recreational race for youngsters on a short section of the cross country course that will also be used for the national championship races.
July 5-8: National Championship Cross Country Races. About 800 of the nations top riders are expected for this event. Theres also a good spectator area for people to watch the races.
Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors