A new website will allow bikers, hikers and runners in the Boise area to update and access trail conditions — a major step toward preventing damage to wet, muddy trails.
The site — BoiseTrails.com — is run by Kirk Cheney and Jason Delgadillo, avid Boise mountain bikers. It was built by the people who created the popular BendTrails.org in Central Oregon.
BoiseTrails will start as a hobby but could grow into a business, which is what has happened after two years for BendTrails.
“It seemed like an opportunity in the marketplace, and a needed resource in our community,” Delgadillo said. “I can’t believe nobody has started this before. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback already that this is something Boise needs.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Idaho Statesman
In fact, David Gordon — who manages the Ridge to Rivers trail system in the Boise Foothills — also liked the BendTrails site and wanted to mimic it in Boise. That was in the trail system’s plans for 2018.
Instead, Gordon is talking to Cheney and Delgadillo about ways they can cross-promote the site and Ridge to Rivers’ daily Facebook trail updates (Facebook.com/ridgetorivers). The BoiseTrails team also would like to add a widget for donations to Ridge to Rivers.
BoiseTrails.com’s condition reports are provided by users who create free accounts. Gordon has joined the site and participated, and so far the reports he’s seen have been “pretty spot-on.”
“It allows somebody to get better information, and that’s what we’re after,” he said. “... If we can work out a seamless way for trail users to use both sites, that would be the best-case scenario.”
The site, which is optimized for mobile, includes a trail map. Click on a particular trail and you’ll get ratings (one to five stars for fun, technical skill required, views, traffic and shade), ways it’s most commonly used, dog rules, length, elevation gain and a difficulty rating (green is easy, blue is moderate, black is difficult — like skiing). There’s also a description, and in some cases photos and video.
But most important is the condition — anything from “all clear” to closed, all of which can be set by users except for closed (that requires admin access). The trail page also includes recent detailed reports, such as, “Still a few puddles but you can ride through them.”
The site, which launched Jan. 15, already has about 150 users. Contrast that to Ridge to Rivers, which has four employees who primarily contribute to the daily reports, and you can see the advantage of the site.
BoiseTrails also includes the Ada/Eagle Bike Park and Avimor trails that are outside the Ridge to Rivers system.
“It seemed like a good way to crowd-source that and get the benefit of everybody’s input,” Cheney said.
Cheney, who is an attorney, and Delgadillo, who works in accounting, bike the Foothills trails together several mornings a week as part of a small group. They start on weekdays at 5:30 a.m. (or 4:30, when they’re feeling ambitious), riding uphill with lights and descending as the sun rises.
Delgadillo grew up here and started mountain biking in 1995. But he got serious about the sport six years ago, when he returned from a couple years in Texas 50 pounds heavier than when he left.
“It’s become a lifestyle for me,” he said. “I need that part of my life to stay sane and healthy.”
Cheney got into mountain biking while visiting his in-laws in Boise. He left a bike in their garage to ride on visits until settling here four years ago.
“It was a big part of why we moved back here,” he said.
Delgadillo and Cheney met through a mutual friend and have been riding together for three years. They started an Instagram account — @BoiseTrailPics — to highlight the beauty they saw on the trails. That led to many questions from other users about conditions and recommendations.
Then on a trip to Central Oregon, they noticed the BendTrails site and reached out to the operators. They met for a ride, and that relationship led to the idea that the Bend site could be replicated in Boise.
Robert Rekward and Joe Myers have a similar story in Bend — riding partners who wanted to build a site that provided better access to trail reports. Rekward and Myers work in marketing, and Rekward builds websites, so they had the expertise to make it happen.
“It’s crazy positive,” Rekward said of the response in Bend. “It started out really as a hobby. I remember telling Joe way back, ‘We might only make $25 a month. Are you OK with that?’ ”
Two years later, the business has four partners and makes enough money to pay them dividends.
“It’s not a full-time job ... but it covers its own costs for sure, and then I get some bike parts out of the deal,” Rekward said. “My dividend always goes to bike parts.”
The title sponsor for BendTrails is 10 Barrel Brewing, which was founded in Bend and has a location in Downtown Boise. So 10 Barrel signed on to sponsor BoiseTrails, too, which covered the start-up costs.
The Boise site was built using Bend’s framework but has its own unique features.
“We’re kind of mentoring them a bit,” Rekward said, “but ultimately they’re going to end up owning this.”
The user submissions in Bend have been “100 percent awesome,” Rekward said. The administrators can see who posts to the site and ban a user if he or she posts inaccurate information, but that hasn’t happened, he said. About 100 of the site’s 1,300-plus registered users actively post.
It’ll take time for BoiseTrails to build that type of following, but there’s no shortage of dedicated trail users to make it work.
“I hope to see it as a long-term resource for our community,” Delgadillo said. “Just on the last couple of rides I’ve done since we launched, I felt a great sense of accomplishment as far as trying to give something back to the trails that I’ve been using for years.”
BoiseTrails hopes to add an app eventually and perhaps more trail complexes as it grows.
“We’ll definitely listen to feedback,” Cheney said. “If we can scrabble together enough resources, we’ll do it.”
A fat bike series
The Fat Bike Fondo and Snowball Special, both in their fourth year, will offer a series championship this year to the fat bike rider who completes the two 40-kilometer divisions in the lowest combined time.
The Fat Bike Fondo is Feb. 10 (30k and 40k) in Stanley and is part of Stanley Winterfest. The Snowball Special is Feb. 17 (20k and 40k) at Sun Valley Resort.