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A Hundred Bike Riders Will Take to Weiser River Trail June 6 

click to enlarge The Weiser River Trail stretches 84 miles from Weiser to New Meadows, though the June 6 ride covers less than a quarter of the distance. - PAUL POORMAN
  • Paul Poorman
  • The Weiser River Trail stretches 84 miles from Weiser to New Meadows, though the June 6 ride covers less than a quarter of the distance.
So many people registered for the ninth annual Weiser River Trail ride on Saturday, June 6, that organizers extended the deadline and still had to turn bike riders away. On Saturday morning, more than 120 bicyclists will take to the Weiser River National Recreation Trail and ride 28 miles from New Meadows to Council, then an optional 20 more miles to Cambridge.

"Every year, it's more popular," said organizer Paul Poorman. "Every year the trail conditions get better and more people hear about it."

The Weiser River Trail has gotten a lot of attention lately due to a proposal that calls for a 283-foot earthen dam to be built on the Weiser River a few miles upstream of the town of Weiser. The dam would create 750,000 acre feet of water storage—almost the size of Lucky Peak, Arrowrock and Anderson Ranch reservoirs combined. 

If the dam came to fruition, the last 17 miles of the trail—which used to be a railroad until the mid 1990s—would be inundated.

Saturday's ride takes place on a stretch of trail that would not be affected by the dam, but Poorman said that could be one reason why there's more riders than ever.

"If nothing else, people say, 'Hey, there's a threat to the Weiser River Trail. I better go out and ride it and see it before it gets drowned,'' he said. 

Another, even larger, ride that takes place in October would be impacted, though. The October Trek spans two days and the entire length of the 84-mile trail.

"It's so stupid," cyclist Paul Collins said of the dam proposal in May. "The whole idea of it. We're going to lose all this. I thought we won this fight 25 years ago, but I guess you can never know for sure."

The trail winds through canyon and scrubby foothills, following the free-flowing Weiser River. - JESSICA MURRI
  • Jessica Murri
  • The trail winds through canyon and scrubby foothills, following the free-flowing Weiser River.
The fight he's referring to took place in 1995, when the Friends of the Weiser River Trail first came together and worked to turn the old railroad bed into a trail. Not everyone was friendly to the idea. The Weiser River Trail ride used to be a little treacherous around Starkey Hot Springs north of Fruitvale.

"The owners of Starkey used to be pretty hostile to the trail users," Poorman said. "They had nasty signs that said this land was stolen by the Friends of the Weiser River Trail and they'd let their dogs run out and chase the bikers."

He said the land is now owned by Whole Foods, which bought it to bottle water at the springs. Turns out, Whole Foods doesn't mind the bicyclists. 

Poorman clocks an average of 5,000 miles on his bicycle every year. He and his wife once road a tandem across the country, yet the Weiser River Trail is still one of his favorite rides.

"The trestles are fun and the rainbow bridge where Highway 95 crosses the river," he said, "that's a real photogenic spot. It's usually where I like to stop and take a drink of water and look around."

Once in Council, riders are treated to lunch at the Council Senior Citizens Center. While it's too late to register for this year's ride, check back for more details on October Trek.
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