Winter Mountain Biking 

Set Your Single Speed to Crazy and Bike

A little cold weather won't stop a single-minded, single-speed biker.

Andrew Mentzer

A little cold weather won't stop a single-minded, single-speed biker.

Unseasonably pleasant weather has prompted a premature shift in the thinking of many Boiseans. All over town, as they stand in line at coffee shops or buy bread at the grocery store, they can be overheard remarking on the change.

"Loving these sunny days. Spring is just around the corner, I can feel it."

But winter doesn't really end until late March, so pump the brakes for a few more weeks. Or, if you're like me, go ahead and guffaw at the naysayers and get out and play like it's July. Two weeks ago, I busted out my Surly 1X1 single-speed mountain bike and decided to fire up the old lungs for the first time since November. It was, to date, my best decision of the year.

While the vast majority of the Ridge to Rivers Trail System is sloppy right now, there are some excellent rides that die-hard bikers can jump onto without ruining trail conditions for the summer months.

According to the R2R website, riders and hikers should stay off wet or muddy trails all together. The caveat is that riders are allowed to ride trails if they are dry or completely frozen, generally early in the morning or if they are of sandy composition. Do not ride around wet sections. That will lead to wider trails, crappy single track and more maintenance for trail crews throughout the year. Daily trail condition posts are available at ridgetorivers.org.

If you don't want to risk it, then here is a list of a few of my alternatives to the February single-track gamble:

Tablerock Road--The road is mostly paved, but the last half mile to the top of the rock is dirt and offers a great opportunity for interval training.

Rocky Canyon Road--A steady eight-mile climb to Aldape Summit, you probably won't make it to the top before mid-March. I was up there last week and ran into impassable icy slush about a mile from the summit.

North Eighth Street--You can ride as far as the gate just before the loading docks. This is another decent interval ride.

Cartwright Road--If you're feeling bold, you can ride the entire "Dump Yer Lunch" loop, which goes from Bogus Basin Road by Simplot's hut around past Hidden Springs to Hill Road. If you are strictly a member of the knobby clan like myself, you may be happier riding the old unpaved section of Cartwright to the summit near the overlook above Avimore/Spring Mountain Ranch. Just be sure to stay off of the private ranch properties back there.

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