Podunk Meets Paradise

Musings from Central Idaho

Archive for the tag “mountain bike”

Can’t Hurt to Try

The morning started off the way many Saturday mornings have started — my sidekick Lucy and I check in to see how the rest of our day can fit around one of our outings.


When I read Lucy’s text, “Can’t hurt to try it,” I had a moment of self preservation when I thought about how that plucky attitude had led the two of us into temptation and staying in drug-resistant tuberculosis halfway houses, and landing upside down in stinging nettle patches, and hanging on the sides of cliffs hoping not to die, and trying snowbikes for the first time in 0 degree weather in the dark, in street clothes, with a belly full of scotch ale and chili.

But I’m still game, I quickly responded, temporarily putting out of my mind the wake of destruction the two of us have left behind us over the past 15 years. The ride down Fulton Street was brisk, as usual. The ride out the Lemhi was brilliant and green and pastoral. The new mountain bike the Iron Chef gave me for my birthday last weekend rode like a dream. And then we left the pavement, destined for Discovery Hill, just like Lewis and Clark. The trouble is, last night’s rain left our overland route in less than ideal condition. My new bike with its monstrous tires led the way through the way along the bentonite-rich two-track. Bentonite is Greek for “slimy, greasy, shit” and soon the substance had my monstrous tires and each one of my special new bike components completely encased. I tipped over into a medium sized mud puddle. As is our custom, Lucy skipped the part where you ask the other person if she is OK and instead focused on not wetting herself. “I’m OK,” I reported bravely.

Fortunately, we were only able to go about 300 yards, or meters, if you call them that, before the inglorious defeat. We determined to retreat, but by that time the bentonite was legion on our bicycles, making pedaling impossible. I drug my brand new bike through the mud with its back tire seized up like a dog on a leash that very much does not want to go where you want to go. Like to the pound, for instance.


In Podunk, we have a special soil additive called bentonite. Bentonite means greasy, slimy, shit in Greek.

When we got back to pavement, we had several problems. Lucy had ridden her mud-caked bike through loose gravel, for instance.


Crushed gravel topping for Lucy’s mud tires.

This turned out to be bad when Lucy started riding again and sharp pieces of rock flung off her tire and into her face. Smack, ow, smack, ow, smack, mother effing ow.

My brand new bike had the problem of still being seized up with greasy mud, and there was a loose bull on the road that we had to pass. I realize these are podunk issues, not urban issues, but there they are.

So I worked to de-gunk my bike in the creek so I could actually pedal past the bull. This strategy worked. Sadly, my fingers froze into popsicles on the way home so I could not shift properly and more swearing ensued.

Lucy and I arrived at my house, poured ourselves a wee dram of scotch and sat in the hot tub, congratulating ourselves on another day rightly lived.

Forced Family Fun: Episode 2016.1

My sidekick Lucy was out of town for the weekend and Podunk had buckets of snow. So, I strapped on some new skiiing buddies and headed for the hills. As you may know, Lucy and I, along with our friends Zephyr and Piso Mojado, form the elite mountain bike team known only as the “Lost Riders.” We have yet to find any nearby x-country ski competitions worthy of our fantastic skills, but if we did, we would most certainly be the “Lost Skiiers.” Sense of direction is not our strong suit under any climate conditions.

So, when I had the unique opportunity to ski with Iron Chef, Odd Number, and his gal, I knew I had to demonstrate best behavior because all they ever hear about is misadventure. On Saturday, I selected a known, traveled route, rich with signs and comforting blue diamonds affixed to lodgepole pine. The snow was lovely, the skiing barely invigorating, the vehicle obvious at the trailhead. Responsible recreation success!

Sunday, Iron Chef had to attend to his duties as King of Podunk Hockey, so Her Royal Highness stepped in for Forced Family Fun. I found myself recommending a new route, a trail I knew about but had not actually skiied myself. This trail not only had a trailhead, but a carved wooden map, unheard of in these parts, where our trail signing motto is, “If you don’t know where you are, you probably don’t belong here.”


Her Royal Highness is so far not concerned that we have lost the Blue Diamonds.

The skiing rookies were terrific sports as the trail, not a groomed trail but a mashed down by snowshoers and their dogs kind of trail, soon became unfettered powder. Pure, steep-slope, unfettered hip-deep powder. My colleagues remained in good humor as I expressed the benefit of being able to traverse uphill for long periods on one’s backcountry skis. And they mostly believed me as dramatic views of the Podunkian valley emerged.


Before the children lost all hope.

But then, the comforting blue diamonds went away, and my genetic disposition against retreat kicked in. “It’s not a crevasse — it’s an adventure,” I jingoed, pretending that I didn’t hear some of the words coming from my 16-year-old’s mouth.

“I have matches and a headlamp,” I offered, intending to inspire confidence in my party. Alas, the confidence was in short supply, and dejected, I led the group on a quite invigorating descent to the trusty Honda Pilot (see Honda, this could by your sponsored spot).

I believe the children questioned whether our 2 minutes of downhill bliss were worth the 1.5 hours we had plodded through the powder and pines. I missed Lucy, who like me, would simply marvel that we had ever found the vehicle.



Trolling for Sponsors

Salmon’s 12 Hours of Disco endurance mountain bike race attracted some serious endurance athletes. Don’t get me wrong, these were extremely nice people, but then again when you routinely run the risk of having a heart attack of losing other bodily functions in front of a crowd, it sort of makes sense to be nice, right?

My team — the Lost Riders — met our goal of not requiring the services of Salmon Search and Rescue at any point during or post-event.  We each completed two laps on the 8-mile track and were damned happy to do it. Other riders showed up with a little more ambitious agenda, however. If you look at this board…

Disco Hill Scoreboard

Disco Hill Scoreboard

you might notice that the men and WOMEN solo riders completed 13 laps or approximately 104 miles from 7 a.m. til 7 p.m.

As admirable as this feat may be, the Enduroletes pay heavy costs.

For one, while the rest of us were enjoying freshly grilled cheeseburgers with extra relish, the more passionate pedalers substituted a substance known mostly as “goo” for solid food. They must call it goo because  “asthmatic dog slobber” is already spoken for.

If your dinner looks like this:



you may need to question your life’s overall direction.

Some of the teams that came to Podunk to ride, like the illustrious MudHoneys, sported uniforms highly tattooed with sponsorships. But I saw no one with a major sponsorship from Gold Bond Medicated Powder or the like. You cannot tell me that, male or female, when you ride 104 miles on your mountain bike you have not permanently wrecked your nether regions. I won’t believe you.

One team showed us the upside to being serious riders when they set up their Ninkasi Brewing tent. In addition to the tent and team jerseys, the trio trucked in a keg each of Total Domination Double IPA and Radiant Ale. I asked how the Lost Riders might find a beverage sponsor (and not a salve or medicated powder sponsor). I was confused by the team captain’s answer and the close proximity of the icy cold brew, so I realized too late that he had said “You just need to pitch it,” and not “You just need a pitcher.” Oh well, I’ve made far worse mistakes…

Lost Riders Escape Disco Hill Unscathed

Thanks to all of you who encouraged the Lost Riders in their endurance mountain bike racing team debut. The race — 12 Hours of Disco — brought in dozens of riders from around the area, many of them more prepared than we were. When I say prepared, I mean physically prepared. We were by far the most prepared team on a number of different levels.
My teammates Lucy, Zephyr and Whitney (formerly known as K-Dog) and I met on at least one occasion for a pre-race meeting where we established 1) our riding order, 2) our press-on tattoo design, 3) our team jersey color, 4) our soundtrack, 5) our menu, and 6) cocktails. Our team tent was so elaborate, the announcer designated it a “public shade area.”

Team Lost Rider

The Lost Riders @ 6:30 a.m. Saturday

Based on skill and which name got drawn out of a hat, Whitney kicked off the Lost Riders as our #1 rider. The race organizers explained they were doing a LeMans-style start which we had, of course, failed to practice. Best I can tell, a LeMans start is where everyone tosses their bike in a pile …

LeMans Heap

LeMans Bike Heap

then at the startling gun blast, riders run and jump on their bikes and ride in a circle away from the actual bike course.

The steely nerved Whitney played it cool.

Disco Hill Start

Whitney (in red) waiting for the other riders to get the hellouttaherway.

Podunks don’t care much for congestion, so Whitney gave us what we needed most — a little elbow room.

The race is on

The race is on!

As Whitney headed off into the wild blue yonder, Lucy, Zephyr and I re-arranged our lawn chairs and continued discussing strategy — hummus with rice cracker or Kashi multigrain?

To find out which snack cracker wins, you’ll have to read my next post, Lost Riders Select an Official Team Cracker.

I was feeling great about my training regimen for this Saturday’s 12 Hours of Disco endurance mountain bike race. I found jerseys for the Lost Riders, made an inspirational music playlist for our iPods, and started carbo loading weeks ago (the Iron Chef made spaghetti carbonara last night with freshly picked morels and house-cured guanciale — hog jowl to the podunks). Then I came across this blog post, and I became fearful that a platter of homemade Mac and Cheese with extra cheese might not be enough…

Northlands Medical Clinic Team Blog

Cypress Hill Climb-

Report from newest  team member Kristina Bagma


How much pain can you handle?


That was the question I was asking myself on the morning of the
Glotman Simpson Cypress Hill Climb.  It
was actually the question I was asking myself all week.  “Was I physically and mentally prepared to
not only push myself into the pain zone, but could I  force myself to stay there for 40, 45, 50


A race that involves only one mountain – from the bottom to the
top – definitely requires strength.  But
when it really comes down to it – you need to be mentally prepared to hold
yourself in total physical pain -for the entire time – if you want to finish
fast.    For the entire week before the
event, I was nervous because I am never really sure if I am mentally capable of
forcing myself…

View original post 880 more words

Bike Simulator

The thing that motivates the Lost Riders to train the most is the fear of needing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by our neighbors. Podunk is a small town so there’s a 97% chance the EMT would be someone we know or a cousin, and that’s just awkward.

So when Her Royal Highness’ hockey career took the fam to Salt Lake last week, I stooped to a new low — the hotel gym. I got on my Spirit Fitness, or Fitness Spirit, stationary bike and I tried to simulate Discovery Hill in preparation for the May 19 race 12 Hours of Disco. I’m used to riding in Paradise …


and instead I got to substitute this…

Fitness Spirit, or Spirit Fitness

If I looked out the Holiday Inn window, I could see the Wasatch Front on the other side of I -15 and approximately 2 million people while I pretended to pedal up a hill.


This is no way to live. But if it keeps me from getting an EMT smooch, I guess it’s worth it.

Pedal Driven

The training continues for the Lost Riders of Discovery Hill. There’s only 2 weeks before Salmon’s 12 Hours of Disco endurance mountain bike race so my team is hot on the training trail. This is not us:

On Friday, 3 of the 4 of us even went to go see some mountain bike movies with our friends from SIMBA — the Salmon Idaho Mtn Bike Association.

We watched a cool flick called Pedal Driven. We watched people doing things like this:

After watching the film, we decided our 7:30 a.m. Saturday ride sounded mighty early, and we called it off. Sadly, we forgot to tell our 4th team member, Zephyr. So when Zephyr called from Disco Hill a little before 8 a.m., I hustled to the hill sans coffee or a water bottle. The good news is we pulled off a slightly abbreviated but super fun ride, even if I did do it in my pajama pants.

And I realized that Pedal Driven had done the trick. Inspired by that film’s reckless and acrobatic riders, I let go of the brakes a time or two. I might have even gotten a little air. A really small amount of air.

K-Dog and Lucy, our teammates, went all academic on us and took a ladies bike clinic Saturday a.m. and then went riding with the instructors, teacher’s pets that they are.

Two more weeks of training — know of any more good bike movies?

Rising to the Disco Challenge

When my best friend suggested we enter a sanctioned mountain bike race, I was a tad on the reluctant side. There were a lot of flaws in her scheme starting with we are not mountain bike racers.

The race — 12 Hours of Disco — indicated to me that we would have to ride our bikes for 12 hours which I considered to be a problem.

The Disco is for Discovery Hill, our local singletrack mecca — not the Donna Summer groove move, but even this kind of Disco is a problem. That is, if you are directionally challenged, like my friend and I are.

The trails at Discovery Hill look like this:

Lost Trails: Discovery Hill.

We get lost everytime.

I reminded her (we’ll call her Lucy for identity protection purposes) that we most likely couldn’t ride our bikes for 12 hours. Lucy and Max the Bike Guy, the race organizer, did some quick math and reported that if we signed up as a team, we would each only have to ride for 6 hours.

Last year we rode the Lemhi Valley Century Ride from the top of Gilmore Summit to Salmon.

Lemhi Valley Century Ride – Google Maps.

The route is about 60 miles on Highway 28 and is theoretically all downhill. I reminded Lucy that took us about 5 hours and she fell off her bike. She touched the scar on her elbow and agreed that did happen. And, I reminisced, we stopped for a wine tasting and then had champagne before we made it to town.

Lemhi Valley Century

Max the Bike Guy insisted this was just the kind of training we would need for 12 Hours of Disco.

So now I’m on a team of 4, which by my math should have whittled my actual assigned cycling time to 3 hours, and we had our first training ride last Saturday — a swell idea given the race is May 19.

Two of my teammates — Lucy and Zephyr — showed up looking pretty perky. But K-Dog seemed a little green around the gills.

I was hoping no one would show up and I could sleep in the back of my car for a few hours, she admitted.

Apparently she had gotten home at 2 a.m. after taking part in the unfortunate invention of something called the Dooky Bomb. As described to us, the Dooky Bomb involves the dropping of a Baby Ruth candy bar into a shot of Dr. McGillicuddy’s cinnamon schnapps. We collectively groaned.

K-Dog good naturedly made a small training loop.

Lucy, Zephyr and I proceeded to get lost. We will most likely be assisted off the race course by Search and Rescue.

Next up: Team Shirts

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