Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Long Way Home

With the racing in Boise all wrapped up, I chose to take the long way home through the Sawtooths back to Missoula.  I figured I’d wake up early Sunday morning, hit the road, stop in Hailey/Ketchum to ride, stop to soak in some hot springs, then head on home up the Bitterroot.  Once I made the turn off the freeway towards Hailey, I hit my only snag of the day; a sheep herd was being moved.  A line of cars moved along at about 5 miles an hour while the local “citizens on patrol” honked their horns to keep the sheep moving along the road.  It’s good to see that in the Wild Wild West the cowboy and his trusty sheep dogs have been replaced by a Ford pickup truck constantly honking a car horn.  I felt bad for the one old looking sheep which had been left behind the herd, but seemed content to just move along at their own pace, and even stopping to sit on multiple occasions.  After crawling along for about 40 minutes, the herd was moved off the road, and I was back to speeding along the road. 


Those white dots are all the sheep

This was the old sheep bringing up the rear

            By 10 I had made it to Hailey, and stopped at the first bike shop I saw to double check about what trails to ride.  My new main daime Chopper had told me a new trail, which had just been cut, but according to the local folk, it wasn’t kosher to ride on Sunday.  Instead a local who I now know as “Santa”, and I agreed to go out for a ride on the trails just outside of Hailey.  We changed, and in no time were heading out to ride the fine trails around Hailey.  If you have never had a chance to ride in this neck of the woods, make it a priority.  The trails are buff, the climbs are challenging, and the scenery is spectacular.  I was also impressed by the fact that Santa kept telling me that a lot of the trails had been cut by local cyclists.  We rode some really good “girlfriend” trails that left right from town, and despite the fact that they lacked solid climbs and descents, they were still extremely challenging.  After a good two hours of riding we called it quits, and before heading out of town I chatted with one of the locals about coming down for the Galena Grinder, and possibly getting an Idaho crew to come up for SSMT. 


Trail outside of Haily, some of the best

            With a giant smile on my face I hit the road, heading over the Galena summit, then along the Salmon River through Stanley and Challis.  South of Salmon I stopped along 93, threw my towel in a bag and headed a mile up a trail to go soak in some primo hot springs.  It had been six years since I last went to these hot springs, but it seemed like nothing had changed.  I got to the end of the trail, and had the hot springs all to myself.  The soaking was cut short due to all of the bees, which seemed to be content buzzing around my head.  I made the hike back to the car, drank the last of my lukewarm coffee, and got in my “Missoula or bust” mentality.  Three hours later, and one stop for huckleberry ice cream later I was back in Missoula.  So just recap, the drive back when off without a hitch, I never saw a cloud in the sky, got to ride primo trail, soaked in hot springs, and had ice cream for dinner.  The low point of my day was being behind the sheep herd, which when I think about it in retrospect puts a smile on my face.  It reminds me of the 2004 RATPOD, when during the descent of Badger Pass the cyclist were forced to negotiate their way through a cattle drive.  Now I all I have to look forward to is another week of work, and paying some bills.     

My view from the hot springs.

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