Ever since I started out as an intern at a national outdoor magazine back in the ’90s, I’ve been fielding pitches about the glorious riding in Sun Valley, Idaho. Yeah, yeah, I thought, I’ve lived in Missoula, Montana, and Plymouth, New Hampshire, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Not exactly slumming it in terms of backyard singletrack. I’ve ridden great fat tire destinations like Fruita, Moab, Crested Butte, Salida, Park City, Steamboat, Sedona, and tiny East Burke, Vermont. There’s a lot of great riding in this country. Do you really expect me to believe that Sun Valley stands out?
Well, yeah, actually, it does. And when Sun Valley landed the 2011 USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross-Country National Championships this past July, Ride Sun Valley decided to throw a fat tire festival to celebrate that fact. Racers were provided with oversized trail maps courtesy of Scott Bikes (They’re based here. See related post: Spark Up.) with their picks for the Scott Week of Epic Rides already highlighted.
I tagged along with the crew from Scott and got a great introduction to the local riding. Two of my favorites were Red Warrior to Imperial Gulch (24 miles) and the classic Cold Springs Warm Springs (23 miles) route that climbs to the top of Bald Mountain (the ski area) before descending forever back to town. I like them because they’re true mountain bike rides. Meaning you climb to the top of a mountain—in the case of Cold Springs, 3,500 vertical feet up—and then you drop your seat post and fly down. It’s fast XC style trail riding best tackled with a four to five inch-travel bike. That’s just two of perhaps 25 epic (three to five hour easy) rides in the surrounding national forest. I should have listened to those writers 15 years ago. —Marc Peruzzi
See the slideshow courtesy of contributing photographer Scott Markewitz to get a better feel. Western Spirit runs guided trips: westernspirit.com. The resort runs a lift: sunvalley.com. And you can visit ridesunvalley.com for everything else you need.