Friday, June 3, 2011

Choose you own adventure

You probably know the dancing helix relationship between pain and pleasure as found through cycling. Most often, I will pick the illusory and fleeting pleasure with it's correspondingly magnificent pain, over a more moderate path. To wit: Lava (Schnock) Hot Springs Memorial Day weekend 2011. My son Loaf of Bread (Hereinafter, Lob) and his parent-teacher cooperative school, have a class camp out every spring,usually with some form of awful weather which acts as a bonding experience for all in attendance. After several years of failed positive experience with this circus camp school family, I hit upon my salvation a few years ago: get away for a bit, it's really better for all concerned.

Lava Hot Springs, Idaho has been in use since pre-history (which seems to be best documented here...a little pretentious as always, but wow!) yet still remains reasonably rootsy and affordable, with a Thai food restaurant.  The town sits along the Portnuef river at the base of Baldy Mountain in South East Idaho.

The suffering began Friday night with a rain to freezing rain to freezing conditions that left my tent encased like this old Citroen (@ 2:00):

Later after stuffing the kids with a double breakfast,  Baldy Mountain seemed like an identifiable and highly vertical target. By 10:30 the temp had risen to the balmy 40s, perfect riding weather.  As you can see from the map above, the road up Dempsey creek and to the SE was going to offer a reasonable climb, and if I could find it, a bomber descent straight down the face of Baldy back to town. On the way out of town I encountered a group of Skinheads skinnin' logs (really) at a log cabin manufacturer, they had brass knuckle tats, swastika tats and one guy had a big old "208," tatooed gothic style across his chest, which I realized was the Idaho area code, apparently a common tag theme for folks:

What the hell happens when the FCC decides there needs to be a new area code.  I remember when Moab went 435 and what an ass I would have been if I was still holdin' 801 across my chest.  As a lawyer, I'm here to advise you: Tatoos last forever, regulatory schemes, not so much.  These Nazi Idaho thugs did have pretty solid beta on a trail carved down the side of Baldy for a bike race a few years ago, which was gnarly back then and had since fallen into disrepair.  They doubted it was rideable. Sick.

Okay so after a long climb and Ipod Touch camera frustrations (please comment on your camera and photo download solutions), I arrive at the ridgeline summit splashed with a dead forest apparently the result of the fire a few years back:

I think that in our graveyards we express this iconographic understanding of dead forests. Hmm. There were also radio towers at the top, a feature that I learned to notice from my hang gliding pilot friend Roger.  A radio tower means there is a road up. And maybe a way down to town.

By my calculations it was an 8 mile ride up at about 8% and it was going to be a 4 mile ride down at 14% (3000 vert. feet). A perfect pain pleasure formulation. If you look closely in the photo above you can see the new water slide OVER Center Street in Lava.  Who designs these water slides, kids? Now where is that trail?  Here?

Well nice try and in the photo you can see my new bike, my first new primary ride in more than a decade.  But, nice bike and all this was not the trail.  Patience was a virtue as I scoured the top to no avail, but after long enough, some locals and hikers came along and pointed out this:

Steep, blown out, sometimes not there, barely rideable, but a perfect techy solo rush.  That steep the whole way. 

This ride was a lot like a Choose Your Own Adventure book with limited info and objectives going in.  When was the last time you chose your own adventure? Freeride!

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