By Natty and Trey
Photos by Devon Balet
We are no strangers to Sun Valley, Idaho. Having spent some time riding there a few months ago, we nicknamed it “Mach-Sun Valley” for it’s super buff trails that consistently maxed out the speedometer on our cycle computers. It could have had something to do with the high octane Starbucks coffee brewed with their new “Clover” machine that we had every morning in Ketchum, ID before our ride. It is worth stopping for a “Clover” brew and checking out the “Circa 1949” photos of Warren Miller living in the parking lot in his tear drop camper.
When we saw that Sun Valley was part of our 2012 Heavy Pedal tour, we were stoked! It’s one of those places we rode and immediately started looking at real estate and the job market. What makes this place even better is what they have in the works for a bike park. So, The Heavy Pedal Tour decided to see what’s in store and shred our bikes on some of the best XC trails in the world!
Bike Magazine sent us a name (Greg Randolph) for our contact in Sun Valley. Immediately, the name rang a bell. Mmm. Yes, that’s “Chopper” from the Ask Chopper column in Bike Magazine! We were so excited to meet the dude that had consistently given us a good laugh over so many years! There was no one better to orient us to the mountain biking scene than the self proclaimed “Director of Awesomeness” at Sun Valley.
Meeting up with “Chopper” and Julian Tyo (the resort’s Mountain Bike Project Manager), we headed over to check out the Ketchum Community Pump track before taking the lift to the top of Mount Baldy for a screaming fast run back down to town on the Warm Springs trail. We had 3 pinch flats within our group of 5 riders, and were kicking ourselves in the arse for not showing up with tubeless tires, and/or running DH tread for that Knife-Fight. Luckily, there are plans for over 14 miles of new flow trails on the mountain, with Randy Spangler and IMBA Trail Solutions on board, to make it progressive and legit. The riding in the park right now, is more about the speed and views, than the technicality of the trails. Once they have the bike park filled with jumps and features, Sun Valley will truly have it all!
Now, if we can speak to the XC’ers out there. We want to let you know, that we took one for the team. You are welcome. We met up with Olin Glenne from Sturtevants Mountain Outfitters in Ketchum for a “local stoker” ride with Smith Optics’ Gabe Schroder (Ski and Outdoor Promotions Manager). Not only did Gabe hook us up with a brand new pair of Smith Pivlock V2 Max cycling sunglasses, we found out that he led one of Bike Magazine’s previous Heavy Pedal Tours! It was like meeting The Godfather! What are the chances? He was super stoked to hear that the HPT had been resurrected. Gabe is still shredding and still awesome!
Now, back to our 20-mile XC ride. Holy Crap! Hands down the most spectacular show on Earth. We had to work for it, but it was totally worth the pain and hunger. The first couple of miles were a grunt, and for a couple of bike park-loving riders, we pushed part of it, needless to say. But, once we got to the top, and pulled our tongues off the ground, nothing else mattered. Life was grand, and “the hills were alive with the sound of music.”
The views went on for miles, and we could see the trail switchback down the other side of the mountain, into a green valley. It made our hearts flutter with joy and our stomachs turn, just a little, knowing that those steep switchbacks were for us! Big smiles, ALL the way down! The ride made its way through the most quiet and serine valley of tall lush green grass. We could not believe our eyes. Truly, breathtaking views. After the valley, we slowly made our way out by riding through burnt forest and bombing back down to the van. This trail is a local favorite, and if you want to ride it, you will need to get with a local and make friends. This trail is a gem and more than likely its kept a secret. Oh, and make sure to pack an extra sandwich or two.
Natty’s Sun Valley favorite:
EVERYTHING, even the XC ride! (though I almost died)
Trey’s Sun Valley favorite:
Fourth of July Creek- to Ants Basin- to Warm Springs- to Williams Creek.
Wise Guys Pizza in Hailey, Idaho with Lars from Scott Bicycles.
Smith Optics Pivlock V2 Max cycling sunglasses.
AND ON TO STEVENS PASS…
Ah, the Pacific Northwest was our home sweet home for seven years. Oh, how we have missed you! We heard that you now have a bike park. We could almost move back there, if rain wasn’t in the forecast for eight months out of the year. However, we are happy to say, not a drop of the wet stuff hit our heads while we were there. Makes us think that perhaps we had lived, all along, on the wrong side of the Cascade Mountains.
Stevens Pass Bike Park is nestled in some of the most beautiful mountains in the world, and it’s only 30 miles from Leavenworth, WA. This town has a unique Bavarian theme throughout, with an incredibly good brewery that we frequented every evening for apres-bike. The Icicle Brewing Company is the place to be in Leavenworth. Our crew could not get enough of their Bootjack IPA! To top it off, the owners (Pamela and Oliver Brulotte) are huge supporters of the mountain biking community and Stevens Pass Bike Park.
Stevens Pass Bike Park, is a new bike park. They only have three trails right now, but they have plans in place for 5 trails by the end of the season, next year. For those riders wanting more, there are plans in place to have 20 trails within the next 5 years!
We had the privilege of riding all 3 trails, and immediately we had our favorite trail picked out, “Slingshot Wookie”. Wookiel dishes out a gnarly DH style course with big roots, rocks and steep terrain. You have to be on your game and ready to pick the right line. A lapse in concentration quickly found us on the ground twisted up in handlebars and brake cables. But, once we had this trail dialed, it was a blast to ride!
A group of friends from Olympia, WA met up with us at Stevens Pass to sample the trails. They are Whistler lovin fools who were just as stoked as we were about riding the first bike park in Washington State! Joel Martinez, the VP of Operations at Stevens Pass, was our guide to the bike park and all things rad in Leavenworth. He’s super passionate and committed to making Stevens Pass a success. We have no doubt he will succeed!
Wow, there’s so much to offer for the outdoors enthusiast at and around the Bike Park in the Summer months. Lift accessed mountain bike trails at Stevens Pass, great Freeride(e.g., Tres Hombres) and epic XC trails(e.g., Devils Gulch), traditional and sport climbing on perfect granite, and river rafting and kayaking. BAM!
Natty’s Stevens Pass favorite:
Trey’s Stevens Pass/Leavenworth favorites:
Slingshot Wookie, Tres Hombres, Icicle Brewery, Munchen Haus (Reggae/DJ night), and our condo at the Leavenworth Best Western!