By Brice Minnigh
Nine days might sound like a long time for a bike festival, but when you've got 400-plus miles of interconnected, high-speed singletrack to ride, you're likely to end up extending your stay.
Though only in its second year, the Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival has expanded the scope of its activities this year, including both professional races and a host of events and entertainment for the everyman mountain biker. While the Idaho resort town will host the USA Cycling Cross Country Championships, as well as short track and Super D races, the main priority of the festival—which will run from June 29 to July 8—is to show ordinary mountain bikers some of North America's best singletrack.
"We are going to take you out and stoke you out on the most killer rides you have ever done," said Greg 'Chopper' Randolph, the longtime Bike magazine advice columnist turned shameless purveyor of Sun Valley's prime singletrack. "We have over 400 miles of singletrack—and I mean high-grade, no-fooling-around stuff, right out the back door.
"You are going to ride, and we are going to show you where to do it."
While there will be a host of high-level amateur races throughout the week, the highlight will be daily 'Local Stoker Rides' led by experienced guides on some of Sun Valley's best trails. The rides, which will be held every morning from July 2-6, will depart from the Sun Valley Visitor Center. Space is limited on a first-come, first-served basis.
"These are the dirt-faced Mona Lisas of Idaho singletrack," said Randolph. "These are not flip-flop friendly bike-path tours. Riders should be fit, ready to ride, game to a good time and planning to leave all sniveling and whining at home."
In addition to the five days of free guided (and in some cases, shuttled) rides, the festival will also feature a fat-tire criterium, a three-day all-mountain bike-race series, the Idaho state pump-track championship and the Sun Valley Shakedown music festival.
One of the festival's most highly anticipated race events will be the Sun Valley All Mountain, which will combine participants' times for the Galena Grinder cross-country race, the Baldy Super Duper D and the Fat Tire Criterium.
"We will then use a complex formula involving basic addition, and nothing more, to award the top men and women pros and amateurs with 'All Mountain' status," said Randolph.
While the racing and revelry are part and parcel of any true mountain-bike festival, Ride Sun Valley is primarily intended to introduce the area's vast network of singletrack to dedicated mountain bikers.
"When you are sitting on a Mecca, you turn into an evangelist," said Randolph. "You create a cult and serve tasty Kool-Aid. I have incredible faith in the mountain-bike community and want them to at least once in their lives experience what Sun Valley has to offer."
And to help aid singletrack-deprived riders who may be suffering from Singletrack Deficit Disorder (STDD), the organizers are offering a one-week, all-expenses-paid trip to Sun Valley during the festival. For more details on the contest, check out this video:
For more details on the festival's events, visit www.ridesunvalley.com