Sun Valley is a Pedaler's Paradise
Sun Valley is a strange place.
It is the perfect intersection of cowboy hats and lycra tights. The land where the lifted 4x4 lives harmoniously next to the Audi RS Q8. It is a place held in time by traditions, like the rodeo, but being pushed forward by the influx of minds and money. The landscape is now scattered with amazing modern architecture blending somewhat seamlessly with the traditional. The writer's conference, music festival and "Billionaire Summer Camp" bring crowds from all over the world.
And the biking is out of this world.
The gravel riding is extensive, varied and goes on in all directions for miles and miles.
The mountain biking is flowy, ample and grin-worthy, whether you love your dirt flowy or deep and steep. If you prefer a little lift, Sun Valley offers gondola rides to the top of Bald Mountain for a more gravity fueled day on the bike.
"So what did we learn today," said my riding partner after our attempt to ride up Bald Mountain. "We learned just because a ski slope is super easy coming down does not mean it is super easy riding up."
Now, if you’re a roadie, you might want to pick a different destination, as the paved bike paths are fairly extensive, but in our estimation the road riding takes a back seat to all things gravel and dirt.
We were fortunate enough to be invited to visit Sun Valley and the amazing new house of some close friends. If they didn’t profess they had more company on the way, we’re pretty sure we would have never left.
Our first ride found us on the gravel bikes, rolling past the Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Skating Rink and heading West out of town along Warm Springs Creek. There was a fair amount of 4-wheel-drive traffic traveling up and down this road, some friendly and some not so much, but as we climbed up past Bald Mountain it was clear that a fair number of them were in search of one of the many natural hot springs found along the route. It is one of the trips great regrets we didn’t stop and soak in one of these exquisite river respites.
The elevation of Sun Valley, at just shy of 6,000 feet, did play some havoc on our breathing and sleeping, but our friends were kind enough to remind us to stay hydrated, but they weren’t sweet enough to let us believe we were fit enough to actually ride with them. Advantage goes to actually training and living at elevation.
An additional fun fact about the region is there are 7 peaks in the Sawtooth Range of Idaho all with an elevation over 10,000 feet, making this a skiers, hikers and, yes, bikers paradise.
We can highly recommend the Clubhouse Louis at the Sun Valley Club, the whole trout or the half chicken at The Covey and just about any cocktail served up at the Pioneer Saloon, a good old fashioned watering hole where you will wash your hands with the fishes.
The shopping in downtown Sun Valley has a little bit of everything for everybody, from cowboy attire, secondhand stores, art galleries and various knick-knackeries.
If you’re the type of person who likes to plan things out, we highly recommend you put Sun Valley on your list for next years' July 4th weekend. The rodeo down the street in Haley, Idaho is perfect way to spend the holiday and the fireworks show is a great way to top off a week or weekend of riding the miles and miles of all Sun Valley has to offer.