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Thread: Stinking Springs/Sidewinder..Targhee National Forest

  1. #1
    ephemeral excursionist blueeyes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    busting my ass

    Stinking Springs/Sidewinder..Targhee National Forest

    In Idaho Falls, Thursday is group ride night and the Snake River Mountain Bike Club has a great group! Two rides with the group so far and both times 20+ people on the ride. This past Thursdays we rode Sidewinder near Heise Hot Springs and Kelly Canyon area. Relatively new single track that switches back and forth up the hill. Roughly 1600 feet of elevation gain IF you push your bike all the way to the top. I have done that once ... fairly certain I won't do it again. The trail starts at the Stinking Springs Trailhead on the north bank of the Snake River. This is a mixed use area, closed until May 1st to protect wintering big game. On the first Thursday night of May the parking lot was over flowing with dirt bike and mountain bike riders.

    Sidewinder is a non-motorized trail that eventually connects with the motorized section about 2.5 miles up. You share the non-motorized portion with grazing cows. That means....pooh hazards on the trail. On the initial ride I took Sarah she rode my full suspension (for the first time) and I rode my new fatty. The trail is soft dirt and the fatty kicks up a rather large dust cloud as I ride and picks up copious amounts of cow patty! I tried my best to memorize the location of each pile as I rode up so that I could avoid them on the way down.

    Sarah and I started the ride together and I stayed with her for about 30 minutes, after awhile I got bored of riding at her speed (walking up hill) and felt there was no way she could get lost and decided to ride up until the rest of the troop came down. I made it to the junction with the motorized section and slightly beyond before I met the first of those on the return trip.

    The fat bike descends nicely. Rock gardens are a piece of cake the tires roll, float over the rocks. On this particular trail I did not miss the suspension of my Safire. Corners on the other hand gave me a few issues. One I am still adjusting to the bike in general. Secondly I don't like the mechanical brakes. I have very nice hydraulic brakes (brand new) on the Safire. Third the handle bars are extremely wide compared to Safire and I think too wide for me. Lastly, I did miss my drop seat. I don't really need it on this particular downhill but I do prefer getting the seat out of the way when descending. My issue with the corners were not being able to slow down in time to take the corner and understeering. After researching a bit I have come to the conclusion I need to play around with air pressure in the fat tires. Currently the tires are pretty stiff because I ride the Salsa to work everyday.

    Sarah enjoyed her ride by herself. She was able to go her speed and not worry about me riding behind her. I had sent a message down with Becca (fellow mom and rider) that anytime Sarah wanted she could head back to the car. From her description I think she made a good effort of 1.5 miles up hill and then down for a 3 mile ride. My biggest mistake was letting her ride my Safire. She has informed me she will ride nothing less than a full suspension from here on out. Recall the Safire has new brakes...I guess the first big turn she went down when she grabbed a handle full of front brake (her bike was an old hardtail with v-brakes) not only are the brakes new I went with a larger front rotor. She did end up with a heart shaped bruise on her thigh. She dusted herself off and a little leary of the bikes brakes made it back to the car safe.

    Overall fun trail. Good trail for climbing and flow is nice on the descent but could do away with cow patty bombs and the cows standing on the trail period.

    I went back Saturday to track the trail with GPS and compare rides between full suspension Safire and fat tire Salsa Mukluk. Early morning on a Saturday and there is only me and a trail runner on Sidewinder. Odd with this nice weather I expected more people to be out riding Saturday morning . Only a few dirt bikers in the parking lot at a quarter to ten. My goal was the top! I know if you get up high enough you should be able to see the Tetons.

    It has been months, seven to be exact since I have seriously ridden my Safire. In fact not since my last lap at 25 hours of Frog Hollow in October have I been on my bike. It felt good to be back on my trusty steed. As I started the climb up, I remembered quickly, that even though I had the rear suspension rebuilt twice it still isn't working correctly and I can't lock out the suspension for climbing. When I first started mountain biking I had no clue what bob on a bike was. Today I am cursing him. Every pedal stroke I can feel the wasted energy as I climb uphill. I am making better time than on the Salsa and after four good rides on the Salsa I am stopping less to catch my breath as I pedal up. I do like the non-motorized section as I have mentioned before it has a nice flow.

    Today it takes me about 45 min to get to the junction with the motorized section (~760 feet of elevation gain) and it is here you turn left to keep going to the top. The trail turns into an old jeep road and as you ascend it is harder because the pitch goes more directly up the hill instead of criss-crossing more gently like Sidewinder. It is not long before there are sections I have to get off and push. The switchbacks are my worst nightmare big rock gravel in the corners. Not a chance in hell right now of me riding up those, too out of shape and rock is very loose. I keep pushing as I am determined to see the Tetons.
    A couple dirt bikers pass me as I hike my bike uphill. I get past the switchbacks and find a very steep section to keep hiking my bike up. I wonder if I will ever have the strength in my legs to ride this. Eventually I do make it to the top and to my disappointment I can't see the Tetons! The trail splits in three directions and I am sure if I kept going on the middle or right hand trail I would eventually see them but it was wet up on top and I didn't really want to clean mud off my bike plus I was running out of time for my ride.

    My favorite part...the downhill! Hiking your bike up means fun steep descent and the first part was just that. However those switchbacks with the loose rock was a more frustrating experience. I should have gone with my gut instinct to just walk them but I felt confident enough to give it a try. They are not tight narrow switchbacks like JEM. They are double track. I did great through the first two turns and before I made it to the third I found myself going down hard hitting the left handle bar which through me over onto my right forearm. I ended up with a nice three inch gash on my forearm. I was a bit embarrassed as I had an audience above me, couple dirt bike riders. I quickly hopped up walked the bike around the corner and jumped on. I ride with one finger always on the brake lever but found my left lever missing! Did I rip it off when I fell? I was still recovering from the embarrassment of falling and rode slowly down controlling my descent with only the rear brake. As I came to a section that required shifting up I realized my shifter was not where my thumb expected them it to be. I stopped the bike and took a good look. When I crashed I hit hard enough to rotate my shifter, brake, and drop seat levers backwards out of place. Easy fix! I pulled my tools out and set about adjusting the levers back into their correct positions.

    As I was doing this the trail runner who was on his way back down from the top stopped to see if I was okay as my right forearm was bloody and had caught his attention. I explained what happened and he told me that one of the dirt bikers had just crashed on the switchbacks and broke his clutch off. Now I didn't feel nearly as embarrassed. I assured him my gash looked worse than it really was and I could fix the bike. When he was satisfied I really was okay he said he would see me at the bottom and ran on. The rest of the ride was uneventful. I was happy to have both brakes as I finished the descent. I like Sidewinder but only to the junction with the motorized section. The switchbacks are not worth pushing my bike up or leaving blood behind.

    As for a comparison between the fat bike and my full suspension, the fat bike climbs surprisingly better than I expected it is only 7 pounds heavier than my Safire. But even on the lighter Safire I am still painfully slow going uphill. The descent was just as fun except I did have trouble slowing down and steering through the curves with the Mukluk. I do have to wonder if it had been the fat bike when I hiked to the top would I have crashed coming down those big rocks? I am sure those bigger tires are a better choice for that mess. But I doubt I will ever attempt riding those switchbacks again. It wasn't just a 3 inch gash, the fall bruised the bone as well. In my humble opinion pushing my bike that far up is not worth the ride down. I love switchbacks just not those.

    I am loving my fat bike. It will not be my primary bike for trail riding. I bought to play in the snow and ride to work on. I am much happier with the fat bike it replaces my Amira road bike which was collecting way too much dust. Sold it to a women who is into triathlons and she is loving it.

    Part of group getting ready.

    Sarah on the climb.

    Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

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  4. #2
    ephemeral excursionist blueeyes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    busting my ass
    Hit send before was done uploading pics... here are a few more.

    Pizza and beer with the group.

    Now for solo ride


    Rocks I am not a fan of!

    View from up top looking back towards the Snake River.

    What is wrong with this picture?

    Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

  5. Likes jfeiro liked this post
  6. #3
    Nice report! It reminds me that there are too many places to ride and not enough time.
    Are we there yet?

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