Pocatello century ride offer low-key fun

Mike Fox of Idaho Falls rides the Tour of Marsh Creek Valley century ride on Saturday. About 40 riders joined the 100-mile course. (Photo by Deb Rose)

It turns out that 100 miles in a day on a bicycle is a workout.

But when you do it with old friends, new friends and just made friends with stellar weather, it’s a fun day.

The Jay Anderson Memorial Tour of Marsh Creek Valley century ride started at 7 a.m. Saturday from the Pocatello Community Charter School parking lot and headed south to Inkom and McCammon on backroads to the foot of Malad Pass.

I overheard the director say “104 signed up this year, a new record!”

While that may not seem like a lot of riders when compared to century rides scheduled later in the summer — the Cache Valley Century held in Logan, Utah, draws 1,200 — the low-key approach and lower entry fee is refreshing. About 40 riders chose the 100-mile distance and the rest rode abbreviated routes of 26 or 60.

Some of the people I talked to said it was too early in the season to ride a full century, so they opted for the shorter distances. Other friends had already ridden a couple of centuries by driving down to Arizona and southern Utah.

While eating the post-race lunch provided by the ride organizers, a friend I hadn’t seen in several months walked up and shook my hand. I asked him how it went.

“Not bad considering I’ve only ridden 70 miles all year in preparation for this ride. I’m tired.”

At one point Saturday, the group of about a dozen riders I was hanging with tried to imitate the pros and do a rotating circular pace line. If done right, everyone’s speed increases and the miles melt away quickly. To make this successful, everyone needs to push a similar speed and understand what’s going on. It failed badly. Our overall speed kept getting slower and a few of us just bailed on the mess and sped ahead.

Of course, the reason cyclists line up wheel to wheel is drafting. Bikers save about 25 percent effort by drafting behind each other. When you take turns at the front, the group’s overall speed increases.

Weaker riders can hang with the faster ones by taking fewer (or none at all) turns at the front. So here’s a tip: If you want to do a long, organized ride this summer, practice riding in a pace line. It will save you a mountain of energy.

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On the subject of cycling, good luck to the Angry Horse participants this weekend. This local gravel race starts 1 mile east of the Bone store and offers three distances: 25, 45 and 82 miles. Proceeds benefit A Little Piece of Heaven Mustang Rescue in American Falls. Sign-up is open now and the morning of the race. Sounds like a fun adventure. Go to ridetheangryhorse.com.

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Jenny Lake Rangers in Grand Teton National Park are reporting that Baxter’s Pinnacle is closed until further notice, including the social trail that branches from the horse trail and serves as the approach route to the climb, to protect nesting falcons and their young.

The nearby climb “No Perches” is outside the closure area and remains open.

Also Inspiration Point is closed for the season due to trail construction work. The Jenny Lake Horse Trail is the route up Cascade Canyon.

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If you’re interested in the International Climbers’ Festival held July 11-15 in Lander, Wyo., the price for a ticket jumps Friday.

At $75, the four-day event offers free camping, a film festival, celebrity presentations, climbing clinics with pros, games, food, freebies and world-class limestone crag destinations. Compared to some of the one-day cycling events I participate in, this festival is a bargain. To learn more, go to climbersfestival.org.