Kelly Canyon

All around me were fire roads and trails. I could see them weaving up the mountainside through the canyons and ridges, and yet, there I was, riding a mountain bike on the pavement in between them. Why? The trails were mucky and mushy, and my wife would’ve killed me if I brought home some mucky, mushy souvenirs.

It was Kelly Canyon, the mountain bike Mecca of southeast Idaho, home to dozens of singletrack, doubletrack and fireroad trails, not to mention a decent ski hill—Kelly Canyon Ski Resort. So why was I riding up the pavement? Allow me to explain:

Months ago some buddies and I headed out to Kelly for a singletrack ride, and on the way there we spotted some old codger riding a mountain bike up the road. My neighbor, and the author of the entertaining College Battle blog (linked on the left side of the page) commented, “This hill wouldn’t be that tough, don’t you think?” I was about to agree when I stopped and thought about how cars really warp your perception of hills, and then I answered, “I dunno. Maybe.”

Well, I got curious, so a few days later, I mounted the road bike and breezed by the 20 miles of flat road to get to the hill. And when I got there, I noticed a few things about it: first off, it’s a really picturesque area, there’s a brooklet that trickles alongside the road, there are trees all around, and in between them are rock outcroppings that resemble something out of Arches National Park; Secondly, I noticed that the traffic was pretty minimal up there during the off-ski season, except for the occasional cow, mule deer, or ranch truck, it was just me and my bike; thirdly, there’s no wind, all around the canyon are dry, dusty prairies and potato fields with wind gusting sometimes up to 55 mph, but inside the tree-lined canyon, there’s nothing but stillness;  lastly, I noticed that rather than being easy, that hill’s a bit of a beast, granted it was no Teton Pass, but the weaving, gravelly 3-mile-or-more road has this tendency for looking as though it’s about to become easy by hiding the next rise behind the next corner, and it changes pitch often enough that it really throws off your rhythm, which can be a really good thing. To top it off, there’s a dirt road that continues after the pavement ends, and it keeps going up to a few trails, one of which leads up to the ski resort’s chairlifts. I don’t know about you guys, but that’s my kind of training hill.

Guess what I did next? Well, if you’ve been reading the blog long enough, you’ll know that I went back as often as possible this past fall season, either on the road bike or on a mountain bike, and climbed back up that hill with whoever I could talk into joining me. For whatever reason, someone re-graveled the road in the middle of the season, though, and that’s somewhat discouraged me from taking the road bike up there (it’s not such a good place to be getting a flat—20 miles from home).

Then, of course, winter came, and all the skiers and their ski traffic came with it, so Kelly Canyon went on the backburner. But somehow, the ski hill started sticking out to me during my commutes to work. As it turns out, I had a gorgeous view of it from across the valley when I left work at night (provided I left before the sunset), and it seemed to get closer and closer to my view as the season wore on.

Monday night, I got off work a little early and noticed a steady rain falling as I commuted home. Of all weather conditions, I prefer rain most of all when it comes to climbing. It keeps you cool, the air stays moist, and it gives the illusion of machismo—you catch yourself thinking, “This would make for a cool picture if I had a camera right now.” So naturally, I called up my little brother, Jord, and the two of us headed up to the canyon. I’m confident we saw more mule deer there than either of us have ever seen in one place. We hopped on and chugged to the top of the canyon, where the rain had turned to snow. We got to the gate of the ski hill gasping for air, and I think that between the two of us, we decided this pavement alone is pretty good exercise.

P.S. Yes, it’s true, we’ve got two or three inches of snow so far today, as well as some 40 mph winds, so I’m pretty much grounded for the time being. Hope everyone’s safe and warm.

P.P.S. For today’s video entertainment, by the way, visit the Park City Endurance 100 site and see what Botched’s arch-nemesis is really like. You may have to download Flash 8 to see it, but it ought to wet your racing pallette for today.


13 thoughts on “Kelly Canyon

  1. Unknown

    Warning: This post is out of place and refers to Caloi\’s synopsis of Al\’s comments from yesterday.
    Al suggested trying to eat 400 – 600 calories per hour.  The basis of his advice is absolutely correct: eat as much as you can while you ride (If you\’re riding for performance.  If you\’re riding for weight loss, just eat enough to keep going). However, the amount you should try to consume is highly dependent on two factors: 1) the individual and 2) the exercise intensity.
    There is a difference between how many calories you can shove down your pie hole in an hour and how many your body can absorb per hour. As you might guess, the best bike racers can ingest AND absorb a lot of calories while they ride, but the average Joe can only absorb about 250 calories per hour while exercising. This is because your body shunts blood away from your guts to increase oxygen carrying capacity to your muscles and brain. The harder you exercise the less blood your guts get and the fewer calories you can absorb. The ability to absorb calories while exercising is apparently "trainable", but some people will always be able to absorb more calories than others.
    Some people (myself included which is why I\’ve looked into this fairly extensively) get sick if they have extra food in their stomachs while exercising at high intensities. I know that I cannot absorb 600 calories per hour while mountain biking vigorously, it\’s more like 400 calories.  Of course I can EAT 1000 calories per hour, but I know if I actually consume more than about 400 calories per hour, I\’ll get diarrhea and nausea.
    At intermediate exercise intensities I have no problem at all; in fact, I\’ve been known to stop of for a hamburger or pizza during a long ride.  But at high intensities, I have to watch out!!
    Anyway, I thought this might be interesting. Guys like UltraRob that do RAAM often know exactly how many calories per hour they can absorb at a given intensity and try to keep track of every calorie they consume.

  2. Tom Stormcrowe

    Now that was informative! Appreciate it, Botched, because it confirmed what I\’ve been thinking! Caloi- What kind of cyclist rides more than a few miles from the house without a spare tube and pump and a minikit at least?

  3. Unknown

    There is a hill on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail where I swear, gravity has extra power.  The hill doesn\’t look that long or that steep, but it is always exhausting to climb it.  The apparent incongruous effort is partially because of the somewhat spongy soil that really soaks up your energy, but I firmly believe there are other forces at work on that hill.
    P.S. I think that the E-100 bike race is the most difficult 100 mile bike race in north america.

  4. Zed

    Tom- to answer your question, both times I\’ve flatted on the road bike, the sharp object left a puncture hole in my actual tire large enough for me to stick my pinky finger through. If you\’re riding around with a hole like that in the tire (not the tube, the tire) on gravel roads, your tube is that much more vulnerable. And once you get flat number two, you\’re stranded. I do carry a CO2 inflator and a spare with me, though. It\’s possible though that the reason I had such tire problems was because my old Hutchinson tires were garbage, but that\’s a different topic for a different day. I admit, I like to play it safe.
    Botched- Hey, are you at all interested in doing the 12 hours of the E100?

  5. Unknown

    Yes, I plan on doing the E-12 and my goal is to have all my crap together, i.e., be at race weight, and have my nutrition problems worked out (see my earlier post on this blog entry).
    You wanna come down and do a little (ok, a lot) of riding?  We\’ve got a spare bedroom.

  6. Tom Stormcrowe

    Nothing wrong with that! By the way, I\’ve gotten home with a piece of Duct tape covering a tire hole big enough to stick my pinky through. It holds well enough for an emergency, just run a bit lower pressure. It\’ll at least keep your tube from bulging out the hole, probably won\’t last more than 20 miles or so, but that generally will get you through. By the way, what tire are you running now on your roadie?

  7. Zed

    Tom- I\’ve turned into a Panaracer fan. On the training wheels (I still think that sounds funny) I\’m riding with an older Panaracer StradiusPro and a newer Stradius Sport. On the racing wheelset (the Neuvations) I\’m running a Stradius Elite Z (though I haven\’t yet purchased tire #2). Duct tape\’s a good idea. I might just have to tuck some under my seat or something. I misplaced my seat bag a year and a half ago, and life just hasn\’t been the same since.
    Botched- I\’m debating getting a relay team together. I keep running into guys who are awesome mtb\’ers. There\’s a guy nearby who used to be the Wyoming state champ, then there\’s this guy who\’s riding a Scott Scale and will be racing sport this year; there are probably four or five guys who are mtb crazy in my apartment complex. They all see me riding the road bike and then stop me to chat bikes. I\’m thinking that with some recruiting we could get a decent team together.

  8. Tom Stormcrowe

    You need to get a Banjo Brothers seat bag! Get the large one, it has a little zip out expansion that gives you just a bit more soace! Holds a boxed tube and a multitool very nicely and has a taillight clip strap as well! By the way, I can report after my rainy commute to school today that they stay dry inside as well! Handlebar bag was drenched and the inside was dry as a bone after being rained on all day! So was my underseat bag(Dry inside, that is!)

  9. Unknown

    Try a dollar bill instead of duct tape.  Fold in in half and stick it on the inside of the tire between the tire and tube.  It\’ll even get you home with a pretty badly blown out side wall.
    P.S. I\’m not sure about a relay team.  I just don\’t go very fast any more, and would hate to be the old slow guy on the team. Maybe with 3 or 4 guys who would ride as hard as they can, but weren\’t too woried about winning the race. Either way the spare room is available.

  10. Zed

    Winning? Ha! Don\’t worry, if I get some guys together, it\’ll be all washed up mountain bikers who might find their legs halfway through the race. Come to think of it–I haven\’t even had any really good results, and I\’m already washed up …

  11. Jill

    Ah, Kelly Canyon. That takes me back. I had nearly forgotton just how amazing the mountain biking is in Idaho. I also know now how amazing the skiing/ice biking would have been, had I done it while I lived there.
    Botched … are you talking about the hill from City Creek to Dry Creek? That\’s the nastiest shoreline trail hill I can think of, but I\’ve never ridden much of it. The ST goes all the way to Utah County, right?
    Now Stansbury Island … that has some surprising hills.

  12. Sue

    Jill — Exactly. Although up in Park City there are climbs that take close to an hour, and that little hill takes maybe 4 minutes, it is that little hill that demoralizes me. One should be able to shoot right up it, but it\’s a granny gear slog with high heart rates every time.

  13. Zed

    Jill- the Pallisades area has some pretty ones too, if you\’ve had a chance to try it out. I also discovered that Targhee has a bunch of mt bike trails during the summer. I\’m getting sorta pumped for all of these trail rides I haven\’t yet done. I\’m pretty sure Kelly\’s got a few trails I haven\’t discovered yet. That\’s gotta be my favorite part.

    Botched- it\’s gotta be that warped hill perception–like a false flat or something … BTW, the E100 looks freakin\’ awesome. Do you know if they have a soundtrack for that movie they made of it. I\’m getting a little hooked on the background music.

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