Sunday, August 9, 2015

From Early Spring to Late Summer in Driggs: It's All a Blur

One day it was spring (aka, mud season) - sleeting and raining and blowing every other day through the end of May - and then suddenly...bliss. There's not much that beats an Idaho summer.

Back to spring: my Robin friend shows up every April, builds a nest above the deck, re-builds it after storms blow it down, and stays through mid-June chirping and feeding her young. Just when it starts to get annoying, she's gone...and I actually miss that bird :)

Work travel continues to take me to incredible "Wild Idaho" places. These views of the Lemhi mountain rainge with a secret creek in foreground are typical of what I see. The dogs made this particular trip with me too, and loved it even more than I did.

And of course, there has been mountain bike racing. This photo is from the Pocatello Pedalfest, a great race and my first time participating. I had ridden the City Creek trail system for years (make that decades)...but racing always gives a new perspective. It was a fun June day.

Over a year ago, I was approached to help start & coach a local Driggs/Jackson high school mountain biking team - to be part of the burgeoning nationwide NICA (national interscholastic cycling association) program. I couldn't be the primary point person because of all my work travel, but our Mountain Bike The Tetons (MBT) organization and some other great people have stepped up...and we now have a team! I'm one of the assistant coaches, and loving the experience & kids already. The season's first race will be at Grand Targhee, with teams & families from all over Southern Idaho coming to our backyard; exciting stuff!

There have been plenty of thunderstorms too, keeping everything incredibly green...and the horses happy. 

As summer has progressed, I've also enjoyed some really nice rides with good friends. On the day below, Garth, Jansen & I explored nearly all of the Grand Targhee trails, including the top of Peaked - with stunning views of the Tetons. Not bad.

When you start seeing balloons in the early morning Teton Valley sky, you know it's summer. This local pastime has become tradition, and participation typically peaks around the 4th of July.

My good buddy PNut from Tucson came to visit in late June, and was awesome company. He's a professional mountain biking guide by trade, and loves exploring the backcountry almost as much as I do. This is Mesquite Divide, at the top of Coal Creek - a stellar hike, and one of my favorite spots on the planet...looking straight north up the spine of the Teton mountain range.

I even broke out the Fatbike for a little summer riding in Rick's Basin (at Grand Targhee), and wow it was fun! Those 4" wide tires make for a super-smooth ride.

In late July, Peaked Sports hosted the 20th Annual Targhee Hillclimb bike race - a time trial from downtown Driggs up to Grand Targhee Ski area, which totals 12 miles & 2,000 feet of climbing. I race for the Peaked Team, and it was great hanging out with teammates like Garth plus Peaked owner and local legend Dick Weinbrandt afterwards.

As always, nearby canyons beckon...and with all the spring & summer rain we've had, wildflowers have been spectacular this year. Here's to getting out and savoring it all, before we turn around and realize it's Fall.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Driggs and Beyond: Winter & Spring, Healing & Traveling, Work & Fun

And just like that, three months go by. I have no excuses for the lack of writing, other than a disjointed winter & early spring - I've been in Driggs, Arizona and Utah, plus all over Idaho for work. The knee surgery threw me sideways more than expected ("it's just a scope, you'll be ok in a few weeks"...not), both physically & psychologically; it's clear that I need to develop more non-physical hobbies. That all being's a re-cap.

Within ten days of surgery, I was spinning on a recumbent bike - and should have continued at that level for several weeks, rather than jumping on a real bike and aggravating the knee and then dealing with an inordinate amount of inflammation & scar tissue for several months...lesson learned. I simply like being outside.

January, February and March were very mild. This photo is a mid-January sunset in Driggs, when snowpack should be 2-3 feet deep in the valley...but it was just a few inches because of rain and thaws. Thankfully, the higher elevations like Grand Targhee picked up close to normal snowfall as winter progressed.

I was gone for most of it, but the 4th Annual Teton Valley Snowfest took place from January 23 to February 1. Warm temperatures made for challenging logistics - snow sculptures melted within a few days, hockey events were cancelled, and other modifications were necessary - but hats' off to the Teton Valley Foundation for still putting on a great local mid-winter event.

As mentioned: I couldn't resist riding an actual bike - it's who I am - and it helped keep me sane in spite of the knee and other issues.

There's definitely something healing about Sedona.

Meanwhile: back at the Driggs homestead, my snowbike awaited. This photo is overlooking Targhee Village golf course, which was open for play before the end of March. Unprecedented.

March brought a big work seminar in Pocatello with my dad and brother Mark. Several dozen customers attended, which was terrific - but the best part was spending time with these two guys.

Melissa bought a sweet new car, and Romeo approves.

We'll be starting a new high school mountain biking team here in Driggs/Jackson this summer, and I'll be an assistant coach. The sport has really taken off in neighboring states in recent years, and is a great thing for kids, communities, families, and of course cycling. To help prepare, I attended a two-day NICA (national interscholastic cycling association) coaching clinic in Boise a couple of weeks ago, where we learned rules, protocol, and skills. I'm psyched & honored to be a part of this.

I tend to be a "Rainbows & Unicorns" guy, but I would be remiss here if I didn't mention the handful of tragedies we've dealt with in Teton Valley these past couple of months. Good, young people - influential citizens & friends to many - have lost their lives. Some things simply don't make any sense, except perhaps to remind us that every day is a gift.

With that thought: spring is here, and I've been exploring new trails on work trips. The more I see of it, the better Idaho gets.

Last but not least: I spent some good time with Bridger last week, and hope to make that a more regular thing moving forward. He's eight years old now, enjoys watching ESPN (or am I projecting that?), swims in every creek, rolls in anything smelly...and always seems happy. Quite a combination.

Spring forward, friends.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Driggs Wintering

December: the dawn of winter in Driggs, Idaho. Shown here at dusk - I always love the element of wheel line irrigation against the backdrop of our incomparable mountain setting.

The month started off incredibly mild, which I enjoyed during annual work meetings in Salt Lake City. Mountain biking the Bonneville Shoreline trail on December 8 sounds preposterous, but it was amazing and felt like early October.

As the month progressed, the cold & snow set in to stay...just in time for holiday parties (and photobombers).

There were beautiful Teton sunsets...

Co-workers finally posing for an annual photo...

Fun snowshoe hikes...

A snow-free New Year's beach getaway...

And finally: arthroscopic knee surgery. Uggh - but, how lucky are we to have regionally-renowned surgeons, physical therapists who are also mountain bike racing teammates, super-friendly hospital Teton scenery all right here in small town Driggs?

Here's to coming back better, faster & stronger soon - and appreciating everything more in the process. 

Happy 2015!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Doin' It All, Late Fall

I've always loved the confluence of farming, mountains, recreation, and throwback western lifestyle found here in Driggs, Idaho. Driving back home from a work trip in late October, this classic scene caught my eye...and I managed to get a photo.

Yes, it really is about more than just riding my bike. But wow, it's been a stellar fall for that!

Indian summer lingered long - colorful and delicious. It was probably the best I've experienced in 20 Teton Valley years. 

On the handful of rainy days, Melissa & I ventured out hiking...and Romeo chased squirrels.  

Beyond Driggs, there was a work convention up in beautiful Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. I can't believe I'd never been there before; the combination of water, mountains, evergreens everywhere, and super-friendly people simply blew me away. 

Thanksgiving brought some good time with family down in Salt Lake City, and even a little football. 

Eventually, snow arrived. We're fortunate to have extensive nordic grooming here in Teton Valley, including one area just two miles from my house...with views to ski for. Romeo loves it. 

Ultimately, late fall & early winter are about slowing down. Less daylight means more cozy "hygge" time by the fire - and I like it. Happy Winter. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Indian Summering

Sunshine - that magic elixir - was relatively scarce around Driggs in August. But wow, did it return for a spectacular Indian Summer season.

We've pounced on it: epic mountain bike rides in the Big Holes, kayaking on Jackson Lake, hiking in the Tetons...and simply taking in the colors.

Romeo loves the Big Hole Crest Trail.

A quick trip to Park City brought even more colors, and fun. Melissa did a 50K North Face trail run, and I finally participated in the annual Tour des Suds mountain bike fundraiser/race (costumes encouraged)...then did a sweet ride with buddies Eric & Elton. 

Area rivers have been a feast for the eyes, and fishing has been stellar, too. 

The 7th Annual MooseCross cyclocross event was held here in Victor, Idaho on October 11, and I jumped in...on my mountain bike. It was a blast - and the event continues to grow, officially part of the Wild West regional race series this year.

A favorite hike up nearby Coal Creek brings incredible Teton Views, which never grow old. Resulting smiles are automatic. 

Last but not least: nothing beats a Teton High School football game on a perfect fall evening. Here's to more!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Rolling Into Fall, Driggs Style

If August in Teton Valley (along with most of Idaho) could be expressed in one word this year, it would be "rain." Lots of it, and most days. Monsoon moisture made its way farther north than usual, and we got soaked, often. The downside, of course, was curtailed recreation - it's difficult to bike, hike, golf, boat, and fish during downpours. But the upside was incredibly lush, green landscapes...and lots of rainbows.

That being said: there were still windows of sun, and we made the most of them. This day was well-timed for the Big Hole Challenge Duathlon out in Horseshoe Canyon, where I mountain biked, Melissa trail ran, and Romeo cheered us on to a nice 1st Place finish.

There was also a stellar hike up Pole Canyon & beyond, on the valley's south end.  The trail is steep, but the payoff views are worth it.

All the Idaho rain also posed a challenge with my work, as conditions must be dry for asphalt sealing. But with flexibility & creativity, we managed to get most projects completed.

Mid-August was the Pierre's Hole 50/100 mountain bike race up at Grand Targhee. This event is now in its 7th year, and has become a regionally & nationally renowned event. It's awesome having it right in my backyard, and the course gets better each year as Targhee expands its network of singletrack trails. I did the 50K distance (which had 4,000 feet of climbing!), and managed to grab 3rd Place in the Men's 40-49 division. 

Late August was time for my buddies annual "Tour de Star Valley" bike ride, down in Afton, WY. Despite a little rain & hail, it was great hanging out with Mike, cousin Brent, Dan, and my brother Curt for a long day in the saddle. Salt River Pass remains one of my favorite spots on the planet.

What would early September be, without racing in the 204-mile Logan-to-Jackson ("LOTOJA") bike race? It's a huge event these days, with a couple thousand cyclists competing. This year I did it as a 2-Person Relay with my brother Curt, and it was a memorable day shared with family and lots of good friends - perfect weather, no mishaps, and our 9-hour 37-minute finishing time was the fastest I've ever been a part of...good for 3rd Place in our division. 

As summer rolls into fall, the light softens and so does the pace.  It's time for my favorite season of all.