The crack of the baseball bat, the splash of whitewater in your face, the breeze of a cyclist mob whizzing by ... all signs of summer in Boise. And whether you are a watcher or a doer, Boise's summer sports scene is as hot as a horse turd on the 116-degree sidewalk. Pick your passion and get started.
• Boise Hawks baseball is as good as farm teams get around these parts. Grab a hot dog and it's just like watching the Yankees without the Jumbotron. The season kicks off with a home game on June 19 against the Eugene Emeralds. Visit www.boisehawks.com for information and tickets.
• On July 22, hoards of spectators and cyclists descend on Boise for the Twilight Criterium. Get yourself a clicker (which cyclists apparently prefer to clapping or wooing) and support more than a hundred cyclists from around the world, including former Olympians and national champions. Race organizers tout the Twilight Criterium as the third-best criterium in the United States. If watching the bikers fly 'round the block makes you dizzy, refocus your energy and enjoy the camaraderie (that is, heavy partying all around downtown) and the free Powerbarsthough last year there was a five-per-person limit.
• For aspiring Lance Armstrongs, there are also quite a few amateur races in Boise. Commuting bikers can peddle through May in Motion and keep right on peddling through the summer. For more information on two-wheel races in and around Boise this summer, visit our listings at www.boiseweekly.com.
• All summer long, gamblers can once again spend a day at the races. After legal matters that kept it closed (or worse, alcohol free), Les Bois is off and running this season. It's just like Churchill Downs' infield, with 46 live thoroughbred and quarter horse race dates, and ladies' night is on Tuesdays, so gals get in for free. Bonnets and bugles not required.
• An old Idaho law states that all residents must own a tent, a sleeping bag, a backpack and an unbreakable Nalgene bottle. OK, it's not so much a law as a standard. Jump in the Jeep and drive in any direction and you'll find a place to camp in the desert, the mountains, a campground or a site off the trail. With literally hundreds of campgrounds and thousands of acres of BLM land on which to camp, newbies to the outdoor sleeping experience may want to consult a guidebook (several dozen are in print from local authors), friends or Google. Need some help getting in the camping spirit? Campfire programs at the Foothills Learning Center begin in May. The free programs will cover backyard wildlife habitats, predators of the Boise Front and wildland fires, among other topics that promote environmental education, sound land use practices, natural resource conservation and firewise construction practices.
• Idaho has over 19,000 miles of trails for hiking, according to Idaho State Park info. Whether you gravitate toward wilderness or paved paths, there are a lot of options in or near Boise. Hike the scenic path from the Old Pen to TableRock. Or check out one of the free hikes with the Idaho Conservation League 2006 Hiking Series. On June 3, join the wild Idaho folks for Wickahoney in the Owyhee Range. Preregistration is required, but don't forget to check their Web site at www.wildidaho.org for the schedule of hikes.
Wanna Risk an Injury?
• Belay to your heart's content at the YMCA climbing walls, Boise State gym, Boise Peak Fitness (over 150 climbing routes), Boise Rock Gym (pre-scheduled groups only), or get out of the city and onto the real deal by cruising out to the Black Cliffs near Lucky Peak. Again, dozens of locals have written guidebooks on rock climbing in Idaho, but if you're just getting started, be sure to climb with a more experienced partner.
• It's all fun and games until the Indianhead Bowhunters' Cabin Creek 3D Moose Archery Shoot on May 20 and 21 in Weiser. Competitors pay fees to enter. The bowhunters also host the Hitt Mountain Shoot on June 24-25. For more information, visit www.idahoarchery.com.
• For the other kind of shooting enthusiast, EE-DA-HOW Long Rifles sponsors monthly shooting matches open to the public on the fourth Saturday of the month at Blacks Creek Rifle Range. Each event has a different match focus, such as cowboy lever action rifle, black powder muzzle loading rifle and pistol, or black powder cartridge rifle silhouette. Fees are $15 or less. For more information, visit www.blackscreekrange.com.
• According to Amy Stahl, community relations coordinator for Boise Parks and Rec, the department's beginner mountain biking classes are the most popular classes they offer. "We keep increasing the program because the interest continues to grow," says Stahl. "We offer a variety of mountain bike classes and camps for kids and adults and for people of varying skill levels." And they fill up fast. Want to learn how to mountain bike? Boise Parks and Rec, REI and the YMCA all offer beginner workshops and classes for kids and adults.
Playing it Safe
• Disc golf is a popular activity for athletes who like to compete at their own pace. With baskets instead of holes and Frisbees instead of balls, disc golf is the way to play the links without coughing up lots of cash for green feesor having to wear ugly pants. Boise has a few courses; one is located in the southeast corner of Ann Morrison Park. It has a full 18 holes and is open year round. Another option, open as soon as the snow melts, is on the cross-country trails of Bogus Basin Resort. Also free and open to the public, but be prepared to spend half the day looking for your wayward disc. With both courses, golfers must bring their own discs; tie-dyed shirts and Phish hats are optional.
• Speaking of regular golf, both the YMCA and Parks and Rec offer classes in this category, too. "Some of our most popular classes are golf lessons at Warm Springs Golf Course," says Stahl. "We have the valley's largest youth golf program." And Parks and Rec also sponsors a golf team, for the competitive types.
• Sure, running can yield a serious injury, and there are dozens of serious road and trail races in and around Boise every summer, but if you want the feel of a race and the length of a stroll, join the Main Street Mile on June 30. This annual race has seven different one-mile waves, including races for children, teams, prep athletes, masters and open runners. And of course, for the serious runner, dozens of road races take place throughout the summer. See the Rec Listings at www.boiseweekly.com for upcoming events.
• Floating the Boise River is good fun, even with the alcohol ban. But if you want to get out of the city, there's no shortage of tour guides or outfitters for whitewater rafting trips on the Payette or the Salmon. Enjoy a two-hour trip or a five-day adventure.
• As is expected in hot summer months, "Swim teams are popular for the youth," says Stahl. Boise youth can sign up for teams that practice at Borah, Fairmont, Lowell and the Natatorium. "We compete against teams from all over the area," she says. "Based on the way registrations are going, I'd say it will be a busy summer." If your kid ain't no Summer Sanders but likes the splashing, Boise's six outdoor public pools open on June 8. Visit www.cityofboise.org/parks for pool locations and hours.
• Enthusiastic Idaho fishermen already have favorite holes, but for the novice, there are clinics, classes and meetings available if you're not sure how or where to don the waders and hit the rivers. Visit Idaho Fish and Game at fishandgame.idaho.gov for more information. The department's annual Free Fishing Day is June 10. Fly Fishers of Idaho invite all area fly fishers to their meetings the third Thursday of each month at Idaho Fish and Game. Visit www.flyfishidaho.org.