A vacation within Idaho's borders is synonymous with adventure. So it's fitting that there's Ride Idaho, an exciting and very adventurous vacation in which participants bicycle through the state.
Ride Idaho is Idaho's longest organized bike ride, clocking 410 miles by the end. It's not a race or competition; this is a sightseeing vacation on a bike with camping along the way. And though you needn't be a professional cyclist to participate, you need to be fairly experienced, considering riders log 55 to 100 miles by the end of each of the seven days.
Ride Idaho began last year; it was modeled after RAGBRAI in Iowa, which is considered the biggest annual statewide bike tour with approximately 10,000 riders. Last year a group of non-profit volunteers organized the event, but the Treasure Valley YMCA have taken over.
Phil Sperling, the adventure education coordinator at the Y, is in charge of Ride Idaho. Sperling says that aside from being an enjoyable vacation for cycling enthusiasts, the goal of the ride is to explore new landscapes while learning about Idaho's heritage and history, including the lesser known facts and lore of our state.
"If you drove the route we bike, you won't see everything," says Sperling. "It's a much more unique perspective."
The route, which is different every year, begins in Melba. The first day is the hardest, with a 100-mile trek to Glenns Ferry. It's called the Century Ride, for obvious reasons. This segment is also available as a one-day option; riders get all the support, T-shirt and lunch that everyone else gets, plus a shuttle back to Melba for a small fee. From Glenns Ferry, the ride continues to Buhl, Shoshone, Hailey (where it stops for a resting day), Stanley and finishes in Lowman.
All those host communities benefit economically from the event. "A lot of people grew up in Boise and have not been to these communities before," says Sperling. "They may not be a destination town, but they have a lot of great little historical events going on. This gives them a chance to show off."
Lunches are provided on the route, along with aid stations. "It's a supported bike ride, meaning we carry all their gear," says Sperling. "And we have vehicles riding up and down the route, running 10 hours a day to pick them up, give them aid if they need."
The event is open to all cyclists who want a memorable Idaho vacation. Sperling says the majority of people who do this kind of ride are in the 35- to 55-year-old demographic, but the range so far among the 70 registered riders is age 16 to 77 years old. Clearly Idahoans are adventurous at all ages.
For info on Ride Idaho or to register, visit www.rideidaho.org. Registration ends July 18.