All posts by Norb

About Norb

Life is an adventure to be lived and shared with passion; with family and with friends. I love the outdoors, big spaces and remote landscapes, and have a passion for bikepacking, hiking, trail running and overnights under the stars. I love all things two-wheeled, adventures by bicycle and motorcycle have been a part of my life since I was old enough to straddle the saddle. I'm a fan of IPA's, extra dry Beefeater Martini's and chocolate chip cookies. Plus, the father to two talented daughters and the other half to my amazing wife who is my best friend. --- “The shortest distance between two points is often unbearable.” ― C. Bukowski

Here we go again…

“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”
~Ti

Coming up on the 4th edition of the official Smoke ‘n Fire, and the 6th ‘unofficial’ year of this event, we LIVE up to our name. The Bearskin Fire is growing in the Deadwood area and we are once again faced with a deviation to our route.

This is especially disappointing, not only because our beautiful forests are burning, but  last year we added some tasty new sections that we could not access due to the Pioneer Fire. This year we were featuring the all-new, and sublime, Westside Trail, now out of play. However, we are doing what we can to ensure that Mordor is in the cards.

If you plan to rent, or register, your personal SPOT device please do so right away. The deadline is here. We will have a final .GPX track soon, and the show will go on. We remain committed, yet flexible!

Cheers.

 

 

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The Smoke ‘n Fire is coming soon….

The ever evolving Smoke ‘n Fire…

The Smoke ‘n Fire is about a month out, and this year’s race kicks off at 6:00am on Wednesday, September 13th.

But first, we have yet another reroute to sort out east of Featherville. This year miles of road have been destroyed on the South Fork from major flooding, but opportunity knocks. There are a couple of options that are being hammered out that may keep the Featherville to Smokey Creek in play. It could involve water crossings or perhaps more elevation gain and some challenging new single track. Or both.

Fire season in Idaho is late to arrive, but it’s kicking into high gear. So far we’ve  been fortunate to not have any raging, out of control, fire activity. As we know, this can change instantly.

The Trackleaders Registration link will be active on our website in a couple of weeks. You will be able to rent a SPOT device or register your private SPOT at that time. We should have the final .GPX track by the end of August. Stay tuned.

If you’re planning on toeing the line for this years event, please shoot a brief letter of intent to:  elev8208@gmail.com

More to come as we get closer to the event. And thanks once again for your continued interest.

 

 

 

 

 

Plan C – the reroute is a wrap!

We have the official reroute dialed in and the .gpx track and cues wrapped up.  Emails went out to all riders with detailed information and the new route and cues are on the site.

The Deadwood area is effectively off limits, which accounts for nearly half of our route. We looked at several options to work around the fire zone but it became apparent there was not way around the Pioneer Fire. Our route was boxed in by the fire perimeter and wilderness area.

So, this year we have a modified out and back. There are actually more miles this year but the elevation gain has dropped by about 5,000 feet.  Longer but less climbing.  And there are multiple hot springs on a section of the route – Middle Fork Road, to take advantage of.

The Live Tracker is up and as riders continue to sign up the site will be populated.  You can check it out right here:  Smoke ‘ Fire 2016 Live Tracker  

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Of Floods and Fire

Once again we will offering up a tasty reroute of this years edition of the Smoke ‘n Fire. Perhaps it’s the destiny of this event to be different each year. The reroute legwork is in process and we’ll know more next week on how this will all play out.

We have added some sweet new  single track this year – about 20 miles worth – and eliminated that much highway.  In addition, we had a successful purging of the unbeloved, and often scorned, Alder Creek Road out of Garden Valley. In its place, a twisted backroad that leads you to the Alder Summit before descending on an abandoned forest road into Mordor. You can take a look at the adds and subtracts right here, compliments of Greg Johnson : Smoke ‘n Fire Overlay

But first, we’ve got to get to Garden Valley. Last year a substantial flood demolished the road about 15 miles east of Featherville, which led to a reroute. This year the Pioneer Fire is raging and Scott Mountain Road is now closed.  And Placerville/Alder Creek is being threatened. A route is being explored this weekend that will potentially be a viable solution. And if that doesn’t work out we’ll go to Plan B…..or C. The show will go on.

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Communique #1 has gone out and those who are signed up and riding should have received that email on August 18th.  It contained pertinent info to the event.

The Trackleaders Registration link is on our website and names will continue to be populated as devices are rented and registered.  The deadline for renting a SPOT is midnight, September 7th. If you own your own SPOT the deadline is September 12th. If you want to jump on it right now, go here: 2016 SPOT Registration and Rental

Here are a few images to whet your appetite from recent recon work in the Ketchum and Stanley area, both areas unaffected by the fire.

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That’s all for now and more to come as we get closer and have the official reroute dialed.

Pedal On!

2016 Registration is Open

Registration is now open for the 3rd Annual Smoke ‘n’ Fire 400!!

We’re a couple months out from our September 14th race date.  We have a later start this year so hopefully any fire activity will be contained and the weather should be perfect.  Last year we had a formidable reroute in blistering heat that  left mental scars on many, many riders.  This arduous reroute was reported as hot and miserable with a few riders completely broken the first day. The good news was there was a hell of a tailwind!

The washed out road east of Featherville that was cause for the reroute will not be repaired this year. But not to worry because a trail through the boulder field has been built and your legs will be happy to be off the bike pushing and carrying through this short section.

If interested send an email to: elev8208@gmail.com and let us know you will be at the start and where you are from.  We will add your name to the Start List and send out e-mail communiques as we get closer to race day.

Pedal On and see you in September.

-ND

2015 Smoke ‘n’ Fire is a wrap

The second edition of the Smoke ‘n’ Fire is in the books.

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We had great weather this year, highlighted by extremes from mid 90’s to the mid 20’s – a 70 degree spread! Not unusual in September for our high desert environment.

The re-route was especially challenging due to the 90 plus degree heat. A couple riders claimed it was closer to 100 degrees as the were climbing out of Pine and baking on the exposed ride into Fairfield. This is not a permanent change, but nature spoke this year.

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We officially had 65 riders with SPOT devices and there were a few that did not opt for using the tracker. Of the 65 that started we had 16 that scratched for reasons from mechanical to physiological to just plain mental fatigue.

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Riders came from 11 different states – from the south and east coast to the west coast and Alaska. And a few folks came from Canada and two from Switzerland. Pretty amazing considering this is a second year event.

We also had some big names in the endurance game come and take on the challenge. From the 2015 Tour Divide record holder to the Queen of Pain, plus a 2015 Triple Crown Challenger finisher. Lots of bikepacking veterans came to play as well as a collection of folks new to the sport. And a strong tandem duo gave it hell, and promise to be back next year to take care of unfinished business. Pretty great stuff all around!

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Talking with our friends at Sun Ray, Java and other local businesses, the impact of our event is very positive. And I’ve heard from a couple of the smaller business owners on route that they loved having riders come in, share stories, and consume their body weight in food and drink….in one sitting. They were all appreciative and very supportive.

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The roll out at 6:00AM Wednesday morning was smooth and almost everyone was ready. Almost. Some people were caught off guard, or snoozing, or expecting something more formal. Hey, this is bikepacking and at 6:00am you roll. The pomp and circumstance happened the night before.

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There is so much support for our event, but there are several honorable mentions:

-Sun Ray Cafe for the hospitable pre-ride get together and post race hang out.
-Java for opening early to allow riders to ingest calories and get their caffeine fix.
-Tri Town for sidewalk support, water, beer and cookies 24/7. Thanks Dom and Antonio.
-And photographer extraordinaire Rob Huguez for the great photographs and support.
-Trackleaders and MTBCast for feeding our endurance spectator fix.
-And thank you co-conspirators for your patience…..Tyson, Bart, Lisa and Eve.

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Until next year, keep the wheels turning.

Unpredictable Mother Nature

We have an official reroute dialed in for this year’s race.

Two days were spent in the field on roads and trails and lots of time going over maps and talking with locals trying to figure out a reroute for this years edition of the Smoke ‘n’ Fire. We wanted something that would be scenic, challenging and fit in with the nature of the route. Time was short, but we are pleased with what we have come up with.

The reroute will begin in Pine, and in lieu of going north to Featherville you will go south. The route will send you on a paved climb out of Anderson Ranch Dam and onto a very scenic and remote section of the Centennial Trail. Continue with some high plateau riding heading east toward Fairfield. From there the new route will divert you north into the mountains for a grind to Couch Summit, and then a fast downhill to Five Points/Rd. 227. This will put you back on the Smoke ‘n’ Fire route.  18 bonus miles so you get even more bang for your buck!

The .GPX file is on the site now as well as Cue and Resupply Notes.  Communique #3 has gone out with a more detailed update.  Only a few short days out before it’s go time!

Here are a few random photos from the route…

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An obscure route off Couch Summit seemed about perfect – on paper.IMG_3453 IMG_3450

Ketchum Intel has it that sheep, herders and their dogs will be moving along portions of the route. It’s that time of year and this was a rather large herd of sheep at Cow Creek.

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Cheers!

Rock, Mud, Fire, Water…and Sheep

Quick update on all things Smoke ‘n’ Fire…

Two communiques have gone out and those who are signed up and riding should have received those two emails over the past couple weeks.

The Featherville Road has about a 1/4 mile washout approximately 15 miles east of Featherville that has entirely wiped out the road. There may be a trail constructed around this washout, but if not there will be a detour that will skirt this area and bring you back on route so you can have the joy of climbing Dollarhide.

Trackleaders Live Tracker is up and names will continue to be populated to the site.  We have waypoints added for time splits at Featherville, Ketchum, Stanley and Garden Valley this year.

The smoky haze is virtually gone from the Boise area and we’ll keep you posted on other areas as we have more information.  Fires are still burning, but favorable winds, a bit of rain, and lower temperatures have helped conditions.

Speaking of weather, looks like temps will be near perfect next week.  70’s and 80’s during the day and close to freezing at night in the Sawtooth Valley, but not into the teens like we had last year.  Water bottles and Camelbaks should be safe from freezing!

Ketchum intel indicated sheepherders are bringing their herds down from summer pasture, possibly on the Centennial Trail, Harriman and Wood River Trail.  Riders encountered a few herds last year as well.  More coming on safely riding around and through herds and how to deal with the guard dogs and collies.

Finally, if you are new to self-supported bikepacking, please take the time to read and understand the rules and the expectations.  There are guidelines for these types of events, and a final communique will be going out that will address this in more detail.

That’s all for now, and safe travels for those of you coming to Boise.

 

2015 Registration is OPEN

Yep, registration is now open for the 2nd Annual Smoke ‘n’ Fire 400!!

We are 60 days out from our September 9th start date.  The weather in Idaho is hot and dry and come September let’s hope our event does not live up to it’s name.  The name was forged from the raging fires of 2012, however last years race saw temps from the low 90’s to the low teens.  Almost perfect conditions except for the frozen body parts and frozen H20 systems.

Send an email to: elev8208@gmail.com and include your:

Name
Hometown
Will you Rent or do you Own a SPOT Device

We will get your name added to the Start List and send out e-mail communiques as we update information and we get closer to race day.

Happy training and see you in September.

Night (4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Wrap Up (finally)

Our first year event saw 30 enthusiastic riders leave from historic Hyde Park in Boise, Idaho at 7:00am.  There was a long, neutral rollout on the greenbelt, paralleling the Boise River and snaking through three local parks.  The weather was crisp, clear, and chilly and riders were invigorated by both temperatures and adrenaline.

Early Start

It was very cool to look behind me and see a line of colorful bikepackers all kitted out, lights on and riding together.  Just a few short years ago I think I may have been the only bikepacker in Boise.  Our sport has come a long way locally and this was certainly a “who would of thought it” moment.  Fortunately, I now have a group of local friends who are bikepackers to suffer with.

Greenbelt Rollout

After I rolled out with the group and blew the air horn, releasing the hounds and signaling ‘race on’, I peeled off and watched them all head east toward the rising sun.  To the west the full moon was descending.  An Idaho landscape with the elusive Supermoon for night riding, sub-freezing temperatures predicted for the mountains and not a cloud in the sky; it seemed just about perfect.

Dollarhide

There were lots of newbies to bikepacking at our event, but there were also many experienced multi-day bikepacking veterans of the game.  Being the inaugural event, we were very curious to see how fast the fast guys would ride as well as how the new folks to bikepacking would do.  What strategies would be deployed, who would bivy and when, who would partake of hot springs, which resupply options would be utilized, and who would not sleep and who would sleep in?  So many questions!   The answers came over the next five days.

Off Galena

We had nine Friday finishers, two that set the bar quite high: Blake Bockius and Brian Pal.  Deemed co-winners since they rolled to the finish together under the cloak of darkness at 3:55am Friday morning, just under 45 hours from the start!   We were not expecting such fast times and these two hardly slept at all.  Their stopped time was just over five hours each.  Unbelievable!

Night (4)

We had ten finishers on Saturday and the vibe in Hyde Park at the finish was just right.  There was a street fair going on, the weather was still perfect, and outdoor bars and restaurants were packed.  Local fans, new fans, friends and family came out to watch riders finish, drink some beer, hang out, and enjoy the festive atmosphere.  Riders reported that they liked the finish, the sense of community, hanging out at the local establishments with other like-minded bikepack racers.

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Our final riders finished up in the evening hours just before midnight on Sunday.  They were knackered, had distant stares, a bloody hand, big smiles, and lots of stories.  They were greeted to shots of Crown Royal and a cooler full of beer by their faithful fans and friends.

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Some of the common themes we’ve heard from the riders is how beautiful Idaho is and how the route took advantage of some very scenic areas.  The single track got rave reviews.  The climbing is tough and the last 100 miles are the most demanding and come at a difficult point in the race.

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September in Idaho is cold and low temperatures in the mountains hover around 21 degrees.  Frozen fingers, toes, water bottles and Camelbacks were a collective theme.  Forest service bathrooms were used as luxurious sleeping quarters when a few riders were lucky enough to score them.  One rider found an open door at zero dark thirty to the Redfish Lodge and made himself at home on a leather couch under a heater.  He was first in line for breakfast that morning.  Score!!

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The inaugural edition of the Smoke ‘n’ Fire 400 exceeded our expectations in terms of turnout and rider feedback.  We purposefully kept a low profile since this was a first time event and we wanted to get it right.  It grew to a manageable size and we had a good turnout of local Idaho riders, but nearly half were from out-of-state.  Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington were represented.  A big thanks to all the riders that rolled the dice with our race and to those who traveled across many state lines to get here.  Next year we will look at the moon phase calendar for September and plan for our 2nd Edition of the Smoke ‘n’ Fire 400.

Thanks everyone!

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