Mountain Biking With My Touring Bike

Michaud to Trail Creek Road Route

The above map shows my intended route for my Saturday afternoon ride.  However, I went too far up Michaud Creek Road and ended up performing a hike-a-bike over a very craggy, rock-strewn, god forsaken mountain top trail, then trail riding down City Creek trail (runs parallel to Trail Creek Road about a mile or so to the east).  Yeah, I didn’t see that coming.

The ride started along the Frontage Road highway towards American Falls.  I had never cycled on Michaud Creek Road, so I was riding my touring bike in case I had to do some unimproved road riding.  Later in this story, you will see that this was the understatement of the week. I turned left onto an unmarked road that I assumed was Michaud Creek Road since it was right where it was supposed to be (just east of the Pocatello Airport).  I keep looking for a road sign on the way up the road but never saw one.  It turned out to be a pretty nice road.  It was scenic, I saw 3 pheasants, and the road is sheltered on both sides by hills, so Pocatello and the Simplot factory disappears from sight.  You also can’t smell Simplot from Michaud since the wind blows from the west!

I cycled past some cows that were wandering loose at the side of the road and after quite a few miles of constant uphill cycling I started to wonder when the heck this road would turn to dirt; but it just kept on going.  Eventually the road turned north and the pavement started looked pretty old and weathered, and the grade increased too.  Then I was in my lowest gear and crawling up the steep grade.  The mountains near Kinport peak looked quite close and the surrounding hills looked very familiar to me as those I’ve seen around the City Creek area, so I knew I was nearing the top.  Also, the wind is blocked in the Michaud Creek Valley, but now that I was above the valley I was feeling the cold October wind.

Finally the pavement ended at the top of the ridge and I saw a small pond nearby, which was quite a surprise.  It must be a low point between the mountains where run-off collects.  I got off my bike like an old man with arthritis and walked up to the highest nearby point to take a look around.  I tried to get an idea as to where I was.  I could see the blinking towers on top of Howard Mountain.  Kinport peak was blocked from view by some foot hills.  I could see Holt Arena directly to the North.  I must have been very close to Trail Creek Road, but I could not see any clearly defined trail.  I walked up another hill to take a better look, but I could only guess the direction I should be going.  My better judgement told me just to go back from where I came, especially since it was downhill all the way back to Frontage Road, and then the west wind would blow me back to Pocatello.  But my adventurous side won the battle and I began hiking my bike up the most likely looking trail.  As soon as the trail leveled out a little, I hopped on my bike and rode a ways.  Then I hopped back off, cursed the rugged, rocky, steep trail and hiked some more.  I kept reminding myself of the past experiences I’ve had that told me what a glutton for punishment I must be. Had I been riding my mountain bike instead of my touring bike, I might have rode more and hiked less.  But, really, I’m kind of a wuss when it comes to traversing rocky, steep, technical trails.  I’m an explorer, not an adrenaline junkie.

Finally, the trail turned a lot easier so I hopped on my bike and made some time.  The trail eventually turned onto City Creek trail to my utmost glee.  I was so happy to see a trail that was familiar to me.  I met a hiker and another guy driving up in his truck.  I hadn’t been away from civilization very long, but I was really happy to see another human being after being alone and lost for the past hour or so.  Riding down the trail on my touring bike wasn’t very fun.  No shocks, no upright position, and cantilever brakes that required me to grip them as hard as I could to get any stopping power.  Yeah, I’ve read before that the mountain bike brake lever position and V-brakes were designed with stopping power in mind and I have personally discovered that to be the truth.  You can get better stopping power with cantilever brakes if your hands are in the drops, but you don’t want your hands in the drops when your descending a bumpy trail.  Yeah, remember folks, for best results, use a mountain bike for mountain biking.  Just a tip :-)

I got home about 3.5 hours after I started my journey, and I drank plenty of beer to ease my frazzled nerves, my sore hands, and several other overly used muscles groups.  Next time I will probably cycle up Trail Creek Road and see the situation from a different angle.  I’m anxious to figure out where I went astray.

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