POCATELLO — How much money does biking bring into Pocatello’s economy?
There’s no official statistic measuring the sport’s local financial impact, but many local business owners and event organizers say it is substantial.
Aside from the multiple bike shops in Pocatello, tourists from around the world have visited the area just to take advantage of the local trail systems and to participate in the numerous biking events held every spring and summer.
“I have people in my restaurant from all over who tell me they come here just to ride the trails,” said Corey Wight, the owner of the SandTrap restaurant and one of the organizers of the annual Pocatello City Creek PedalFest.
There are multiple reasons why Pocatello’s profile in the international biking community has surged in recent years. Here are a few:
Every June, the Pocatello City Creek PedalFest brings hundreds of competitive mountain bikers to the area to race on the trails along the city’s West Bench. The most recent PedalFest event was held this past weekend, but this year a new feature was added to the usual festivities.
On Sunday, the Idaho Enduro Series held a competition in the Mink Creek area as a part of its 2017 race series. Popular in Europe, enduro races time the competitors by how fast they descend on the downhill portions of the trails.
Even before the enduro race was held, PedalFest organizers said it was a success. On Saturday, a day before the new race was held, registration for the competition was almost sold out.
For the event’s organizers, the purpose of hosting an enduro race is twofold — it brings a new type of mountain biking event into Pocatello and it provides extra exposure to the trails in the area.
That extra exposure came earlier this week, when the event was profiled on Pinkbike.com, one of the world’s top mountain biking websites.
For more information on the annual event, visit www.pocatellopedalfest.com.
On Saturday, the sixth annual Spinderella bike ride for women and girls will be held at Ross Park.
Since it was founded, the bike ride has grown substantially, attracting thousands of bike riders from around the world, including Canada and multiple countries in Europe.
But perhaps its biggest impact has been the money it has generated for various local charities and causes. In total, more than $100,000 raised by Spinderella has been donated back into the community.
“When I calculated the amount we’ve raised, it was a happy moment for me,” Spinderella founder DaNae Young said. “I shed a tear.”
The money raised from the upcoming ride on Saturday will be primarily donated to two causes. A portion will be given to Bloom, a group that provides postpartum support to new mothers.
Another portion will help fund the construction of a bike service station off South Bannock Highway near Indian Hills Elementary School. The station will provide cyclists with water, tools for bike maintenance and shade from the sun.
Smaller donations will also be given to the Acorn Fund, which helps people at the Aid for Friends homeless shelter get back into the workforce, and the Pocatello Bike Kitchen, which provides low-income families with a place to perform maintenance on their bikes.
The bike routes at Saturday’s event have not changed from the previous years, with 10-mile, 22-mile, 50-mile, 70-mile and 100-mile rides available. However, Young said participants can expect more volunteers at the water stations this year.
“We’re upping the ante,” she said. “We’re going to have more volunteers to pamper the ladies.”
Though online registration is closed, participants can sign up tonight from 5 to 8 p.m. at Lower Ross Park.
For more information about the event, visit www.spinderellaride.com.
There’s a joke in the local biking community that there are more trails in the Pocatello area than there are mountain bikers.
There might be some truth to this anecdote. The quality and variety of the local trails is expansive, with plenty of places for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders. City Creek, Mink Creek, Gibson Jack and Blackrock-Chinese Peak are just a few of the most popular places to ride in the area.
And soon, another massive trail system could be added to the mix.
A group of local trail users are currently working with the Bureau of Land Management to create a new system near the Highland area tentatively called the Pioneer Ridge Trail System. The proposal is to create 20 miles of hiking, biking, horseback riding and limited ATV use trails on BLM’s 1,400-acre East Bench Recreation Management Zone east of Pocatello.
BLM said last month that it could be a year before any land development begins in that area.
Though rainstorms struck the Gate City area last Friday, it didn’t dampen the spirits of any of the competitors participating in PedalFest on Saturday.
In fact, the previous night’s precipitation actually created ideal conditions for the racers, according to Wight.
“It was dream dirt, there was no mud,” he said. “The trails weren’t as dry as usual and the cloud cover was perfect.”
Even when the Gate City area is affected by inclement weather, the local trails still usually dry out faster than other areas in the region.
Though it is halfway through June, some of the more popular trails in other parts of the state are still either buried under snow or impassable due to mud. That has not been the case for most of the trails in Southeast Idaho, even though the region was hit especially hard by snowstorms this past winter.
In fact, this year’s PedalFest attracted riders from Sun Valley and the Teton Valley who were just looking for a dry place to ride.