Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

Planning and Goal-Setting for the Smoke ‘n’ Fire 400

By the time you’ll be reading this post, I’ll be headed eastward out of Boise with thirty-some other weirdos on a counter-clockwise loop central Idaho known as the Smoke ‘n’ Fire 400.  You’ve probably already seen all the stuff I’m carrying with me.  Now I’d like to share some of my hopes, dreams and plans for the ride.

I’m not really sure what to expect from myself as this will be my first long-distance solo bikepacking trip.  On previous trips I’ve traveled with friends, ridden fairly hard during the day but spent plenty of time relaxing in camp and hanging out along the way to enjoy shady spots, roadside bars, swimming holes, hot springs and other amusements.  On this ride, I’ll be on my own, free to ride at my own pace and set my own agenda.  I don’t intend to ride so fast, hard and long that I miss all the grandeur around me and neglect opportunities to enjoy my surroundings.  There is more to be gained from this event than simply posting a fast time.  I don’t do these kinds of rides to set records but rather to explore the world within and without me, to push my own limits and see what lies around the next bend.  I’m especially excited to have another opportunity to see more of my new home state and lay the groundwork for more Idaho adventures.

Given that my fitness has declined somewhat from the midpoint of summer, I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic in my planning for this trip.  The route totals almost precisely 400 miles and roughly 33,500 feet of climbing.  The distance is roughly the same but elevation total is more than twice that of the Oregon Outback and I spent a solid four days on that route.  However, during those four days I spent more time standing still than moving.  This ride will give me a chance to see what happens if I invert that balance and spend as much time as possible in motion without sacrificing the quality of my experience.  Perhaps you share a similar curiosity and wonder what you might be capable of outside the boundaries and restrictions you find yourself constrained by.

So, my optimistic plan is to finish in four days, averaging 100 miles per day and arriving back in Boise late on Saturday.  This is achievable if things go well and I have very few navigation, physical or mechanical problems but would be a seriously big ask given my relative lack of fitness and experience in these events.

Reference this route map from RideWithGPS to follow along.

The itinerary for the four-day plan would look something like this:

  1. Boise to Five Points campground
  2. Five Points to Redfish Lake
  3. Redfish to Deadwood Reservoir
  4. Deadwood to Boise

The more conservative plan is to finish in five days, averaging 80 miles per day and getting home sometime on Sunday.  Given the freedom and flexibility I’ll have to keep pedaling, I’ll hope to do better than this but won’t be disappointed if circumstances conspire against me.

The five-day itinerary would be roughly:

  1. Boise to Featherville
  2. Featherville to North Fork campground
  3. North Fork to Redfish Lake
  4. Redfish to Deadwood Reservoir
  5. Deadwood to Boise

Overall, I’m thrilled to have this chance to see some new parts of Idaho while exploring the edges of my ability as a rider.  I hope you’ll follow my progress and that of my fellow participants via the Trackleaders race tracking page.  I’ll also be tweeting from the field where possible.  Follow me @rspinnaking.  I’ll be using the hashtag #snf400.

After the ride is over, look to this blog for stories of success and failure, beauty and desolation, life and death from the first running of the Smoke ‘n’ Fire 400.

Thanks for reading.


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