Will I be back next year? Sure. But I have no objectivity here. I was on the committee that planned three of Ride Idaho's events so I enjoy watching it evolve and I love to see my home state at low speed from the comformt of my recumbent.
Would I recommend this event to others? Sure. But you've got realize Ride Idaho is an average event. Most of its good to great features are offset by avoidable mistakes. So it ends up being no better or worse than other fully supported rides designed for 200-500 riders.
See rideidaho.org for their promotional puffery, route descriptions, entertainment listings, luggage limits and the other information you will want to know before considering Ride Idaho 2015. The 2015 route will be announced in January. Considering they failed to sell out their 10th anniversary gig, we are speculating they will go back to Northern Idaho.
Review of Ride Idaho 2014, Tenth Anniversary , August 2-9 (A fully supported bicycle tour for 350 but fewer than 250 riders signed up this year.)
Theme: Biblical Rain
Highlights: Most meals, rest stops, sag crew, camping sites, shower truck, mechanics, anniversary party, entertainment, and the fabulous route that ran across Idaho's high desert plateau (spectacular, wide open, endless vistas, sagebrush, fragrant, farms, dairies, soybeans, potatoes, sugar beats, alfalfa, canyons, rivers, springs, hot springs, thunderstorms, sunshine, trains!)
Low points: Maps, some meals, camping sites, RAIN, desert course (some called it boring). Did I mention the rain?
The good news and the bad weather:
On Day One, as we were pedaling east, trying to hydrate in the withering 100 degrees, invisibly behind us, a huge volume of cold, moist air was colliding with super heated air rising off Idaho's desert. Phones started squawking as flash flood alerts came in. About the time we arrived at camp, a tremendous thunderstorm was dropping 2 inches of water on the city of Twin Falls, Idaho, 80 miles behind us. Rain moved in and pounded our camp at Castle Rocks State Park a few hours later. The storm tracked us for three days. It was a one hundred year event that tested Ride Idaho.
There is no way to predict weather this rare and severe so there were no contingencies in place. Ride Idaho's management scrambled to get us to the next campsites. They located fairground buildings and a gymnasium for those who wanted to escape the waves of rain. Reactions to the weather ranged from resentment to resignation to acceptance and even some relief. Heat was not going to be much of a problem on this ride after all but cycling Idaho's crowded two-lane highways in thunderstorms left many feeling anxious. Some folks brought their rigs in from Twin Falls and went home while others strained the capacities of the staff to sag them along the route.
Those who rode the entire distance have earned bragging rights; stories will be told for decades about the deluge that was Ride Idaho 2014.
On the other hand, how many touring cyclists can you feed with seven dozen eggs?
No one could have anticipated the excitement RI had to cope with (and, all things considered, they did a fine job of dealing with the weird rain), but it's the fundamentals—stuff like good and plentiful food, garbage and recycling, communications, and legible and accurate maps—that just keep slipping through RI's grasp.
RI's meals are prepared and served by community organizations in each venue along the route. Evidence suggests no one from RI double checks the menus and ingredients for quality, quantity, or caloric delivery. No one from RI vettes the food prep and serving plans so the locals can forget or ignore whatever advice and specifications provided by RI. The rest stops, however, are run by cheerfully enthusiastic volunteers who spread a wide variety of high calorie goodies. Still, I'd like to see some proteins added to their selections. It's a good thing the rest stops are so well done; grab and stash some goodies in case the next planned meal is a disaster.
We had three spectacular dinners, three superb breakfasts, and three excellent lunches that were prepared by skilled and caring people who obviously love to eat. As usual, though, we had many more uninspired, inadequate or totally inexcusable meals, including these three bummer breakfasts:
1. "We can't open two serving lines because we're afraid we'll run out of food." (They ran out of food.)
2. "We started with 7 dozen eggs! They were gone in ten minutes!" (Duh. Fifty of 300 people ate that morning.)
3. "Ya'll are gonna need to be patient, there's just the two of us here cooking and one of us is handing out silverware." (Most of us hit the road hungry.)
RI's maps are, umm, funny. Expect many typos, weirdly inaccurate distances, non-referenced profiles that use a different vertical scale every day, and unnecessary icons that obscure the route. Even with a great marking crew, folks managed to wander off the course.