SUN VALLEY • Bicyclists in Sun Valley are tasting Forbidden Fruit. And they’re loving it.
The new Forbidden Fruit trail, near the Adams Gulch area near Ketchum, is a new-generation mountain bike trail taking advantage of gravity to thrill even the biggest adrenaline junkies.
The single-track trail is crammed with roller coaster-like dips, drops and luge-like berms that bicyclists can bank off so they’re hanging almost horizontally over the trail for a split second.
And the 1.3-mile one-way trail is closed to other uses, allowing bicyclists to go downhill unimpeded without worrying about meeting a hiker coming up the trail.
“It’s really like a bobsled run,” said Sun Valley Ski Instructor John T. Smith. “The idea is to use your brakes and pedals as little as possible and just go with the flow.”
The Bureau of Land Management opened Punchline — a 1.3-mile bike-specific single-track flow trail in the sage-studded Croy Canyon just west of Hailey — this summer, as well.
And Sun Valley Resort is working with Randy Spangler of Trail Solutions and Chris Leman, a Ketchum cyclist who has worked on trails around the country, to design a flow trail for Baldy.
The trail would include a portion suitable for beginners from the top of the mountain to the historic Roundhouse restaurant, with an intermediate portion from Roundhouse to the bottom of the mountain. The design, which has to be presented to the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, could very well stretch over five miles as it switches back and forth on the mountain, said Leman.
The concept of flow trails has been around for 10 years but only as bootleg trails in forests or someone’s backyard. One of the first was built at Whistler, B.C., about five years ago. Now there are multiple flow trails in two dozen locations nationwide, according to the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). And they’re all designed to attract many of the nation’s 7.1 million mountain bikers.
This summer workers for BLM, Ketchum Ranger District, IMBA and Trail Solutions put a Sweco trail dozer with a four-foot wide footprint to work, along with a mini-excavator. And by June’s end, Sun Valley had its first flow trails.
“The banked turns resemble a super speedway,” said Leman. “It’s an exhilarating experience. You can jump off a lift over a table top. And, if you don’t clear the flat top, you can set your bike down without any bad consequences. And you can jump rollers one or two at a time depending on how fast you want to go.”
Both of the new trails in the Sun Valley area are considered intermediate to advanced.
Forbidden Fruit is considered a little more advanced with larger features.
Punchline has a smoother surface with a few rock drops. Each turn links into the next, with each raised feature placed so that it flows with the trail leading into it, said BLM Recreation Planner John Kurtz.
Deanna and Vince Sydlosky checked out the temporary signs posted at Forbidden Fruit cautioning first-time riders to go slow as they prepared to embark on the trail for the first time last week.
The Sydloskys were real estate agents in Florida when they decided to buy a home in Sun Valley eight years ago.
“We were drawn by the mountain biking,” said Deanna Sydlosky. “Florida has some technical riding around its phosphate mines. But the mountain biking here is unbelievable.”
A few minutes later, Deanna was liking the Forbidden Fruit she was riding.
“It’s a little spooky going up on the banks. But that’s why you take it slow the first time around,” she said.
Having ridden Forbidden Fruit, John T. Smith says he prefers old school riding trails.
“But the new trails are fun,” he said. “And they’re awesome for the new school riders who like technical riding.”