Following weeks of classic springtime rain, shine, and sprinkle, the clouds crowding our majestic Teton peaks lift to reveal a landscape in flux. As the snowmelt fills our rivers and yellow balsam root flowers poke through shamrock green grasses, many of us have two wheels on our minds. After a winter of skiing and snowboarding, we are all eager to watch the off season fade to summer, trade in slushy spring snow for muddy trails and hot asphalt, and punish our quads once again. A ritual of sorts is underway in the Hole: an eternal springtime changing of the guards, the time we lovingly place our skis in the garage for good, and dust out the bike we likely haven’t touched since October.
We are certainly ready for bike season, but our bikes might not be on the same page just yet. After all, they got carelessly cast aside in favor of winter toys as the ski season anticipation overwhelmed us late last fall. It is time to show our bikes a little love before taking them out for a spin, delighting in the first bout of truly warm weather, feeling the sun on our faces as we race down a single track among aspens sporting their springtime best. Bike shops in town are the busiest they will be all year with locals and visitors alike all heading to the shop for a tune. The energy in Hoback Sports is busy, buzzy and hopeful for the mountain and road bike shredding that is yet to come.
Walking into a bike shop can be an intimidating experience, and it is beneficial to walk in with an idea of what your bike needs this year. Hoback Sports provides four different types of bike tunes, and for those of you who haven’t touched your bike all year and (ahem) maybe didn’t give your bike a thorough clean before storing it last winter, Hoback recommends a full service tune. The Cat 1 Tune thoroughly cleans and inspects all parts and is fantastic for road bikes, while the Pro Tune best addresses the suspension on mountain bikes. Silas, a knowledgeable Hoback Sports bike mechanic who can be found whizzing by you on the trail any given weekend, advises doing a basic safety check at the very least.
Silas tells us, “I see road bikes coming in after winter with a buildup of grime on the drive train, mainly from people using lubricant and not cleaning it off. It is important to keep the drive train clean to prevent wear out.” Silas also reminds us to air up our road bike tires before use to avoid popping a tube and lagging behind the first day back out there. For mountain bikes, he recommends that the suspension get serviced every 30 hours of riding, or more realistically, once a year. Brake pads on both types of bikes must be checked and replaced to avoid having to replace your rotor, rim or whole braking system down the line. Additionally, a tune is necessary to address loose parts, and Silas warns us, “you may have forgotten your handlebars were a little loose at the end of last year, and then you get on it and… well, crash.” A fate that will surely smart worse than the bike shop bill.
The hardcore among us have been shoveling snow off of mountain bike trails on the pass since mid April, but for most bikers early June is an ideal time to get back on the horse, er, bike. Most mountain bike trails are finally clear of snow and trees, including Phillips Ridge, Phillips Canyon, all downhill trails on the Teton Pass, Cache Creek trails in town and Munger Mountain trails in Wilson. Road biking season is also fully underway, and if you are up for a challenge, Silas suggests the infamous Around the Block ride which begins in Jackson and climbs up Teton Pass along Old Pass Road before descending down to Victor, Idaho and continuing south over Pine Creek Pass to Alpine, WY, then back up the Snake River Canyon to Jackson.
So, with your fresh tune and maybe a new pair of pedals, brakes, or bike shorts, its time to revel in ski season’s burly brother, bike season. Grab a beer and a bite at the Stagecoach after hitting the jumps on Fuzzy Bunny, or hitchhike back up the pass for another hot lap. Go ahead, humble brag to your friends after completing the Around the Block ride your second day out (Twice. After a morning yoga class and before picking the kids up from camp,) you’ve earned it. Compare bumps, bruises and stellar tan lines, smile at the sheer joy of sweat soaked jerseys and bike helmet hair, and reminisce only a little over falling on snow instead of gravel because you and your bike are amigos again, and summer is here.
Swing by Hoback Sports at 520 W Broadway Ave in Jackson and talk to Silas and crew to get your bike in shape for summer riding.
Images © Taylor Glenn