Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cycling Merit Badge

I'm a counselor for the (Boy Scout) Cycling Merit Badge, and have been for a number of years... although I've never awarded one.

It's not an easy badge for a casual cyclist to earn... the final requirement is to plan and complete a ride of 50 miles in 8 hours or less.

I probably haven't gone on a 50-mile ride in 2+ years. And riding 50 miles is not the same as riding 25 miles except double the time. The last 25 miles are a lot tougher than the first 25!

Before the 50-mile ride can be undertaken, the candidates have to ride 2 rides of 10 miles, 2 rides of 15 miles, and 2 rides of 25 miles. The 25-mile rides usually weed out the pretenders, and the uncommitted.

I'm currently working with a half-dozen or so boys who want to earn the badge. We're doing our first 25 miler on Saturday, most likely out to Sandy Point (Lucky Peak) and back.

Many years ago, I took a group of boys on that same route. It was in the springtime - maybe April - before the water was turned on at Sandy Point, and several years before there was a "Shakespeare Restroom" enroute. They were guzzlin' their water like there was no tomorrow on the way out, despite my warnings that they'd likely not be able to refill. And the older, stronger boys were sprinting way ahead, despite my admonitions that they should "pace" themselves.

Well, you probably know the rest of the story... on the way back, they were out of water and pooped out... and you could hear their weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth from a great distance.

We're discussing possible locations for the 50-miler... right now the sentiment is for starting at Celebration Park (south of Melba on the Snake River) and taking a rather roundabout way back to Boise. I'd prefer starting 10 or 15 miles above Lowman on Highway 21, and then riding down to Lowman, and continuing on down through Garden Valley to Banks. (My thinking is... probably 80% gradual downhill... who doesn't love riding downhill?!!) The main problem with the Garden Valley route is... we'll be into mid-to-late October by the time we're ready, and the weather starts getting unpredictable by that late in the year. We shall see...


Anonymous said...

Have you checked out this video of someone on their commute in Boise? Shows some of the great drivers we have.

Regarding the cycling badge, good stuff. At some point people learn that endurance starts in the brain but it seems impossible to teach that to people.



db said...

The Celebration Park route should work just fine, Bikeboy.

You might also consider using one of the Bob Lebow Ride's routes, which start at Nampa High. For a training ride, I cut the 100-mile route in half for a 54-mile loop out there, and it was fantastic - down along the Snake, up through the vineyards, and past Lake Lowell back into town.

Let me know if you want details, and I'll map out my specific route for you.

Click here for the official Lebow route maps.

And, that's awesome that you're willing to volunteer with those kids. Very rewarding for all of you!

db said...

No Bikeboy for a few days? What's a Boise cyclist to do?

Anyway, just hope that everyone in this area has enjoyed the morning commutes the last couple days. My Wednesday commute started at 6:45, and it included catching the silhouette of a large blue heron, lit by that harvest moon in the west, as I crossed the Boise River. Thought I had interrupted a photo shoot.

This morning's ride wasn't quite the eye-candy express, but still there was a full moon, and the lower temps have sent a lot of the cyclists back to their cars, I suppose. Or maybe they're waiting until it's lighter, around 7-7:15.

But I'm loving the rides where I'm enveloped in darkness. And I think that 40 degrees F is the perfect riding temperature when you're commuting with a backpack on. Very little sweat on me when I get to the office.

Bikeboy said...

Right ON, db! Riding-by-full-moonlight is a religious experience! Now and then, I'll take a ride out the "greenbelt" from the Harris Ranch area to Lucky Peak and back, by moonlight.

Sorry I've been absent for a few days; my goal is to post something worthwhile at least once a week. (I've kinda said everything I had to say during the prolific months preceding, so I'm tapering off a bit.)