Words and photos: Simon Cudby
When Stephen Clark at Klim asked me to come up to ride the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route for 4 days and try their new Krios helmet and a new unreleased jacket and pant kit, I was immediately on-board. I didn’t know much about Idaho, so a quick check on Google filled me in on the key info: “Idaho is a northwestern U.S. state known for its mountainous landscapes and vast swaths of protected wilderness and outdoor recreation areas.” So, not just potatoes- sounded brilliant.
I met the Klim team in Mountain Home, which is about 40 miles south of the capital Boise. The weather was perfect for riding and as soon as we got geared up, we hit the road to head north past the Anderson Dam area. The pavement quickly turned to dirt and the scenery was already amazing.
We skirted along the side of the dam on a loose gravel road, stopping all along the way to shoot photos. The edge of the trail was followed by about a 100 foot drop-off to the water, so riding a fully loaded KTM 1190R took every bit of focus to keep on two wheels and to stay dry!
The gravel turned to a more forgiving dirt fire road as we started climbing up through the Ponderosa pines towards Trinity Lookout, the tallest peak in the local area at 9500 ft. The last ascent of about four miles headed straight up a rocky loose trail with sheer cliffs, so I was happy I had stopped by to see the Rekluse clutch guys in Boise a few days earlier to get an auto clutch installed. Just put it in second and held on…
The peak has a fire lookout cabin perched on top with a 360 degree view of the wilderness, with peaks as far as the eye can see. The descent on the same trail was a bit of a handful at times on very loose rocks, trying not to lock up the brakes into an uncontrolled slide off the edge. Traction control definitely “OFF”.
After a gas and lunch stop in Idaho City, it was already after 3pm, and we still had many miles to cover to get to Bergdorf Hot Springs, our final destination for Day 1. When you have to make up miles quickly, you hit the pavement, so we headed north through Lowman towards McCall.
It was after dark when we pulled off the dirt into Bergdorf, where I met a lone rider who was asking us if we were riding the IBDR. He called me “brother” right away, which is what ADV riding is all about.
Our log cabin dated back to the 1800’s. After we settled in we headed to the famous hot springs. As it was pitch black outside the hot springs looked a bit ominous, and we weren’t sure if anyone was already floating around in the darkness.
Jayson Plummer from Klim proved to be quite the chef on the old stove in the cabin; the room quickly smelled of brats and onions. Who carries spices and olive oil on their bike with them? Jayson does. I think one of his side bags actually had a mini-kitchen in it! After some food and a beer it was off to bed.
The Bergdorf breakfast didn’t happen that day, so it was time for a protein bar and a Red Bull.
After we geared up, I hit the start button on my bike and was surprised, to say the least, that it didn’t start right up as usual. I had recently installed a lightweight lithium battery and had great performance up until now. Stephen said that because it got down below 40 degrees that night, the lithium battery was not the best choice. So Brock “Tickle” Buttars bump started the bike for me behind a friend’s RazorUTV, and I had no trouble for the rest of the day once the bike got up to temp.
On the trail we traversed the French Creek dirt switchbacks down to the Salmon River. We found some sand beach areas and Brock wasted no time in launching his Honda Africa Twin DCT into a five-minute sand track moto, packs and all.
The dirt followed the river to the town of Riggins for more gas and food.
Back on the trail we hit a road block, literally. Due to many recent fires, we came upon a “Road
Closed” sign that required us to make a detour and loop around a burn area. I was starting to think we would arrive at our stop in Elk City in the dark, but once we found the IBDR trail again it was game on through the fast sweeping logging roads.
As we got in to Elk City at 6:45pm, it was a quick shopping trip to the local store before it closed at 7:00. Once again chef Jayson came through with Elk steaks and veggies prepared on the camp fire at Riders Rest campsite. It wasn’t exactly hard-core camping up in the wilderness, but at least we all got to sleep in our tents for the night.
On to the awesome Magruder Corridor for 101 miles of ripping fire roads and two track. Through the cold air and fog, over mountain passes, through burned forest areas and fresh growing new forests- this trail had it all.
Running through the wilderness areas of Selway-Bitterroot to the north and Frank Church- River of No Return to the south, the trail that was built in the 1930’s was mostly unimproved, which for adventure riding is exactly what we look for.
After we exited Magruder, we turned south on pavement heading for Stanley, and then the rain came; a lot of rain. It is times like this when you are on the gas trying to get to your stop for the night and the rain is chucking down, that you really appreciate wearing the best gear. I stayed dry and warm even though it was pissing down and the rain on my visor was going sideways for several hours.
We arrived into Stanley for the treat of an actual hotel with real beds and showers. Luxury.
At breakfast John Summers gave me the history and philosophy of Klim. Check our interview at the end of this story to see how Klim came to be regarded as makers of the best adventure riding gear you can buy.
After the pancakes it was time to head back to Mountain Home. We headed south across the Galena Summit where the temperature dropped to 36 degrees on a wet mountain road. I death-gripped it a few times on that road…
We rolled into Ketchum for gas and food and then made a run for the 20 Hwy East back to our trip’s starting point. “It’s two hours of the straightest roads ever” according to Stephen. He wasn’t wrong. I was once again testing the Gore-Tex Klim gear in the high 30’s and driving rain whilst keeping it pinned to get home.
I learned a lot on this trip about Idaho, batteries, sleeping pads, and tire choice. One thing’s for sure, the Klim legend lives on with the Krios helmet and the new gear to be released this month.