50 Mile Bike Ride Around Bear Lake

Part of our Varsity Scout High Adventure experience this summer was to complete a 50 mile bike ride around Bear Lake.  Convenient as it is, the road circling Bear Lake is exactly 50 miles!  So on Day 1, after a nice hearty breakfast, we started our cycling adventure at 8am from the LDS church parking lot in St. Charles, ID.  We chose to do this loop in a clockwise manner from the northwest corner so that we hit the “hardest” part first.

The flattest section of this route around Bear Lake was our first 5 miles along the North Beach road, which provided an excellent warm-up.  The next 15 mile section was the only “hard” part from a terrain perspective… meaning, not long after you round the corner and began heading south along the Eastshore road to the Idaho/Utah border, there are some rolling hills that could get some leg muscles burning.  After that, the remaining 30 miles are just comfortable cruising.

My 17 year old son and I did this 50-miler on beach bikes.  Mine was a 3-speed Electra Cruiser while his was a single speed Huffy Cranbrook that he bought at a yard sale for $40.  We definitely did not look like your typical “cyclist” on a long road ride…and we didn’t care!  We had a grand time talking, laughing and eating snacks from his handlebar basket.  I only wish I was able to take more pictures.  About four hours later, we were back at the starting point feeling great!

If you’re planning on doing this, here are a few logistics you may want to consider:

  • An adult leader in our group was willing to drive a support vehicle along the route to pick up any boys having trouble. Some in our group had mechanical problems with their bikes (shoulda had it tuned up before a trip like this boyz!), others had physical problems with their bodies (not enough pre-conditioning rides to be ready) and only one got up close and personal with the pavement (suffering only minor scrapes and minimal road rash).
  • The support vehicle took our fallen riders and had them manage refueling stations at the 20 and 30 mile marks. Almost everyone took a break at the 20-mile station for water, snacks and to give their legs a rest after the rolling hills section.  At 30 miles, not many needed to stop again since most had found their rhythm by then and were already beyond the half-way point (mentally).
  • I wish there was an designated bike trail all the way around this popular lake, because the southwest section along Hwy 30 from Laketown to Sweetwater was a bit sketchy regarding road safety. We didn’t have any close calls, but we also did this ride on a Thursday morning to help minimize any risk from busier weekend traffic along the west side.
  • As you prepare for this grand bike ride, make sure you arrange a few 10, 15 and 25 mile training rides at home to help condition your legs and seat. You can/should use these shorter rides as building blocks for completing the Cycling merit badge.  In fact, *everyone* should be lined up to earn the Cycling merit badge upon completing this 50-miler around Bear Lake (otherwise, you’re just doing inadvertent bike rides).

For those unfamiliar with Bear Lake and the road we’re talking about here, see the attached Google Earth file .  The elevation profile below also clearly shows the section of rollers I mentioned earlier.

Hope this helps with your planning and preparations.  It’s a really fun bike ride!


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