The Official Beer of Boise Trails

How Did He Do It? Dan Gottsch Discusses the Boise Trails Challenge

By Gillian Hill,

Well, the first Boise Trails Challenge is over; and what an epic event it was! 324 people signed up, and 94 participants finished all 163 miles of required Boise trails within the month of August. But a handful of competitors finished the Challenge in a matter of days, with Dan Gottsch completing it first.  Dan finished the whole Challenge in 4 days, sealing the win over Mark Shafer with a 2 hour ride in the middle of the night.

We checked in with Dan to see how he did it.  If, like me, you struggle to understand how it’s possible to ride most of Boise’s trails in just 4 days, you might want to hear what he has to say.

Did you have a plan?

Yes, although I didn’t stick with it. When I first saw the challenge, I thought I could cover that mileage in 2 days. Then when I started planning and examining the map, I figured it would take at least 3. Unfortunately, I didn’t account for recovery time, pain or sleep, and ended up going into day 4 to finish.

Initially I thought I would get all 4 big climbs done in the first day but had ‘technical’ problems that involved calling my wife from the Bogus parking lot to see if she could pick me up some chamois butter. I asked in the rental shop if they had any, and it turned out they weren’t familiar with that term, so I gave them a pretty detailed description of my dilemma. Once they knew what I was dealing with, they found some burn relief gel and Neosporin, which helped me finish that day by riding Pat’s, Sinker and half of Eastside. The rest of the Challenge I had to apply Gold Bond Medicated powder before and after each ride, and I’m still sore!

Any wrecks or mechanical problems that threw you off?

On my second to last ride, Mahalo, I ended up wrecking pretty badly. I hadn’t planned to do it in the dark, by myself, but I had crossed paths with Mark Shafer earlier in the day and found out what he planned to ride, and there was a real risk that if I didn’t keep riding into the night, I’d wake up Saturday morning and see him with 100% on the Challenge Leaderboard. No way I wanted that to happen! So I had my wife drive me up to the spur road off the ridge road and drop me off, and she drove to the exit from Gardiner Peak to wait for me and take me to trail 4. My plan was just to take it easy and survive the ride. I came in to the gate from the ridge road a little hot, I knew that there was a huge rut there that I needed to avoid, but I mis-timed crossing it and piled right into the rut, smacked my head and banged up my knee. Luckily I didn’t break anything, but my knee was swollen for several days and still isn’t back to normal. Between my knee and my backside, I spent the following Monday standing all day at work.

Mahalo Trail Boise 2

Mahalo Trail

I also had to deal with a broken chain on day 2 at Eagle bike park. I’m a masher not a spinner and go through a chain about every 600-800 miles (which is about every 2 months at the moment). My chain was only a few weeks old, so it was a surprise when it snapped. It was 3.30pm and I made it through 3 more trails, but I doubted a repaired chain would make it through the rest of the Challenge. I didn’t want to spend time detouring to a bike shop, so I called Jason Bauer at Bauerhaus, the best bike mechanic in town, in my opinion, and explained the situation. I asked if he could drop a chain at my house on his way home. Luckily, he came through and I was able to change my chain that evening and keep riding the Challenge as planned.

For anyone considering the Challenge next year, what is your top tip?

One word – Taintenance. Take care of your backside – proactively.

What would you change or improve about the Challenge?

Honestly, nothing. I liked the diversity and challenge of linking all the trails.  A lot of riders found it hard to complete the Challenge in August when it’s hot and smoky, but I love that it meant people were riding when they’d normally be inside lamenting the temperature.

Had you ridden all the trails before? Find any new trails?

I hadn’t ridden everything, and that was one of the cool things about the Challenge. It got me out of my normal riding pattern and made me try new stuff and ride some trails in an order that I would have never considered.

My new favorite trail is Ricochet, out in Avimor. I don’t get out there very often and I had to Google that one when I was planning, because I had no idea where it was located.

Ricochet Trail Avimor

Ricochet trail

What is your favorite Boise trail and why?

I love Dry Creek. It just feels like what I consider a mountain bike trail should be. It’s in the mountains, doesn’t feel too much like a desert trail, as some of the lower ones can. It has trees, stream crossings, and some technical stuff, but nothing too scary.

Do you like to ride alone or with friends and family?

All of the above. If I’m on a mission, like I was for the Challenge, I prefer to be alone.  But I regularly do group rides and am ecstatic any time I can get my family out on a ride.

How many hours a week do you normally ride, outside the Challenge?

About 10. I commute about 25 minutes each way, five days a week. I do a group ride on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and sometimes Thursdays. I try to get a long ride in on Saturdays and no-so-long ride on Sundays. I don’t ‘train’, I just like to ride.

Boise Trails thanks Gillian Hill for preparing this post.  Go check out her blog at

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