Sun Valley has long been known around the Labor Day time of year as the home of one of the most remarkable non-motorized parades in the country, Wagon Days. But last year, local endurance athlete Rebecca Rusch, brought a new sort of twist on the non-motorized parade to town, Rebecca's Private Idaho.
Capitalizing on the lack of tarmac and abundance of top notch gravel roads which criss cross the county, this event run in the European Grand Fondo tradition, sends riders on an odyssey without the pressure of needing to compete, but inviting them to choose their own level of adventure. As many sports do, road cycling has evolved over the recent years with a new category whose machines make riding dirt roads, well, kind of cool and fun.
Riders from all around the country made their way to this second annual event which raised money for several non-profits including the Wood River Bike Coalition, the World Bicycle Relief Project, and Bikes Belong while putting together the ride of a lifetime, fully supported and totally awesome. For the uninitiated this may not make much sense, but basically this is a race which is not a race, unless you want to race. Which is entirely cool with everyone, just whatever you choose to do don't take it too seriously.
The course takes riders up and out of town, past yee old Sun Valley Resort to climb up Trail Creek road to the Trail Creek Summit. This is not just your average pass, as it's a dirt road littered with loose rocks and gravel not to mention its depths permanent home to many vehicles who missed a turn. It's 2,000 feet later that riders crest the summit and begin to wind it up on the perfectly manicured dirt roads which lay to the east.
As you cross into the nether regions of Sun Valley's backcountry roads, those with agoraphobia (fear of wide open places) are probably not that stoked.
Akin to the singletrack and the ski runs in the Sun Valley domain, the roads used for this event, are of a near perfect groomed quality. Riders were given two options of 50 and 100 mile distances to get to know and their exercise their demons whilst mesmerized by the jaw dropping landscape which slid by with each mile. It's an out and back with a lollipop on the end sort affair with plenty of beverage stops along the way and courteous feed station attendants with the variety of libations to make the ride more enjoyable.
Alas, the riders did do some racing and there was a good bit of spirited competition on tap for the bragging rights for the winner of the Big Potato (100 miler) and Small Fry (50 miler). The riders were met with good beer, good food and some good times at the finish. On tap was a bit of live music with Buckskin Bible Review and good Gelande Quaffing (a local favorite beer drinking game lifted from the Jackson Hole comrades- if you are curious what this check it out HERE)
Parties being what they are these days the RPI crowd drank the keg dry and relished the moment long into the evening.
And so another amazing Labor Day Weekend was in the books. With so much going on it was hard to know where to be and when to stop, but one thing is for sure. the Rebecca's Private Idaho crew represented big time and the event was a success right out of the chute. So mark your calendars as they will be back next year same time, same station. Don't miss it!
Photos: Linda Guerette courtesy Rebecca's Private Idaho