Mountain Bike Champion Rebecca Rusch

"The miles of world-class singletrack riding are the reason I live in the Wood River Valley. I have been here riding and training for 8 years and still have trails that are new and unexplored just outside my back door." — Rebecca Rusch: Three-time 24-hour solo world champion and ultra endurance specialist

Adventure racing calls for a deep well of skills: paddling, rock climbing, biking, navigating, skiing, and more. Since turning pro in 2001, Rebecca Rusch has proven to the world she has what it takes to execute any of the above even after going beyond her limits in far-flung places like Kyrgyzstan and Tibet. After winning adventure races became routine, she added 24-Hour Solo Mountain Bike racing to her résumé and proceeded to dominate the sport in 2006, 2007, and is currently the two-time World Champion.

Q & A with Rebecca Rusch

Q: When and how did you start biking?
A: I started riding a mountain bike about 10 years ago as part of the requirement of adventure racing. Before that I had not ridden a bike since I was a kid. I bought a used bike that didn’t really fit me and I didn’t really enjoy it. I did not get totally hooked until about 5 years ago. I had better equipment and had been living in Ketchum and met a bunch of cyclists. The energy and skills of the local riders were contagious. I’ve since become more and more addicted and cycling has become my main focus and career for the last 5 years.

Q:  What is your favorite place to mountain bike in Sun Valley & why? 
A: The Adams, Fox Creek, Chocolate, Oregon trail system because I can ride straight from my house and be on dirt singletrack in 5 minutes. It’s all interconnected and you can mix and match to make the ride 45 minutes or multiple hours depending on what you are looking for. It’s a great “add-on” ride where you can just do one more section, then one more, then one more!

Q: What is your favorite activity when you are not biking?
A: Ketchum Fire Dept training and work. Or playing in my small garden during the summer months.

Q: When did you know that biking was more than just a hobby? 
A: When I showed up to the Sea Otter mountain bike race and festival in California and saw my name painted on the side of the huge Specialized demo trailer, right above Ned Overend’s name! I felt like a cheesy tourist, but I took a picture of my own name!

Q: What is your favorite non-biking place in Sun Valley?
A: The Big Wood River.

Q: Who do you consider your role model and why? 
A: There are a lot of people who’ve inspired me. In the cycling world, it’s fellow Idahoans, Georgia Gould and Kirsten Armstrong. Both cycling Olympians and world-class athletes who were cycling late bloomers like me and still took the world by storm! They’re also from Idaho, so I guess this place breeds great riders!

Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned? 
A: Perseverance.

Q: Where do you turn for motivation? 
A: To my friends.

Q: What is your favorite way to warm up in the winter/cool down in the summer?
A: The Zenergy eucalyptus steam room or their outdoor hot tub with views of Baldy. Summer: after a ride, I like to stop at the swimming hole just north of the bridge on Warm Springs Road, behind the skate park. It’s deep, clear and a great way to ice down tired legs and speed up recovery. I like to just sit in the water and watch the river go by.

Q: What advice would you give to young people wanting to follow in your footsteps?
A: Follow your heart and choose things that inspire you.

Q: Favorite food?
A: Cheese and homemade bread

Q: Song?
A: Going the Distance by Cake

Q: Band?
A: Green Day

Q: Color?
A: Orange

Q: Time of day?
A: Summer evenings and sunsets that go on until 10 pm!

Q: Movie?
A: Race Across the Sky (because I’m in it and it’s the first real film I’ve been in!)

Q: Book?  
A: Just read Fire on the Mountain about the forest fire on Storm King Mtn. Not necessarily my favorite book, just the most recent one I read.

Q: Place to eat? 
A: CK’s or 310 Main (both in Hailey)

Q: Holiday? 
A: Summer solstice

Q: How long have you lived in SV?
A: 8 years

Sun Valley Champion Rebecca Rusch in the Press