Rebecca Rusch Hosts 100-mile Gravel Grinder
Images by Hank Dart
Don’t show up on your skinny-tired rig for this gravel grinder. Rebecca’s Private Idaho is a true high-mountain grunt with two ambitious routes (a 100-miler and a 55-miler) in the scenic Sawtooth Range of the Gem State. (OK, that’s the “official” nickname; we all really know it as the Potato State.)
To spread the word about what she calls a “little piece of paradise,” ultra-endurance cyclist Rebecca Rusch has put together Rebecca’s Private Idaho, taking place Sunday, Sept. 1, in the Sawtooth Mountains north of Sun Valley, Idaho. The bike event borrows from the gran fondo trend, but with Idaho style. It’s a long-haul gravel grinder meant to showcase the beautiful scenery and quad-cracking climbs in the scenic Rocky Mountains. Registration is open to the public.
“I’m putting this event together to brag a little, to show how good we have it here, and to demonstrate a little western hospitality,” Rusch says on the event website, www.rebeccasprivateidaho.com.
“I had originally intended for this to be a small ride with a few friends to get it ready for prime time, but I’ve never really gone small on the bike; why should hosting my first cycling event be any different? I’m hoping to have people from far and wide help me pioneer this event in 2013 and prove themselves worthy of the mountains in my backyard,” says Rusch, whose career highlights include being a four-time Leadville Trail 100 MTB winner; two-time National XC singlespeed Champion; two-time Dirty Kanza 200 Women’s Champion; Trans Andes solo winner; and record-holder for the fastest woman to ride the Kokopelli Trail. And those accomplishments barely begin to tell the story of the Queen of Pain; she has a big heart, too, as this event supports three of her favorite organizations: Wood River Bike Coalition; PeopleForBikes.org; and World Bicycle Relief.
The 100-mile Big Potato goes the distance, deep into the Pioneer Mountains up to the famed Copper Basin, a stunning valley filled with sagebrush and willow-rimmed creeks. “These are the wide open spaces that transform taciturn cowboys into poets and meandering tourists into artists,” Rusch says of her home turf. “We’ll run the perimeter of the basin on wide roads, go ga-ga for the scenery, replace our dropped jaws, and point our wheels toward Ketchum, back the way we came.”
The Big Potato starts at 6,000 feet in Ketchum, Idaho, and by days end, cyclists will have crested 8,000 feet twice with a lot of smaller climbs in between. It encompasses about 6,500 feet of climbing in nearly 100 miles.
At 55 miles, The Small Fry goes through Wild Horse Creek Canyon a bit closer to Rusch’s hometown of Ketchum, Idaho. Both rides leave Ketchum together and both travel over the hotly contested Trail Creek Summit segment. This dirt road gains two passes and is a regular punish wagon for local Sun Valley hammerheads.
Rebecca’s Private Idaho is a completely supported ride, from the start to beyond the finish line. Expect to see fully stocked rest stations along the way with performance goods from GU Energy Labs and Red Bull. Rusch herself will fry up some Idaho potatoes as well, “just to keep things salty out on the road,” she says.
When two-time Dirty Kanza champ Rusch says it’s not a course for a featherweight road machine, heed her advice. She suggests a rig that can handle a bump or two and something that’s got clearance for a 28c tire or bigger. A lot of riders will be on cyclocross bikes with stouter tubing, better tire clearance, more resilient wheels, more generous gear ranges, and a more relaxed geometry.
Rebecca’s Private Idaho is the last stop on the Gold Rusch Tour and is a fundraiser for the Wood River Bike Coalition, Ketchum’s local voice for trail-building and bike policy; PeopleForBikes.org, the nation’s top-shelf all-around bike advocacy group; and World Bicycle Relief, an organization bringing practical bikes to villages in Africa in order to provide independence and improve quality of life.
Ready to add more carbs to your diet, it’s not too late to register: http://www.rebeccasprivateidaho.com.