As a professional cyclist and owner of multiple cycling world championships, Rebecca Rusch is fortunate to travel the world riding her bike. Yet “The Queen of Pain” would rather be nowhere else on Earth than her home town of Ketchum, Idaho, site of the second-annual Rebecca’s Private Idaho.
Despite its proximity to the world-class skiing of Sun Valley, Ketchum (and Idaho) isn’t terribly well-known, and that’s the entire purpose of Rebecca’s Private Idaho. On August 31st at 8:00am, roughly 300 cyclists will tail Rusch out of downtown Ketchum for a festive tour of towering, snow-capped peaks, endless miles of pristine gravel, and the ancient glacial basins that define the western landscape.
The routes (the Small Fry 56 miles and the Big Potato 94 miles) offer some of the most scenic landscapes in North America, but the riding is only part of the experience. The event also serves as a fund-raiser for three cycling-specific charities: The Wood River Bike Coalition, a local voice for trail-building and bike policy; PeopleForBikes, the country’s largest trail-building and bike policy group; and World Bicycle Relief, an organization that donates bikes to the people of rural Africa. Last year, Rebecca’s Private Idaho raised and distributed more than $7,500 for the three philanthropies.
The event is also very much a social highlight of Ketchum and is supported by presenting sponsors Specialized Bikes and Patrón Tequila, with additional support by GU Energy, Nissan, SRAM, and Smith Optics, as well as the Lagunitas Brewing Company, the cities of Sun Valley and Ketchum, Club Ride , BOA, Idaho’s Hometown Hero Award, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Coldwell Banker.
The post-ride festivities are a rousing end-of-summer bacchanal set in the Ketchum’s town square. The Labor Day festival also features a down-home non-motorized parade, Gelande Quaffing and music from the Buckskin Bible Revue.
Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas says of the event, “Rebecca’s Private Idaho is a great addition to an already-celebrated Labor Day Weekend. It attracts an adventurous customer to our community to partake in a weekend that celebrates our backcountry trails and our mining heritage. Mountain bikers can enjoy the unique character of the largest non-motorized parade in the NW then jump on their bikes and compete against some of the finest athletes in the country. That’s mountain living!”
The event, tabbed by National Geographic Adventure as an “Ultimate Adventure Bucket List” for 2014, offers two routes: the Big Potato, measuring 94 miles with 6,500 feet of elevation gain and loss; and the Small Fry, a robust 56 miles and 4,124 feet of climbs. Multiple aid stations will be stocked with GU Energy hydration, as well as ample Red Bull, courtesy of Rebecca’s long-time sponsor.
“I feel passionate about Ketchum and this corner of the world,” notes Rusch, a firefighter for the Ketchum Fire Department when she isn’t racing her bike. “The scenery, the people, and the community of Ketchum are absolutely amazing and this event is really just a chance to showcase the area and give back to the greater cycling community.”
The event kicks off Friday, August 29th with a Specialized Bikes demo for the estimated 300 participants. Saturday, August 30th sees a full day of rider check-in; a meet and greet reception and course description; and a book signing of Rebecca’s recently-released book, “Rusch to Glory” before the ride begins on the 31st.
Logo courtesy Rebecca’s Private Idaho/ GU Energy Labs