“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” –Ernest Hemingway

Rider wearing shorts emblazoned with IDAHO on the leg.
Embracing the Idaho spirit.

What attracted Hemingway and so many others to the splendor of Idaho is the wide open space, the mountain vistas and the community.  The feeling of small town and big life is what drew me in as well.  I launched Rebecca’s Private Idaho to share what Hemingway and I already know about bicycles and about Idaho.  As a professional racer, I ride in some of the most sublime places on the planet. It’s a privilege to do this as my 9–5 job. But honestly, there’s no place I’d rather be than nestled in the mountains in my own backyard.

Line of riders beginning the Rebecca's Private Idaho ride.
Riders leave the start line.

For so many, Idaho is a state to fly over or pass through on their way to another, more-well-marketed destination. Everyone seems to associate Idaho with potatoes, but it’s also a land of jagged mountains and wildflowers blooming as far as the eye can see. There are endless miles of singletrack and distant dirt roads leading to ancient glacial basins—the type of high country that epitomizes western landscape.

Oncoming rider approaches cows on the gravel road.
The route leads through range land, offering occasional livestock encounters.

Instead of trying to describe Idaho to people I meet in my travels, in 2013 I created my own destination ride, Rebecca’s Private Idaho, so I can simply bring people here and show them firsthand why it’s heaven on earth.  The ride will again take place on Labor Day Weekend, during the historic Wagon Days Parade celebration in Ketchum and Sun Valley.

Bikers take to the streets of Ketchum to celebrate cycling and Rebecca's Private Idaho.
Festivities like the bike parade add to the fun during Rebecca’s Private Idaho.

As much as Rebecca’s Private Idaho is about the ride itself, it’s also about using the bike to do more than just raise heart rates and take in sights. This ride benefits four great organizations that are very close to my heart and. In the first year, we raised over $7,500 for these charities and in 2014 and 2015 we blew that away with over $20,000 raised per year because of the generous donations before, during, and after the event from participants, sponsors, and the public.

It’s a cyclist’s paradise here. A lot of people say that about their hometown, but give me a day with you in the saddle and I think I’ll have you convinced. There are so many things special about this ride but above all, the scenery is unmatched by any other event in the country.  Starting in downtown Ketchum, cyclists  are instantly aware that this is a mountain town. It’s hard not to be reminded of this fact given the splendor surrounding you, but there’s more to it than that. Mountain towns aren’t easy towns, and while they can be incredibly warm and inviting, they seem to save their deepest charms for those that are most like their residents: people that are willing to work hard to earn their time in the wilderness.

Rider group pedals along dirt road with mountains in the background.
Beautiful scenery along the route.

Rising 2,000 feet out of the Wood River Valley, the Trail Creek Road offered challenges for all levels of riders. Fortunately all are treated to the incredible views and the knowledge that while the legs were freshest, the biggest single climb of the day was tackled.  Once over the Trail Creek summit riders are lead to Summit Creek as it makes its way to join the North Fork of the Big Lost River. Riders will have breath-taking views of the White Knob Mountains, Copper Basin and the Pioneer Range. Beautifully winding roads take the pack through a picturesque valley to hands-down, some of the most beautiful country they’re likely to ever see, and it’s made all the sweeter by the fact that they earned it by riding their bike there.  After all of the work, riders are treated by a 2,000 foot descent back to Ketchum, back to a cheering crowd, and welcomed by the best after party around.

Two bikers ride along a gravel road surrounded by views of mountains and a valley below.
The increase in elevation provides even more scenic views.

Join me on Labor Day weekend for a challenging, spectacular day on the bike and get in on the unlikely grandeur of Rebecca’s Private Idaho. We do this right, and it’ll be the worst-kept secret around.  See you on the trails!

All photos, including the featured image, are credited to Rebecca’s Private Idaho / Linda Guerrette Photography.

Rebecca Rusch has run the gauntlet of endurance sports over her career as a professional athlete- climbing, adventure racing, whitewater rafting, cross-country skiing, and mountain biking- racking up accolades and seven world championships along the way.  Rusch has continually redefined her limits, pushing deep into the pain cave and emerging ready for the next great challenge. Rusch is not only a highly decorated endurance mountain biker with some of the hardest races under her belt, but also a world-renowned author, event producer, advocate and motivational speaker. Rebecca tells her story of transformation to inspire anyone to discover their own greatness in her highly anticipated autobiography, Rusch to Glory.

Published on August 19, 2016