154 – 7x World Champion Rebecca Rusch Making The World A Better Place Through Mountain Biking
Photo: Stellar Media – @stellar_media
7x World Champion, Red Bull athlete, best selling author, keynote speaker, Emmy Award Winner and an amazing inspiration – Rebecca Rusch
On episode #154 we are chatting with Rebecca Rusch about her amazing career which started off by joining the running team in high school, and how that has lead her to follow her passions and love for life through competing and pushing herself to be a better athlete, better person and using her experience and life lessons to help other people through the medium of mountain biking.
Rebecca is an athletic force to be reckoned with, how else would she have earned the nickname, ‘Queen Of Pain’. She has competed at world level in many different disciplines including, mountain biking, expedition racing, rock climbing, white-water rafting, cross-country skiing and more. She was a member of the US National Whitewater Rafting Team and won her first ever Eco Challenge 24hr Race, even though she had only joined the team as a favour.
At this time Rebecca was a manager of a rock climbing business and a climbing coach, she didn’t ride bikes and didn’t even enjoy mountain biking but after her first race she got bitten by the bug and has never looked back. So much so, that she even resigned from her job and was living out of her car, focusing on her racing which by now was taking her all over the world.
This is just one of the amazing stories Rebecca shares with us on the show. We chat about her rock climbing days, racing in the Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska, Rebecca’s Private Idaho Training Camp which raises funds for her Be Good Foundation, in honour of her father, and how her amazing documentary called Blood Road in which she rides the 1,200 mile, Ho Chi Minh Trail through Vietnam and Cambodia to find the place where her father was shot down during combat in the Vietnam War in 1972 has changed her life. Plus the many other great things Rebecca is doing at this time with her camps, charities and expeditions.
Enjoy the show!
- How Rebecca got into sports
- Why she was living out of her car so she could race
- How she found her love for mountain biking
- How Rebecca felt when she was inducted into the 2019 Mountain Biking Hall Of Fame
- What it was like to race in the Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska
- What it is like being a Red Bull Athlete
- Rebecca’s core values
- How the documentary Blood Road came about
- How this experience has changed Rebecca
- Why Rebecca wanted to help the people of Laos, Vietnam and created her Be Good Foundation
- How Rebecca’s Private Idaho Training Camp helps raise funds and changes lives
- Other work Rebecca is doing via mountain biking
- Why community means so much to Rebecca
- Rebecca’s future plans
- How you can follow Rebecca, make a difference and get involved
Just to give you a quick idea of Rebecca’s achievements, here is a short list of them:
State and National Championships x 17
Gravel Bike Racing World Champion (2015)
World Masters XC Cycling Champion (2010)
3-Time 24 Hour Solo Mountain Bike World Champion (2007,2008,2009)
Masters Cross Country Skiing World Champion (2008)
4X Leadville 100 winner
1X DKXL 350 winner
And to be honest, this isn’t even up to date. Rebecca would tell you herself that some of the more resent challenges she has achieved have been the most rewarding to her in both a physical and mental way, like the Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska. This is a ultra-marathon which you can do on bike, foot or skies and has to be one of the hardest challenges on earth. It is run over 300 plus miles and can take anywhere from 4 days to 7 days plus, depending on conditions. Temperatures get so cold you can’t run hydraulic disc brakes as the oil could freeze. You can’t run normal tyre sealant as this would also freeze. In fact, everything freezes, from your food to your bike pump, if you don’t keep it close to your body or another heat source, it will freeze. When Rebecca first competed in the race in 2019 her goal was not to lose any fingers or toes, which she achieved by the way!
Rebecca plans to do the 1000+ mile race in 2021 which takes around one month and is commonly known as the winters longest and toughest race in the world!
Another epic journey Rebecca achieved was to ride the 1,200 mile, Ho Chi Minh Trail through Vietnam and Cambodia. The reason for doing this was more than just achievement for Rebecca, she was riding to the place where her dad had been shot down during combat in the Vietnam War in 1972. Rebecca’s father was a US Air Force Captain F-4 pilot. This journey was documented and made into the Emmy Award winning documentary called Blood Road. It is a beautiful film following Rebecca and her riding partner Huyen Nguyen throughout their journey, following the Ho Chi Minh Trail that was one of the most heavily bombed areas of the Vietnam war. This is a very moving film and I would encourage everybody to watch it.
The experience moved Rebecca so much that she could not walk away and do nothing to help the people still living in the surrounding areas. The problem is, and one that the movie shows so well, is that there are still millions of unexploded ordnance in the ground that have not been cleared. The local people of Laos have to go about their daily life’s everyday with the fear that they are walking among unexploded bombs that could go off at any time. This encouraged Rebecca to set up the Be Good Foundation and make a difference, helping clear these ordnance and protect public lands for all to use and enjoy. Rebecca raises funds for the Be Good Foundation through a partnership with Article 22 who make jewellery from the bomb shrapnel, melting the aluminium into beautiful bracelets, which in turn helps fund and raise awareness for MAG (Mines Advisory Group) to clear some 80 million unexploded bombs in Laos.
The Rebecca’s Private Idaho Training Camp also helps raise funds for MAG, through a one of a kind bike camp on steroids. Because of the Covid pandemic Rebecca had to change the format up this year as group meeting where not allowed. So she developed a flexible, interactive membership training plan. This includes (and you can still get involved!) customized training programs, ride-specific nutrition plans, down-to-the-nitty-gritty details on gear, best practices for recovery, motivation tips, ride planning hacks, brain training and tech tools, which all get capped off with a worldwide race. Rebecca plans to incorporate the two mediums of interactive and group meetings for her 2021 camp. Sounds amazing to me!
So tune in and hear more of Rebecca’s story of pushing herself both in competition and life to become a better person, trying to make a difference in everything she does and making this world a better place for us all.
Thanks for being here. Enjoy the show!
To Connect with Rebecca:
Resources in this Episode:
Blood Road Documentary: www.redbull.com/gb-en/films/blood-road
Be Good Foundation : www.rebeccarusch.com/be-good-foundation
Rebecca’s Private Idaho: www.rebeccasprivateidaho.com
Iditarod Trail Invitational: www.iditarodtrailinvitational.com
Eco Challenge: https://ecochallenge.com
Article 22: https://article22.com
MAG (Mines Advisory Group): www.maginternational.org
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Thanks to Rebecca for coming on the show and sharing her inspiring story, it was a pleasure to have her on the podcast.
And thanks to you for being part of the show!
Join me next week for another MTB TRIBE Podcast show.