Exploring Idaho with the "Queen of Pain," Rebecca Rusch

Rebecca Rusch has been a pro cyclist for nine years and a pro athlete for more than 20. Nicknamed the “Queen of Pain, ” Rebecca is no stranger to endurance bike rides (see four wins at the Leadville 100, three 24-hour solo mountain bike world champion jerseys and national XC single-speed mountain bike championship titles), but her real passion is helping people.

Photo: Tal Roberts

To combine her love of bikes and charity, she launched Rebecca’s Private Idaho in 2013: a gravel-grinding, out-and-back ride from Ketchum, Idaho. The first year, the ride raised $7,500 for the organizations Rebecca felt strongly about and that number continues to improve each year.


We’re thrilled that this six-time world champion is also a huge fan of Club Ride. Not only is Rebecca’s Private Idaho apparel from Club Ride, she also sports our gear around Idaho on and off her bike. We asked her a few questions about her upcoming event, her favorite pieces of Club Ride apparel and what she does when she (rarely) gets off her bike.

CLUB RIDE: What prompted you to start Rebecca's Private Idaho? 

REBECCA RUSCH: I was inspired to host a bike event in my hometown for a couple of reasons.  

  1. I wanted to share the magical place I call home with riders from around the world. I’ve traveled all over the world racing and there’s nowhere else I love to ride more than Idaho, so why shouldn’t I share it with all my riding friends?
  2. I wanted to use my name and public reach to do good for the bike charities I feel strongly about. On the local level, RPI supports the Wood River Bicycle Coalition. On the national level, we’re supporting PeopleForBikes and worldwide, World Bicycle Relief.  

CR: How did you come into cycling?

RR: Cycling was my least favorite and worst sport for a long time. It wasn’t really until I moved to Idaho and learned to ride better from some of the locals that I started to understand what the hype was all about. I did not expect to launch into a pro cycling career and now cycling has become my sport of choice for the places it can take me. I’m living proof that it’s never to late to learn a new sport!

CR: Right now, mountain biking or road biking?

RR: I am definitely a mountain biker at heart. I have three 24-hour MTB solo world championship titles, four Leadville 100 mountain bike wins and a bunch of other mountain bike results that have built up my career. I certainly use a road bike and a cyclocross bike for training, but my heart is on single track.

Last year's Rebecca's Private Idaho

CR: Why Wood River Bicycle Coalition, PeopleForBikes and World Bicycle Relief as charity partners? 

RR: With Wood River Bicycle Coalition, I was involved on the ground level in creating this organization to help protect and maintain our local Idaho trails. I want to do whatever I can to protect the places I love to ride. For PeopleForBikes, I attended the National Bike Summit in Washington DC a couple of years ago and met with congress members to talk about bike and pedestrian infrastructure and support. It changed how I viewed the work that needs to be done with our transportation and recreation funding. And I came to know World Bicycle Relief through my sponsorship with SRAM and I learned what they do to provide bikes to people in Africa. By simply giving people there a simple tool, they can get to school, work, and change their situation.

CR: Why did you choose grave biking for RPI?

RR: RPI is on all gravel roads because this is one format of cycling that brings together elements of both mountain bike and road riding. It brings both groups onto the same playing field and doesn’t limit anyone from taking part because they don’t have the right bike or experience.

CR: When you're not on the bike, what do you do?

RR: I work part-time at the Ketchum Fire Department as a firefighter, EMT and backcountry rescue team member. I’m also a new homeowner in Hulen Meadows, Ketchum so that takes time with remodel, house projects and tinkering in the garden. For most of this year, I was writing a book called Rusch to Glory, which was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I admit that it really cut into my riding time this year. I’m happy to have it done and can hopefully get back to a more normal training schedule.

The Wheel Girls (a teen mountain bike club Rebecca's coaches) in their Club Ride Deer Abby jerseys

CR: Favorite Club Ride gear?

RR: Definitely the Deer Abby. It’s super lightweight, fitted and flattering, but not too squeeze-y tight. It looks and feels great and it’s our Wheel Girls team jersey!

I also like the Laurel Jersey; I wear it as my dress-up shirt sometimes for going out and sometimes for riding. The material is soft and not scratchy. And the DSG Skirt! It’s so cute as a podium skirt and after race wear.

To get involved in Rebecca’s Private Idaho or to just learn more about Rebecca’s amazing organization, click here.