You should know Rebecca
Rebecca Rusch is an incredible mountain biker. Yes, she is a crazy adventure racer, but she’s also dominated Women’s Endurance Mountain Biking for a while. Recently, she won the 24 Hour Solo World Mountain Bike Championship (for the 3rd year in a row) then just three weeks later, won the Leadville 100. This is the signature of a true champion: the ability to extend their peak season and win. And her wins over the past eight years have been staggeringly good. So my number one question isn’t for Rebecca Rusch. It is for sports news and cycling news outlets. My core question is:
Why isn’t Rebecca Rusch more well known? Why isn’t the media making a HUGE fuss about her? Isn’t this a great role model for your girls?
Girl Meets Bike Meets Rebecca
I have to wonder if my questions showed Rebecca how much I’m NOT a “reporter”. Each one seem to take her slightly off guard, and at first I wondered if she understood why I was asking such “different” questions. But after a few, she got it. It’s because, when talking to women riders who aren’t necessarily racers, they have VERY different questions from those being asked of her, in Pro journalism. As we sat down outside of Interbike’s Specialized booth she welcomed the more fancy free questions of a “girl meets bike” interview. What I found in Rebecca was a warm and approachable woman, with a passion for sharing the biking experience with other women. Truly, she is a valuable role model for getting girls on bikes.
Girl Meets Bike: How many bikes do you have? Do they have names?
Rebecca Rusch: “Ha, just like shoes, you can never have too many.” Counting for a sec, then “Eight. I think…some have names, others haven’t earned one yet.”
GMB: Which is your favorite?
Rebecca Rusch: I’m favoring the 29er at the moment, that’s the one I rode in the Leadville 100.
GMB: Oh (that’s a rather tall person’s bike, so I asked) How tall are you?
Rebecca Rusch: 5’7″
GMB: Ah, so you can fit a 29er without much problem.
Rebecca Rusch: Yeah, it fits me fine.
GMB: How does it ride?
Rebecca Rusch: Smoother, faster on doubletrack; good for a course like the Leadville 100. But I also love my Era, Specialized’s Women specific model.
GMB: I noticed that your bike has a Bike Pure Spacer on it. Why did you join Bike Pure?
Rebecca Rusch: They approached me, and I liked what they represent. That is, that they concentrate on praising the clean riders of the sport. It’s a very positive message.
GMB: Is doping a particular problem for women’s mountain biking given that upper body strength plays an important role in mtbing?
Rebecca Rusch: I haven’t really seen that, but the prize money is so low for women, that it just wouldn’t be a consideration.
GMB: Is doping likely to become an issue as Women’s Mountain Biking becomes popular?
Rebecca Rusch: I hope not, but I don’t think it’s likely.
GMB: Why Not?
Rebecca Rusch: Because [both monetarily and health-wise], it’s expensive, and it’s not worth the payout.
GMB: What would you say to a U23, or teen that is considering using EPO, CERA, or other kinds of drugs to enhance their performance?
Rebecca Rusch: NOTHING, absolutely nothing, is worth your health.
GMB: What about the issues of Pay Equity? Many of us have heard the argument that women’s racing doesn’t attract enough women, and so the purses should be comparatively lower than the men…
Rebecca Rusch: I do understand the dilemma that promoters are in, but lower payouts for women is not the answer. An example (of pay inequity) is The 24 Hours of Moab race. The first place woman came in well before the second place man. But second place man got $2600 while the first place woman got only $600. The fact is, it is just as expensive for women to train for a race as men, and the fees to enter aren’t lower. The solution is, have the same payout for first second and third place women, and less payout or no payout beyond that. Women don’t need payouts for tenth place.
GMB: That makes a lot of sense.
GMB: Now, moving on to things more personal:
what’s your favorite saddle, chamois, chamois cream combination?
(She laughs, at first. I realize how I’ve just asked a question completely out of left field, and something a normal journalist would NEVER ask.)
Rebecca Rusch: Well, the saddle has got to be the Toupe, which is a Specialized men’s saddle. Chamois is the BG chamois in the higher quality Specialized women’s shorts. And for Chamois Cream, I use Beljum Budder with a little Noxema (yes, like in Grandma’s medicine cabinet) mixed together.
GMB: What’s your favorite outfit off the bike?
Rebecca Rusch: Flip flops, definitely ; with Bermuda shorts.
GMB: What’s your favorite outfit, on the bike?
Rebecca Rusch: My Team kit (her specialized uniform). I’m proud to wear that.
GMB: So Specialized has been good to you, as a sponsor…
Rebecca Rusch: Yes, they’re very supportive of their women riders. They’ve done a lot for women’s fit with BG (Body Geometry) , in both bikes and clothing. I’m very picky about who I choose to sponsor me. I have to believe in the products I use. Specialized has been a good match for me.
GMB: Do you think women ride differently than men, given that our size, proportions and strengths are different?
Rebecca Rusch: I certainly see a difference in the attitudes of riding between men and women. Men have a more gung-ho ride-it attitude. For me there are some things that are easier and faster to walk, particularly in a race.
But yeah, women ride differently than men. Women ride with more grace and finesse…
GMB: As opposed to “brute forcing” through it?
Rebecca Rusch: Yes.
GMB: Do you think it’s helpful and important for women to ride mountain together, so that they can get visual cues of how to ride certain obstacles and trails?
Rebecca Rusch: Yes, If I’m out riding with other women, we like to stop and figure out how to ride the obstacle. Sometimes just seeing another woman do an obstacle makes you think, maybe I can do that too. How did she do that? Then you figure it out together.
GMB: So you really appreciate your rides with other women.
Rebecca Rusch: It’s different. It can be more fun. Guys can be competitive, like trying to get me to “race” on a casual ride. But when I’m out riding with the girls, it’s about fun and connecting with my friends. Some of my best rides have been on my Cruiser with friends.
GMB: What’s your favorite trail and what do you do to maintain it?
Rebecca Rusch: I would say the Perimeter trail on Mt. Baldy (Sun Valley ski resort mountain) is my favorite, because I can do the ride from my house, climb 3300 ft of single track to the top on one side of the mountain, then ride down 3300 ft on sweet, rolling single track down. Takes less than 3 hours and is a killer climbing workout and great descending skills.
I help maintain my local trails through the Wood River Bicycle Coalition. Wood River Bicycle Coalition is our local cycling organization that works on everything from safe routes to school to mtb trail development. I recently helped put on two short track races that raised money for them to build two pump parks in the valley. Local sponsors and companies such as Smith Sport Optics as well as a ton of local athletes are involved.
Many thanks to Rebecca Rusch for this interview.
More About Rebecca Rusch
Recently, Rebecca signed with KT Tape, that excellent Kinesiology Tape I reviewed a while back. KT Tape is sponsoring a promotional ride in Central Park, so if you live in New York City, YOU have the chance to ride with Rebecca Rusch!!! Lucky dog! Details about this event are on blog at http://rebeccarusch.wordpress.com/. Her blog is a good read, and maintains the same approachable experience that I had with her.
More about Rebecca Rusch’s career, articles with “REAL” cycling questions, video and other stuff here:
Rebbeca Rusch at I am Specialized
Best At-A-Glance stats: BikePure.org
She talks to VeloNews about Cape Epic HERE
Cool Specialized Video about Cape Epic, an amazing opportunity, in the form of a race, HERE
Two great video interviews of Rebecca Rusch: