The Pull: Rebecca Rusch

The Pull: Rebecca Rusch

Rebecca Rusch has what may be the ultimate nickname not just for a cyclist, but for any endurance athlete. She’s known as the Queen of Pain. And she has more than earned that nickname. She has won the Leadville 100 four times. She set the record for the Kokopelli Trail, and has seven world championships to her name, not to mention being the first woman to climb the 5.11c Bermuda Dunes route up El Capitan in Yosemite, which was also only the second ascent of that route ever.

Rebecca Rusch on the Ho Chi Minh Trail for the feature film project ‘Blood Road’ in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in March, 2015.

More recently, she has devoted herself to other pursuits that don’t involve standing on the top step of the podium, like her Gold Rusch series of rides which brought more women into mountain biking. Rebecca’s Private Idaho is a gravel ride which she recently expanded to include a stage race, held in her adopted home of Ketchum, Idaho. Arguably, her biggest undertaking ever was riding the whole of the Ho Chih Minh Trail to find the crash site of her father who flew in the Viet Nam war, and working with Red Bull to produce a documentary about the experience.

I find Rusch to be a particularly compelling figure because so much of her career has been created from whole cloth. There’s no road map for an athlete’s career outside of training hard to go fast in races. Her relationship with her sponsor, Red Bull, has allowed her to try things that most companies focused on results would never sanction. And Red Bull hasn’t just allowed her to do these things, they’ve mentored her toward her highest self.



The Pull is brought to you by the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, the world’s premier annual gathering of bicycle framebuilders and framebuilding enthusiasts. The 2019 show will take place March 15-17th at the Sacramento Convention Center in Sacramento, California.


To learn more about Rebecca Rusch, visit her website.



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  1. Dizzy

    Rebecca Rusch. A sports/outdoor enthusiast and now a zen-philosopher. Holy cow! I’ve heard a couple interviews of Rebecca and this was the most moving and inspiring ever. Was it kismet, the stars perfectly aligned, or divine intervention? Whatever it was, Patrick asked the perfect questions allowing Rebecca to reveal so much. What a treat, honor, joy for my Saturday AM podcast time! D

    1. Author

      Thanks so much. I work hard to do a good interview and there’s nothing better than getting someone to reveal a side of themselves that that people already familiar with the subject haven’t encountered before. Honestly though, that’s a high bar to reach and I don’t even expect to do it every time.

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