Get Out There
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RUSCH'S WHEEL GIRLS
The Second Season of a Girls-Only MTB Club Returns to Town
Rebecca Rusch discusses techniques with Nicole Roos with Jen Biondi’s assistance. Photo by Karoline Droege.
It’s not often that aspiring athletes get the chance to train with some of the best athletes in their sport.
But for the second straight summer, aspiring local female mountain bikers will get a chance to train and ride with one of the best in the business—the “Queen of Pain” herself, one of the world’s most successful women mountain bikers, Rebecca Rusch.
Rebecca’s resume and experience as a professional mountain biker are massive. In August 2011, she not only won her third straight Leadville 100, the high altitude “Race of All Races” held each year in Colorado, she crushed her previous year’s course record by 16 minutes. She regularly competes in 24-hour races, marathon bike races, cross-country races and pretty much anything with studded bike tires and dirt.
Last summer, Rebecca decided to start sharing her passion and get more girls on bikes. With fellow mountain-biking rock star and Sun Valley local Karoline Droege, she launched the first-ever season of the Wheel Girls Mountain Bike Club in conjunction with another one of Rebecca’s projects, the SRAM Gold Rusch Tour.
The SRAM Gold Rusch Tour was created as a series of events focused on “getting girls on bikes.” Throughout the summer, Rebecca travels the country to host workshops focused on getting women of all ages and abilities to ride. This summer’s tour includes a “Ladies’ Lounge” at the famous Sea Otter race in Monterey, California, and girls’ clinics in Pennsylvania, Whistler, B.C., and France. But the real highlight of the 2012 SRAM Gold Rusch Tour will be the second season of Sun Valley’s own Wheel Girls.
“Watching how willing these girls are to try, how fast they learn and their huge smiles from little victories, it all gives me a renewed sense of excitement, achievement and inspires me to try new things as well,” Rebbeca said.
“This is the first girls-only club in this Valley. But we aren’t just a club, we want them to learn, participate and volunteer,” Karoline said. She admits that, ideally, they would love to see the girls race but last year, one of the Wheel Girls hadn’t even been on a mountain bike before. “What we really want is for them to have a sense of what this is all about. If they don’t race, that’s ok. Seeing the progression of the girls as athletes and people is amazing.”
Last year the girls in the Wheel Girls Club, which is sponsored by SRAM, Specialized, Galena Lodge and the Blaine County Recreation District, had six girls join and they spent one afternoon a week (the two-hour scheduled sessions always ran longer) learning how to: understand basic mechanics like changing flat tires; about nutrition, hydration and fitness; they also did skill work on some of the area’s best trails.
This summer, Wheel Girls will set the same high standard for mountain bike fun and education. Their only hope is to grow the program and continue to “give girls the confidence so they can do it all on their own,” Droege said. With cool extras like a one-of-a-kind biking jersey, swag from the Gold Rusch Tour, coaching in a clinic-style atmosphere from Karoline and the Queen of Pain with guest pros every week, mountain bikers of all ages, abilities and genders are wishing they could join!
If you or another aspiring female mountain biker you know wants to join, visit goldruschtour.com and get on your bike! -Katie Matteson