Sun Valley is a mountain bike paradise with over 400 miles of singletrack spun like a spider web in all directions. However, what many don't realize is the abundance of jaw dropping scenic and leg crushing dirt roads that beg to be pedaled weaving through the region connecting remote corners with main arteries. Local endurance sadomasochist, 24 hour and Leadville suffer queen, Rebecca Rusch, hatched an idea to bring her legions to the valley and show them what a good time was. She called named it in the apropos style, Rebecca's Private Idaho , which sounds deceptively quaint. This quaint little tour is a 50 or 100 mile grind over hill and dale from Sun Valley and back again covering some spectacular country and just hard enough to make on find religion yet shy of questioning life.
In the Old World of cycling, another name for Europe, one of the most popular riding event formats is the Grand Fondo. This is a bit like a massive group ride that is timed but is more about the camaraderie than it is the result. Sure some go for the win, others go to beat their friends, but most take part to experience a truly remarkable experience on the bike. It has been said that misery loves company but that does not recognize the enlightened state of finding oneself in an enormous physical challenge. Despite the distance and nearly 100 miles of dirt roads, it would be proven that the variety of terrain and robust scenery of the RPI erased most's memory of the physical agony and left an ethereal glow on the faces crusted with sweat that arrived back in town.
Riders started out Sunday morning bright and early shaking off the excesses of Labor Day for either a 50 mile or 100 mile day in the saddle. They would claw their way up Trail Creek pass, the historic ore route which brought bullion to the valley from surrounding mines at the turn of the century. It's not an easy pedal, starting out with nearly 6 miles of gravel road climbing cresting at 8,000' before funneling riders down towards the Copper Basin. As the ride marched forth everyone found their pace mate and the spirit of cycling pervaded the back roads.
Several celeb types were in attendance, the not the least of which was former Euro pro Levi Leipheimer who probably does a ride like this for breakfast. He is a Specialized teammate of Rebecca's and host of his own self-titled ride in Santa Rosa, Levi's Fondo. With Levi and others in attendance, the eyes of the cycling world once again were focused on Sun Valley. With numerous aid stations and preparations which made for an outstanding day of grinding out mile after mile of scenic backroads, the ad hoc peloton rolled back into the valley some 5 to 7 hours later with a dusty smile and hearty case of trail thirst.
Once safely back in the confines of civilization the civilized got, well uncivil. A rowdy match of Gelande Quaffing broke out thanks to the minds of Smith Optics right down in town square. This time honored sport of hand eye coordination and hand to mouth communication involves sliding full beers down a makeshift bar and tossing them back for time. Quick learners all, the RPI crew stepped up and managed to at least splash some around on their shirts and chins. Reveling in the day you could hear riders exchange stories, telling tall tales and meeting new friends over a truly epic day of riding.
Over 250 souls departed on this fateful day and despite a few bumps and bruises and some flat tires it was about the most fun challenge in cycling for the general public. Some funds were raised for World Bicycle Relief and the Wood River Bike Coalition as a result of everyone's tired legs and snot crusted nostrils. And thus with the resounding success of the event it will no doubt be on the docket in 2014 so stay tuned at www.rebeccasprivateidaho.com