Part-time Ketchum firefighter Rebecca Rusch, 40, has spent spring and summer carrying out what she calls a "master plan" that targets the 10th annual Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin World Championships July 26-27 in Canada.
Rusch is the defending Elite Female winner of the 24 Hours endurance test. She placed first last year at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Ca. and was second in the world—and the U.S. champ—in 2006 on a Georgia mountain bike course.
"I feel like my early-season preparation and racing have been better than ever before," said Rusch last week. "My coach and I made a few changes to include a lot more cycling-specific training."
Among her 2008 challenges:
Rusch placed second, just a minute out of first place, after nine hours of racing in the National Ultra Endurance Series Mohican 100 on May 31 in Ohio;
She moved into the lead for the overall USAC Ultra Endurance Series by winning the 12-Hour USA Cycling Ultra Endurance Series Cowbell Challenge June 21 in North Carolina. "It was a very fun, technical course," Rusch said.
And, on July 4 in Breckenridge, Colo., Rusch enjoyed the biggest crowd she had ever seen for a bike race and finished fifth in the USA Cycling Marathon Nationals on a very tough 50-mile course starting at an elevation of 10,000 feet.
"It was a two-lap format of very hilly riding at a very high altitude," she said. "The field was stacked with a ton of really good pro men and women. I definitely felt the additional 4,000 feet (compared to Ketchum's 5,800 feet) from the moment the race started."
Rusch will compete Saturday and Sunday at Canmore west of Calgary, Alberta. Check 24hrsofadrenalin.com.