Triple-digit temperatures took a toll on mountain bikers competing in the Cowbell Challenge 50-mile marathon June 20 at Davidson, N.C. Ketchum's Rebecca Rusch suffered with the others but also persevered.
Specialized/Red Bull pro Rusch, 41, placed second in the six-lap women's race with a time of 5 hours, 9 minutes and 50 seconds. About 6:15 ahead was Outdoor Store's Carey Lowery (5.03:35), who had the fastest lap of 44 minutes and 26 seconds in the punishing heat.
Defending Cowbell Challenge champion Rusch said, "The bike was perfect, but the race was not. The outcome was a little disappointing, but considering only 40 athletes finished the race out of nearly 200, I'm happy that I was conservative and didn't dig myself a hole that I couldn't get out of.
"It's been a cold spring in Idaho so I wasn't acclimatized to the heat in any way."
The bikers competed for points in the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Endurance Series of races. Two-time 24-Hour Solo World Championships queen Rusch used it to train for next month's Solo Worlds in Alberta.
"I'm super focused on this primary goal and pretty much nothing else," said Rusch, in Ketchum this week before racing in the Marathon Nationals at Breckenridge, Colo., on July 4. "The course in North Carolina is always tight and technical, but heavy rains made it slippery and treacherous."