Friday, May 17, 2013

Mountain biker Rusch sets new record

On Utah to Colorado bike trail

World champion mountain biker Rebecca Rusch of Ketchum. Express file photo

     Beating the previous record by more than 90 minutes, Ketchum’s Rebecca Rusch rode over 13 hours from Moab, Utah to Loma, Colo. on the famed Kokopelli mountain bike trail April 27 to set a new record on the 142-mile North American mountain bike trail.

     Four-time Leadville Trail 100 women’s queen Rusch, sponsored by Red Bull, completed a trek that normally takes four to five days in just over 13-and-a-half hours, said a press release from a Web site,

     She rode 138 miles with 17,100 feet of elevation gain in 13.32:46, at an average speed of 10.2 miles per hour, made two trips to the hospital, tweeted 12 times along the ride and burned 6,674 calories.

     Rusch departed Moab at midnight with no prior experience on the trail and arrived just after 1:32 p.m. outside of Loma. Previous women’s record for completing the Kokopelli Trail was 15 hours and 3 minutes, set by pro mountain bike racer Lynda Wallenfels.

     The 44-year-old endurance athlete and Ketchum firefighter contended with a dislocated finger, little available water, rugged trail sections and a malfunctioning headlight that left her riding by moonlight for hours. She compared riding the trail with no experience to being on a blind date.

     Still, the three-time 24-Hour Solo Mountain Bike world champion rode into the trailhead outside Loma to a cheering crowd of fans and supporters under her own power and with a wide smile.

     Rusch said, “The conditions were very favorable, from the dryness of the soil to the lack of winds.

     “Aside from riding in the dark on the most technical section of the trail and dislocating my finger in a pre-dawn crash, it couldn’t have gone better. Kokopelli is a beautiful trail with a little bit of everything. I can’t wait to go back and ride it again, just maybe a bit slower.”

     Built in 1989, the Kokopelli Trail is a bucket list ride for mountain bikers around the world. It takes in the Colorado River and the towering La Sal mountains as it climbs over 17,100 feet on a network of singletrack and jeep roads through a desolate and rugged corner of the Southwest.

     Red Bull, primary sponsor of Rusch’s record-breaking Kokopelli Trail attempt, is currently holding a contest for additional cyclists to compare their riding experience to Rusch’s. It’s  called “Red Bull Rusch Hour.”

     Winners can enjoy prizes including Specialized 29-inch carbon wheels and a guided tour for two of the Kokopelli Trail by Western Spirit. Find more details on the contest at

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