“I love to use my bike as the ultimate tool for exploration and to see the world,” says mountain biker Rebecca Rusch, known as the “queen of pain” for her ability to excel in endurance sufferfests, such as Colorado’s epic Leadville Trail 100, which she has won four times. It was that need to explore that led her to her most challenging ride — 1,200 miles through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in 2015 to look for the remains of her father, a fighter pilot who was shot down in the Vietnam War.
“Riding the Ho Chi Minh Trail was the culmination of everything I’ve learned and trained for in my entire career,” says Rusch, who has also biked up and down Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. “It challenged me physically, but emotionally it was such a big personal journey that I came home a different person.” Her story is told in the new film Blood Road, which comes out this spring.
“I also came home with a new mission to do my part to help with the cleanup of the unexploded land mines that still exist there,” says Rusch, who is also a firefighter in Ketchum, Idaho, and has been running women’s mountain biking clinics for five years.
“Finding a purpose to use my bike as a vehicle for change was a powerful experience and gave me focus for perhaps what I’ve been chasing all these years,” says Rusch. “I do believe that the world is a better place if everyone goes outside and gets sweaty and dirty.”
- 2001: First female self-supported expedition river boarding down the Grand Canyon.
- 2007, 2008, 2009: 24-hour solo MTB World Champion.
- 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012: Leadville Trail 100 women’s champion.
- 2015: Rode length of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
- 2016: Rode up and down Mount Kilimanjaro to support World Bicycle Relief.