Friday, September 29, 2017

VeloNews' Rebecca Rusch Blood Road Story

Rebecca Rusch
photo credit Red Bull Media
This is a fine article. If you have not had the chance to read it in the print version of VeloNews, you can access the full content here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

2017 TCI Kit - Last Call

We've met most of the minimums for ordering and will finalize the orders this weekend.

If you want in on the deal, please put your orders in before Monday!

2017 TCI Winter Podium Jacket

12 Days to Moosecross!

12 Days left to register for the 2017 Moose Cross!
Full details at
Volunteers are needed, so please consider signing up for a shift.
Click Here to Volunteer
The weather forecast is looking to be clear and around 50 degrees, perfect for racing!

We have moved the start/finish to near the Victor Bike Park to make it easier for families to entertain themselves all day and look forward to seeing you there.
Register Here

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Congratulations to Shea on Her UTCX Win Today

Shea won the Women’s B UTCX race today in Ogden. It was her first cyclocross race of the season and she was dominant throughout. The A Race was advertized as Pro, Cat 1, and Cat 2, but in retrospect it might have been her preferred option.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Old Faithful Cycle Tour

Don't know how I'd missed this in the past, but if the weather is favorable I think I may make the drive up to enjoy an organized ride through the park:

Date for 2017 ride:  Saturday, October 7

Registration will open on June 15 at 9am Mountain Time.  

The West Yellowstone Old Faithful Cycle Tour is a terrific way to wind down a summer of riding and a unique way to experience Yellowstone National Park.  Fall is a gorgeous time to be in Yellowstone, the elk are bugling, the aspens have turned to gold, and the thermal areas are relatively free of crowds. The supported ride is sixty miles round trip, with options available for one way travel. Cyclists in the tour can take advantage of two feed stations, three sag wagons, on-course bike mechanics, and end the day with a group meal.  The tour is limited by the National Park Service to the first 350 riders that complete the online registrationALL REGISTRATIONS ARE INDIVIDUAL REGISTRATIONS.  NO TEAM REGISTRATIONS ACCEPTED.
National Park Passes ARE required for the ride.  Check out the National Park Service's website for more information about the different passes and how many riders are allowed in on each type.
Again this year, proceeds from the ride will be donated to the Yellowstone Park Foundation, the Reid Sanders Memorial Fund, and other local non-profits such as Community Health Partners Medical Clinics and the West Yellowstone Educators Fund.  $1,500 was donated on behalf of riders in the 2016 Cycle Tour.
Families, small groups, and recreational riders are encouraged to participate.  Check out the West Yellowstone Chamber's Specials Page  or for lodging and activity discounts.  If you are traveling by air, check out the West Yellowstone Airport.  Come enjoy the finest season that Yellowstone Park has to offer and ride in the West Yellowstone Old Faitfhul Cycle Tour.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Time Change for the TNR is Tuesday September 26th

We will have one Tuesday Night Ride (day after tomorrow, September 19th) at the regular 6 p.m. time. The following week, September 26th, the time moves to 5:30. Please help spread the word and bring lights if you have them, especially taillights. I will not be at the TNR this week but look forward to seeing everyone on the 26th.                                            Dave

Dawn's Rebecca Rusch/Blood Road Story from Today's Post Register

Every Labor Day weekend for the last five years, Ketchum has featured a bicycle race called Rebecca’s Private Idaho. The race is named after pro cyclist Rebecca Rusch, its creator and organizer. The 2017 RPI drew nearly 900 riders to the 60-mile and 100-mile courses which start in Ketchum and wind through the scenic backroads of Copper Basin. 

This year, Rusch was promoting something in addition—her journey along the Ho Chi Minh Trail which famously bisects the countries of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Once used as a transport road for North Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam War, the Ho Chi Minh Trail remains a dense jungle trek, just as it was when Rusch’s father died there in 1972. 

An Air Force weapon system operator, Stephen A Rusch along with pilot Carter Howell were engaged in bombing the Ho Chi Minh supply route when their plane was struck by anti-aircraft fire and crashed in Laos. Rebecca was only three years old when her father was declared missing in action. It would be 2007 before Steve Rusch’s remains were identified by teeth found at the crash site.
For thirty-five years, Rebecca imagined various endings for the father she barely knew as a child, including the possibility that he had survived the crash but had been taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese. Once she was certain of his fate, her focus shifted to the letters and communications he sent to his family during the war, particularly his signature sign-off, which always included the admonition for Rebecca and her sister to “Be good.”

As a pro mountain biker, Rusch would eventually travel to and compete in Vietnam. The Ho Chi Minh Trail haunted her, as did the longing to understand her father’s memory.  She approached her sponsors and pitched the idea of riding the 1200-mile route as a physically arduous adventure with emotional and spiritual buy-in. It would be a journey to find her father’s crash site, she explained.
Eventually Red Bull Media House agreed to back her. Rush found a qualified riding partner in South Vietnamese Olympic cyclist Huyen Nguyen, a widow with two children. 

The bicycle journey of these two female athletes is captured in the moving documentary film “Blood Road,” a title taken from the nickname inspired by the trail’s high casualty rate during the war.
Naturally, the women riders would need support, so they enlisted the help of Don Duvall. According to Velonews magazine, Duvall is “An American cartographer, sailor, and adventurer who has made it his life’s mission to map the braided network of trails that comprise the Ho Chi Minh Trail.” Nicholas Schrunk, creative director of the project, would bring additional team members to support and film the ride. Without a capable and committed support team, Rusch and Nguyen would not have succeeded.

Even for the motorized film crew, the trip would be no casual undertaking. The Ho Chi Minh Trail has its patches of pavement, but most of it winds through rugged jungle landscapes where occasional bush-whacking and extreme heat and humidity make filming difficult. For much of the journey, the two women cyclists were out of sight and could only be accessed at certain locations by dirt bikes hauling cameras and gear.  At one point on the trail, Rusch and Nguyen had to traverse Xe Bang Cave, which involved rafting an underground river and carrying the bikes over dry patches too rough to ride, an effort that took them nine hours.

When my husband and I saw this movie in Ketchum, I was reminded of the significance of having a transcendental quest like Rebecca’s. Hard things make us stronger when they don’t kill us, as the saying goes.

Still, history is strewn with figures who did not survive the hard things. Rusche was able to find her father’s final resting place, along with a trench plowed into the hillside where his plane went down—still visible after forty-five years. As luck would have it, she met the son of the former village chief who discovered the wreckage right after it happened. Rusch described the situation to Velonews: “I was saying to myself, ‘How is this happening? How did we find this person?’ He welcomed me into his home. My dad was dropping bombs on his family . . .It made me sad for what we’ve done in our wars, but it also made me realize how good humanity is, how forgiving they are.”

By the end of Rebecca’s pilgrimage, we see two tough female athletes—one American and one Vietnamese—at the height of their personal strength and emotional vulnerability, two strangers drawn together across decades of complicated international conflict and deep, personal loss. The entire support crew was altered by the experience, and Rebecca and Huyen developed an enduring friendship. 

Rebecca Rusch has since taken on a new quest: ridding Laos of unexploded ordinance left over from the bombardment. Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, an estimated 60,000 people have been injured or killed by these UXO’s and landmines. Today she leads mountain bike rides and raises money to fund the removal effort. I purchased a bracelet in Ketchum after the screening which was made from a recovered shell and inscribed with Steve Rusch’s simple reminder, “Be good.” The proceeds go to the Mines Advisory Group that Rusch supports.

You can assist in these efforts by visiting  “Blood Road” is available for streaming on

Dawn Anderson

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tate's Lotoja Derailed by Mechanical Issues, Poor Support

I checked in with Tate yesterday to get a report on his Lotoja. Tate has been racing top-tier events like Tour of Gila and the Cascade Classic where he has enjoyed pro-level neutral support from SRAM and Mavic. He went into Lotoja in outstanding form and with high expectations. But his luck was bad almost from the start with a flat at nine miles followed by a long wait for wheel support. Things got even worse when support did not have an 11 speed wheel. Tate was forced into a long chase on incompatible parts. His shifting was a mess. It was especially difficult to use the inner chainring.
Tate was able to chase back to lead group but the combination of the long chase and ongoing mechanical difficulties eventually forced him to abandon at Afton.  

Monday, September 11, 2017

From Jake Parkinson: Angry Horse

The Angry Horse event, while a bit under attended in my opinion, was well put together this year. There were three events that could be chosen from: The 120 mile option, which was well beyond what I even considered doing; the 45 mile option, which I ended up going with; and a 10 mile option which was lower than I was looking for. They started at 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., and 9:00 a.m. respectively.

I arrived shortly after 7:00 to the staging area, went and checked in, had some of the food they had available, and then prepped for the ride. Once the starting time was near they gathered us all together, gave us a basic rundown, and then turned us all loose. 

This was my first "gravel ride" so I didn't know exactly what to expect so I had set a goal to finish in four hours or less. The course started out on a decent gravel road then turned left and headed onto the gravel roads of Bone. They quickly became very wash-boarded out, not very surprising considering this event took place so late in the year when most gravel road maintenance is not even being considered, which made going a little hard. I spent a lot of time looking for sections of road that were a decent combination of flat and hard rather than bumpy and loose. 

The elevation profile, to me having come from only riding paved roads prior to this, was a little deceiving. It was slated at right near 4,500 ft but I didn't realize how much harder the same grades on gravel would be. There was one climb in particular that was a bit demoralizing, the combination of washboards up it and the 11% gradient had me wondering what I had gotten myself into. Once I cleared the top of the climb there was a descent that I was looking forward to right up to the point where I hit some washboards going roughly 30 mph. I lost one full water bottle across those in addition to no small amount of the confidence I had been feeling. I wondered then if I should have been riding a mountain bike and if someone behind me would loose control and careen off the side of the road into the creek that was a fair distance down off the side of the road.

After meandering through the hills for around two hours the sun that had mercifully been hiding behind clouds all morning decided to come out. I was in the bottom of a canyon riding a section of road that was somewhere between river rock, hard pack dirt, and giant holes when I felt it suddenly heat up. The "covered" portion of the ride in, out, and between trees was over by this point so I was left with the dry, wilting grasses along side the road in the heat. 

With 8 miles to go I popped out onto the paved section of the Bone road. I was so glad at this point to be on pavement I swore to myself that I was never going to do another gravel ride again. Spending the last 37 miles looking for a semi-comfortable part of the road to ride on was more taxing that I had expected. I was nearly limping in to the finish at this point when I looked over my shoulder and saw two people closing on me. I hadn't seen anyone since about mile 15 on the "wall" climb and he was ahead of me. I knew that there were two people ahead of me and that if I could just keep my pace I would be able to podium.

I put my head down and pulled in my elbows and settled into a pace I felt that I could maintain for the last thirty or so minutes and just went, making the most of the descents that were spread through the closing miles. All was well until the last climb. I was spinning in the awesome gearing on my bike when my legs decided now was the time to really throw a wrench in things. I bailed off my bike, straightened my legs a little, and started walking up the hill so I didn't loose as much time. I was basically limping up the hill at this point, stealing glances over my shoulder, and generally just trying to keep moving. My legs freed up just in time to hop back on and get going ahead of the one person that caught me. I heard him behind me and just before the crest he passed me. 

I pushed a little and caught his wheel and let him pull me for a handful of minutes. He knew what I was doing but was too tired himself to do much about it. I did it for right around what I felt was "fair" and then pulled around him just in time to ride down the hill to the Bone store. I made use of every extra pound I had on him here and what I had left in my legs to open a gap and then did the best "sprint" I could up the next hill to put a 30 second lead on him. I wrung out the rest of my legs on the way down to the finish line to cross those 30 seconds ahead of him and ultimately finish in 3 hours and 29 minutes, a full 31 minutes faster than my initial goal was.

The trophy is unique and I am glad I was able to get one. The event was well done. There was talk of changes for next year already, including talk of staging it early in the year which I think could be great. They could nearly bill it as a "tune-up" event for the Crusher. I expect that changing the date from the same day as Lotoja would increase attendance too. The weather this time of year, as evidenced Saturday, is typically mild so that was a big plus. I think that overall the event was great and I plan on attending next year. Who knows, maybe I will be able to do better.

         Jake Parkinson

Bruce and Steve at Lotoja

A big congratulation is in order for Bruce and Steve for going back to Lotoja year after year. Here is a little Lotoja story that I should have mentioned in my earlier post. As we were driving over Teton Pass following Lotoja, we passed Sasha Socolov. I pulled over to see if he was OK and to find out if he needed anything. It turns out that Sasha had done an extended Around the Block ride (Palisades to Hoback to Jackson and over Teton Pass starting and ending in Rexburg). Someone else can work out that math but the total must have been around 200 miles. We were unable to persuade him to stop in Driggs for dinner and to ride home with us in Kellen’s pickup.

UTCX 2017


Third Place in Race Relay Highlights Lotoja

Congratulations to all of the local Lotoja participants and finishers. Conditions were very good for this year’s Lotoja with mild temperatures and generally favorable winds. Zac and Jeralyn Petterson rode the two person relay. Wes Parkinson sailed through his Lotoja debut. Bruce Baxter and Steve Wasden both added another full distance finish. Tate Litchfield raced in the Men’s Cat 1 field. Tom Baird from Idaho Falls spent the day at about the same pace as our race relay team.
Kellen and I provided support to Cameron Patch, Greg Roach, John Summers, and Jeff Hancock who competed in the 3 to 5 man Race Relay (apologies to John who was absent when we took the finish line picture). The relay team finished third from a field of 60 or so highly motivated teams as a result of very solid riding from every member of the team. The original plan for the relay was a five person team, but due to a last minute cancellation, Jeff was forced to double up on the final two legs. We had a little drama at Afton when John came in ahead of schedule and Jeff was out for a warm up, but it appears that the extra adrenalin served Jeff well.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Congratulations to Madison MTB on a Fine Second Place at Grand Targhee

It has a big day for local cycling. We are very proud of the Madison MTB team. Today was the 35th anniversary running of Lotoja, the biggest cycling event in the region as well as the Angry Horse, a new gravel race in Idaho Falls. We will be posting photos and stories about these events over the next couple of days.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Riding With the Madison MTB Team

I have been fortunate enough to ride the past two weeks with the Madison Mountain Bike Team, our local NICA member club in the Idaho Interscholastic Cycling League. This is the third season for the team. When Joe organized the Madison team, there were perhaps a couple of fast kids, but most of the team members were fairly new to the sport.
Student athletes from middle school to high school are eligible to participate, racing against students of similar age and experience. There are about 50 student athletes currently enrolled in the Madison program. The progress of the Madison team has exceeded most expectations. In contrast to the handful of fast kids in the beginning, there is an entire pack of fast confident kids now—like a swarm of hornets or velociraptors on a group ride.
This did not happen by accident. The kids on the team have worked hard. Adult organizers; notably Joe, Tony, and Scott have also invested lots of hours and effort. Support from the parents has been outstanding as well. The logistics of running a high school mountain bike team are daunting. The team participates in races all over Idaho which require extensive planning to provide transportation, lodging/camping, meals, and mechanical support. Even transporting bikes and team members to weekly practices is a significant undertaking. Many parents help with transportation to the practices and the more adventurous parents ride with the team. If you feel like you could help to support the effort as a sponsor or a volunteer, please talk to Joe.
The next race for the Madison team will take place at Grand Targhee on Saturday, The organization is in need of additional adult volunteers. If you can help, please click on the following link:
Safety and fun are priorities on the Madison team and throughout NICA. Cycling will not be a lifetime sport for young people if their first exposure is danger, suffering, and misery. The adult volunteers have fun at the practice rides. I believe the kids do as well. I took a couple of pictures at the ride last night. The big group picture shows perhaps two thirds of the participants. It is no simple task to get kids on bikes to stop or congregate in one spot for a photo.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Moose Cross is Back

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Corrected Date for Jay P's Gravel Pursuit is September 30th

Damn! I am zero for two in my availability for two the best local races. To add insult to the injury, I worked pretty hard to get my schedule arranged to accommodate the original dates.

Moose Cross Back from the Dead

The good news is Moose Cross will not be cancelled for 2017 in spite of rumors to the contrary. The bad news that it will be held one week earlier, October 7th and 8th, and I will be working. Moose Cross is a great local/regional cyclocross event and has always had very solid support its friends in Rexburg.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Rebecca's Private Idaho 2017

The August 2017 issue of VeloNews featured a cover story “America’s Dirty Secret” dedicated to gravel racing in America.  It profiles some of the country’s best gravel races with features on Rebecca’s Private Idaho and The Crusher in the Tushar. Both of these events set a gold standard, but it is probably not a big surprise that VN rates Rebecca’s much higher in the fun factor. I did not participate in the inaugural edition of either, but I feel fortunate to have been there in the early years of both.
Rebecca is a gracious host and a fine organizer. She puts on a great event and for better or worse, people have taken notice. RPI has undergone exponential growth and people are showing up more motivated to race. VN has plenty of praise for the gravel racing scene and their commentary reflects my own experience. Gravel races tend to have a festival like atmosphere providing fun, adventure, and scenery with a flexible racing format that offers something for a range of riders from elite competitors to the guy just praying to make the time cut.
We arrived in Ketchum on Saturday just as the Wagon Days Parade was ending and a free community concert was starting: Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real—Willie Nelson’s son and frequent backing band for Neil Young. The race packet was generous as always with a very cool ¾ sleeve baseball style T shirt. We timed our arrival to see a matinee screening of Rebecca’s movie Blood Road between packet pickup and the 6:30 riders meeting.
I did not know exactly what to expect from Blood Road. Most of you are familiar with the general outline: Rebecca and Vietnamese Cyclist Huyen Nguyen travel the 1200 miles of the Ho Chi Minh trail through the jungles of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in search of the crash site where Rebecca’s father was shot down during the Vietnam War. It is a beautiful movie; well crafted and very powerful. I get a little emotional just writing about. It is available on-line and streaming. I would encourage everyone to see it.
I feel like road conditions were generally good this year, but that is relative I guess. RPI is still a long ride on bone jarring roads. In contrast to the cold conditions that have predominated for the past couple of years, RPI 2017 will be remembered for record heat. It was actually pretty nice at the start, but getting a little uncomfortable by mid-morning. I drank all the fluid I could get my hands on, eight bottles (half plain, half with various mixes), and two Red Bull’s and still finished pretty dry. The combination of heat, high participant numbers, and remote aid stations put some real stress on water supplies out on the course.
Southbound into Copper Basin, we rode into a significant headwind, but I was able get into good groups when it was helpful and time trial when it was not. One of the guys in some of the groups that I spent time in was Ketchum resident Roger Mankus, age 60, finisher of 23 of 24 editions of the Leadville Trail 100. A fractured femur prevented his 24th finish.
In addition to me and Dan, other locals at RPI included Chris Huskinson and Ryan from Bill’s Bike Shop. Shae volunteered at the finish line, entrusted with the mythical RPI bolo tie which goes to the first 75 finishers. I commented last year that I had likely received my last bolo tie. Two things sealed my fate as a bolo tie non-recipient this year and presumably into the future.  Rebecca allocated 25 bolo ties to the top female finishers with the remaining 50 going to the top men.  I think that is only fair. Added to the explosive growth and the higher level of competition the bolo is going to be a very elusive prize going forward.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Registration is Open for Jay P's Gravel Pursuit


Why "pursuit"?

I use the word “pursuit” to send the message that everyone is out there pursuing his or her own journey. It’s not necessarily about racing, it can be about learning, exploring a beautiful part of the country, riding with your friends, challenging yourself, and finding your limits.

The Gravel Pursuit is a fully marked course on 100% US Forest Service roads in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It takes on a little bit of the Tour Divide route, the Great Western Trail, the Continental Divide, and straddles the Montana-Idaho border.

The Pond’s Lodge in Island Park, which has been our race headquarters every year, is definitely backcountry Idaho. It’s a little bit redneck and we love it that way. It’s a little more difficult to get to but so worth it to be off the beaten path.