Rebecca's Private Idaho
(Above) Grunting my way up Dollarhide on Day 2. Photo: Dave Meadows
I’ve had my eye on Rebecca’s Private Idaho for a few years. MFMG has participated in previous editions and I’ve been there to watch the roll-out for the Baked Potato and heckle the Gelande Quaffing afterward. The atmosphere is contagiously rowdy, buoyant and inclusive- all components that have been lacking in my racing endeavors as of late. When my coach, Marilyn Chychota, told me she had signed up it was like an alluring door had swung wide open in my race season. “I’M COMING WITH YOU!”
Rebecca Rusch needs no introduction from the likes of me. But the fact is despite her hallowed accomplishments in the sports world many who read this will likely ask, “who’s that?” You can read about her athletic feats and philanthropic endeavors (both equally impressive) here, here, here, here and here.
Challenges get me fired up. Not one to be placated with the simple feat of racing 102 miles on gravel, I decided it would be best to add some spice to the mix. So I signed up for the Queen’s Stage: 3 days of racing on varied terrain with seasoned gravel riders, including challenging single track and grueling 4.5 mi uphill TT at elevation. Sounds like my kind of fun! I packed my overdeveloped engine and my underdeveloped handling skills and headed to Ketchum.
(Below) Galena mode of transportation. Photo by Idarodo
The description of each stage can be found on the RPI website. I would encourage any gravel-curious folks to take a few minutes and read through the stages and I challenge you to ignore the inevitable giddiness that flutters in your belly upon doing so.
Now that you’ve got an idea of each stage, here’s how things played out from my perspective.
Stage 1- Adventure Stage
This was by far the most anxiety-inducing day of the entire event for me. I and my Blue Hogback had previewed the course twice with the patient and reassuring guidance of MFMG. Round one had me hike-a-biking, wondering what the hell I’d committed to. I promised myself that I would improve my trail confidence before the event. (Matt presented me with a cookie at the end, so I had incentive). The second go resulted in less walking, a small tumble and one epic meltdown that I’m pretty sure we have on high-quality audio.
So by the time I lined up on the morning of the Adventure Stage, I’d worked my brain into quite the frenzy. Miraculously, my focus shifted from doing things “right” to doing things “well.” Meaning, I took all pressure (self-imposed) off my shoulders and decided to manage my day from a place of deliberate execution. That didn’t mean fast or risky or fearful. Rather, I embodied calm confidence to actualize the best day FOR ME. Results and aggressiveness didn’t matter.
(Below) A rare smile captured in the wilderness! Photo: Idarado
What a mental gift I gave myself at the start line. This ended up being my absolute favorite day out of the entire event. Perhaps because of the formidable nature of this stage, it provided me with the greatest joy and triumph upon executing it perfectly, on my own terms.