You’re going to have to excuse me for the tone — gushy — in today’s post. I simply cannot help myself and don’t intend to try. Cuz here’s the thing: I’m a total Rebecca Rusch Fanboy.
Every year for the past four years (including seeing her cross the finish line the year I crashed out) I’ve watched and been inspired by Reba’s incredible wins at the Leadville 100. Cheering her on as she flies down the Columbine road as I struggle up it.
Racers like Rebecca — strong, smart, and community-minded — are exactly the kind of role models cycling needs.
So obviously, I was incredibly excited when Rebecca said she wanted to contribute a grand prize in my Grand Slam 2 for Zambia fundraiser, which she announced yesterday in our chat. You can watch that below, or over at SpreeCast. (Rebecca’s part of the interview starts at 38:00, though I highly recommend watching the entire thing.)
So now, let’s talk a little bit about what that prize is.
The course will be out-and-back, which means that no matter where you wind up in the pack, you’ll still see everyone on the ride (which is one of my favorite things about the Leadville 100).
The event is going to be awesomely supported, including, quite possibly, an on-course baked potato bar. Which could quite possibly be the most awesome aid station in the history of ever.
And while details are still being worked out on this, some riders will get the opportunity to take on the WBR challenge, where if they do the ride on a WBR Buffalo bike (the bombproof 45 pound singlespeed bikes World Bicycle relief distributes in Africa), you’ll get a special award. (I’d like to go on record as being the first person to accept this challenge, by the way.)
Since this will be the first year of the event, Rebecca wants to get it just right and will be keeping it small. It’ll be an invitation-only event, with just a few hundred of her best friends and VIP types (E.g., Tom Ritchey, Kristin Armstrong, Patrick Dempsey, Levi Leipheimer, The Specialized-Lululemon pro women’s road team, The Hammer, me) from the bicycle community.
In 2014, Rebecca will be scaling this event up and opening it to the public, but only a select few will get to say they were there when it all began.
Including — if you win this prize — you.
That’s right, as the newest Grand Slam 2 prize, Rebecca’s donating airfare, hotel and entry into the event.
So how do you enter? The same way you win all of the prizes in The Grand Slam for Zambia: by making a donation. Every $5 you donate gets you a chance, and any donation over $134 — the cost of getting a bicycle into the hands of a student in Africa and changing her life for the better forever — gets you bonus chances.
So if this — or if any of the prizes in the list — appeal to you, click here to make a donation now. Your money gets doubled, you’re making a huge difference in someone’s life, and you just might win an incredibly cool trip to go on an incredible ride set up by an incredible person.
What the Ride Looks Like
At a hundred miles and with 7000 feet of climbing, Rebecca’s Private Idaho is going to be a challenging ride. But the view is going to be so worth it. Here are a few pictures Rebecca captured while she was scouting out the course.
The Pioneer Mountains. The riders will see these peaks from the other side.
Trail Creek Road, heading out of town on course and into the mountains.
Copper Basin in the middle of the course.
Top of Trail Creek Summit.
Backside of Trail Creek Summit and dropping into Copper Basin.
Trail Creek Road on the return. This is the view of Sun Valley ski resort that will welcome you back to the finish.
This looks like an epic, beautiful day in the mountains. I’m stoked to try it out — and if you’re one of the drawing winners and choose this prize, I think you’ll love being able to say you were there right from the beginning of this amazing event.
Before I did the interview, I really wanted to give some good background on them. But thanks to finger and elbow surgery today, I’m not up to writing anything. In fact, I’m making the Hammer type this for me.
We’ll be talking about how World Bicycle Relief works, why it is where it is, and what’s next. F.K. is one of the smartest, most genuine people I have ever met, and he’ll be happy to take your questions.
Next, we’ll talking with Rebecca Rusch, also known as The Queen of Pain. Rebecca is the four-time champ of The Leadville 100, an advocate for women’s cycling, an ambassador for World Bicycle Relief, a three-time 24-hour Solo Mountain Bike World Championships winner, and otherwise has an astonishing race resume.
I’m not even going to try to pretend I’m anything but a superfan when we talk, especially since we’ll also be talking about the latest and greatest Grand Slam for Zambia grand prize, which Rebecca will be donating.
So, to recap: Wednesday at 12:00noon ET / 9:00AM PT. Be here. (or at Spreecast)
talking with FK and Rebecca on Wednesday
One Last Awesome Note from Fatty Before I Begin Today’s Actual Post: It’s no surprise that Grand Slam 2 is loaded with prizes (and there are more to be announced, of course). But just for fun, when we hit the 1000 donations mark today, we went ahead and picked a random number between 1 and 1000 (which is to say, we didn’t take into account how much each donation was for, just that there was a donation) and gave that person a cool ZIPP disc wheel clock, like this one, being held by Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae:
That prize went to Allison H, wife of extremely frequent commenter David H. And since I’m not the one drawing prizes, I don’t have to worry about choosing favorites or anything.
Oh, by the way: that’s not the only time we plan to do random drawings for cool prizes like this. So — whether you donate enough to buy a bike for a child in Zambia ($134) or the amount you’d spend on lunch or a coffee ($5 – $10), you may still win either a grand prize or a bonus prize. So go donate now.
We Don’t Suffer
Once in a while I think about all the rides I’ve done, and try to decide on which ride it was that I suffered the most.
Maybe it was when I raced the Kokopelli Trail solo, unsupported, injured and with a broken rear derailleur. That was some serious suffering.
Or maybe it was the first time I raced the Leadville 100. I didn’t know what I was up against. I didn’t know what I was doing. My knee hurt so bad I still remember the pain today. My nipples bled, for crying out loud (oh yes, quite literally crying out loud). And I was so very, very exhausted.
It’s also possible the time I suffered most was in the Summer of 2011 on a short anonymous training ride, where I turned myself inside out, giving it everything I had and quite possibly a little more — i.e., I gave 100.01%, thus defying mathematics — in my quest to give my all and hopefully get onto the Strava Top 20 for the Alpine Loop climb (American Fork side). My suffering paid off, too: I took the 18th spot, which would maybe mean more to you if you knew the guys in first through seventeenth place.
In each of these cases, though, I hurt. Bad. My legs ached — sometimes acutely, sometimes dully. Sometimes both. My lungs burned. My morale was incinerated in a fiery furnace of hot flaming burnination.
And in short, I suffered.
Except I didn’t.
Because it is my contention that, as cyclists, we do not suffer. At all. No matter how hard you’re riding, or how much you hurt. Or how dramatic the stories are that you (and by “you,” I mean “I”) tell yourself as a way to keep riding even though you are hurting and aren’t having fun anymore and are this close to giving up, getting off, and making the Phone Call of Shame.
Please. Allow me to explain.
One of These Things Is Not Like The Others
Here are some things that you might associate with suffering:
A compound fracture
Eating boiled okra
Watching season two of Twin Peaks
Riding a bike really far or really hard
What’s different between the last item and the other items? Simple. You do not take the circumstances of the first three items upon yourself by choice.
My point being that suffering — true suffering – is something that is pressed upon you. Suffering is the act of putting up with something difficult — and probably painful — that you didn’t ask for.
Suffering is not the pain you feel when you are riding your bike.
You want to know what the correct word is for that pain you feel when you’re exerting yourself on your bike?
You do? Are you sure? You might not like it.
You still want to know? OK. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though.
See? I told you that you wouldn’t like it. But that’s what it is. That pain you’re experiencing is what you do for recreation. For fun. If you chose it and you can stop it whenever you want, you’ve got to admit: that pain you’re experiencing is your idea of a good time.
Congratulations. You’re officially a masochist.
The News Is Not All Bad
It would be easy to read up to this point and think that I’m trivializing what you (and I) experience on the bike by asserting that we don’t suffer.
But that’s not what I’m doing. At all.
Instead, I’m suggesting that you pivot your thinking a little bit the next time you find yourself having an argument with yourself about which hurts worse: your legs or lungs.
Instead of saying to yourself, “I’m suffering” — which is something you do passively, when a horrible circumstance is forced upon you — say to yourself, “This pain is mine.” Embrace it fully. After all, you created it and you decide how bad it’s going to hurt and how long it’s going to last. Why not own it?
Smile. Sure, clench your teeth or open your mouth as far as it will absolutely go or do whatever it is you do when you’re at your limit, but let your eyes at least still be smiling.
Because you’re not suffering. You’re not taking something someone else has put upon you. You’re hurting because you are willing to hurt to go that fast, or far, or high.
And those two things are worlds apart.
PS: For those of you who are about to suggest that if you’re watching season two of Twin Peaks, you’re bringing it upon yourself, I’d suggest that you’re dead wrong and anybody who actually watches that entire second season did so against their will and has in fact suffered mightily.
PPS: For those of you who watch The Sufferfest videos to train and furthermore claim citizenship of Sufferlandria, I have two things to say:
You are a special, wonderful kind of sick, and I congratulate you on your commitment to pain.
So I’d like to write a little bit about what went on in putting this interview together. Because this is not the kind of thing I do every day.
You could say that the seed of this interview got planted as a result of the GranDonut Race. One of the things Levi agreed to do if I won — which was never in question, since I had slanted the rules so there was no way I couldn’t win — was be interviewed at some point on my blog.
My intention, of course, was to just do a silly fake interview, maybe with a side-intent of doing some good fundraising for a good cause.
And then, of course, the USADA report came out, and I figured that if I was ever going to do an interview with Levi, it wasn’t going to be a jokey one.
At show time, the video streaming service TourChats had been using — Vokle — completely self-destructed. To their massive credit, the TourChats guys quickly moved over to SpreeCast and did the show anyway. And the technology worked flawlessly.
Suddenly, I knew how I wanted to do the interview with Levi. And I knew when, too, since Levi himself was also providing a huge prize for my fundraiser.
I was actually really amazed at how easy it was to get Levi on board with doing the interview. the biggest logistics problem, in fact, was that Levi has lousy Internet at his house; he’d have to go to BikeMonkey HQ for a good internet connection.
But preparing myself for actually doing a serious interview wasn’t anywhere near as easy.
First, I made sure Levi knew that I wasn’t going to be just joking around; that I planned to ask him serious questions about doping and being fired by Omega-Pharma-Whatever. I am not a big fan of blindsiding folks (usually).
“That sounds great,” he replied.
Next, I spent some time reading. And I spent some time asking people what they’d ask Levi.
And then I spent a lot of time writing questions.
That step was crucial, because I know myself pretty well, including my tendency to be nice, rather than tough. I figured that if I just let the conversation flow, it’d wind up being pretty soft.
Then I printed the questions up onto cue cards — like I was a talk show host — and ordered them the way I wanted to use them. I held them right in front of me during the interview, which is out of the camera’s view.
I then cleaned up my office — my wife was incredibly embarrassed at how messy it appeared on TourChats — and even moved a Christmas tree into the basement where I work.
Then, at the last moment, I moved the Christmas tree out of the field of vision. Too festive for what I planned to do.
Then, at even the more last moment, I unscrewed the lightbulb that is directly over my head, so there wouldn’t be such a huge glare off my head.
And the rest, well you can see how it went. I’m proud of it, and I plan to do more video interviews.
The Hammer and I have been looking at the 2013 calendar a lot, lately. Trying to figure out what we’d like to do this year, versus what would be fun to do this year, if we have the time and money and everything works out.
And then there are a few events that we are absolutely, positively going to do. This year, next year, and the year after that. Events that we do every year and plan to, for as long as we are able to ride. The Rockwell Relay: Moab to St. George. The Crusher in the Tushars. The Leadville 100.
It’s quite simply our favorite event. And not just because of the ride (although the ride is pretty outstanding). It’s everything that goes on around it. And before it. And after it. And, in fact, during it.
It’s the gold standard of GranFondos. Ask anyone who’s been there.
And while a ticket to ride in Levi’s GranFondo would be an awesome prize on its own merit, this is so much more. This prize is a full-on freaking all-event VIP Pass.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
Airfare and Hotel
First off, the winner (you, I hope) will get airfare and hotel taken care of (if you’re outside the US, you’ll need to take care of your own travel into the US). You’ll want to make sure you bring several days’-worth of underwear and jerseys, though, because you’ll be arriving on Thursday (October 3, 2013), and will be enjoying the full-on awesomeness all the way ’til you go home on Sunday (October 6).
Here’s what you’re going to be doing
Thursday Night: Festa del Fondo
Bring something nice to wear, because you’ll be having dinner with Levi, Odessa, and a a pretty small group of other people who are nearly as awesome as you are. You’ll have an incredible dinner, a great chance to meet Levi, and an opportunity to bid in an auction for the charities supported by Levi’s GranFondo.
And I have an idea that maybe — since I’ll be there too, unless Levi’s bodyguard sees through my disguise — this might be a perfect opportunity for us to finally outnumber Levi and put him in a headlock, for once.
Hey, it could happen, you know.
Friday: VIP Ride
The next day, after you’ve slept off the Festa, you’ll get to join Levi and some friends in a casual ride around the outskirts of Santa Rosa. I’ve gone on this ride once before, and it’s fun, watching Levi and Odessa work the group, taking time to talk with everyone on the ride, and being totally cool about it when I tried (unsuccessfully, but not for lack of trying) to get everyone to start singing sea shanties.
The best part of the ride was when we stopped by the Forget Me Not Farm, which is the charity Odessa puts her time and heart into (the farm serves the dual purposes of giving a home to animals that otherwise might not have one, and to give children who have suffered abuse a chance to experience a loving, non-threatening relationship).
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they swing by there again. In which case you’ll have the opportunity to get a picture of you and Levi. Together with a cow.
And then you can make a big framed print of it and explain how awesome that actually is to all your friends.
Saturday, Very Early: The Front of the Line
One of the most astounding things about Levi’s GranFondo is the sheer number of people in it. More than 7,000 riders all line up, which means the line goes back for blocks and blocks and blocks.
But not for you, because you — along with the other VIPs — will go straight to the front of the line, where you’ll get to say hi to famous people like Chuck Ibis, and Levi, and Patrick Dempsey, and me. Especially me, because otherwise I’ll just be standing around there, wondering how come I’m the only one there with a muffin top.
The Ride and the Food During the Ride
The GranFondo is a big ride (you’re also welcome to do the medium- or short-distance versions of the course if that’s more your style), but every year I do it, I find myself forgetting about the distance, because the course is just so beautiful.
You ride through redwoods. And along the coast. And by vineyards. And up and down narrow forested roads. It is not a ride where you should spend any time at all staring at the pavement. It’s a heads-up, looking-around, smelling-the-forest, smelling-the-sea-air, stopping-and-taking-photos kind of ride.
Hey, you should check out the video I made of the ride a couple years ago:
And there are great aid stations along the route. Really, “great” is kind of playing down how good they are. We’re talking deli-quality sandwiches. An aid station by the ocean. Oreos and Nutter Butters.
As well as stuff that people who eschew those kinds of things will still enjoy.
Hey, it’s a rolling buffet and snack bar.
After the Ride: The Festival
Even with the great food along the route, you’ll finish the ride hungry. Furthermore, you’ll finish it tired. But save some energy, because you’re going to want to stick around at the festival going on at the finish line. Everyone has access to the free food, drink and music, and that’s an awesome thing on its own.
But you’ll have a pass to the VIP tent, where you can lounge, drink, eat, and hobnob to your heart’s content.
And if you’re like me, you’ll probably push right past that place of “content” and eat yourself into a full-on stupor.
Or would it take this VIP package to the best GranFondo in America, with a signed TdF jersey and the race numbers as a kicker?
I think I’m getting pretty close to that irresistible fundraiser, don’t you?
So why do you think there are so many amazing prizes? Why do you think so many companies and people are stepping up to the plate and knocking it out of the park, prize-wise? I’ll tell you why: it’s because what World Bicycle Relief is doing is important, and good, and well-thought-out. So good companies — and good people, like Levi and Tom and Patrick (and I’m not even close to done revealing new prizes, by the way) — are surpassing my wildest dreams in donating amazing prizes, in the hopes that good people like you will say to yourselves, “Wow. The quantity and quality of this contest is making my eyes glaze over with sheer astonishment at the awesomeness of it all. I can’t help myself; I will donate with enthusiasm and alacrity!”
Yeah, that’s how I imagine your inner monologue. Strange, huh?
Donate any amount. For every $5 you donate, you get another chance in my magic spreadsheet, which is what an impartial third person will use for drawing prizes (although you get bonus chances if you donate $134+ — enough to buy a whole bike for a child in Zambia.)
Yep, it’s that easy. The contest goes ’til December 24 (Christmas Eve), at which point we’ll start drawing for prizes. So go donate now.
And (hopefully) Levi and I will see you in Santa Rosa this October.