Beyond The Trail - Riding in Search of Truth and Purpose
"My path has never been predictable. If I let my core principles; exploration, push my boundaries, make a difference and share the experience with others, guide me as I make choices, the rest seems to fall into place." - Rebecca Rusch
As Carole King sang from her soul and made us want to go to the place - way over yonder in search of the land where the honey runs in the river each day, Rebecca Rusch provokes a desire of the 'great unknown' of the way to a better us. A place of rigid schedules and conformed responsibilities that leash our thoughts she reminds us... to peak over, to look over and ask: "What next? And how can I bring purpose?"
"I think the reason I've changed sports so many times and evolved so many times in my life within cycling is because, I'm always curious. In order for me to stay motivated I have to be curious and exploring and see what's around the next corner. I'm really grateful I've done so many sports, I have learned so much and I'm in an evolution like that right now." Rebecca says
Author, 'Rusch to Glory', Seven-Time World Champion, Four-Time Leadville 100 Champion, Firefighter and The Reign Of The Queen Of Pain. Rebecca no doubt leads with curiosity, dissecting the way she lives - unearthing every nook and cranny. Transcending borders and bringing purpose beyond the bike, Rebecca has an uncanny way of connecting soil and soul. Through her many advocacies and raising awareness for charity. Organizations like the International Mountain Bike Association, World Bicycle Relief, PeopleForBikes.org, the National Interscholastic Mountain Bike Association, and the Wood River Bicycle Coalition can count her as an official ambassador and, in some cases, board member. Reba has shinned a spotlight on the value of bonding people together.
"I think community, a sense of community whether it's a bike community or you're volunteering in your neighborhood or a global community has profound impact. The bike is a common bond for people especially when you are traveling." [Rebecca]
Reba found her community in the heart of Ketchum, Idaho. It captured her spirit and she knew. She was home. "I've never based success on money, but on security" says Rebecca. "It felt so good to be grounded, stable and secure for the first time in my life in this town of Ketchum, Idaho." The surrounding beauty, vast openness of unexplored opportunities led Rebecca to plant her roots. She has found the strongest and most courageous attribute is to simply ask for help when guidance is needed. Guidance and vulnerabilities are rich with possibilities when we share our dialogue.
"I know I do a lot of epic solo riding and I might seem like a loner to people. But the hardest times I've had in my life are times I don't reach out to my community. I learned I had the best success when I buried my ego and I asked for help. The moment I embrace my community, and I open myself up is when I become better. It's when we all become better."
I do believe the world needs more of this. It's important to remember we aren't alone. When we come together great things happen. There is strength in numbers. There is opportunity for growth and purpose when we listen and learn from each other. Inspiration can be infectious. Touching the life of a single person can in turn trickle down to others. In the years past, her SRAM Gold Rusch Tour traveled to races and events across North America to help get more women in the saddle and ride their bikes through skills clinics, social events, and group rides. That in return have led other women to create mountain bike clinics in their hometown. Through all these inspiring clinics - communities have been connected.
Beyond community is purpose. Rebecca and trailblazers alike ask questions beyond purpose - beyond our scheduled routine of daily commitments. They do more than silently wonder, they ask out loud and they will ask of you, looking you straight in the eye "what do you want?"
"It's terminology you know. It's like that saying 'Not all who wander are lost'. People might look at my life and say: 'you've been all over the place, you've lived out of your car, you've been wandering, what are you doing..you must be lost.' That's not true at all. I may have been searching, and I may have been exploring. But to me it's not lost if your motivation is pure. And for me my motivation is to see what's out there to keep growing. Sitting at a desk, staring out a window wondering what is out there was never an option for me. So then it isn't lost, it isn't flip-flopping from jobs it's actually evolving and exploring and becoming the best version of yourself. I don't think that ever stops till the day we die and the moment it does, I think is when we find ourselves in a rut and stop growing.
This is why we love trailblazers like Reba. We gush with excitement to be around them, joining a clinic or pop-up ride, we follow their posts on social media, because they remind us to act in alignment with our purpose. To not lose sight of our goals but move closer to them. Rebecca has built a career out of not being lost. The sports that she has accomplished, climbing, adventure racing, whitewater rafting, and mountain biking - they're the kind of sport where root choice, strategy smarts often override the physical prowess. Planning how to get to point A to point B as fast and as efficiently possible - as a professional athlete this is where Rebecca soars and excels.
In 2015 Rebecca took to the Ho Chi Minh Trail to search for her father's crash site. In 1972 Rebecca lost her dad to the jungles of Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War - she was only three years old. Her mother kept every letter, all his music and photos. This is the only memory Rebecca has had of her father, and she admits her sister and mother did not talk of him. That is until recently when Rebecca went to go in search for the missing part of her that she has held tightly in her spirit. To bond again with her father. To set out, in search of the same trail as her father went missing. It was during this time that wounds began to finally heal and a new purpose emerged. This trip was not about death, but life, community and family members coming together once again.
"I went to go look for my father in my own way - by bike, and riding the same trail he went to go bomb. Imagine finding your way home, after you've been lost your whole life. I have built a career out of not being lost. I came home from the trip with a newfound purpose and realization that I could use my bike and experiences to take others to this magical place for riding, and historical intrigue." [Rebecca]
And so she did, in 2016 Rebecca shared this soulful experience and to further her mission to help clean up the bombs from the Vietnam War. Raising money for the Mines Advisory Group in Laos, a non-profit devoted to cleaning up unexploded bombs from the war. This heartfelt adventure will be a feature length film, 'Blood Road' with Red Bull Media House. The U.S team of Red Bull Media House has made its first feature that was written, produced, directed, and edited all in-house. 'Blood Road' will highlight Rebecca's journey along the 1,800 kilometer Ho Chi Minh Trail through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The film will premiere in early 2017 and will be followed by a full film tour, it will be billed as an "epic demonstration of human potential." Rebecca has plans for a few pop-up rides in-conjunction of where the movie will be showing. So, make sure you stay connected to #JoinTheRush Adventures for further details.
Rebecca has begun 2017 with a beginning of extraordinary purpose and acute sense of being open to possibilities. "I've got gravel on the brain!" I'll hit up some events like Dirty Kanza and Crusher in the Tushar. I was so stoked to ride the new Niner JET 9 RDO that I might even try some enduro racing this year. That bike honestly made me feel like I could ride down anything! So I might venture out of my comfort zone and do some easy gravity events!" says Rebecca
Rebecca's Private Idaho will be in it's 5th season this year, and Rebecca has planned new and exciting details for the 2017 gravel adventure. This grueling gravel event set in her hometown of Ketchum, Idaho attracts hundreds of riders every year, all for charity. "We are going to blow the party up even more for 2017! I'm also launching some gravel training camps early in the year." [Rebecca]
With her first feature documentary 'Blood Road', pop-up rides, more self-supported long adventure rides and her growing success with R.P.I - Reba shows no signs of slowing down. "A lot of going back to my roots this year. My path has never been predictable. If I let my core principles; exploration, push my boundaries, make a difference and share the experience with others guide me as I make choices, the rest seems to fall into place." [Rebecca]
After my Skype call with Rebecca, I felt jazzed for the coming year and for all the unknown possibilities. Life does not often yield to our plans and expectations. Making choices is something we will need to do. Navigate your decision making with an awareness of what is important to you. Be clear about what you want and put some positive persistence behind it without giving up. Ask questions - unearth every nook and cranny looking for a deeper purpose. Innovation is the ability to never stop wondering. Stay curious. Be curious. Truth of character and purpose comes to light when we find ourselves soaring outside of our comfort zone. - Jen Agan