Rebecca's Private Idaho 2015

Ok.....quick write-up on RPI while I finish up my long ass post on Trans North Georgia (TNGA).

This past spring while we were in Kansas racing the Dirty Kanza somewhere on the drive home Wendi proclaimed she wanted to go to Idaho this fall and race Rebecca's Private Idaho.  Yes......I said race.  Wendi does not race so you can imagine my initial surprise.  What did not surprise me, however, is her draw to attend a race organized by someone whom she admires and respects immensely.

I was in Vegas (not my favorite place in the world) the week prior to the race so Wendi and I rendezvoused in Salt Lake City on Thursday evening and flew up to Sun Valley together.  We arrived in the tiny but nice airport around 10pm, grabbed our rental and headed to the AirBNB condo we rented just outside the city of Ketchum, ID.  Driving into the sleepy little alpine village at night, we had no idea the views that awaited us in the morning.  We unpacked and went straight to bed agreeing to not set an alarm and sleep in.

The next morning we woke up, cleaned up and headed into town for breakfast.  Taking that first step outside breathing in crisp air and seeing the nearly panoramic mountain views was way more than we expected.  Driving into downtown Ketchum reminded me of a smaller version of a Summit County ski town.  Nice shops, laid back atmosphere.  We stopped in at a little cafe with a patio named Java on 4th and had a great breakfast. After breakfast, we walked around town a bit and made our way to a local bike/ski shop where we shipped our bikes,  Sturtevants.  I normally only trust myself to put our bikes together, but for some reason I took a chance on these guys.  We were blown away by their service.  Both bikes put together problems and super friendly.

Awesome views
At the shop we changed into biking clothes and headed out for a quick pre-ride on the course heading towards the Creek Trail climb.  This was the really tough climb heading northeast out of town on Sun Valley Road.  The first 8 miles or so are on asphalt and the grade was pretty shallow with a few reliefs.  The next mile is where it kicks up to about a 6% grade and then leads onto gravel for the final three miles to the summit of the climb.  For pre-ride, we only went about halfway up the climb just to get a feel for the gravel.  The composition was pretty tight, mature gravel with minimal chunks.  On the way back down we picked up on a lot of washboard while peering over the edge of what looked like a near sheer cliffside.  Don't make a mistake.

On the descent I ran into a guy named Bruce Gustafson who has raced this event a number of times. He was super helpful providing course info and was also at Kanza this past year.  We had a nice non-stop chat most of the way back into town.  Endurance racers are definitely a small tribe.

Singletrack discovered!
After getting back to town, we loaded Wendi's bike up in the rental and I hopped back on the bike for the short three mile ride back to the condo.  We cleaned up and headed back into town to grab dinner at Cornerstone Bar & Grill then back to our temporary home for a good night's sleep.

Saturday morning we woke up late and I headed out for a quick spin down Parker Gulch Road, which surprisingly dead-ended at a trailhead.  I rolled out a few miles of singletrack then headed back into town to meet Wendi for breakfast at Java on 4th again.  We sat outside and people watched while we ate. The rest of the day consisted of watching the Wagon Days parade and chilling out in Atkinson Park for packet pickup.  One the way back to the condo we stopped by a local grocery to grab something for dinner and breakfast stuff for race morning.  One more good sleep.

Race morning.  Alarm off at 5am (I think).  Up to make coffee and oatmeal.  Stuck my head outside and then headed back to bed to get warm.  It was really cold outside.  In Mississippi, I have ridden through our relatively mild winters where we may see a few weeks that dip down into the 20s and have gotten my cold weather system pretty dialed.  I have also ridden in quite a few colder areas and climbed some mountains where the temperature swing was pretty drastic.  Neither Wendi nor I packed much in the way of cold weather gear for this, though, considering the forecast looked really nice before heading to Sun Valley.  Needless to say we both grabbed a few things from Sturtevants to supplement our layers.  I picked up a pair of mid-weight full finger gloves, a base layer and a pair of shoe covers.  The key for me was to be able to shed layers as the day warmed up.

Mountains everywhere!
After breakfast, we both dressed out and I packed Wendi's bike into the car.  I rode into town just as the sun was coming up.  The only part that was really cold (and I anticipated it) were the descents.  The first hour or so of the race was all climbing, so I wasn't too worried about this.  Getting to the start early kept me from having to wait in line at all for my timing chip.  The system they were using was a little different from chips I have used in the past.  They were reusable plastic pods which you ziptied to your fork.  In the past I've only use the helmet flag variety or timing that was built into your number plate.  Just near the start was a Starbucks where everyone was congregating, and I waited for Wendi to roll into town.  When she got there, I grabbed her bike out of the rental and made sure she was good to go.  We both headed back to grab some coffee and sat around chatting for a bit before we started to see people head to the starting gate.  I headed to towards the front with the 94 mile group and Wendi headed towards the back with the 56 milers.  Kiss, love you, have fun!

By the time I got over to chute it was already pretty packed so I just found an open spot towards the middle, settled in and tried to stay warm.  Starting temp was around 29F so there was much shivering.  Getting rolling would fix this.  There were announcements at the front which I couldn't really hear.  Probably thanking all the sponsors and doing call-ups.  Within a few minutes we were off!  The roll out of town was pretty slow and escorted.  By the time we were out of town and hitting some of the early slopes, everyone started to find their places.  The first six miles were nice rollers and false flats which gave everyone a good opportunity to get warmed up pretty well.  At this point, fingers were pretty much frozen solid and unusable.  Everything else on my body was feeling really good.

On our pre-ride heading up Trail Creek
You could tell right about when the grade kicked up to the four mile 6% climb.  The strong climbers were surging ahead and the not so strong were falling back.  I felt really good at this point trying to keep my power pretty steady in the 220-240W range.  After the first mile of pavement, it felt really great to get on the gravel for the final three miles of the climb.  After cresting the Trail Creek Summit I blew past the first aid station.  The next 10 or so miles were nice, fast rolling downhill and then a little climb to get up to the second aid station.  I made a quick stop to refill a bottle and was right back on the bike.  The next segment consisted of easy uphill grades where I found a great riding partner named Nigel. We were pretty equally matched, and we shared the work really well making great time into the third aid station around mile 35.  We stopped and refilled bottles, emptied bladders and snacked on some of the provided food.

Nigel and I agreed with a nod to head out after just a few minutes of stoppage.  After hopping back on the bike, I realized there was something wrong.  I couldn't keep his pace and my legs just didn't want to work.  Stomach was starting to cramp and I couldn't close the gap to Nigel, so I waved him on.  Something I ate at that aid station just didn't sit well with my stomach.  The copper basin loop was absolutely beautiful, but I really struggled the rest of the race.  I couldn't really eat or drink anything and just tried to keep moving.  Stopped at each of the aid stations on the way back just grabbing plain water trying to keep my stomach in check.  The final climb back up to the top of the trail creek summit was thankfully much more manageable than the other direction, except for the last mile or so where it pitched up a bit.

Cresting the top of the summit was a mental milestone given my current condition.  I stopped and grabbed a quick drink of water and bombed down the three mile gravel section of the descent.  It was massively washboarded with that near sheer drop on the right side but I just set back and pedaled down, passing a couple of people and cars before spitting out onto the pavement.  One very fast mile of paved descent and then a bit of a slower descent down to the gun club where there was a RedBull arch setup as the official timing finish for the race.  Rebecca had explained at the rider meeting that they did this as to not have a drag race finish coming into town blowing through stop signs.....pretty sensible.  The last few miles into town I pedaled at a pretty good pace as I was ready to get off the bike.....and I am never ready to get off the bike.  Rounded the corner of East Street to see all of the post-ride festivities in full swing.

Million dollar smiles
I quickly found Wendi who had a smile on her face a mile wide.  She had completed her ride and completely blew away her expectations.  I had zero doubts that she would be able to complete a challenge like this and now she felt the same way.  We dropped my bike off at the WD-40 bike wash, enjoyed some food and drink and chatted with other racers.  After the bikes were cleaned up we dropped them off at Sturtevants to have them packed up and set out for FedEx.  Once again....these guys were awesome and took care of us very well.  We headed back to the condo to get cleaned up and packed up, then back to downtown Ketchum to spend a little more time at the after-party.  Afterwards we grabbed a bite to eat at Warfield Distillery and then drove to Boise to catch our flight home the next morning.

Our experience in Ketchum was pretty incredible.  I remember Rusch talking at the riders meetingthat the reason she decided to put this event on a few years ago was to give people the ability to see such an awesome place that she calls home.  Wendi and I are both happy she did and we look forward to coming back next year.

Jason Shearer