Friday night, I finished the pro cyclist Rebecca Rusch’s great memoir of her athletic career, Rusch to Glory. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in pro cycling or endurance sport.
I’ve followed the career of the “Queen of Pain” since she won her first Leadville 100 mountain-bike race in 2009 – the year that Lance Armstrong won the men’s race. Rusch had a long and successful athletic career before her first (of four consecutive) Leadville wins, and she spends a good deal of her book (co-written with Selene Yeager) on her exploits as a paddler, a rock climber, an adventure racer, and finally a long-distance mountain biker. All of her race stories are gripping, whether she’s describing an insanely arduous adventure race in Tibet, her first 24-hour MTB national and world championships, her Leadville wins, or even the tragic death of a teammate during an adventure race in South America.
In the book, Rebecca comes across as a supremely driven and superbly talented athlete but also as a capable businesswoman (sponsorships sound like a blessing and a curse!) and a pretty nice person. I’d like to think that I can testify to that last quality. “Reba” did JayP’s Backyard Fat Pursuit in 2014 and, like me, DNF’ed. She came back to the race in 2015 and, like me, finished – in her case, fourth overall. Before the race, she graciously chatted with me and signed my copy of her book (as well as a copy for a friend).
True to her inscription in my book, she actually tracked me down after the race and congratulated me on my finish. I was a little bit awestruck, but as the book shows, that’s the kind of person she is – as well as the person who can turn herself inside out on the bike.