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Rebecca’s Private Idaho Riders Ignore Showers, Fog
Friday, September 8, 2023


Bicycle helmets are supposed to protect your noggin.

But Hailey resident Lucy Bourret brought a couple shower caps for Rebecca’s Private Idaho gravel bike ride over Labor Day Weekend.

“When it began to rain, we put on rain jackets and shower caps, and we got complimented on them,” said Glo Kimball. “Actually, the temperatures were good this year--last year it was so hot that I cramped and had to walk part of the way. Still,  on way down we looked at each other and said: ‘Let’s just peddle straight to the Duchin Room and have a burger and martini.”

Nearly 900 riders from throughout the country turned out to take part in the 102-mile Baked Potato, 56-mile French Fry and 20-mile Tater Tot rides up Trail Creek Summit.

Michael Van Den Ham of Halifax, Nova Scotia, was crowned champion of the Quen’s Stage Race and Griffin Easter, who rides for UCI Continental team, held on for the overall stage race title. Cecily Decker, a U.S. Ski Team member, and Sarah Max of Bend, Ore., marked each other for 99 miles before Decker attacked on the final downhill to hold off the hard-charging Max.

Max immediately sought out Dcker for a grimy hug, shaking her head in disbelief of Decker’s descending skills.

Bicyclists wore big grins as they crossed the finish line and banged a giant gong meant to send good vibes out in the world.

They sported muddy shoes and flecks of mud on their faces and bicycle jerseys. But it was nothing like Burning Man where 72,000 people wallowed in ankle-deep clay-like mud after the desert playa in northern Nevada got three months of rain in one day.

The race’s elite encountered a couple 15-minute rains bouts of rain, some of which stung the face and created tacky roads. As always, riders praised he scenery along the way, which this year was occasionally shrouded in fog.

“All the people were having a great time,” said Brian Forsyth of Salt Lake City. “We had a little bit of rain,  a few puddles, but we warmed up on the climb up Trail Creek. It was just nice to be on roads where we didn’t have to worry about cars.”

Hailey resident Lindy Cogan, a veteran of RPI and other gravel fondos such as the Ruby Roubaix in Nevada, caught a few sprinkles early in the race but her wool clothing dried out quickly.

“I was so grateful there was no dust,” she said. “I came in smiling. I loved it. And I had rain boots waiting for me at the finish line.”

Others, like Walter Lohse from Northern California, seemed to be in the right place at the right time, missing all but a few sprinkles.

“This is the third time I’ve done this ride. It’s a good day for everybody and the good cause. It’s the spirit of the event what drives it,” said Lohse.

Michael Van Den Ham called RPI the perfect event for families and added that it was a top-notch competition with the margins of victory incredibly small, making racing exciting and friendly.

“It was great--beautiful weather, some rain,” said RPI founder Rebecca Rusch. “Much better than last year with the heat, the dust and the smoke from wildfires. I truly believe you grow when you do something hard and you bond when you do it with other people around you. Watching the new connections develop and old friends who only see each other here once a year reconnect means more to me than any podium I have been on. Cycling can change the world, and this is an example of that.”

Among those taking part in the ride was Austin McInerny, who co-founded the National Interscholastic Cycling Association in 2012.

“We started the first league in California and decided maybe we should do it nationally. We now have leagues in 31 states, including Idaho. We launched the Idaho league at this event six years ago,” he said. “There are 230,000 youth racing this year and it’s given rise to such cyclists as Matteo Jorgenson, a Boise cyclist who rode in the Tour de France this year and last.”

“The kids in the league are the next generation of elite athletes. But beyond competition, we’re building strong minds and character through the sport of cycling,” he added.


WOMEN: Cecily Decker

MEN: Michael Van Den Ham


Women’s Para Cycling: Hannah Raymond

Men’s Para Cycling: Thiago Costa



Female Fleur Brazil

Male: Drake Lovlien

Women Para-Cycling: Annike Wade


Female: Alison Frye

Male: Noah Shelton

Non-Binary: Bethel Steele

Men’s Para-Cycling: Joe Pomeroy and Jeremy Raeszler


Women QSR Overall: Sarah Max

Men QSR Overall: Griffin Easter

Non-Binary QSR Overall: Sam Hansen 

Men Para-Cycling (upright) QSR Overall: Thiago Costa


A hundred riders took part in the Queen’s Stage Race on Day 2 of the four-day Rebecca’s Private Idaho. They rode together out Warm Springs Road to the base of the 4.5-mile Dollarhide Climb. then took part in a time-trial ascent followed by an opportunity to cool off in Warfield Hot Springs on the way back.

Winners were:

Women: Sarah Max

Men: Griffin Easter

Non-Binary: Thiago Costa

Men Para-Cycling: Sam Hansen

“This stage of QSR is the essence of the best bike ride in the world,” said Rusch. “It’s untimed for the first 20 miles, then it’s a super hard uphill time trial—which is the race of truth. It’s you against yourself, but the support between the riders today was incredible.”

Rebecca’s Private Idaho benefits the Be Good Foundation, which Rebecca Rusch founded in 2017. The foundation supports numerous causes ranging from purchasing bicycles for people in Third World countries to take produce to market to providing funds for Wood River Trail Coalition to maintain 400 miles of singletrack surrounding Sun Valley.

Th event hoped to raise $100,000 this year with the help of a sold-out Be Good Foundation Party, online auction and donations.

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