Four-time women’s Leadville Trail 100 MTB champion Rebecca Rusch easily took the win during her first stop in Austin.
You posted on Facebook that the Austin Rattler is now your favorite event so far, besides the Leadville Trail 100. What was so great about Leadville, Texas-style?
This event was amazing because it felt like Leadville in the vibe, all of the people, the energy of riders who seemed so stoked and the really hometown feel of the place. Rocky Hill Ranch had old farm structures that are used for a cookhouse, shelter and awards area, and the vintage feeling of the place was really authentic. Nothing was shiny and new and I liked that old-time feeling.
I also liked that there was space for all of the athletes to park, camp, take a shower, have a great BBQ and just stay fully immersed in the mountain bike scene. Not to mention the amazing and varied nature of the trails and course there. This course had something for everyone and I loved the four-lap format because you got to come through the start / finish area multiple times to cheers, cowbells and even roll across the iconic red carpet on your last lap. It felt like a mini Twin Lakes each time I rolled through and saw all of the friends and family.
It’s a little early in the season for you. How did it feel to get out on the dirt on Saturday?
I was so, so ready to get back on the dirt and hear that shotgun go off again! I did some racing in January and February in warm climates, but since then I’ve been battling the Idaho winter and spring weather and I was ready to shed the booties, jacket and road bike and get back to what I really love to do. Spring motivation can be a challenge and there’s no better way for me to get motivated than to just go to a fun race, whether I’m ready or not.
Tell us about the bike you’re riding this season. Anything new?
I am riding the Specialized Fate and right now there are not big changes in my set up. Why mess with perfection, right?
I will very likely change my bike to SRAM XX1 in the very near future, but did not have this set up ready for Austin, so I waited to make the change when I’d have more time to dial things in and get used to it.
How was Austin? Did you get a chance to relax with any of the sights and scenes?
Sadly, all I saw of Austin was the airport arriving on a delayed flight at 2 a.m. on Friday and then departing at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll be back to Texas to take a little more time when I can.
Because travel can be stressful and take a toll on one’s body, how do you make sure you’re in top form to race after traveling?
This is a challenge and life, work, and family often get in the way of the perfect pre-race preparation. This was the case for me when my flight was delayed and I arrived at 2 a.m. Friday morning. Dave Wiens was kind enough to wait for me at the airport, only to learn that his bike and bag did not arrive. Sometimes the best-laid plans don’t work out. Neither of us got enough sleep before the race, but Dave did at least get his equipment in time.
When traveling, I work hard to maintain good hydration leading up to the event and bring food with me on the plane. Those pressurized cabins are dehydrating and the food you find traveling is often full of sodium and lacking in nutrition. I try to stack the odds in my favor when traveling by maintaining good nutrition, wearing compression socks on the plane, bringing headphones to relax or sleep and letting the travel stress roll off my back. I also make a point of trying to ride and get the blood flowing as soon as possible after travel. I rode two practice laps on the Austin Rattler course on Friday and also rode an hour on Sunday after landing and arriving at the next destination. How you recover and rest before and after an event is nearly as important as all of the training you’ve done leading up to the event.
You’ve said that you like to cook and prepare your own food. Do you try to make the same thing for dinner before a race (or maintain some sort of eating routine), even when you’re on the road? Any tips?
If I can stay in a condo or hotel with a kitchen, then I do prefer to cook because I can control what I’m eating and also save the hassle of finding a restaurant, getting a reservation, and waiting for the meal. It can be quicker and healthier to just make your own food if you have the facility to do so. I try to find a grocery store and at least buy some fruit juice, fruit, nuts and water to have on hand for snacks. Many times, cooking is not an option, so the restaurant choices that I tend to lean towards the night before a race are chicken or seafood, rice or potato and vegetables. I try to keep pre-race meals simple and as clean as possible no matter where I’m eating. I order with sauces on the side and steamed/grilled meats when I can. My main goal is to give my digestion simple foods so that they can be processed easily and not have a detrimental effect. The more energy that goes to your digestion, the less you have to push your bike the next day.
Which race is next on your dance card?
I am already in California for the Sea Otter classic and stop number one on the SRAM Gold Rusch Tour. Following that, I’m headed to Moab and Fruita for my own personal race, the Red Bull Rusch Hour. There will be no shotgun, no red carpet, and no aid stations or crowds cheering my name, but this will surely be a grand adventure.