Thursday, September 5, 2013

Come Interested, Leave Inspired

The end of August for me marked a little trip to Ketchum, Idaho to ride in Rebecca's Private Idaho, a gravel grinder. The ride has been described as "its a long haul gravel grinder meant to showcase the beautiful scenery and quad cracking climbs on Rebecca Rusch's home turf.

Driving out there meant many hours sitting in the car absorbing the views and whatever was out there. As I neared Idaho I noticed a billboard that had this phrase on it "Come interested, Leave Inspired". Honestly I thought what a great marketing line for anything really.

I started thinking about my trip and how it would look like through that lens of Common Interested, Leave Inspired. I certainly had many interests:

- Ketchum is the home of the Sun Valley Ski Area. There's been an allure to this place
for years. Would it be similar or different to other mountain towns?
- I was traveling by myself, going to a new place and didn't know anyone how would that
make me feel?
- Would the recent fires effect the ride?
- Due to my work load and other things I've not been riding that much this summer so was I
biting more than I could chew with this 100 mile gravel grinder? Would I embarrass
- This was a ride but since it was considered a gran fondo there was timing involved did I
want to be part of that environment?
- Did I make the right equipment choices?
- I was coming in a day early what would I fill my time with on that extra day?
- I was only going to be there for a few days would I really get a feel of this area in
this short of a time?

As I walked around town Saturday morning the enormous sense of gratitude and respect for the firefighters that had saved peoples homes, livelihood, and playground was evident with soot and ash covered yellow ribbons everywhere. This place was a genuine mountain town filled with salt of the earth locals that would do anything for someone else. Inspired, check!

I was made aware of the The Big Hitch Parade that was taking place at 1pm by a local gentleman while I was filling up my car at the station. He gave me all of the insider info about where to watch from, what to watch for and why it was even happening in the first place. I felt very welcomed and appreciated. Inspired, check!

The sense of tight knit community with open arms for visitors was felt throughout the day from my first encounter at the gas pump to the rider meeting held by Rebecca Rusch welcoming everyone riding and briefing us on the gravel road conditions, air quality and general ride info. Rebecca is one of the most humble athletes I've met. She is genuine to the core. Her joy was realized by having others share her training grounds and be in awe of this magnificent place on the planet that she calls home. Inspired, check!

The ride organization was first class. We were staged and went off at 8am. Riding up Sun Valley Road with nearly 300 other riders will forever be etched in memory with the church bells ringing along one side of the road and with the horses in the open pasture running alongside the cyclists on the other side. This set the stage for an incredible day in the saddle first going up and over Trail Creek and then dropping down into the wide open spaces of the Copper Basin which was a turning around point to begin the trek back to Ketchum. As promised this was going to be a long haul gravel grinder meant to showcase the beautiful scenery and quad cracking climbs, it did all of that and some. Inspired, check!

The ride party took place in the Town Park, an open but quaint spot in middle of town. The food and beverage prepared for this special event was once again first class. It was a simple but classy gathering of like minded people having shared miles in the saddle. Very inviting and comfortable. Inspired, check!

Most people departed that next morning. I had encounter a bit of car trouble so I needed to stay an extra day as Monday was Labor Day and where I would get my assistance from was closed for the weekend and the holiday. I can tell you there are worst places to be stranded in besides Ketchum, Idaho. Off for another hike in the morning and a quick visit with Rebecca's new family member, Diesel. Certainly a trip highlight has been getting to learn more about Rebecca as a person not only as an athlete. She invited me to a BBQ she was having for some other riders that were still in town after the ride. I gladly accepted. Inspired, check!

Although I didn't know anyone at the BBQ besides Rebecca it turns out I had a lot of mutual friends in common with everyone there. The two worlds I spend lots of time in, skiing and biking, are really not that large and they are tight knit communities. I had a great evening making new friends. Inspired, check!

As I left the following morning I went to visit some of the recently burned areas which was a tad overwhelming but filled with hope. Also the smoke level was lifting and the mountain ranges in the distance were becoming clearer making it evident to me that I need to go back and realize the total beauty of this location. Inspired, check!

I love my new lens of Common interested, Leave Inspired.

Photos of Sun Valley and the bike ride