Endurance specialist Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) is not normally the kind of mountain bike racer you'd expect to see at US Cross Country Mountain Bike Nationals, but she couldn't resist coming this year.
"It's in my hometown; I had to take part," said Leadville 100 winner Rusch, who lives in Ketchum, Sun Valley, Idaho.
"I'll be racing cross country on a singlespeed and super D," said Rusch to Cyclingnews just after winning the downtown Fat Tire Crit on Thursday evening. This weekend marks her first-ever participation in cross country nationals although she's been a regular at many 24-hour and marathon nationals.
"I've been very involved (in this nationals) - my boyfriend Greg is the cross country course director. One thing I can say about this course is that there is a lot of climbing. It's either up or down. If you look around at the mountains, you can see that's what our riding is like around here."
"They built a technical rock garden and a technical rock drop. It's cool to see the new features." Rusch predicted that the course overall will make for a tough race. Not one to shy away from difficult racing, she has decided to make it even tougher and race singlespeed.
"Yes, it's choosing a difficult tool for the job. Cross country is not my forte and I didn't want to throw down with Georgia Gould and Lea Davison. By racing singlespeed, I get to watch the pro race, and I can watch it with some local high school girls I coach."Participating by racing singlespeed and cheering on the pros in the cross country is just another way for Rusch to support the national championships coming to her backyard.
The former 24-hour solo mountain bike world champion is especially excited about the super D on Sunday morning.
"The super D course is hard. It has a 300-foot climb on a fireroad right out of the gate. The whole thing takes 20-25 minutes. A quarter of it is climbing and the rest of rolling descents with loose corners. Traction will be a big deal. If it rained tonight, that would be a godsend, but I don't think it will."
"It's a proper super D," she said with a big smile.
The US cross country nationals are taking place over the next four days and have already kicked off with the Cat 2. and Cat 3. races taking place on Thursday.