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Women of Adventure

Women of Adventure

Rebecca Rusch

No big reward comes without risk

Endurance mountain biker and activist Rebecca Rusch has been a professional athlete in various sports for more than 30 years. She continues to test her limits and shatter glass ceilings while encouraging women like you to explore your boundaries.

By Rebecca Rusch

“Do you want to try 24-hour solo mountain bike racing, even though you suck at mountain biking?”

“Do you want to swim all 300 miles of the Grand Canyon by river board, unsupported … in winter, even though you hate the cold and were never a good swimmer?”

“Do you want to ride the mysterious Ho Chi Minh Trail buried deep in the jungle and littered with unexploded bombs?”

These are actual questions I’ve been faced with. My answer to all of them was yes.

Often, my voice was squeaking out a tentative and barely audible yes, but still a yes. Here’s the deal: it’s easier not to do something than to do it. We are programmed to make excuses for why we’re not good enough, ready enough, strong enough or experienced enough for an adventure that presents itself.

For each of the grand adventures above, I was not 100% prepared for any of them. We’re never really as ready as we could be. Yet I survived them all, and the risks presented huge rewards.

We regularly stumble across opportunities to do something outside our comfort zones, and it’s simpler to find reasons to say no than to go. It takes courage to try something that makes your hands sweat. I’ve carved an unpredictable career out of saying yes instead of no, and looking back, I am so glad I had the courage to say yes. I don’t regret any of the things I’ve done. I only regret the things I have not done.

“But I’m not the Queen of Pain. I can’t do what you do,” you’re thinking. We are not that different, you and me. I might seem to have a deep well of courage and confidence, but I’ll let you in on a secret: I don’t. I’m not the kind of person to just throw caution to the wind and risk everything. I’m quite the opposite, actually. I have always been a controlling, Type A Virgo. I’m uncomfortable jumping into the unknown without preparation and planning. Case in point — when I was in New Zealand, a group of friends wanted to go bungee jumping. It sounded awesome in my head, but when it came time to step off the platform into the abyss, my body would not make the leap. The reason: I was not in control, even a little bit, so I couldn’t go.

I have learned in over 25 years of adventuring that risk equals reward. This is one of the personal pillars I live by. But risk is scary, and everyone needs a trail map. It doesn’t take much to shift the conversation from “I can’t” to “why not?” This simple, powerful question is often all you need to start building your trail map. Just a little planning and preparation will give you the reassurance that even if you aren’t ready enough, you’ll still survive and come home with great memories and stories to tell.

Learn more of Rebecca’s story, including an expedition for her “Blood Road” documentary.

Here are a few steps to build your trail map and start your own adventure today.

1. Identify an adventure. Pick something that makes your hands sweaty and heart race a little. It can be small or big but needs to scare you a little. Risk equals reward.

2. Educate yourself. Research the route, the gear, the weather — and plan for it. Knowledge equals power.

3. Control the controllable. Dial in your equipment, the navigation, the food. Controlling what you can gives you assurance that when the unexpected happens, you have the tools to respond.

4. Have a bailout plan. When I swam the Grand Canyon on a river board, I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I did know I could hike out at multiple points along the way, so I was more confident going into the Canyon, knowing I could get myself out if needed.

5. Get schooled … there is nothing better than learning from people better than you. Either invite them on your adventure, or take a class or camp with one of them to hone your skills. Skills equal confidence

Want to get schooled by me?

Come to Idaho to my backyard training ground, and I will share my tips and tricks and personally arm you with the skills and confidence to head out on your own endurance cycling adventure. Check out my Rusch Academy events.

Start Your Adventure Today

Ready to ride some mountain biking trails? Find a site near you.

Edge® 1030

Find the best on- and off-road routes. This GPS bike computer has built-in maps and shows the routes most traveled by fellow riders. You can even let family and friends follow your adventures with live tracking.