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Rusch to Glory: Adventure, Risk, & Triumph on the Path Less Traveled

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"You name it, Rebecca Rusch has tried it―get inspired by her adventures mountain biking, white-water rafting and climbing in exotic locations around the world." ― Triathlete magazine

Known as the Queen of Pain, Rebecca Rusch is one of the great endurance athletes of our time.

The relentlessly fast runner, paddler, and mountain bike racer, Rusch was a normal kid from Chicago who abandoned a predictable life for one of adventure. In her book Rusch to Glory: Adventure, Risk & Triumph on the Path Less Traveled, Rusch weaves her fascinating life's story among the exotic locales and extreme conditions that forged an extraordinary athlete from ordinary roots.

Rusch has run the gauntlet of endurance sports over her career as a professional athlete-- climbing, adventure racing, whitewater rafting, cross-country skiing, and mountain biking--racking up world championships along the way. But while she might seem like just another superhuman playing out a fistful of aces, her empowering story proves that anyone can rise above self-doubt and find their true potential.

First turning heads with her rock climbing and paddling skills, Rusch soon found herself spearheading adventure racing teams like Mark Burnett's Eco-Challenge series. As she fought her way through the jungles of Borneo, raced camels across Morocco, threaded the rugged Tian Shan mountains, and river-boarded the Grand Canyon in the dead of winter, she was forced to stare down her own demons. Through it all, Rusch continually redefined her limits, pushing deep into the pain cave and emerging ready for the next great challenge.

At age 38, Rusch faced a tough decision: retire or reinvent herself yet again. Determined to go for broke, she shifted her focus to endurance mountain bike racing and rode straight into the record books at a moment when most athletes walk away. Rusch to Glory is more than an epic story of adventure; it is a testament to the rewards of hard work, determination, and resilience on the long road to personal and professional triumph.

256 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2014

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Rebecca Rusch

1 book1 follower

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 47 reviews
Profile Image for Lois Keller.
Author 1 book11 followers
April 28, 2020
I am not sure if non-cyclists would find this as good, but I just found this so inspiring and I feel like future is so bright with so much to do. Thanks Rebecca!
Profile Image for Raelynn Milley.
42 reviews2 followers
October 27, 2014
A true adventurer, Rebecca Rusch did what it takes to become a professional athlete, she sacrificed many things in order to follow her passions. It paid off and the story is told in an honest, sometimes raw and painfully emotional journey. I felt as if I was sitting in the room with Rebecca telling the story live. When I read about women like Rebecca Rusch I'm puzzled how books like "Wild" could ever lead a reader past page one....read this if you want to be inspired, to set high goals for yourself and to appreciate those who put in the truly hard work not for recognition but because it's who they are!
Profile Image for Tarah.
304 reviews10 followers
January 1, 2016
I love this book. I love the heart and grit of this woman. When I first started reading, I thought, interesting, the writing is simple and plain, a jock's writing, no flowery language or metaphor. It drew me in. I'm sure I enjoyed it more than some because of my active lifestyle and involvement in the community, though I share none of her sports on common. She's a badass with a big heart and I'm inspired by both.
Profile Image for Camee.
480 reviews5 followers
September 24, 2018
I loved reading about all of Rebecca Rusch's adventures. From river boarding in frigid water to riding a camel across the desert, there were so many of them I lost count after a while. I especially liked hearing about her dirt bag roots and her evolution from gym rat to crag chick. She also never stuck to one kind of sport - one thing always led to another until she became the well rounded athletic machine she is today. The best part was learning how Rusch didn't get into mountain biking until she was 38! As someone who wants to get into mountain biking and is afraid to try this was very inspiring to me.

Rusch is not only special in terms of her all her travels and athleticism, but also because she is a terrific role model for women and young girls. I loved reading about her efforts to get more girls involved in sports like mountain biking.

This is one of those books that if I have a daughter, I will be sure to push this in her direction. Even if you aren't into sports you will enjoy the tales of Rusch's awe inspiring adventures.
Profile Image for Jessica.
68 reviews1 follower
January 22, 2023
First of all, Rebecca Rusch is clearly an amazing athlete and her many achievements should be celebrated. That said, I want to separate the woman from the book. It was not a great read. Perhaps it was Selene Yeager's writing that made this such a slog to get through.

As another reviewer here wrote: "Rusch's narrative goes sort of like this: I didn't think I could do it. I was scared. My [fill-in-the-blank] was hurting / bleeding / broken. I pressed on anyway, and we finished. I found this theme more repetitive than inspirational."

Taking on mountain biking as a new rider and winning the events she has won is certainly impressive. But that, too, followed a similar narrative, "I lacked the skills to do well, but I pushed myself. I was hurting and afraid to look behind me. I finished and I won!"

I don't know if it's because all these events blurred together, but I felt like many of them were covered in such a cursory way that it just got boring.
178 reviews
May 5, 2017
Rebecca Rusch is a very successful adventure racer and endurance mountain biker, born in Chicago in 1968. Before reading this book, I had never heard of adventure racing. This involves a competition lasting many days over several hundred miles like 500, and involving some or all activities such as paddling, mountain climbing, biking, rafting, catching and riding horses or camels, in such countries as Borneo, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan or Morocco. Thank you, Hella, for recommending this incredible book about an amazing person.
Profile Image for Chloe Holiday.
Author 11 books55 followers
October 27, 2020
An inspiring book from the woman dubbed Queen of Pain, this novel looks at Rusch's journey from disillusioned cross-country runner to climber to adventure racer to endurance mountain biker. It's got a honest voice for the loneliness, self-doubt, and challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated field, and it's fascinating to read the behind-the-scenes for the various races, and see the photos.

The narrative is a bit disjointed at times, but it's a book to read for the content, not the prose. It's a great story of determination and re-inventing oneself!
Profile Image for Jeff Lyon.
Author 6 books
January 28, 2023
I am not an avid bike rider. Rusch to Glory was recommended by a dedicated peddle-pushing friend and left me in awe of Rebecca Rusch. Her accomplishments in adventure racing were amazing enough, but this confidence driven athlete goes on to excel in whitewater rafting, cross-country skiing, mountain biking and climbing.

Rebecca pushes us to conquer our own fears and shines as an example of perseverance and the ability to face her personal struggles head-on. This is an uplifting read and sure to make you want to get off the couch and create your own accomplishments.
Profile Image for Amy.
75 reviews
October 30, 2021
Rebecca Rusch has some amazing accomplishments and has participated in many sports/activities. I was super excited to read this after having read "Hell on Wheels" and "Swimming to Antarctica" BOTH also highlight amazing women athletes, and are written exceptionally well. Unfortunately, although Rebecca has great accomplishments, it is quite the slog to read. It might be more interesting to read about her on Wikipedia. I was disappointed with this book.
389 reviews
January 25, 2022
The first half of this book is mostly about how Rusch came into rock climbing and then adventure racing (and how tough and sometimes fatal adventure racing can be). The second half is on her move into competitive cycling, with a large focus on the Leadville 100 race and her very impressive achievements there.

There's not a lot of personal reflection or internal growth arc, but it's still a fun autobiography seeing how a non-traditional cyclist was setting records starting at age 38.
Profile Image for Jessie.
307 reviews1 follower
September 29, 2020
I found this really inspiring and have been recommending it to all my cycling friends. She is so tough and fierce and determined and writes very well about it all. I found her honesty about fear and self-doubt to be the most compelling and valuable parts of the book, but there’s also just a lot of really good race stories in here. Loved it!
Profile Image for Teri Pitman.
5 reviews
November 1, 2020
I’ve admired Rebecca since the Team Montrail days when I’d ask my mom to record Primal Quest on a VHS tape and then getting to meet her that first year in Leadville made me giddy. Her toughness and ready-for-anything attitude totally inspire me! I sold my gravel bike years ago but think I’m ready to jump back in.
Profile Image for Brett Davis.
11 reviews1 follower
May 30, 2020
"I don't love suffering. But I'm not afraid to suffer. I'm not afraid to keep going. To me, going longer and farther means I'm en route to a new discovery. I like what I learn about myself and who I am when I push through to the other side."
2 reviews
January 10, 2022
Gripping and inspiring

What a colourful and adventurous life of grit, life, adventure, wins and losses. Couldn’t stop reading and now time to jump on my bike with a new determination!
Profile Image for Maggie HambidgeHarvey .
2 reviews1 follower
January 22, 2023
She writes in great detail the many races she did with outcomes that helped her personal growth and her plan for the next race. She comes into mountain biking later in her life, which ends up as a career changer. I liked how she gives back to her community .
Profile Image for Anita Klimek.
7 reviews
March 20, 2017
A fantastic, inspiring read. If you're looking for a some motivation, read this. This woman is simply amazing.
4 reviews
November 18, 2018
This is a great adventure read for female athletes and anyone who wants an exciting story. Rusch is an amazing role model.
Profile Image for Eric.
205 reviews
February 19, 2019
Loved the journey and developed interest in a variety of competitive events new to my experience.
Profile Image for Michael.
564 reviews5 followers
May 31, 2019
One of the most enjoyable reads in a while and I don't have any interest in "adventure racing", it was just a good read.She had a lot of heart.
Profile Image for Adam.
23 reviews
December 13, 2021
Great book. Sincere, inspiring, informative. Adventure racing, endurance sports, mountain biking. Shows how will power is probably the most important asset for success.
Profile Image for Kate.
208 reviews25 followers
January 27, 2023
Rebecca Rusch is an amazing athlete. Hands down. This book started out strong with stories about Rebecca discovering cross-country and starting to climb. Then, somewhere along the way I became less connected/interested. Instead of a single chapter about three different adventure races, I'd rather have more depth - more details about a single race (what was Rebecca's training like, how did it feel to lose a fellow athlete during a race, how did she recover and do it again and again). Perhaps the challenge is that Rebecca has so many accomplishments, how do you choose? That said, at only 250 pages - I think more pages, more insight was possible.
August 2, 2019
It's not often I cry when reading...but I did - three times - while reading this book. The clarity and honesty with which Rebecca writes really connected with something in me.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
683 reviews
November 13, 2016
Recently, I've been on a fitness kick, and as a result, I've had an interest in reading sports books. While I certainly have enjoyed many books about male athletes, I also wanted to read books about female athletes. However, your typical "Top 100 Sports Books" list will have literally 95 or more books written by and about men. Often, even books about female athletes are written by men, and I've found I've already read most of them. Consider this list by The Telegraph - all 50 books are written by and about men, except Seabiscuit (by a woman, about a horse). The SI Top 100 features Seabiscuit, as well as two other books about women. Actually, both are about girls: In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle, and Little Girls In Pretty Boxes. The other 97 books seem to be written by and about men. You get the point. There have obviously been inspirational stories created by female athletes, but I guess no one has written good books about these stories.

Rusch to Glory has been very well reviewed on Amazon, and since I've particularly been on a cycling kick lately, I was excited to read it. Having read it, I have mixed feelings. This is the story of Rusch's life as a professional athlete.

She begins doing adventure racing. These are multiday torture fests in which the contestants try to get from point A to point B via various waypoints, and must do climbing, paddling, mountain biking, horseriding, running and other athletic pursuits along the way. Rusch glorifies her ability and desire to withstand pain. She is unimpressed when teammates want to drop out, and as captain pushes one teammate to the point she must be med-evaced from the course. Rusch herself attributes her lifelong asthma problems to one particularly grueling race at high altitude.

In addition, Rusch's narrative goes sort of like this: I didn't think I could do it. I was scared. My [fill-in-the-blank] was hurting / bleeding / broken. I pressed on anyway, and we finished. I found this theme more repetitive than inspirational.

Rusch eventually loses a friend during an adventure race and decides to take on 24-hour mountain bike racing. From there, she progresses to 100-mile mountain bike races and also dabbles in some shorter races. Rusch finds she is a natural, and here the narrative goes more like this: - I was hurting, but I soon realized I was in the lead. I was very tired, but I finished, and I won! While the theme of the book is supposed to be how an ordinary person can succeed in, well, anything, if they try hard enough, I found Rusch in her own words to be anything but ordinary. She appears to have tremendous natural ability in distance mountain biking and fairly effortlessly beat younger and more experienced athletes.

Finally, there was no discussion of PEDs in the book. Rusch succeeded in biking at an age at which most athletes are in decline. Given the massive prevalence of PEDs in biking, it seems at least a token discussion and declaration that she competed clean would have been in order.

Despite all these complaints, I did enjoy reading about Rusch's journeys and her successes. I particularly enjoyed the latter half of the book that focuses on her mountain biking.

Profile Image for Amy Moritz.
326 reviews16 followers
September 7, 2016
I am not a mountain biker. My one and only time on a mountain bike was on a Women's Quest retreat and I pushed it more than I rode it. But I loved the bike anyway and promptly came home, bought a road bike and started my journey into endurance sports. I'm not sure how I was first introduced to Rebecca Rusch but I've been following her on social media for some time so it was about time I read her autobiography.

It's a great tale of her journey into becoming a pro athlete, really by accident. She found adventure racing, loved it, and built her life around it. When that door closed she had the opportunity to find a new adventure to finish out her sponsorship with Red Bull. Do something amazing, they told her. So she did a 24-hour mountain bike race which, she thought at the time, seemed like a stupid idea.

What I loved about Rebecca's telling of her story is her honesty. So often when I read books about people who take amazing adventures, they skim over the part about fear and risk. Take big risks! That's the message. But Rebecca's message is one of calculated risk -- of knowing her limits and pushing those boundaries with skill and knowledge not necessarily reckless abandon. That speaks to me. So does the part about learning to ignore how other people view you. So does the part about being happy in a way that the quantity and quality of her competition increased each year at Leadville. That made it harder for her to win, but also meant the sport was growing for women and that, it seems to me, made her heart sing.

My bookmarked lines:
"Sometimes all you need is permission to fail in order to succeed."

"I suck What is wrong with me? I feel fat and slow and awful. I should consider a career change." His enthusiastic reply: "Excellent. We're right on track."

"The competition out there made me rise to another level that even I didn't know I could reach."

"It's persevering through adversity, not mechanically putting out watts, that makes an epic journey that much more satisfying."
835 reviews6 followers
December 23, 2014
Whether you are a cyclist or not, Rebecca's autobiography (so far) is simply inspirational. She started with climbing, then paddling, then adventure racing (how they survived in some of those hot, high altitude, cold etc. conditions for days and days is amazing), then went on to endurance mountain biking.

She won many 24 hour solo events - after all, she was used to having to race for 10 days, not just one. And she not only won the infamous Leadville 100 - a mountain bike race of 100 miles in Colorado that is almost all above 10 000 ft and includes brutally steep, long climbs - in her first attempt, but she broke the record. Then she went on to win it and beat her own record 2 more times.

And most of her achievements came in her mid to late 30s! She claims that it's not only her physical preparation and fitness, but her mental strength and willingness to endure pain and discomfort that gave her so much success.

Oh, one other tough achievement - she was one of 3 women who, in the winter of 2001, paddled a board down 300 miles of the Colorado River. This was the whole length of the Grand Canyon, with lots of difficult, deadly rapids to navigate. And, they towed their gear too, as it was a completely self-supported trip, taking over two weeks.

I had to breathe a sigh of relief when I finished the book!
Profile Image for Bruce Crawford.
127 reviews1 follower
December 21, 2014
This is an incredible story. Rebecca Rusch is one of if not THE most amazing athlete I've come across. Endurance racer: climb mountains, kayak, run, hike, swim, cycle, etc. etc. across ridiculous distances in incredibly difficult, demanding, and challenging regions across the world. Then she, at age 38, becomes a world class endurance cyclist: 24.0 hour marathons; 100 mile races. Again in incredible settings. Win the endurance mountain bikers penultimate race: Leadville (that sport's Tour de France), four consecutive times. On and on! This is one amazing athlete. Amazing person.

And the writing, especially describing her experiences throughout certain races, is taut, colorful, grabs you, keeps you on the edge of your seat, exciting!!! The words get you in the moment as best you can imaging what she puts herself through.

This is an amazing story of an amazing woman, Rebecca Rush. Extremely well-written. Buy it. Read it. Share it. And parents of daughters, have them read it. Just: "Wow!"
Displaying 1 - 30 of 47 reviews

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