motion blurred imagery of yellow leaves on white barked aspen trees

Spin Cycle: Inside Out

By Sabina Dana Plasse

When living in a place like the Wood River Valley, summer activities are endless and can offer motivation and excitement to one’s workout routine. Zenergy offers the classes, gym, activities and events for healthy living all year-round, but the benefits of Zenergy reach far beyond this top-notch facility.                                                                                                  

Summer sports require some fitness and endurance, which put workouts to the test whether it’s, golf, tennis, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, rock climbing, SUP or mountain biking, and also having proper gear is extremely important, which, no doubt enhance one’s experience.

Mountain biking in the Wood River Valley and north is quite different from spin class. The spin class payoff is being able to enjoy the setting and scenery because the legs are ready. As Sun Valley hosts more mountain biking events such as the very fun Ride Sun Valley bike festival and events throughout the summer at Galena Lodge, the benefits of this sport and the education in an area that enjoys the sport are tremendous.

Nearby trails are aplenty and can be accessed from Ketchum and Sun Valley. The White Clouds, which is an excellent first ride, can be extended to Corral Creek and you can start right out the door of Zenergy too. A little bit north of town beginning at the SNRA Headquarters is the Harriman Trail, which, in my opinion, is one of the best rides around because all levels of experience can enjoy, and it’s a perfect summer outing to have a fun and scenic ride.

Big rides await too with lots of challenges on Baldy, which features the very fun and new flow trail, and of course Forbidden Fruit out in Adam’s Gulch and several others at Galena and in Stanley such as Fisher Creek or Elk Mountain if heading north. These are just a few I know and attempt to do when time allows, but there are miles and miles of single track trails for all levels throughout the Wood River and Sawtooth Valleys and sharing with horseback riders hikers, trekkers, backpackers and a few ATVs is common so practice trail etiquette whenever possible.

Visit Galena Lodge, Visit Sun Valley, the Sun Valley Resort and the BCRD for trail maps and suggested rides as well as gear shops throughout the valley where rentals and learning about mountain biking gear and use are a great way to try out this popular mountain sport.

In my fascination with mountain biking, I sought some advice from professional mountain biker Rebecca Rusch aka the “Queen of Pain” on how to enjoy summer mountain biking.  Rusch lives in Sun Valley and has recently published her first book, “Rusch to Glory,” which is set in the exotic locales and extreme conditions that forged an extraordinary athlete from ordinary roots. Her national and world titles in whitewater rafting, adventure racing, orienteering and cross-country skiing certainly impress, but they only set the stage. It’s the two-wheeled victories that really lengthen her resume. Rusch takes no such time to rest on her laurels. Her SRAM Gold Rusch Tour has been traveling to races and events across North America to help get more women in the saddle and riding their bikes through skills clinics, social events, and group rides. She created Rebecca’s Private Idaho, a grueling gravel road event in her hometown of Ketchum that attracts hundreds of riders to her backyard every year, all for charity, and she’s still a firefighter and EMT with the Ketchum Fire Department and walks her dog, Diesel, just about every day.

Q: When training in the high-desert climes of Sun Valley, how do you battle the heat and dry air?
A: Hydrate from the inside out.  Drinking water is key up here in the mountains in any season.  When exercising, I plan for a minimum of 20 oz of water per hour and more if it’s really hot.  That’s one big water bottle per hour.  I also pre-hydrate before exercising.  This saturates the cells and is great for the skin too.

Q: What advice can you give to outdoor enthusiasts about preparing for mountain sports in the summer?
A: Be prepared with sunscreen, water, food, map, first aid kit and a plan.  This is a wilderness environment, so it’s important to be self-sufficient —that’s part of the adventure after all.

Q: As a volunteer fire fighter too, what’s your advice on wildfire smoke and workouts?
A: If it’s smoky, take a rest day or head to clear air.  You can actually do more damage to your lungs and healthy by exercising in the smoke.

Q: Any recommendations on hydrating? What do you like to use for big workouts?
A: I really like GU Energy products for hydration.  Blueberry Pomegranate GU Brew is my favorite electrolyte drink. 

Q: What's your advice about avoiding fatigue and combating? Any minerals or vitamins you like best?
A: I take amino acids (great for endurance sports), a multi vitamin, fish oil and calcium.  I try to keep the supplements pretty basic and eat healthy. For combating fatigue, it’s important to take rest days completely off from exercising.  It’s actually during the rest times that our bodies rebuild and get stronger, so if you don’t allow recovery, you don’t get any stronger.  I take 1-2 days of complete rest per week.  I also really like icy soaks in the river for recovery and restorative yoga at Zenergy on my days off.

Learn more about how she does it at