Rebecca Rusch High Country Route bike FKT

Only Known Time: Rebecca Rusch Shreds 1st Bike Traverse of 1,000-Mile ‘High Country Trail’

Top photo credit: Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool

Logging 1,041 miles over 8 days, 3 hours, 33 minutes, renowned athlete Rebecca Rusch set the fastest — and first — known time on Arkansas’ new High Country Route bicycle trail.

“Arkansas better get ready for some cycling.” Rebecca Rusch’s cautionary words actually carried a congratulatory tone following her epic ride of the state’s just-completed 1,041-mile trail network, the High Country Route (HCR).

Rebecca Rusch High Country Route bike FKT
Photo credit: Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool

The 50-year-old American multisport phenom became the first to ride the entirety of the route, which comprises pavement, gravel, and singletrack. And her time of 8 days, 3 hours, 33 minutes now stands as the time to beat.

“It was the longest ride of my career, but I was not bored at all,” Rusch said after crossing the finish line. “It was so beautiful with so much to look at. The trail they built here is world-class.”

In total, Rusch logged 107 hours in the saddle and endured more than 84,373 feet of elevation.

Rebecca Rusch: High Country Route FKT

Rebecca Rusch High Country Route bicycle river
Photo credit: Bligh Gillies/Red Bull Content Pool

Originally expected to take 2 years, HCR first took shape last year when the Walton Family Foundation donated $100,000 to help build the trail network. Made up of equal parts pavement and trail, and roughly 5 percent singletrack, the route meanders through three national parks, eight state parks, 15 Forest Service campgrounds, and nine Corps of Engineers parks.

“Arkansas is a beautiful place to ride your bike,” Rusch said on Facebook after the ride. “I highly suggest you plan a bike trip out this way.”

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To conquer the terrain, Rusch piloted a Niner Bikes RLT 9 RDO. She “mulleted” SRAM’s road eTap AXS shifting with a mountain-ready Eagle 1x setup in the back. See the full build below.

Rebecca Rusch High Country Route Gear

  • Frame: Niner Bikes RLT 9 RDO
  • Drivetrain: SRAM eTap AXS + Eagle (MTB)
  • Wheels: ENVE Composites SES AR 3.4
  • Tires: Maxxis USA Rambler 38cc
  • Saddle: Wilderness Trail Bikes (WTB) Koda
  • Tech: Garmin Edge 1030 and inReach
Rebecca Rusch High Country Route bike FKT
Photo credit: Bligh Gillies/Red Bull Content Pool

Our congrats to Rebecca Rusch for christening one of America’s most epic bike trails. And stay tuned — GearJunkie will interview Rusch on her accomplishment next week.

Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.