Endurance athlete and mountain biking champ Rebecca Rusch was in New York City last week, greeting fans at the special showing of Race Across the Sky, a documentary film about the 2009 Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race, in Colorado.
Rusch was the female winner of the race and shared the podium with Lance Armstrong, who, after finishing second in 2008, came back to vanquish the reigning home favorite and six-time Leadville winner, Dave Wiens.
The race is unusually grueling, with 102.3 miles on both mountain and road terrain and 12,440 feet of elevation gain, which in my book gives Rusch, who finished with a time of 8:14:53.7 and a huge smile on her face, demigoddess status.
After shaking her hand, I asked her for her top 5 recommendations of the best places to mountain bike on earth. Her picks:
1. Sun Valley, Idaho
2. Wanaka, New Zealand
3. Pucón, Chile
4. McKenzie River Trail, Oregon
5. Moab, Utah
Laura Teusink is the associate managing editor at Travel + Leisure.