MTB Lao 4

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    The Leader!
    Athlete, activist, firefighter, author, dog owner.

    What is your riding experience?

    Many years as a professional athlete, and gravitating toward expedition cycling lately.

    What made you want to come on this trip?

    I've fallen in love with the people, the culture, the riding in Laos and I'm inspired to show this place to you and also do my part to help clean up the UXO still left from the Vietnam War.

    What is your personal mantra?

    Risk = Reward 

    Passion = Payoff

    Give = Get

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    Firefighter, Owner of Invisible Fence of Southern Idaho
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    Bike Mechanic
    Outdoor Event Management, ROAM

    What is your riding experience?

    I have been riding and racing bicycles for 14 years. Started on the road and quickly moved onto the dirt with cyclocross, cross-country and enduro racing. I have ridden and raced all over the country and once in China, but have mostly stayed in the Pacific Northwest where the riding is primo.

    ​What made you want to come on this trip?

    We put on a women's mountain bike festival in Sedona in October and presented Rebecca's film, Blood Road, to our participants. I was touched by Rebecca's story, the beauty of the landscape, and the people of Laos. When presented with the option/ability to go on this trip I said, emphatically, YES.

    What is your personal mantra?

    Don't stress the little things...or, often, the big things. We are tiny specks in a vast universe.



    Photographer, Videographer

    Moto Support

    What’s your riding experience?
    I’ve been riding mountain bikes since 2001, and moto since 2009. I raced DH/Dual Slalom/4X at a pretty high level for a few years. I pretty much love anything with 2 wheels, and lately 4 legs (I’m currently learning how to jump horses). 


    What made you want to come on this trip?
    This is my 3rd Mtb Lao, and I can’t get enough. The terrain, the culture, the people, the riding! Laos is one of a kind. P.S. I’m the videographer/photographer/moto support for the trip. And I can’t wait to meet all of you!


    What’s your personal mantra?
    If I had to have one, it would be "Life is short, do what you love." Which can be many things. Also, treat others as you want to be treated and overall just be a good human.

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    Janice grew up in the outdoors of Alaska--on the slopes of Alyeska, in the backcountry of the Talkeetna mountains, and on whitewater rivers near her hometown of Anchorage. When a string of knee injuries sidelined her from skiing, she explored other athletic horizons in a kayak, on a windsurfer, and a bike.
    Janice has competed in cycling events on the road, mountain, snow, and gravel. She is a cycling coach with a USA Cycling Level 1 certification. She is the founder and director of two Anchorage nonprofits: Mighty Bikes, a youth mountain biking program, and Singletrack Advocates, a mountain bike trail advocacy group that has built over 30 miles of singletrack.
    Janice enjoys seeing the world from the seat of a bike because it puts her close to the people and immerses her in the landscape. She is looking forward to an enlightening experience on the trail with Rebecca!
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    My name is Bridget Freudenberger, and I live in a rural community in northern New Hampshire. I'm 41 and married, and have had a 25-year career in banking at the local bank. I'm currently a commercial lender and work with small businesses in the region.
    Although my profession is in financial services, my personal interests are focused on human-powered outdoor recreation. Since my mid-thirties I've been an endurance athlete, running many marathons and completing two Ironman distance triathlons. I also enjoy skiing (something my husband and I share) and horseback riding, and I am the race director for a 50-mile multi-sport adventure race that takes place near my hometown.
    My family consists of a sweet golden retriever named Mae, an Irish Sport Horse named Funny, and a feisty cat named Tigger. I've been on a bit of a quest to discover my strengths and stretch my limits, in hopes of making the small pivots that lead to a fulfilling life. I'm looking forward to this experience for so many reasons.
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    My name is Lesley Ann Stapleton. I am originally from Paradise, Newfoundland but I have called Calgary, Alberta my home for the last 8 years. I am a Speech Language Pathologist and I work primarily with adults in an acute care hospital.
    I started mountain biking 8 years ago when I met my husband who has been an avid rider for most of his life. We are fortunate enough to live next to the Rocky Mountains, as well as driving distance to British Columbia (MTN bike heaven!) You can find us almost every weekend in the summer at a ski hill in BC, loading our bikes onto chair lifts and cruising down big mountain trails.
    When I am not riding bikes, I enjoy running, drinking wine, traveling (preferably via camper van) and face timing with my 1.5 year old niece Ellie in Newfoundland. 
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    I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, where I grew up living the outdoors, hiking, fishing and kayaking.  I also worked on a salmon seiner in the summers while going to college at Dartmouth, Montana State and Colorado State.  I returned to AK after graduation where I’ve worked ever since, raising a family in this playground I call home.
    It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I started cycling.  First just commuting to work and later into mountain biking and snow biking.  I like snow biking the most because you can go so many places you can’t go in the summer.  Which is what I like most: riding to somewhere and. It in circles.
    Last winter I rode the Iditarod Trail Invitational from Knik near Wasilla to McGrath, with my sister Janice.  It was the most epic trip ever, done in 4 days 4 hours. I'm looking forward to an adventure in the jungle.
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    My name is Aerah. I live in Hot Springs, AR with my 3 cats and many bees! I help run a non-profit organization that serves children and adults with disabilities throughout southern Arkansas.  
    My other passion, in addition to the precious people I serve at work, is adventuring by bike. I just started mountain biking about 6 years ago and now I'm not sure how I did life before that! I love riding anywhere on dirt, but my favorite moments occur deep in the woods with my tiny camper, bikes in tow, and exploring off the beaten path.
    Beyond biking you can also find me working hard at being the #1 Auntie to my nieces and nephew, traveling the world, paddling, hiking, climbing, or simply being in my backyard attempting to be a professional gardener and beekeeper (trust me, I'm much better at bikes!). 
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    John Martin

    I live in southeast Pennsylvania about fifty miles west of Philadelphia.  I’m married and have three sons, the oldest is an English teacher in Saigon.  I’m an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. When the work week ends, we enjoy going to the Jersey shore and hanging out with our water dog Henry.

    I’ve been a cyclist most of my adult life.  Started mountain biking seven years ago, did a few XC races, then moved to the gravel. Began swimming a few years ago and do some short course swim/bike races, some open water events and Ironman 70.3 relays, bike leg. I rode RPI for the first time this past September and heard about MTB LAO 4.

    I grew up during the Vietnam war.  News about it was on TV every night and in the newspaper everyday.  I didn’t really understand it then and I’m not certain I do now…..  This ride is a chance to meet the people and see the communities affected by the conflict and to do what we can to lighten the burden of its history.

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    Will Williamson

    James “Will” Williamson was born in Big Spring, Texas and graduated from Big Spring High School in 1989. He then enlisted in the United States Air Force and worked as an Aerial Gunner for Air Force Special Operations Command flying on MH-53J PAVELOW Helicopters for 11 years. During his 11 years in the Air Force, he deployed to numerous locations around the world for operations. He picked up the nickname Willy (short for his last name) while he was in the Philippines.  He earned an associate degree in applied sciences from the Community College of the Air Force.

    In 1999, he did an inter-service transfer to the United States Army after being accepted into the Army’s Warrant Officer Flight Training Program. He qualified as an OH-58D Armed Scout Helicopter Pilot and was then stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina from 2001-2006. During his time at Fort Bragg, he deployed to Bosnia and was there when the attacks on 9/11 occurred. After Bosnia, he returned to Fort Rucker to attend the Instructor Pilot Course and then deployed to Iraq in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In November 2003, he was involved in a helicopter crash in Iraq. He returned to Fort Bragg in 2004 for four months and then redeployed to Iraq.  During his second tour, he had many close calls. One of these occurred on September 16, 2005, when he was shot through his flight helmet while flying near Baqubah, Iraq. The round entered his face shield and traveled through his helmet, exiting out the back and rendering him unconscious. After this deployment, he returned to Fort Bragg and subsequently moved to Fort Rucker, Alabama.  He has since retired from the Army, and has made the transition to the civilian workforce. He now serves as the Chief Helicopter Demonstration Pilot for Bell Helicopter where he demonstrates all of Bell’s commercial fleet of helicopters to prospective buyers around the world. He recently took a Bell 407 to Nepal and conducted high altitude demonstrations up to 20,000 feet and landed at Base Camp Everest and Camp One. He coordinates mountain bike rides for small groups of military veterans that work for Bell. He also volunteers with Team 43 as a support rider and helps with the trail maintenance. He has also taken up golf this past year as secondary outlet to riding bikes.  

    While on the four-month break in between Iraq deployments, he married Jennifer Kurth from Toledo, Ohio. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Michigan where she was a member of the varsity swim team. She then attended the University of Denver - School of Law.  She now works for Bell Helicopter as Director of Commercial Business Affairs. They have three awesome boys: Maximus (13) and twins, Jack and Ryan (9).

    Chief Warrant Officer Three Williamson got involved in cycling as a part of a recovery process and peer-to-peer therapy with Ride 2 Recovery. The mission of Ride 2 Recovery is to make a difference in the lives of wounded veterans. He has participated in multi-day, multi-state rides with groups of up to 350+ riders, made up predominantly of wounded warriors. He completed a ride on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 that originated at the World Trade Center in New York City, and then went to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, finishing at the Pentagon. The ride covered about 750 miles over eight days. He raced in the Trans Andes Challenge, a six-day mountain bike stage race through the Andes Mountains in Chile. He also trained for and was a finisher of the Leadville 100 MTB in August 2012.

    Some of the major awards he has received include: Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, 4 Air Medals one with Valor, three Aerial Achievement Medals, and numerous others.

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    Steve Fassbinder

    Steve Fassbinder, aka “Doom,” has been adventuring by bike for most of his 45 years on the planet. Beginning with a ten-year endurance race career in the 90’s and early
    2000’s, Steve was inducted into the 24Hours of Adrenalin hall of fame in 2008.

    Always up for two-wheeled travel, Doom has sought out and embarked on bicycle-based, human-powered endeavors, with a focus on creative trips utilizing packrafts and at times technical climbing equipment. Steve has taken bikes across 18,000-foot glaciated passes in Pakistan, crossed a large segment of the Brooks Range north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska, solo biked and packrafted around the very remote Pamir Range in Tajikistan, and is intimately knowledgeable with the canyons and river corridors of the Desert Southwest that has been his home for more than 20 years. During this time, Steve has taken readers along for the ride with published stories and photography in Adventure Journal, Bike Packing Journal, Mountain Flyer, The Gulch, and has received awards from for “Best Trip Photography” in 2018, “Explorer of the Year” in 2017, “Best Short Film” in 2016, and “Ballsiest Trip of the Year” in 2015.

    Steve’s biggest challenge for the Baffin Island crossing will be finding the correct
    algorithm of food vs. camera gear for a 3-week trip.

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    Jennifer Shinn

    I am a Colorado native currently living in Bozeman, Montana, with my husband and furry kids. I'm a veterinarian working in both small animal private practice and at the local animal shelter.


    I am a long time road and mountain cyclist and a diehard skier. We spend a lot of time exploring the mountains and traveling the world looking for adventure.


    When I'm not outside I love hanging out at home, gardening, cooking, and watching Netflix!

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    Christiane Esker

    Hometown: The World, currently Austin

    Favorite Foods: Love Acai bowls, sun-dried tomatoes, pine-nuts, green chile, dark chocolate, rice noodles

    A Dream: To explore various time periods or space with Falkor, the ethereal, white dragon from The Neverending Story as my guide

    Passionate About: Health, learning, connecting, moving with purpose, the environment, encouraging others, dreaming, and the small details

    Favorite Hobbies: Mountain Biking, yoga, running, swimming, hiking, snowboarding, travels, anything outdoors in the mountains, reading/audiobooks, writing

    Family: Married with one cat

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    Ali Racheotes

    I believe in doing things while you can.  


    I like to bike, trail run, spend time with my husband, puppy and family, experience people, drink wine and eat good food!

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    Mike Herlinger

    Home: Hailey, Idaho
    Work: Founder / Club Ride Apparel


    Mike started riding mountain bikes in 1987 ripping down South Mtn in Phoenix Arizona pre suspension and 2.6 tires. From Arizona, Mike journeyed to the hills of New Hampshire where he continued to ride and race mountain bikes. In 2000 his dreams of living in a mountain town drew him to Sun Valley, Idaho where he has been living since. Lucky or sadist enough to race the Creampuff 100 multiple times on single speed, Park City Point to Point, Leadville and 24 hours of Targhee he has some saddle time.


    In 2008 he decided to take his passion to business and start Club Ride Apparel. 2 kids and 11 years later, Mike is still plugging away at leading a bike oriented lifestyle with Club Ride and on the local trails.

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© Rebecca Rusch //  Idaho, USA // All rights reserved. // 2020