Krista Rust had life figured out, working with high tech companies as an electrical engineer. From projects on coral reefs to putting research balloons into the stratosphere, her work was rewarding and exciting. Then, one day, she went mountain biking.
It was that simple. A friendly entry level ride outside Atlanta, Georgia, and her life changed.
Soon she was traveling the world on race circuits. Her life as an engineer faded, and the life of a professional mountain biker took over her world.
“It wasn’t something where you could have a full-time job and travel the U.S. and the world racing,” she said. Racing in the cross-country World Cup Circuit in 2011 she raced in 29 events over 32 weeks in nine countries. Then she placed fifth in the U.S.A. pro nationals for that same year. She was in the running for the 2012 U.S. Olympic selection. Then she found enduro racing: competitive mountain biking mixing long and rigourous staged climbs with prolonged and demanding timed downhill segments. Soon she became a major player. She scored ninth in the Enduro World Series, second in North America in 2013. In 2015, she landed first place in the Big Mountain Enduro series.
“I like the constant challenges,” she said. “You never quit learning, you just get to do bigger and more difficult features.”
Traveling the American West in a Strider van, enduro racing makes demands on every aspect of her life, from training to skills to finances and sleep. The van helps.
“It makes it easy,” she said. “Having a home on wheels.”
When she’s not racing, she teaches skill clinics to every level of rider, work that inspires her each day.
“We’ll go over a few techniques and they’ll look at me in disbelief and think, ‘how did that just happen?’ It’s pretty much instant gratification.”
Rust said while the life has its challenges, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Being able to continuously improve at a sport,” she said. “And getting to be in the outdoors, getting to meet people in new towns. You become part of the community.”