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Rachel Strait (né Throop) has been riding a bike for about as long as she can remember. At just ten years old she won her first bike race and hasn’t stopped chasing the top step of podium ever since. With over two decades of experience since that first win, Rachel’s riding may have changed but her passion for the bike has not.
Rachel began riding on her family’s land in Valley Center, an agricultural community east of San Diego. Her father didn’t want his kids growing up indoors and so he got Rachel a mountain bike for her 10th birthday. Looking back, she realizes that “we had the perfect place to ride trails from our back door!” By 2006 she was junior Expert Cross-Country National Champion and had earned herself a spot on the World Championship squad for the USA. Despite finishing 16th at Worlds and showing a great deal of promise on cross-country circuit, Rachel took some time away from the dirt and focused on collegiate road racing and studying to earn a degree. When she graduated college and found herself in the bike industry it was back to the dirt again, but this time on steeper and more technical trails around her new home of Laguna Beach.
Rachel worked on her skills until excelling at steep descents as much as steep climbs. Because enduro racing combines the fitness required to log backcountry miles with skill needed to ride down things most people couldn’t even walk up, Rachel found it the perfect combination. It wasn’t long before she was back on the podium and has remained ever since, twice finishing second overall in the North American Enduro Series.
While Rachel was finding her love for enduro racing she also met her husband, two-time Red Bull Rampage winner Kyle Strait. They’d both raced as kids on the same scene, but different disciplines meant they didn’t mingle. With Rachel racing more gravity events, she and Kyle began riding together, started to date and got married in 2015. Their partnership works well; Rachel’s cross-country background means she can push Kyle on the climbs whereas his skill riding events like Rampage means expert advice advice on downhill line choice. Kyle recently got an ebike, meaning there’s never an excuse for him to skip the long days in the saddle even though his events are a lot less about endurance.
Of course, not every transition is a smooth one and Rachel has had her fair share of hard knocks. “I think all cyclists have!” she jokes, but her injuries are no laughing matter. “In 2015 I broke my tibial plateau while racing, the following year I ruptured my bursa sac on the same leg practicing for the Whistler EWS. This year I crashed hard on my home trail, partially tearing my rotator cuff. Shoulders take forever to heal.”
While the slow speed of healing might be frustrating, especially to someone for whom cycling has been a part of her daily life for decades, Rachel makes sure to take care of her body. In addition to three gym sessions a week, a stretching regime, and plenty of yoga and pilates, she uses topical CBD after hard training days and loves the Lavender Balm when she’s in need of pain relief.
When she’s not recovering from injury, you can find Rachel riding her home trails in Alpine California, competing on her GT bike at the Enduro National Series or hanging out with husband Kyle and their dogs. Follow her at instagram.com/rachelstrait1.
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