The passing of an Alaska legend — Rocky Reifenstuhl

FAIRBANKS — Everybody who met him, even those who never had the “pleasure” of competing against him, has a Rocky story. That’s the kind of guy Rocky Reifenstuhl was.
One way or another, he made an impression.
He was brash, obnoxious, and sometimes hard to take. He was confident to the point of being cocky. He was so competitive it’s hard to put into words. Of course, that’s what we all loved about Rocky. He didn’t do things half-assed.
That competitive spirit is, of course, what drove Reifenstuhl to do the things he did, whether it was pushing the pace in hard-core, endurance races like the Iditarod Trail Invitational, Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic and Fireweed 400 or riding his bike to work every day for 30 years, regardless of the temperature or weather conditions.
Even when he was in his mid-50s, Rocky was beating cyclists half his age, daring them to keep up, at which point he would shift it into another gear and go even harder.
“If he thought he had a chance to win, oh my God, he’d pull out all the stops,” said Jim Lokken, another Fairbanks endurance monster and mountain bike rival of Rocky’s back in the 1980s and ’90s,. “People that say they go 110 percent in a race ... nobody knows what that means until they raced against Rocky. He redefined the definition of that.”
This was a guy who more than once ran a sub-3 1/2-hour Equinox Marathon on Saturday, even though he wasn’t really a runner, and came back on Sunday to race the course on a mountain bike.
This was a guy who hiked 100 miles across the Brooks Range in two or three days with nothing but the clothes on his back and a few Power Bars and then showed up to win the Death Ride after driving all night to get back to town for the race.

This was a guy who won more bike races and rode more miles, on the road, on the dirt and on the snow, than anyone in Alaska ever has or ever will.

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