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Ep02: Rising From the Ashes

Wildfire is a part of life in Santa Barbara, but the destruction of the Thomas fire was unprecedented. The strong Santa Ana winds pushed the flames up into the hills and at its peak, the fire was expanding at a rate of over one acre per minute.

“I remember getting to the top of the ridge up on West Camino Cielo and looking east and just seeing a wall of smoke approaching Santa Barbara,” local mountain biker Austin Riba said. “It took until late December for the fires to be fully contained.”

And shortly after the fires were contained, a massive storm system rolled through Santa Barbara. Stripped of the brush and roots that held the soil together, entire hillsides slid down - taking the trails and even more tragically some lives along with them.

“Whereas before the trails were burned, now they were really just gone,” Austin said. “The storm took so much material off the hills that a lot of the trail just went along with it.”

So, what do you do if you’re a mountain biker and the trails - the entire community - that you love has been so seriously harmed? If you’re Austin Riba, you pick up a shovel and you get to work.

In this episode of Athletes Unfiltered, we look at three stories of people who were faced with overwhelming adversity, who were knocked down - sometimes more than once - and how they persevered. We’ll talk to Austin about how he rallied his community to rebuild their trails. And we’ll introduce you to Steve Johnson, an army veteran who was hit with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and a broken femur and kept getting back up because he wanted to do his “favorite thing in the world” – ride his bike. Finally, we meet Rebekah Ratto, who in a letter to her younger self, gives voice to painful truths she’s kept hidden for her entire life – and shares her love for the running community that’s given her the courage to face those demons. Listen now!

More Episodes from Season 1

Episode 2: Rising From the Ashes / Athletes Unfiltered

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