Press play: Israel, Alaska, and Mexico

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Lael stands in one place long enough to answer a few questions for KTVA correspondant Jake Edmonds.  Click the images below to external links for words, images, and videos.

Home for less than two weeks, our worlds have shifted and drifted, greatly.

Our final days in Israel were consumed with visiting our closest friends and preparing a presentation about bikepacking and our unique seven year odyssey by bike, including a printed photo exposition entitled “Three Months on the HLC”.  I will have some photos for sale via the blog in the next few weeks.  Following the program we joined a group of riders to camp in a local forest.  We rode into Tel Aviv the next morning, packed our bikes by evening, and were at the airport sleeping on a bench by 1AM, to awake within three hours to check-in for our flight.  By the following morning– including the 11 hour reversal of westward travel– I was building a new bike for Lael.

Lael has chosen to connect a few more dots before the year is done.  Traversing South Africa on high-quality dirt roads, with tailwinds at our back, we talked about the annual escapade of the Tour Divide.  I talked years ago about how my abilities as a cyclist are well matched to that event, but my knees and my personal outlook no longer support such missions.  Lael is on an upswing, honing skills and discovering abilities which build upon her lifelong foundation of fitness.  The HLC proved some previously unknown abilities.  Her road rides last summer broke the ice.  The Fireweed 400 in 2014 was the racing spark.  There is something out there for her and she’s gone to find it.

Moreover, Lael has never ridden from Alaska to the lower 48, she has only ridden about 500 miles of the Great Divide, and she is not yet ready to commit the summer to working in Anchorage.  She departed Thursday on a new bicycle for Banff, Alberta where she will intercept the Tour Divide on June 12.  She’ll continue along the Great Divide route to New Mexico, touching the border of Mexico before focusing herself back towards Anchorage via plane.

At one point, I suggested that we might embark on a period of travel lasting as much as a year.  Even after all of this, Lael will likely return to Alaska within twelve months of leaving last July.  Oh, the things that happen in less than a year.

An exciting round of media follows us out of Israel and back into the USA, hopefully acting as tailwinds along Lael’s ride from Alaska to New Mexico.

KTVA Daybreak

Local CBS affiliate KTVA, Channel 11, invited us onto the Daybreak morning program to discuss out pattern of travel, the last ten months of pedaling, and Lael’s plans to leave the state by bike.  We awoke at 4:30AM to caffeinate and ride to the studio by 6AM.  It was a positive experience considering neither of us have ever embraced public speaking.  It is always great to share positively about the bicycle lifestyle, especially in Anchorage.  Thanks to meteorologist Brett Shepherd for connecting the dots.  Brett is a cycling enthusiast who has worked hard to help promote cycling at the station whenever possible.  The day we were in the studio, his 7-day forecast included a small bicycle icon on the day of the popular Clean Air Challenge ride.  Thanks Brett!

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KTVA Evening News

In the same day, Lael was asked to participate in a segment for the evening news for the same station.  News correspondent Jake Edmonds arrived by himself with a series of cameras and microphones.  He captured some footage as we fit aero bars to Lael’s bike, attached a Go Pro for the sidewalk test rides along Northern Lights Boulevard, and interviewed Lael in the parking lot.  Jake took great care to capture reality, and the 3 minute segment is really fun to watch.  “Lael Wilcox likes to ride bikes.”  Thanks Jake!

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 weRide

Lael’s first two and a half days on the HLC almost broke the internet in Israel.  People were excited to watch her pink balloon tracking across the screen, in spite of the fact that she didn’t look serious, didn’t wear cycling kit, and didn’t carry much equipment.  Moreover, it helped break stereotypes and pressures faced by female athletes in that country, and back home.  There are relatively few women riding mountain bikes in Israel, which is an otherwise socially progressive society.  Check out this article about Israeli-American mountain bike racer and journalist Laurie Copans.

Noa Luria interviewed Lael one evening in the north of Israel, when we visited HLC competitor and friend Niv Amos, who finished first in the southern portion of the event.  Noa provides an exact representation of Lael’s words, coaxed through thoughtful questioning, and presents them among a series of my images.  The title of the article translates approximately to “An Incidental Heroine”, an expression which Noa says is a literal translation of a Hebrew expression.  The article is presented in the new Israeli cycling e-magazine weRide, Issue #11 (page 138, “flip” the digital pages to the right) .  Thanks to editor Arik Feldman for stitching the story together.  An English translation of the text is now available.

Also, check out Ilan Tevet’s account from the HLC immediately following this article.

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Lael’s Globe of Adventure

Finally, Lael has published a series of posts on her blog from the HLC.  Check out Rain in Arad, Sandwiches, Take No Prisoners, and Arwa.  One story remains and will be published from the road.

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Lael left town on Thursday and is en route to Banff, Alberta via the Alaska, Cassiar, and Yellowhead Highways, finishing on the Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff.

As of this morning, she was on her way to the Alaska/Canada border.  She camped beyond Tok and Tetlin Junctions last night.  Press play, to Mexico.

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Bikepacking Israel event: References, resources, routes

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Join us Saturday night in Kfar Sirkin, Israel for an evening celebrating the simple pleasure of traveling by bicycle.  We’ve been in the country for three months, most often on or near the HLC track, joining weekend training missions to prepare for the HLC, touring the HLC, sharing the HLC with our friend Christina from Alaska (above), racing the HLC, and in my case, chasing HLC racers with my camera.  A collection of printed images will be on display from our time in Israel including postcard sized individual rider portraits from the HLC, which I will offer as a gift to all HLC riders.  All other images are for sale, so bring some shekels.  Help me lighten my load for the flight on Monday.

This reference is a companion to our bikepacking event in Israel.  For those unable to attend, some technical meat is contained in the links below, although we won’t talk about gear the whole time, I promise.  For a dose of inspiration, including words and images from our last few years by bike, dig deeper into the blog.  The search bar at the top of the page is a good place to start; the chronology or word cluster at the bottom is a fun way to navigate as well.  Be sure to read more about the other amazing riders listed below.

The equipment listed reflects a commitment to travel by bike and to an outdoor lifestyle, for more than half of each year.  It is not meant as a complete list, but only to share the more interesting choices.  Do not mistake the equipment we use as anything other than our best effort to enable the riding that we seek.  Each trip demands unique solutions, related as much to individual needs and preferences as the place or the weather or the terrain.  Lael has been sleeping without a sleeping pad for the past six weeks.  If you require a three inch cushion of air to sleep comfortably, don’t let us convince you otherwise.  Moreover, don’t make the mistake of thinking that it takes a lot of equipment to go bikepacking, especially here in Israel.  It doesn’t get any easier than Israel– the weather is great, the riding is great, you can camp all over the place, and if you really get in a bind you’ll have to fight off hordes of people who want to help.

I am especially proud of the list of European Bikepacking Routes, which I have extended to include the HLC and IBT in Israel.  This list is the result of 8 months of bikepacking across Europe, from Amsterdam to Athens via Ukraine, in the summers of 2013 and 2014.  Cheap flights from Tel Aviv enable access to some of the best bikepacking routes in the world, only a few hours away.  More established routes will appear in the next few years, and the opportunity for custom route design is limitless.  Read more about Bikepacking Europe: North Sea to the Black Sea in Bicycle Times #30.

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News, reviews, routes, and inspiration:

Bikepacker’s Magazine; USA/global

 

Routes:

European Bikepacking Routes

Pedaling Nowhere- Routes; USA/global

Bikepacking.net Routes (plus user-submitted routes); USA/global

 

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Luggage:

Complete list of bikepacking bag makers; global

Revelate Designs; the best, ready to ship from USA

Nuclear Sunrise; custom bags from Texas

InPack; custom framebags in Israel 

 

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Dynamo lighting and power:

Kerry Staite (K-lite) guide to dynamo lighting and charging

SP PD-8/PD-8X dynamo hubs; available from Intelligent Design Cycles

Supernova E3 lighting; E3 Triple headlight and E3 Pro taillight

Exposure Revo; light

K-Lite Bikepacker 600/1000; light

B&M USB-Werk; USB power

Sinewave Revolution; USB power

Forumslader; DIY charging designs (German)

Custom switches from K-Lite; recommended for most systems with lights and USB power

 

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Our favorite equipment:

Revelate Designs luggage

Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent

Western Mountaineering Summerlite sleeping bag

Mont-Bell Down Hugger #3 sleeping bag

Surly Krampus frame, lots of tire clearance

Paul Thumbies, thumb shifter mounts

Syntace P6 high-flex carbon seatpost

Answer 20/20 carbon handlebars

Light Bicycle 35mm carbon rims

Derby 35mm carbon rims, heavy duty

Ergon grips

Brooks B17 saddle

King Cage Top Cap water bottle mount

Maxxis Ardent tires, EXO or LUST casing

Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes

Fujifilm X100T digital camera

CrankBrothers M17 multi-tool

MSR Titan 0.8L titanium cookpot

Penny Stove, ultralight alcohol stove

 

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Inspiration:

Bunyan Velo; edited by Lucas Winzenburg

While Out Riding; Cass Gilbert

El Taraumara; Michael Dammer

Pedaling Nowhere; Logan Watts

Pedaling in Place; Joe Cruz

Zen on Dirt; Ezster Horanyi

Diary of Scott Morris; Scott Morris

Mjolnir of Bjørn; Bjørn Olson

Mike Howarth

Salsa Cycles Blog; MN, USA