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.
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!
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!
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.
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.