Lael was in and out of Silver City, NM in a hurry. Despite the late hour, the 128 miles to the border, and a bloody knee and bruised shoulder, she pushed to the finish and kept ahead of her nearest competitors. She is the first to Antelope Wells after the record-setting lead group of male riders. Photo courtesy Lucas O’Laughlin.
Lael Wilcox pedaled to the Antelope Wells, NM border crossing this morning at 9:47AM Mountain Time, with a total transit time of 17 days 1 hour and 51 minutes (17:01:51) from Banff, Alberta, Canada. Her time improves upon Eszter Horanyi’s 2012 record of 19:03:35 by more than two days.
Lael pedaled from her home in Anchorage, Alaska to the start of the Tour Divide in Banff, Alberta. Recently returning from a ten-month period of bicycle travel in Eastern Europe, South Africa, and the Middle East, she quickly prepared a new bicycle for the race and left Anchorage in just over a week, departing May 15. The 2140mi ride to Banff took 19 days, a pace largely defined by time constraints, enabling a week of preparation and recovery in Banff before the event. Joining the 150 other riders at the Grand Depart in Banff, Lael began her ride down the Great Divide Route to the border of Mexico with a powerful 183mi day into the Canadian Flathead backcountry. That night and into the morning, she battled bronchitis and severe bronchitis induced asthma, continuing through the first week of the race, with lingering cold symptoms throughout the event. On the fifth day of the Tour Divide, Lael pedaled 100 miles from Ovando to Helena to consult a doctor. A chest x-ray and other diagnostic procedures were performed and she was prescribed an inhaler, antibiotics, and other treatments to alleviate symptoms. She left the hospital at dusk and rode until 3AM to regain her position as the lead female. Within a few days her condition improved and she ran away from the field, including the other female competitors.
Based upon a technicality where Lael did not have the most current GPS track for the route, as she was riding from Alaska to Banff when it was quietly published, her position with regard to the other competitors will not be honored. However, her time will be recorded as a record-setting solo ITT. I spoke with Tour Divide organizer Matthew Lee this morning and am confident that his decision comes with the same integrity with which Lael approached the ride. The unofficial time recorded on Trackleaders is 17:01:51, although I extrapolated from her last position just over a mile from the finish and her rate of speed to estimate 17:01:47. Either way, very fast.
The weather for much of the Tour Divide 2015 has been ideal and competition was high. Josh Kato set a new men’s course record in 14:11:37. Four other male finishers also improved upon the old record set by Jay Petervary in 2012.
Lael rode a 2015 Specialzied Stumpjumper Expert Carbon World Cup with a carbon Chisel fork. The details of the bike can be found on my post “Lael’s Stumpjumper”.
Thanks to Lucas O’Laughlin and Monica Garcia for picking Lael up at the border, and for housing her for the next few days. Thanks to Eric Parsons of Revelate Designs for the best bikepacking gear, period. Thanks to Charles Tsai at Intelligent Design Cycles for the SP PD-8X dynamo hub. Thanks to The Bicycle Shop in Anchorage, AK for helping us get the bike together in time. Thanks to all of Lael’s fans along the route that shouted from their rooftops, jumped out of the woods on dirt roads, or intercepted her at rural gas stations. Thanks to those that sent photos of Lael from along the route. Thanks to Jeff in Jasper, Michelle in Canmore, and Keith in Banff for logistics and housing before the race. Thanks to all of the other riders out there for making this such a special event, for keeping the spirit, and for riding a bike. Thanks to Michael McCoy and the Adventure Cycling Association for the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Thanks to Matthew Lee and Scott Morris for the background support of the Tour Divide.
Thanks to Lael for inspiring us all, with a smile.
Please comment below if there is anything you’d like to tell Lael. If there is something you’d rather not share here, you can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ll post some finishing photos later today as they come in from Monica at the border.