Lael Wilcox finishes Tour Divide 2015 in 17:01:51

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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 lael.wilcox@gmail.com

I’ll post some finishing photos later today as they come in from Monica at the border.

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64 thoughts on “Lael Wilcox finishes Tour Divide 2015 in 17:01:51

  1. Thank you for being so good to post updates. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Lael smash the record with style! Fabulous riding girl! Woohoo!!!!! Congratulations!

  2. The technicality is meaningless to anyone who has witnessed this extraordinary performance of athleticism, adaptation, true grit, and joy. An inspiration.

  3. Well done Lael. I’ve been following your progress closely and feel inspired by your success to get back on my bike.
    I’ll be cycing to work in the morning.

  4. Thanks for covering all of this Nicholas! Seriously,Its one thing to watch the tracker/balloons, but is whole lot more entertaining getting a play by play. Keep up the good work.

    Lael, you are my hero!

  5. Lael, you make things happen and that’s why I love ya! Great job! Nick, you were great keeping all of us up to date. Both of you are amazing! Love, Dora

  6. As posted in Bikepacker.net > So you know Lael and Nicholas.
    {Thanks Nicholas for the coverage!} I didn’t miss a trick or hour of racing; except when the Leaders rode right after a sleep; I went to bed for the SAME duration of their sleeps.
    So YES.
    I have been getting little sleep! YOU guys and gals SURE do a GOOD job of keeping me awake~! Hee! hee! ha! ha!

    *** Heartiest of Congratulations Miss Lael Wilcox !!!!  :headbang:
    THAT was an ImpreSSive Epic Ride of a Life-time!!! – eh!?

    :thumbsup: NOW THAT WAS IMPRESSIVE AS CAN BE !!!  :headbang:

    THIS RACE BY NO MEANS, IS OVER YET!
    There ” ARE ” many who are Touring this Route; as it is an Epic Accomplishment – JUsssst to finish this Tour Divide Route with all its logistical nightmare’s!!!  
    Anyone who does….is a Champion to themselves!
    AND that is something one – can – take with you; for the rest of your ENTIRE Life-Time of living MORE adventures hopefully~!

     *** “The fact that you took the time energy logistics like separation from job family friends, obtaining a bike gear equipment, lonely days of training, Your Personal rides in Isarael, Ride from Alaska jussst before doing the Tour Divide Route is a testimony to the person you truly ARE! ”

    YOU NOW enter the Elite Fraternity Club of Ultra Endurance Adventurer Cyclist of the Word.
    There ARE ONLY a handful.
    Bravo. Kudos to you there young courageous lady!!!

    You set a NEW Women’s World Record at 17.01.51 beating out an ALREADY AmaZing time from Eszter Horanyi at 19.03.35
    BUT TO ME *Personally ~ We are TRULY ALL on the SAME Team!
    *Hopefully, the course/route stays the same, so that each rider setting goals can have the same playing field in the future!? eh?

    We love our cycling!
    We love what makes our hearts sing; and have the ability to do it.
    There are MANY who can not.
    SO Rock ON Miss Lael Wilcox.
    You’ve set the standard to make MANY MANY a heart sing!!! ~ For quite-a- while to come!!!!  :headbang:

    Lets just say, “You’ve rattled the hornets nest for both women and men alike~!  :headbang:
    Thank you for all your lonely days of training and the many many miles you put on to come here to Banff, Alberta-Canada.

    However, of that, history is STiLL – in – the – making with Billy Rice and his daughter being the FIRST EVER to ride the Tour Divide Route paving the way for many a father and daughter team; EVEN mother and son or daughter team to ride the EPIC Route >ALL Self Supported !
    Meaning NO help! NO Stage tents setup for you. NO water waiting. NO food supplied.
    THIS IS ALL YOU ….and YOU ALONE to see if you can pull it off!

    When you do.
    YOU WILL take one of the most gratifying feelings of a Life-Time!!! *SO I’ve heard, I haven’t did this route / race for some, yet!  😉

    ***I really enjoyed INTEVIEWING YOU while you were riding making HISTORY happen before me!  
         THAT Was SOooo COOL !!! James Prosser ( a fellow rider who also could not participate this year, was in the truck driving while I filmed) We both were in AWE and SO SO excited to follow you!
    So when you read this ….Please STAY in Touch ok!?  😉  :thumbsup:

    Thanks for being THAT person who instills adventure, the curiosity to ‘choose’ to personally challenge one’s self, and the courage to do such Epic Rides in SUCH an Epic AmaZZzing Time!!!

    However, the RACE IS NOT OVER YET!  :nono:
    There ARE many more adventurous cyclist who are also making their hearts sing; to accomplish one of the World’s MOST TOUGHEST Races due to its extreme variety of terrain climate conditions that ‘can’ change so drastically on a moments notice that personally challenge EACH SELF-Supported cyclist touring / racing for some.

    Way to go!!!
    I AM SO AWESOMELY inspired to ride my bike!
    And do the Tour Divide – one day!!!  :headbang:

    I AM, and have taken 30 days to follow you ALL; as I LOVE each one of you AMaZing cyclist from around the world; and thoroughly enjoy helping you in whatever way is possible when you come to Banff, Alberta for the START of the Grand Depart AND participate in the Crazy Larry’s Grand Depart Group Picture ! (*Too!)  :headbang:

    Glad to have met you along side the road to interview you while riding.
    Please, let me know where to post it!? (*if you wish it posted?) Or send it to you!

  7. Congratulations again, Lael!

    Thanks Nicholas for the updates. As others have said it made following Lael/pink dot, much more personal and satisfying.

  8. Lael – your race was inspiring to watch and I will always know that you were the women’s race winner and record holder, with a 6th place overall finish! Truly amazing & inspiring! Thanks so much for letting us follow along via the web.

  9. Just my opinion Lael Wilcox: > This is only Crazy Larry’s opinion……

    Although Your World Record will be noted this way ~ but in the eyes of those cyclist around the world IT WILL BE NOTED AS ” Lael Wilcox World Champion > YOU CAN BE SO SURE OF THIS !

    Although, The unofficial time recorded on Trackleaders is 17:01:51, although that might be true …..As in Mike Hall’s unofficial time World Record ~ Yours Also will be the OFFICIAL time – to – beat by ALL in the World to set their standards from. Rules are rules. But we know what you DID and its DONE. Proof is in the ACTION.
    And you certainly PROVED it in such an AWESOME effort !!!!
    THANKS For that!
    And Thank You Mike Hall, too! For setting a NEW World Record on both ” Around the World Ride” and “The Tour Divide Route” also!
    AmaZingly and honourably done Mike Hall made a deviation longer than the Tour Divide course Route and STiLL beat the World Record time to the same Finish f- Antelope Wells, New Mexico. If it were shorter with a deviation (*I believe, in a personal call) it would have been more a discrepancy and not honoured by the many around the world.
    But it WAS not. So Done Deal Mike Hall.

    And Done Deal Jay Petervary BEAT his own Super feat World Record that HE HIMSELF being such the Pioneer of this race being his 3rd time; set himself.

    I stayed up followed YOU all – the – way. Followed the Male Elite Leaders racing all – the – way, too!
    Lost much sleep, too! hee! hee! ha! ha!

    What a year it was for racing the Tour Divide Route! GOOD weather compared to some!?

    Congratulations once again!!!
    Bravo! and Kudos to EVERY ONE cyclist who finishes this Epic Route of a life-time DONE!~ 😉

    • I’m SO sorry to have missed mentioning the AmaZing other Pioneers of this race/route mainly ” The Original Pioneers”
      Can be seen at : http://tourdivide.org/Full_GDMBR_Times

      Those do Notably, include 5 X TDR W.R. holder Mathew Lee , Jill Homer Women’s Record (09), Kurt Refsnider, Tracey and Jay’s Tandem World Record, Billy Rice’s 1st Ever YO YO of the TDR, Chris Plesko’s SS (single speed!) of the TDR,
      So not to forget to mention: Ladies and Gentlemen of the Tour Divide Route.
      We ARE truly ALL on the SAME Team.
      WE have an infinity love of cycling. We make our hearts sing with personal challenges as such; it might be noted here that the Camaraderie displayed in this race is 2nd to none in the world. It shows! *Every year! Because, its exactly what it is ~ ” An Epic Personal Challenge of a Life-Time! to take with you for Life! Life altering to the core! ”
      Enjoy your Ride!
      Its Personal.

  10. Awesome. Congratulations on such a big achievement! Inspiring, low key and due to all this I am now considering doing the race in a couple years time…goal will be to complete it under a month though :). So…what´s next?

  11. Thank you Nick for the first grade commentary of the race, it’s been so fun to refresh the browser on your blog waiting for the frequent updates on Lael’s whereabouts.
    And to you Lael, thank you for being such an hero, a model, and an inspiration for so many, and for doing all these amazing stuff at ease, no big deal, always smiling.

  12. Nick, please pass on my hearty Congratulations to Lael. What a feat. Tenacious and focused and smiling. Lael you are inspiring.
    Nick thanks for the great commentary and updates. Patty, Gary and I were updating the Trackleaders watching and waiting for her to finish this morn. All super excited for her.
    Again Congrats and Thanks.

  13. Such an incredible, mind-boggling ride. Congratulations, Lael! It was great to spend a little time with you in Banff. I hope our paths cross again someday.

    I look forward to going back and reading these blog posts about Lael’s ride. Great reporting, Nick.

  14. I get it, Lael. I completely get it. Now, if you can adjust to being stationary, just relax and read a book or two. Congratulations.

  15. I came across both of your blogs about a year ago and have enjoyed your stories of your adventures. When I heard Lael was doing the Tour Divide I had a feeling that she’d do very well. Her race was an amazing effort! The world traveling bicycle lifestyle pays off!

  16. I agree with Gist. Technicalities aside, everyone who has followed Lael in this race knows what an amazing accomplishment she has achieved. It will be a long time before anyone surpasses it, whether racing or on a solo ride. She is a phenom and if she comes back to race the divide again, she will crush it even better. Go Lael!

  17. We Alaskans are so proud of you, Lael. Incredible ride!!! Are you riding home, too?

    Pat from the winning crew in the ’14 Fireweed 400

  18. Congrats Lael!! I had a feeling you’d lay down the law in this event! Nic as always I enjoy the blog posts but these were just a bit better as they gave us the inside scoops. Can’t wait to ride with you two again some time.

  19. BRAVO !! And thank you so much for all these updates. I was waiting for it every day, hoping that Lael was doing fine. That kept me breathless for days 😉 That makes me sad it’s already finished 😉 Let us all hope that this “Tour” will never be as famous as our european tours, so that people can keep enjoying it without any commercial aspect, no sponsors, no partners, nothing else than your own bike, your own life, your own pride in the end. Again, félicitations !

  20. Congratulations Lael and thanks Nich for the update. Such an awesome race you’ve made. I’ve surprised myself checking several time every week the update of the race to follow this little pink sign “LW” on the map. I cannot imagine how hard this must have been and how brave you are to have faced such conditions. Thanks for inspiring me and so many other people. All the best to you !!

  21. Such grit and determination is incredible! Considering all the obstacles you had to face Lael, makes this performance truly noteworthy. Even though we have never met, I sense that you will wear your pride with great modesty and always with that wonderful smiling disposition. I thank you for doing what you did, regardless of routing issue.

  22. WOW! Way to make Alaska proud! It is so refreshing and inspiring to read about your journey. Thank you for letting your positively radiant sprit shine through everything you do!

  23. Lael & Nick, thank you thank you for making the world that bit smaller by sharing your journeys on the web – been following your progress from the United Kingdom … I love hearing about inspirational women who raise the bar – and you certainly provide plenty of inspiration!

    Am so in awe of your guts, determination and spirit.

  24. Reblogged this on Urban Adventure League and commented:
    You probably know that I don’t care much about bike racing (which means it’s going to be hard to go to Velo Cult in July, since they’ll be playing TdF ALL THE TIME), but Lael is a friend of the Urban Adventure League. And right now she is the fastest woman EVER to ride the Tour Divide, chopping off the old record by TWO DAYS. And she did it while suffering from some nasty health issues like bronchitis! So, congratulations Lael, you are bad-ass!

  25. Long time/first time. Huge high five to Lael, I really enjoyed following the pink marker from beginning to end. You slayed that race!

  26. I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years now, and I was sneakily watching Trackleaders at work a fair bit. What an epic ride, and done with such a great mix of athleticism and dirtbag practicality. So much more impressive because of the huge prologue too. You can see Nick is bursting with pride (and rightly so!), and there are a surprising number of people dotted around the globe who are proud too. Superb!

  27. Congrats, Lael! Awesome job out there! I had a feeling you’d crush this race someday after reading about your Fireweed 400 experience last year.

    Thanks for keeping the audience updated, Nick!

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