Lael takes her helmet off at the finish. She arrived in Antelope Wells at 4:59 PM MT, for a time of 15:10:59. Below, pushing to Antelope Wells.
Lael Wilcox raced the Tour Divide in June. Arriving home in May from an extended period of bicycle travel, she prepared a bike for the race and rode from her home in Alaska to the start in Banff, over 2100 miles away. She finished the Tour Divide in 17:01:51, setting a new women’s record despite battling bronchitis for the first week, with lingering symptoms to the finish. The previous women’s record of 19:03:35 was set by Eszter Horanyi in 2012.
Returning home to Alaska in July, Lael decided that she had the time, energy, and equipment for another fast ride down the Divide, in the same summer. Again, she prepared her bike and body and left Anchorage for Banff, taking a ferry from Whittier, AK to Bellingham, WA to shorten the distance to the start, this time only about 850 miles of riding.
Following a few days of rest and preparation in Banff, Lael departed on an individual time trial (ITT) of the 2015 Tour Divide route on the morning of August 8, at 6AM. She finished in Antelope Wells, NM on August 23 at 4:59PM for a total time of 15:10:59. This establishes a new female course record and the fifth fastest time down the Great Divide Route (Mike Hall’s asterisked 2013 ride notwithstanding). To provide some context, this is five hours faster than Jay Petervary’s 2012 record time of 15:16:04, which stood for three years until the latest record-breaking rides earlier this summer by Josh Kato (14:11:37), Jay Petervary (14:12:03), Neil Beltchenko (14:12:23), Dylan Taylor (15:03:01), and Alex Harris (15:12:09). The six fastest times on the Divide were all recorded this summer.
Naturally, for a race which takes two weeks and covers over 2700 miles of mountainous terrain, comparing rides which happened at different times is not easy, or fair. But records are kept, and the spirit of an ITT is to achieve a personal goal on the route, and if desired, to record a time which relates to other riders or an overall record.
Lael reports the biggest challenges of the most recent ride were wheel-clogging mud north of Lima, MT, regular rain showers and thunderstorms all along the route, longer nights, and staying motivated while out on the course alone.
For both rides this summer Lael rode a Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon World Cup with carbon Chisel fork, with Revelate Designs luggage, SRAM XX1/XO1 gearing with 36T chainring, and an SP PD-8X dynamo hub with Supernova lighting.