Lael Wilcox AZT750 ITT Update: Mormon Lake, AZ

Nicholas Carman1 5250

Charging toward Oracle Ridge, in the uphill direction.  The AZT is a monster, and everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses on route.  Lael was looking forward to the 4000ft ascent up Oracle Ridge. 

Lael left Flagstaff on the morning of her third day on the trail.  Slowed by a familiar breathing problem, she camped before town the night before, unable to safely continue due to shortness of breath and wheezing.  In the morning, she quickly covered the seven rocky miles on the Schultz Creek, Rocky Ridge, and the Lower Oldham Trails.  The AZT Urban Loop passes a few notable resupply points on route, including a Fry’s grocery store which we have frequently visited while riding through the area.  She spent some time at the grocery store resupplying and rethinking her ride, over a tall cup of Starbucks drip coffee.  If it hand’t already happened the night before, by that morning, she had come to terms with the fact that her breathing may not allow her to continue.  Even so, she left town with enough food to get to Pine.

Lael called that afternoon.  Her breathing had worsened by noon, and her progress slowed through the afternoon.  “Technically, I could keep moving”, she says.  “But I am not having fun and it doesn’t feel like I am racing anymore.  My legs feel good but my lungs can’t keep up.”  Lael got off the route and ended her ride near Mormon Lake.  We had both studied the forecast up until the start date and were well aware of the chance of rain on the fourth day of her ride.  Today is the fourth day and it is pouring.  If she hadn’t gotten off route, I likely would have extracted her from a muddy situation today.  How her respiratory condition would have worsened, we cannot know exactly.  We’re both certain that she has made the right decision.

Up until breathing issues changed the ride, Lael claims she “was having so much fun!”  She went out fast and rode without regrets.  If she plans any long-distance racing in the future, we’ll have to look seriously at her breathing condition.  For everyday touring and exercise, it has never been an issue.  Lael’s passion is to be healthy and active, and happy.

Thanks to everyone who helped put this ride together including Flagstaff Bicycle Revolution and Absolute Bikes; Revelate Designs, Specialized, and K-Lite; Greg Greene in Tucson and James Worden in Flagstaff.

We’re planning to visit Santa Fe and Albuquerque this weekend.  Send a message if anyone is in the area and would like to meet.

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21 thoughts on “Lael Wilcox AZT750 ITT Update: Mormon Lake, AZ

  1. I’m really impressed that Lael knew when to pull the plug. Given how competitive she is, and probably feeling some obligation to repay whatever sponsorship she’s getting, I know the common sense decision didn’t win out without some serious inner debate. Rest assured we’ve all noted the very cool and well thought out kit y’all have assembled.

    Lael has had the most incredible, and incredibly entertaining, racing seasons ever put together. Take a bow and take a break!

    Mike McElveen

  2. Well dammit. But I’m sure Lael did the right thing. She’s still got plenty of time. She’s still inspiring. Thanks for posting Nicolas.

    How long will you be in albuquerque?

  3. Sad to hear you could not continue, but so impressed that you made the hard decision to save yourself for another day. Life’s decisions like this really challenge you in the immediate timeframe, but you will look back years from now knowing you did the right thing … perhaps … but knowing for sure you did not make a terrible wrong decision.

  4. > Lael’s passion is to be healthy and active, and happy.

    That’s important context when considering whether to push through pain. Congrats on a spirited and smart ride, Lael! Hope the breathing issue is tractable with research and planning. Look forward to hearing where you go next!

  5. As always, I’m proud of Lael–proud that she tackled yet another super challenging course, proud of her amazing start, and proud that she knew when to stop. She is a star for sure!

  6. Not only is Lael an incredible athlete, she is also smart. So while this decision may have been tough it is quite clearly the wise choice. Live to fight another day. Lael, in my eyes is a rock-star! I can’t wait to hear more about Nick & Lael’s life and adventures. It’s just so cool! If Lael goes racing again I am sure she will come up with a solution to the breathing challenges first. Have fun guys!

  7. Dear Lael, you made the right decision. A good health is the start of everything and i know where i am talking about 🙂 Since i met you and Nicholas near our circustent in Lier(Belgium) i became a fan of you guys! It’s fantastic what you are doing and it’s like fresh honey when i read your stories! Take the time you need to get better Lael. I hope we can do a bike tour together one day! Begian hugs!!

  8. Sorry to hear you’re dealing with breathing issues again, Lael. I’d be interested to hear what you learn if you decide to follow up with this. I’ve done a fair bit of Dr. Googling about asthma and saw three different real doctors over the past few months, but shortness of breath and congestion can have a wide range of causes that can be difficult to pin down. So then I wonder, could it be one of those untraceable symptoms of the ever-nebulous and questionable OTS (over-training syndrome)? It sure would be awesome if a group of scientists could garner a lot of funding for an extensive study of people from all walks of life who participate in ultra-endurance sports. There would sure be some interesting data in that set.

  9. Bummer. Just read this the other day- http://www.outsideonline.com/1986361/running-empty, and thought of Lael. “Professor Nieman believes that OTS is rooted in sufferers’ immune systems. His past research in exercise immunology helped establish that heavy exertion makes them more susceptible to upper-respiratory infections. Nieman’s theory is that when athletes train through such an illness, they place their immune systems under strain, eventually tipping into a state of post-viral fatigue and creating the conditions that lead to OTS.”

    Hope it clears out

  10. Sorry to hear about her problem.
    As a child (4-8 YO) I had symptoms of emotional, house dust and intense exercise induced asthma. Those started to fade out with age and disappeared with puberty. I still remember some of those attacks, gasping for air is quite scary, I can relate to those respiratory problems.

    By the way, how was Lael liking the 1x transmission on those Arizona climbs? 10-42 cassette with 32 ring?
    Thanks

  11. I have a similar issue that I have sometimes solves by wearing a bandanna over my mouth/nose when doing long, cold rides. I also have to take it easy during said weather in order to not exasperate my lungs. Tried singular with little impact.

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