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Lael Rides Alaska: Touring the Dalton Highway and Gear Breakdown

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Lael Rides Alaska: Touring the Dalton Highway and Gear Breakdown

Dalton Highway

We land in Deadhorse on the North Slope of Alaska in the evening under sunny skies and drag our cardboard bike boxes out of the single gate terminal. We’re the only passengers on the flight not starting a two-week work shift on the oil fields. The wind is ripping so fast, it’s hard to put the bikes together. We help each other. We velcro bags to our bikes and load up our camping gear. It’s cold enough that we put on all of our clothing layers. We cram days’ worth of food into every pack. The workers at the airport are kind and helpful. A woman gives us directions to the shop where we can buy a camping stove canister and a can of bear spray that we couldn’t bring on the plane. She asks us to leave our bike boxes in storage. They always save the big ones for hunters.

René Herse and Lael Wilcox: Oracle Ridge 700x48mm Tires

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René Herse and Lael Wilcox: Oracle Ridge 700x48mm Tires

The second collaboration between René Herse tires and Lael Wilcox has hit the stock shelves. The Oracle Ridge is road-centric knobby and a dirt-ready road tire, it’s up to you to decide. At 48 mm wide, the Oracle Ridge is between a gravel race tire (38 mm) and mountain bike volume (55 mm). If your gravel bike just barely won’t fit a 55mm tire, chances are it’ll fit a 48mm. There are three casings available now at René Herse.

The Standard casing is a more affordable option that also offers extra protection against sidewall cuts on sharp rocks. The Extralight casing takes the performance, comfort and feel of your bike to an entirely new level. The Endurance casing is reinforced for extra sidewall protection and puncture resistance, while retaining most of the speed and comfort for which Rene Herse tires are famous. See more at René Herse.

Lael Wilcox’s Kenai 250 2021 Specialized Epic Evo Pro with Hope Tech

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Lael Wilcox’s Kenai 250 2021 Specialized Epic Evo Pro with Hope Tech

The Kenai 250 is a 257-mile, self-supported mountain bike race in the Kenai peninsula, the only area in Alaska with a large network of singletrack trails maintained by the forest service. The race organizer, Michael Braun, stitched together a route that connects the trails with highway miles. It’s 60% singletrack and 40% pavement. The race has been going on since at least 2013. This year, with 36 starters, it’s a record setting year for participation. This will be my first time racing it. I grew up in Alaska. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to ride and race in my home state. A couple weeks ago, Rue and I went out to tour the trails– several of which I’d never ridden. In a single day, from my bike seat, I saw a moose cooling off in a pond and both a lynx and a grizzly bear crossed my path. Alaska is still very wild. I’m really looking forward to riding through the night and experiencing this full route in one go. It would make a great multi-day tour as well.

Back In Alaska to Share the Story of the Roads: Lael Wilcox Rides Alaska

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Back In Alaska to Share the Story of the Roads: Lael Wilcox Rides Alaska

My dream was to ride all of the major roads in Alaska and I did in 2017. I’m fourth-generation Alaskan. It’s where I got into endurance riding on my mom’s Specialized Ruby in between bartending shifts in 2014. Examining the map and fitting in the biggest rides I could on my two days off led me to the goal of riding them all, imagining what the 2D map could look like in real life and why the roads existed in the first place. Three years later, I had a wide open summer and I was ready for an open-ended adventure. Four thousand five hundred miles took me past Wiseman to the north slope at Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean, through Chicken to Eagle on the Yukon River, to the three hot springs north of Fairbanks, into Denali National Park and across the Denali Highway to Paxson. I used The Milepost, the local guidebook that chronicles every mile of Alaskan road with conditions and services. If the road is listed in The Milepost, I had to ride it. About two-thirds were paved and a third, high-quality dirt.

Rene Herse Cycles and Lael Wilcox Announce the Fleecer Ridge 700x55mm Tire

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Rene Herse Cycles and Lael Wilcox Announce the Fleecer Ridge 700x55mm Tire

Photos by Rugile Kaladyte

When Rene Herse Cycles decided to develop a tire specifically for bikepacking and ultra-endurance racing, they asked Lael Wilcox what she wants in a tire. Lael has raced many ultra-endurance events, including the Tour Divide and Silk Road Mountain Race. She provided Rene Herse Cycles with heaps of feedback and they’re now introducing the result of this collaboration, the Fleecer Ridge 29″ x 2.2″ (or 700C x 55 mm), named after Lael’s favorite climb on the Tour Divide.

The Fleecer Ridge is a true all-rounder. Large knobs with generous space in between provide superb traction on loose and soft surfaces, while the knobs are spaced to put more rubber on the road as the tire leans into corners during paved descents into town to resupply.

The Fleecer Ridge offers a choice of the four Rene Herse casings:
-Standard combines comfort and speed at an affordable price.
-Extralight is our most supple casing for ultimate speed.
-Endurance uses the same ultra-fine threads with extra protection against punctures and cuts.
-Endurance Plus is one of the toughest performance tires available today.

Available in mid-May 2020 from good bike shops and directly from Rene Herse Cycles.

Anchorage GRIT: Girls Riding Into Tomorrow

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Anchorage GRIT: Girls Riding Into Tomorrow

Traveling by bike is inspiring and stimulating. From the saddle, you have time to think and dream. It’s dynamic. Pushing the pedals pumps blood. You breathe more air. you are enveloped in nature. There is so much to experience and interpret. If you’re riding with friends, you share ideas and maybe you build dreams together– layers of big ideas, feelings, details, reality, time, reflection and how you can really pull it all off. A great idea is very different from execution. You don’t have to be the best or the most organized to do something good. And you don’t have to know every possible outcome from the start. Adventure is stepping into the unknown. It’s scary and exciting and always requires more work than you really want to put in, but you follow through anyway because you have guts and you care.

In the spring of 2017, while riding the Baja Divide, Cait Rodriguez and I hatched the idea for Anchorage GRIT.

The Baja Divide Website is Now Available in Spanish Translation

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The Baja Divide Website is Now Available in Spanish Translation

One of Lael Wilcox‘s dreams when it comes to the Baja Divide is to provide the route in Spanish. Well, thanks to Daniel Zaid, that dream has become a reality. The Baja Divide begins at the US/Mexico border and continues all the way down the Baja Penninsula, with the route describing each section in detail. This is a huge undertaking for Daniel to take on. Many thanks to Lael and Rue for making this happen!

See the translated site at Baja Divide.

Get inspired by our coverage of the route:
Baja Divide, El Valle De Los Cirios
Baja Divide, La Sierra Norte
DFL the (Baja) Divide
Going Back to Baja

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Watch “I Just Want to Ride” a Tour Divide Film from PEARL iZUMi HERE!

Rugile Kaladyte‘s film, “I Just Want to Ride”, documents Lael Wilcox’s love for the Tour Divide for PEARL iZUMi. This video was documented by Rue and Jay Ritchey.

Relive this amazing experience here and be sure to check out our Reportage from this year’s event if you haven’t already:
Tour Divide Race: Part 1
Tour Divide Race: Part 2
Tour Divide Race: Part 3
Tour Divide Race: Part 4
Tour Divide Race: Part 5
2019 Tour Divide Race: Behind the Scenes Interviews
Ogichidaakwe: Alexandera Houchin’s Reflections on Her Tour Divide Race

Sometimes You Meet the People and the Animals: Racing the Spirit World 100

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Sometimes You Meet the People and the Animals: Racing the Spirit World 100

Riding through a landscape gives you a deeper appreciation for that place. It’s sensory. You breathe the air and you feel the sun and the wind and the weather. You muscle over the hills and your tires surf through the sand and over the rocks. You learn why roads exist and where they lead and who lives among them and what grows there. Sometimes you meet the people and the animals. Sometimes you share the space with fellow travelers and sometimes you ride alone. The farther you pedal, the more your mind becomes part of that space– the space between your body and your bike and the earth. Your mind is in the sky and the tall golden grass. When your body and mind relinquish control over expectations and judgments and find connection to your surroundings, you enter the spirit world, a place of truth and acceptance.

The Sleep Was a Snap of the Fingers: Lael Wilcox’s Silk Road Mountain Race 2019 – Part 3

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The Sleep Was a Snap of the Fingers: Lael Wilcox’s Silk Road Mountain Race 2019 – Part 3

The gravel pit turns to good, hard dirt and I begin the ascent. It’s my favorite kind of road, an even grade that feels like climbing the fortress walls to the castle as the road snakes up. It’s the morning of day 3 and I feel like I’m on a quick training ride, almost like the past two days haven’t happened or they’re a distant memory. I’m listening to music and my legs feel fresh and I’m having so much fun. The climb is an hour of effort and then a quick winding descent to the valley floor and dry Lake Kel Suu. Towering, freshly snow-covered mountains surround that makes me feel really small. I pass a couple of other yurt camps on my way to checkpoint 2 until I see the SRMR banner. A couple of little kids cheer me in. Jakub the Slovakian is packing his bike. I have to keep my focus. I take off my gloves and change the track on my GPS and take a couple of puffs from my inhaler and get my brevet card and my wallet and a couple of plastic bags and go inside the yurt. The floor is grass, so I don’t have to take off my shoes. Inside, a volunteer stamps my card and we get to talking. In some way, she’s related to Yura, the man with my favorite guesthouse in Bishkek. Yura doesn’t speak much English, but he makes jokes with his eyes and his hands.

It’s Still Well Below Freezing: Lael Wilcox’s Silk Road Mountain Race 2019 – Part 2

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It’s Still Well Below Freezing: Lael Wilcox’s Silk Road Mountain Race 2019 – Part 2

Read Lael’s first Reportage at You Can’t Win a 1,700km Race in a Day: Lael Wilcox’s Silk Road Mountain Race 2019 – Part I

I open my eyes to daylight, take a couple of puffs of my inhaler, compress the air out of my sleeping pad and get out of my sleeping bag. A rider with bags cruises by waving, a reminder that we’re still in a race. I stuff my whole sleeping kit into a dry bag and strap it to my handlebar harness. I turn on my GPS and put the race track on and on goes my SPOT tracker, pressing the boot print to initiate tracking. I move a pastry from my framebag to my gas tank for breakfast. I chug a full water bottle and put on my socks and shoes. The whole process takes twenty minutes and I resent the time lost. This style of racing is all about economizing time. The valley is cold, even at low elevation. I’m still wearing my down suit and rain jacket and I’m back on my bike, pedaling washboard downriver. I pass a pulled over rider and he passes me back. We don’t talk.

Lael Wilcox’s 2019 Silk Road Mountain Race Specialized Fuse Bikepacking Setup

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Lael Wilcox’s 2019 Silk Road Mountain Race Specialized Fuse Bikepacking Setup

With the 2019 Silk Road Mountain Race beginning tomorrow, we thought we’d give a break-down for what Lael Wilcox will be carrying on her bike for the duration of the event. Lael is hoping to finish the 1700 kilometer course with 27,000m elevation in 7-9 days. In order to do that, she has her setup dialed. Check out the full list below for those curious as to what an ultra-endurance racer carries on their bike.

2019 Tour Divide Race: Part 4

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2019 Tour Divide Race: Part 4

Words By Rugile Kaladyte, photos by Spencer Harding and Rugile Kaladyte

I’m not much of a writer, I prefer to stay behind the camera and let the photos do the talking. But what if photos aren’t enough? I like facts and I can provide those. Facts that led up to Lael’s scratching from this year’s Tour Divide. I recently posted on Lael’s Instagram that she scratched from the race this year after running into shoe sucking mud and waiting it out with other top racers. While waiting, she saw her women’s record pass by and her pink LW record dot would be almost a day ahead by the time conditions were suitable for riding. Acknowledging this, she brought me breakfast and spent the day with me and others while waiting for the mud to dry. Visiting me, her girlfriend, disqualifies her from the race. She knows this. We both do. I want to share a little more backstory. To put it out there while it’s still fresh.

2019 Tour Divide Race: Part 3

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2019 Tour Divide Race: Part 3

Words by Spencer Harding, photos by Spencer Harding and Rugile Kaladyte

Last year, Rue propositioned me about helping her document the Tour Divide race in which Lael Wilcox intended to best her previous record, I jumped at the opportunity. Later, Jay Ritchey would be added to the team to help Rue with the film they intended to produce about the race.  I was tasked with focusing on photographing her attempt and the race itself.  Rue has been flipping between photo and video very deftly and has some incredible images to add to this gallery.  Here is the third installment of our ongoing coverage of the 2019 Tour Divide Race.