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Top 11 finalist for the 2021 “Lael Rides Alaska” Femme-Trans-Women’s Scholarship: Part 01

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Top 11 finalist for the 2021 “Lael Rides Alaska” Femme-Trans-Women’s Scholarship: Part 01

Top 11 finalists for the “Lael Rides Alaska” 2021 Femme-Trans-Women’s Scholarship

Design a 1,000 mile Alaska bike adventure, tell me about your plan and yourself and how you’ll make it happen this summer.

With the help of Cari Carmean, Natsuko Hirose, Kailey Kornhauser, and Abigale Wilson, we’ve selected 11 finalists from the 126 applicants. It has been extremely encouraging to read about women from around the world that want to take on this challenge and have so many unique approaches. I am honored to share a few of their stories. This has been a hard year for everyone. While highlighting positivity, there’s always an undercurrent of endurance and reflection. These are bold stories of perseverance, of finding connection, learning about ourselves and what truly matters.

I’m thrilled to share that we have the capacity to give out two full scholarships this year to outfit two different adventures this summer. Thank you so much to our generous and thoughtful sponsors.

The winners will receive either a complete Specialized Diverge with Easton carbon wheels or an adventure bike built up by SRAM, Revelate Designs bikepacking bags, Big Agnes camping equipment, PEARL iZUMi apparel, a premium subscription to Komoot, a Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM GPS, a $300 gift card for Competitive Cyclist, Rene Herse tires, an Ergon saddle, a year subscription to Bicycle Quarterly, Trail Butter, Hydro Flask hydration, and a $1,500 travel stipend provided by Easton, and the Radavist will also kick in a $500 travel stipend for one of the finalists.

Now’s the really hard part– we have to choose two winners. Announcements to come later this week.

Read on below for the first of three posts showcasing the 11 finalists…

Lael Rides Alaska: End of the Season

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Lael Rides Alaska: End of the Season

Alaskan summer energy, at its height, seems endless. You don’t need lights because the sun never sets. Schedules are mostly irrelevant— ride late, sleep in, take breaks, or never stop. It’s all possible.

Then the dark starts eating into the day. In late August, we start losing minutes that cumulate into hours over weeks. It’s hard to adjust. Night returns. And maybe that’s part of what makes it so special. That fleeting feeling of freedom that leaves, but not forever.

Radar

Ruta Chingaza: Bikepacking for Conservation

In February, legendary ultra-endurance cyclist Lael Wilcox, Joe Cruz, and the filmmaker Rugile Kaladyte traveled to the Colombian capital of Bogota, in partnership with Conservation International, Wahoo, and Bikepacking.com, to launch the Bikepacking for Conservation Program. The project was designed to explore and scout a bikepacking route that would connect the bustling metropolis of Bogota with rural communities and the Chingaza National Park. The resulting route — Ruta Chingaza — will help cyclists connect to nature and better understand the ecosystems upon which life and livelihoods in this area depend.

Chingaza National Natural Park is currently closed to cyclists, but Conservation International is collaborating with park authorities to make cycling a part of the park’s tourism strategy, and anticipate that cycling experiences (including bikepacking) will be permitted by sometime in 2021, though it is hard to anticipate when exactly due to COVID-19. Please do not travel to the park at this time

Film shot and edited by Rugile Kaladyte

Lael Rides Alaska: Alaskan Island Time

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Lael Rides Alaska: Alaskan Island Time

We continue our Lael Rides Alaska series with a beautiful story from a series of rides on some of Alaska’s islands. Check out more from this series in the ‘Related’ column below when you’re done reading this entry. Enjoy!

Staring at maps in 2017 on my mission to ride all of the major roads in Alaska, I was drawn in by a few remote destinations with more extensive road networks, specifically Nome, Kodiak Island, and Prince of Wales Island. In that summer, I made it to Nome and rode the three roads out of town— to the native village of Teller, to the river that leads to the historic gold mining town of Council, and to the active mining road that ends at the Kougarok River for a total of 230 miles.

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.

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.

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.

Radar

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