On April 12, 2022, Lael Wilcox set out to ride the 827-mile Arizona Trail faster than anyone had before. She completed her ride 9 days, 8 hours, and 23 minutes later on April 21. This is her story.
My mom worries about me when I’m out riding my bike, for multiple days at a time, alone. By the way, I turned 30 in March. She says it’s not that she doesn’t trust me, it’s other people she’s worried about. And while she’s never outlined this explicitly, I’m sure the fact that I’m an only daughter—not an only son—also plays a role. But, to her credit, she’s getting more comfortable (or, better at hiding her discomfort) with the idea of me pursuing solo endeavors. This time around, when I called her from the car to let her know I was en route to the Ozarks to attempt an Individual Time Trial on the 380-mile Ozark Gravel Doom route, instead of a flat-lined, “…what?” I heard her pause, then—on the tail-end of an exhale—say, “Okay.”
Our Radar Roundup compiles products and videos from the ‘net in an easy-to-digest format. Read on below for today’s findings…
We are beyond excited to report that after 9 days, 8 hours, and 23 minutes our dear friend Lael Wilcox has established a new overall fastest known time for the 800-mile Arizona Trail Individual Time Trial*!
Tackling the Arizona Trail at a record-setting pace, from the Mexico border to the Utah state line, is one of the most grueling cycling challenges in the world and we couldn’t be more excited for Lael’s accomplishment. In the coming weeks, we’ll be featuring a full report from Lael’s time on the trail in addition to a short film from Rue Kaladyte. In the meantime, head over to Lael’s Instagram and send her a virtual high-five!
Edited on 4.23.2022 for clarity: We have correspondences with John Schilling, the organizer of the AZTR, where he reached out to Rue, the videographer and Lael’s wife about the media rule. Lael and Rue accept the * by their time for breaking the media coverage rule implemented in 2019. Previous records still stand.
The beauty of bikes is in the people who ride them—and how they all have a story. I have little doubt that everyone—serious riders, aeroed and grimaced, and carefree cruisers alike—have experienced that epiphanous fresh-air feeling of freedom that accompanies spinning your legs astride two wheels. Sometimes we just enjoy it at the moment—letting the short-lived wave of release and clarity wash over us during a weeknight burrito run, or a trip to the coffee shop. Other times we chase that feeling down with the hope that, somehow, it might change our life.
What first intrigued me about Josh Uhl was, however, not his history with bikes but his podcast Here For Now, which he started in February of 2021. Josh uses this platform to have intentional and intimate conversations with his guests about motivation, struggle, and the big whys of life. Listening to an early episode with Peter Hogan, where the recovering addict asserts that “Bikes aren’t God,” and to a later episode where the writer Zoe Röm reflects on the delusion of “authenticity” on social media, I found myself frequently nodding along. Yes, exactly.
“An unprecedented number of people are riding mountain bikes as an outlet for exercise and exploration and, as a result, discovering a truth we all eventually come to know: Every ride is an adventure. Freehub’s 12.4 edition is a celebration of this truth and a meditation on how adventure leads to discovery, both of the outside world and within oneself. In our cover story, ultra-endurance racer Alexandera Houchin writes about how her relationship with the bike has instilled a deeper understanding of her identity as a Native woman—and how she’s come to realize the act of racing is a ceremonial expression of her Ojibwe spirit. Transformative adventure pervades this book, with feature stories on a life-changing family bikepacking journey in the Alaskan wilderness and the existential reckonings of a rider attempting to clear a long-neglected trail in central Nevada’s remote Toiyabe Range. Welcome to Issue 12.4—a tribute to self-discovery and embracing the unknown.”
Read on below for Alexandera’s thoughts on this experience…
“You just dance up those climbs. It’s amazing to watch.”
These are some of the only words we’ve exchanged, despite riding together for the past ten hours. It’s a few more hours before I learn that his name is Dave. That’s ultra-endurance. Sometimes you talk and sometimes you don’t, but it’s still great to have company riding through the night. I later find out that Dave is in his 50s and from Wisconsin. He must outweigh me by a good 50-80lbs and most of it is muscle. He’s a powerhouse on the flats and I’m light up the climbs. He groans and says “shit” a lot, but when the lady at the gas station asks if we’re having fun, he says, “we’re having the time of our lives.” And we really are. It’s hot and humid and hard as hell, but there’s so much beauty out there. Beauty in the sunset and the sunrise and the warm night— the cows and the fields, the open expanses.
The Volta As Aldeias Historicas is a 450 km route in Portugal with 8000 meters of elevation.
It links up 12 medieval villages and their castles.
Our contributor Ryan Le Garrec went to tackle it for his “Fail” video series,
alongside friends Sjors Mahler and Tiago Cacao,
It seems Ryan got bored of castles and failed at reaching them all.
“Those things are nice but they’re all at the top of a village already perched up a hill,
and the road to each is ridiculously steep,
I love villages and I love Portugal
but somehow castles just make me think of Middle Age wars,
I don’t really dig that,
I skipped a few and the guys did too!”
Here’s to failings and revenge, wet feet, cold meals, big appetites, and desperate measures, here is to the losers, to giving up, the fear and the panic, here is to the hopes and resets, the rest and restart, the loneliness and misery, the conquering or coming back, here is to the revenge, the salute, the lost goal, the drive and emptiness, the stomach and the guts, the brain, and the balls, here is to the brave heart and lost souls. Here is to the step back and rebound. Here is to the cold beers at the end and the diners that taste better.
Coming home was the hardest part.
This is the fourth and final part of an ongoing series:
Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part III – A Cyclocross Specialist Turned Ultra Racer
Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part II – The First Modern Bikepacking Race
Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part I – Trail Visions Ahead of Their Time
2020, the year that virtually nothing has panned out as expected, delivered an unexpected opportunity for me to return to the Grand Loop. I flew home to Arizona in late March after an aborted tour across Alaska as the Covid-19 pandemic worsened. My body was exhausted from winning a 4-day-long Iditarod Trail Invitational – conditions were challenging enough that the race took twice as long as it does in “good” years. After the race, I continued touring farther along the trail for another 250 miles before Native villages began closing to visitors. When I returned home, my body was worn out. The next month was devoted to recovery as I watched in awe as the world as we knew it ground to a halt amid the worsening pandemic.
2021, March 14th, 5:16 pm Runa, Portugal
Runa is a small village that looks like it was supposed to become a town, it just never happened. Not much to see around here.
Traversed by a fast road right through it, longing a deserted train station that never felt so vain.
All along that single file highway, tiny factories, warehouses, abandoned, emptied in a rush. Nature is invading, reclaiming those empty spaces, plants, and trees through the cracks and walls.
I press on the pedals.
A bit further down the strange fast route, a tiny park and one big tree, one massive tree, an old man walks around, talking to himself, or rehearsing what seems to be a speech or sermon, rehearsing those words while mastering their hand choreography.
Bikingman Portugal, a 950 kilometers ultra bikepacking challenge in the Algarve and Alentejo regions, is returning. See the race calendar at Bikingman…
What’s a day, an hour, a few seconds, or a month?
What’s the point of time if it’s still and untouched?
Where are we now, and can it be then?
I woke up that morning from sweat and fears, dreams that fade away in the blink of an eye but a feeling that takes longer, lingers around, just for a while. I had a crash but it left no rash.
I met Fabian over a year ago, in Oman, at a race, he was wearing skinny black stuff and had a lot of tattoos, he had a mustache and looked a lot like bike messengers, or my friends from Brazil.
The latest from Wahoo Fitness documents an incredible feat, as Rab Wardell sets a new record on the West Highland Way, a 95 mile stretch from Glasgow to Fort William.
This past Friday, professional endurance cyclists Kait Boyle (@kait.boyle), Lael Wilcox (@laelwilcox), and Kurt Refsnider (@kurt.refsnider) all set off before dawn on the iconic 137-mile-long Kokopelli Trail from Moab, Utah. By dusk, two new fastest known times (FKTs) were set by teammates Boyle and Refsnider (Pivot-Industry Nine-Revelate Designs-Kuat Racks).
After our Reportage from this year’s GBDuro, a 1200-mile fully self-sufficient bikepacking race the length of the UK, Josh Ibbett pulled together a self-filmed video from his experience out on the course. Thanks to our buddy Ryan Le Garrec for the edit!
Josh Ibbett just won the GBduro. A 2000 km mostly off-road Ultra Distance race from the most southern tip of the UK to the most northern in Scotland.
This is the second edition of this race.
The first one was won by Lachlan Morton last year.
The Racing Collective, organizers of the race, best described by themselves as “the UK’s flagship not-for-profit bikepacking club” had to change their race format this year. They did it, brilliantly.
There were no stages anymore, the race described as “a scrappy rolling picnic through Britain’s ever-changing landscapes” had that new daunting rule about it, you had to be “self-sufficient”, no stopping allowed in shops, cafe, restaurant or hotel, whatsoever, so you carry your own food, filter water from streams or sources and mind yourself and your bike ‘till the end. There is a new level in the game of Epic.
I first became aware of Cameron in 2019 whilst working at NRG Cycles in Great Ayton. A few regular customers had been in and asked if I knew of this local lad – ‘somebody’ Dixon was all I had to go on and that he rode his bike….a lot.
Working in a small North Yorkshire village you tend to know all the local cyclists and with my involvement with Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling, that knowledge is spread further a field into the race scene. I’d never seen him on a start sheet before, so who was he?