Lael Wilcox-by-nicholas-carman

During the entire distance and duration of a 2700-mile off-road cycling race, she never showered, never slept indoors, and only sat down to a meal once. Instead, with bloody knee and bruised shoulder, she pushed to the finish line and kept ahead of her nearest competitors.

Lael Wilcox-cyclist-nicholas-carman-gypsybytrade-blogThough it was her first attempt on the mountainous Tour Divide trail race, Lael Wilcox beat all but five male competitors, and set a new course record for women.

The 28-year-old cyclist – who rode the 2,745-mile event with a respiratory infection – shaved more than two days off the previous women’s record, finishing in just over 17 days.

In June, before arriving at the starting line in Banff, Alberta, she rode 2,000 miles solo from her home in Anchorage– quite a warm-up, with just a week’s rest, for the longest mountain bike race in the world.

The race route uses trails that run along the Continental Divide from Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, on the border of Mexico–challenging riders with 200,000 feet of elevation changes (60,000 meters).

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Unlike the Tour de France, cyclists have no support teams and have to rely on themselves for food, water and bike maintenance. One of 150 riders in the race, Wilcox finished sixth, and says she’s happy to be an inspiration to other cyclists starting out.

Marine in Plank for 5 Hours, Breaks Record to Benefit Wounded Vets

“They look at me, and they’re like ‘If this little girl can do this, maybe I can do something,” she told Outside magazine. “And that’s good. I want to empower people, to inspire them. I mean stop making excuses. At least try.”

Lael Wilcox-bike-gypsybytrade-blog

Also among the endurance riders, Josh Kato, a 40-year-old nurse from Washington State, shredded the men’s course record, finishing in 14 days, a full day quicker than the previous record.

(WATCH her interview below from KTUU or READ more at Outside Online) Photos: Nicholas Carman Gypsy By Trade – Story Tip from Andrew Norris

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