Today I had the pleasure of interviewing the best female ultra-endurance bike racer, Lael Wilcox. Just some of her race highlights include the 4,600 mile 2016 Trans Am Bike Race from Oregon to Virginia. Her first-place finish took 18 days, 10 minutes. In 2019 she was the first woman to finish the Silk Road Mountain Race, taking second place overall. Lael finished in 7 days, 15 hours, and 23 minutes. Wowzah!
Besides being in awe of Lael’s achievements, I’ve always been impressed with her spirit, confidence, and positive energy. During our chat, we discussed everything from nutrition (consuming 10,000 calories/day), sleep deprivation, training, and gear choice to unnerving animal encounters. When I asked Lael what one luxury item she took on her rides, I was surprised she said down pants. I never heard of down pants, but she says it is like riding in a sleeping bag. Oh man, if I could add down pants to my winter riding wardrobe, I’d be so toasty riding in Chicago.
Since I’m an advocate for getting more women riding bikes, I closed out our discussion by asking Lael about two of her initiatives. The first is GRIT which stands for Girls Riding Into Tomorrow. The second is Lael Rides Alaska Scholarship. GRIT was established in 2017 in her home town of Anchorage. During the six-week mentorship program, teenage girls are introduced to adventure cycling. They ride three times a week which is training for a 60 mile, three-day adventure ride from Anchorage.
Application submissions just opened up a week ago for the Lael Rides Alaska Femme-Trans-Women’s Scholarship. The idea is to design a 1,000-mile bike adventure in Alaska, make a route, budget, and plan. The ride will be completed between May and September 2021 and should take about 4 weeks. The recipient of the scholarship can ride solo or bring along friends. For more information on GRIT or the scholarship program check out Lael’s website.
I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Lael. She’s as down to earth as they come and a true champion for the sport of cycling.
Enjoy the Ride.