Lael Wilcox is an ultra-endurance bike packer from Alaska. In racing, she’s excited to compete against the whole field and sometimes wins overall. She’s extremely motivated to encourage more women & girls to try bike packing.
She organizes a girls cycling mentorship program, women’s adventure scholarships & bikepacking challenges.
Lael started bicycling in 2008 at age 20, when she and her partner decided to tour the world. Working stints to collect money, the two set out on a bicycle tour of over thirty countries. They started in North America, then traveled in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, logging over 100,000 miles.
Lael entered the Holyland Challenge
, a 1000-mile unsupported race across Israel. She was both the youngest rider and the only woman. She led the race by 25 miles the first day, and although she did not win the race, she became hooked on endurance racing.
In 2016, Lael participated in the 4,400 mile Trans Am Bike Race that crosses the United States from west to east. Lael averaged 235 miles per day for 18 days, averaging less than 5 hours of sleep per night and ending up winning the race outright.
In 2018, Lael became only the second female to complete Switzerland's Navad 1000 bikepacking race, finishing in second place. The race features 627 miles distance and 99,770 feet of climbing. Lael's race was commemorated in the film I'm Not Stopping produced by Rugile Kaladyte (who is now her wife!)
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- Who is Lael in her own words
- What was it like to grow up in Alaska
- Being obsessed with sports
- Starting to cycle at 20
- How her passion for bikes started
- Her travel and biking journey in the Middle East
- Talking about her first race
- Getting a job as a bicycle taxi driver
- Working in a restaurant
- Saving up money and getting back on her bike
- Not expecting bicycling as her lifestyle
- Riding in the US, traveling to Europe, Africa, Middle East, etc.
- Seeing more remote places and meeting interesting people
- Expecting to go to medical school and become a doctor
- Working hard organising girls scholarships and mentorship programs while doing another job
- Feeling stressed out for about 3 years
- Getting worried about not having enough time to do everything to live a healthy and happy life
- Getting support from people within the industry
- Talking about the 1400 km bike race in Israel
- Taking on the challenge as a woman
- Utilising only the equipment she has to win the race
- "I didn't know I'd love it until I did it."
- Why does she love bike packing
- Riding the Tour Divide in 2015
- Her breathing experience in the Tour Divide race
- "I don't have to quit; the race will keep going, but I can just rest and see how I'm doing."
- Becoming sick and being diagnosed with asthma while on the race
- Finishing the race and breaking the women's record
- Experiencing tough situations and how she deals with it
- Recovering from exhaustion physically and mentally
- What is Trans Am and its history
- Road racing is not as easy as it seems
- Sleeping in a sleeping pad or sleeping bag
- Averaging 183 miles per day for the Tour Divide and 237 miles per day for 18 days for the Trans Am
- Eating while on the race
- Talking more about her bikes
- Getting into detail about the film I'm Not Stopping
- Meeting her wife Rugile Kaladyte
- How Rue asked to marry her in 2020
- Her wedding and how it felt
- How she encourages girls to get into bike packing
- Starting a program in Tucson in 2022
- Hosting 2 women's bike packing challenges with Komoot
- Hosting 3 women's scholarships
- Final words of advice
- "It doesn't have to be the biggest goal or the biggest achievement but start doing some part of it."