Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal
A little-known racing novice just cycled her way into the top ranks of ultra-long-distance athletes by breaking the women’s record on the grueling Tour Divide trail this summer – twice.
Alaska native Lael Wilcox rode the 2,745-mile off-road race from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, N.M., at the U.S.-Mexico border in June in 17 days, one hour and 51 minutes, besting the previous women’s record holder by two days.
Mapped over four years and approved by the Adventure Cycling Association in 1998, the Tour Divide is the grandfather of “bikepacking” tours that are now sprouting up worldwide. It traces a winding line through Alberta and British Columbia in Canada; then through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico over the Continental Divide. The route takes cyclists over the Rocky Mountains, through plains, pine forest and desert.
In New Mexico, the route runs through Abiquiu, Cuba and Grants in the north, then cuts through El Malpais National Monument, down to Pie Town and Silver City in the Gila National Forest, and finally through the desert of Hidalgo County to the Mexican border.