Lael Wilcox may not yet be a household name in the cycling world, but with wins and records in super long distance, self-supported bikepacking races such as TransAmerica and the Tour Divide, she will be soon. In this special episode of The Bicycle Story podcast, I interviewed Lael about her victory at TransAm, what it’s like to race across the country in 18 days, her roots as a dirtbag world adventurer, breaking into the mainstream, and more.
For more on Lael’s world travels, check out The Bicycle Story’s 2014 interview with her partner Nick Carman.
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
Posted in Adventure, Bike Touring, Interviews, Racing, The Podcast
Tagged badass women cyclists, bike packing, bikepacking, bikepacking racing, gypsy by trade, lael wilcox, nicholas carman, specialized, tour divide, transam, transamerica race
Eszter Horanyi and Scott Morris at the start of their 4,000 mile Continental Divide Trail ride. Photo via topofusion.com.
The Tour Divide is a 2,745 bikepacking race from Banff, Canada to the Mexican border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. When Eszter Horanyi set the women’s course record of 19 days, 3 hours in 2012, she did so by averaging over 140 miles each day and sleeping just a few hours each night. Doing so on repeat for the better part of a month is a brutal challenge that pushes athletes to their mental and physical limits. It turns out Horanyi is really good at it. Over her years of bikepacking racing, she’s held or still holds records on the Tour Divide, Arizona Trail Race 300, Colorado Trail Race, Arrowhead 135, and plenty more. She stopped racing in 2013, but continues to explore mountains and valleys and remote roads by bike. I spoke to Horanyi about her entry into mountain bike racing, her bikepacking racing “career,” the self-empowerment the comes from adventuring alone, the growth of bikepacking, and more.
Posted in Adventure, Bike Touring, Interviews, Mountain Biking, Racing
Tagged arizona trail, badass women cyclists, bike packing, bikepacking, bikepacking racing, colorado trail, eszter horanyi, gdmbr, great divide, great divide mountain bike race, tour divide
Mike Curiak at an Iditarod race in Alaska. Photo by Chris McLennan.
From the early rebels racing down the Repack to today’s craziest freeriders flipping off massive cliffs, every era of mountain biking has needed pioneering figures to push the boundaries of what’s possible on a bike. In endurance racing, Mike Curiak was one of those key people who helped define just how long and far the human body can go on a mountain bike. He is best known for his exploits at Alaska’s brutal Iditaraces. Over his 17 year race career, he won numerous iterations of the 225-mile Iditasport and 350-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational, set a course record on the 1,100-mile Iditasport Impossible, and later completed the 1,100-mile race fully self-supported. He also helped organize the first successful Great Divide race, won the Kokopelli Trail Race, and was a nominee for the mountain bike hall of fame among other palmares.
Curiak retired from racing almost 10 years ago after winning the 2005 Iditarod Trail Invitational. These days he says he’s focused more on fun, though it’s his version of fun, i.e. multi-day bikepacking trips that require packrafting across lakes and down rivers and other adventures like that. He’s also focused on his well established Lace Mine 29 wheel-building business. I spoke to Curiak before he set off on a three-week packrafting trip through the Grand Canyon. We talked about his early entry into endurance racing, endless laps on 24-hour race courses, his experience racing in Alaska, helping create the Great Divide race, his disappointment with the direction endurance racing has gone recently, and much more.
Posted in Adventure, Interviews, Mountain Biking
Tagged 29er, endurance mountain bike racing, fat biking, great divide mountain bike race, iditarod, iditasport, kokopelli, lace mine 29, mike curiak, mountain bike pioneer, packrafting, snow biking, tour divide
Jill at the 2008 Iditarod Trail Invitational. Photo via Jill’s Blog.
Jill Homer’s bike racing palmarès read like a checklist of some of the world’s foremost ultra-endurance and adventure racing events. They include the Ititarod Trail Invitational snowbike race, Great Divide Race (for which she’s the women’s record holder), TransRockies, Stagecoach 400, and many more. The 32 year old California transplant (by way of Alaska and Utah before that) lives for adventures that push her to her mental and physical limits. We discussed her path from not even owning a bike in her early 20s to ultra-endurance cyclist, her attraction and need to explore her personal limits through endurance racing, her new pursuits as an ultra-marathon runner, and more.
Posted in Bike Touring, Interviews, Racing
Tagged adventure racing, alaska jill, bike touring, bikepacking, jill homer, snow biking, tour divide, ultra endurance cycling, ultra running