When Lael Wilcox rode her bike from Anchorage to Alberta in May, she was just warming up.
The 28-year-old Anchorage woman used the 2,140-mile trek from Alaska to Canada as a prelude to her record-setting ride in the Tour Divide, which is billed as the world's longest off-pavement cycling route.
The race covers 2,745 miles on trails near the Continental Divide, going from Banff, Alberta, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
Wilcox arrived at the finish line Monday morning, 17 days and 2,745 miles after she left Banff. Her time of 17 days, 1 hour, 51 minutes was two days faster than the previous record of 19:03:35, by Eszter Horanyi in 2012.
Bikers ride without a support crew. They climb a total of 200,000 feet and ride primarily on dirt trails, according to the Tour Divide website.
An East High graduate, Wilcox left Anchorage on her bike May 15. She reached Banff in 19 days, a little more than week before the June 12 start of the race.
On her fifth day of racing, Wilcox took a 100-mile detour in Montana to seek medical help for bronchitis and bronchitis-induced asthma, according to her partner, Nicholas Carman, who chronicled Wilcox's progress on his blog, gypsybytrade.wordpress.com.
" A chest x-ray and other diagnostic procedures were performed and she was prescribed an inhaler, antibiotics, and other treatments to alleviate symptoms," Carman wrote. "She left the hospital at dusk and rode until 3AM to regain her position as the lead female."
One of 150 riders in the race, Wilcox finished sixth overall. All five of the men ahead of her finished faster than the previous men's best of 15:16:14 set in 2012 by Jay Petervary. The winner was Josh Kato in 14:11:37.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing