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On Thursday, ultra endurance cyclist and bikepacker Lael Wilcox got off her Specialized Epic Evo at the Arizona-Utah border after a very long ride.
The 35-year-old celebrated a Fastest Known Time (FKT) of the Arizona Trail (AZT) with a ride of nine days, eight hours, and 23 minutes, besting the previous record by 2:20.
Wilcox set her record aboard a Specialized Epic Evo with RockShox SID 120mm front suspension, Zipp 3Zero Moto wheels, a 2.6 Specialized Purgatory tire up front and a 2.35 Ground Control in the rear, and SRAM AXS (30T chainring, 10-50t cassette) shifting.
The Alaskan rider has long wanted to set a record on the AZT, which runs from the state’s southern border with Mexico to the its northern terminus at the Utah border. The current route, which includes new singletrack sections completed in 2021, is 827 miles and includes a 24-mile hike-a-bike section through the Grand Canyon, where the bike tires cannot touch the ground. Wilcox disassembled the bike and hiked with it on her back during that section.
For nearly 15 years, riders have embarked on the self-supported mission that is the Arizona Trail Race (AZTR). Like other bikepacking ultras, the AZTR is unofficially official — there is a grand depart in the fall (for years it started in the spring) and riders are to abide by a set of agreed-up rules (the most important being not to accept any outside help that’s not available to everyone).
Hours after Wilcox finished her ride, someone posted on the AZTR’s social media account stating that Wilcox’s time “will be noted but not recognized” as it was in violation of “Rule #2 that explicitly states no media crews.” The post also stated that Wilcox violated that “excessive visitation” rule.
The relegations harken back to Wilcox’s attempt at the Tour Divide record in 2019. After being accused repeatedly of receiving emotional support from her partner Rugile Kaladyte who was documenting the attempt, Wilcox scratched from the race in northern Colorado.
As usual, there was instant debate via social media; however, most posts are congratulatory and awestruck by Wilcox’s record-setting ride.