Alaskan Cyclist First Woman To Win 4,200 Mile Race, Becomes Hero Overnight

by Robyn Smith

If there’s one thing Lael Wilcox is not, it’s a loser.

235 miles, per day, every day, is what it took for her to win the incredible (and painful-sounding) Trans Am race and hold the second fastest time IN THE RACE’S HISTORY. She chased a man named Steffen for two weeks (!!!!!) before catching up to him in the last 100 miles.

“We should finish this together,” he basically said, which we know he never would have said to a man.

“NO!” (or something like that) was Wilcox’s response, and they literally SPRINTED against each other for the last 100 miles of the 4,200 race.

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13507239 478368782364320 1041208701540161167 nHere’s Wilcox kicking ass 90 miles from the finish.

“We rode together for a couple more minutes and then he dropped off. And I never saw him again,” Wilcox told Alaska Public Media.

It began in Astoria, Oregon, and while the race’s official finish was in Yorktown, Virginia, it really finished in our hearts.

Not only is Wilcox the first woman to win the Trans Am, she’s also the first American! So it’s really a patriotic victory for us, as well as a victory for women everywhere!

The best part is, she wasn’t in this race for the prizes or the trophy (there wasn’t any). She didn’t have thousands of fans and cheerleaders around every bend of the race. She had to either buy or carry her own food, and decide when and where she would sleep each night, as well as how many hours she’d allow herself—usually three to five. She traversed across 10 states. That’s right, 10.

12801288 438776496323549 6538237829715749096 nThose Missouri hills are like a toxic plant—pretty to look at, deadly to touch.

Wilcox’s typical training ground is all over the U.S., but it’s mostly on the West Coast. Her body is conditioned to hard, well, conditions, and she actually found it easier to pass all the bitches other racers once their terrain shifted from pancake flat to waffle-y hills. In 18 days and 10 minutes, she found her biggest challenges to be the cold ground, because of course she didn’t bring a sleeping pad or bag—she’s tough, she didn’t need one, and she spent half the time sleeping in motels anyway to charge her batteries, literally and figuratively. 

Screen Shot 2016 06 29 at 11.27.32 AMWilcox with her boyfriend at the finish line in Yorktown, Virginia. We’d be barefoot, too.

For food, it’s pretty obvious that Wilcox would be one of those super “clean” cycling health freaks who lives off K-A-L-E with a capital K, energy gels, and maybe some bananas. I mean, that’s what I assumed. Well…

“I resupplied entirely at convenience stores,” Wilcox told “I ate a lot of granola bars and pizza and drank a lot of chocolate milk.”

Wilcox must be superhuman in order to achieve such a superhuman feat, no? No! She claims she’s completely normal, which just completely solidifies that it’s a myth that you have to have X, Y, and Z to be a good athlete.

Screen Shot 2016 06 29 at 11.26.13 AMWilcox with her brother in our favorite city, Brooklyn, celebrating her victory (we assume).

“I feel like for people to see an example of a fairly normal person—I’m normal height, normal size, I’m a woman—winning,” she told Jezebel. “I’m not this super human, and I won. And I feel like people can relate to that and believe in themselves.”

But how did all this begin? How long was Wilcox training for the race of all races?

Almost a decade.

“I just started commuting on the bike about 10 years ago to get to and from work,” she told Alaska Public Media. “I’d never owned or driven a car. And then after commuting, I started traveling on the bike with my boyfriend Nick. And we’ve been traveling all over the world for the past eight years.”

If you want to follow more of Wilcox’s adventures, check out her website here.

Photos via Trans Am Bike Race Facebook Page and @laelwilcox on Instagram.

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