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Lael Wilcox Pulls Plug on Tour Divide ITT

Poor air quality from wildfires hampered Wilcox's record-setting attempt.

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**Update**

Lael Wilcox announced on her Instagram account on Sunday that she had abandoned her attempt at the Tour Divide Time Trial due to poor air quality from wildfires and the effect on her lungs. Wilcox, who has asthma, had been riding in the smoke for two days and made it 710 miles to Butte, Montana, before deciding the conditions weren’t right for a record-setting ride.

Ultra-endurance bikepack racer Lael Wilcox left from Banff, Alberta, on Wednesday morning, on an individual time trial of the Tour Divide, a 2,745-mile route from Banff to the southern tip of New Mexico in Antelope Wells, that she’ll ride unsupported as she attempts to break the record set by the late Mike Hall in 2016. Wilcox, who’s easily one of the strongest endurance racers in the world, already holds the women’s record at 15 days, 10 hours and 59 minutes, a record she set in 2015 (with a detour to the hospital for possible bronchitis, no less), and now she’ll aim for the Fastest Known Time. To do so, she’ll need to beat Hall’s time of 13 days, 22 hours and 51 minutes.

Wilcox preps for her departure in Banff on Wednesday. Photo: thereabouts

The route, also known as the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, was set in 1988, and crosses multiple mountain passes as it traverses the length of the Rocky Mountains. Wilcox rode a flat-bar mountain bike for her 2015 record, and has adjusted her set-up now that gravel bikes are a thing, to a drop-bar frame with wide bars, a suspension fork, burly tires and disc brakes.

Lael Wilcox Tour Divide
Final adjustments. Photo: thereabouts
Related Story: Lael Wilcox on Race Day Food, and Embracing Recovery

You can follow Lael’s progress on her Trackleaders.