When one of bikepacking’s best athletes set a fastest known time on a legendary route, ultra-distance cycling’s corner of the internet exploded in controversy around the meaning of the term “self-supported” Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ .
On April 21, 34-year-old bikepacker Lael Wilcox pedaled into the Stateline Campground on the border between Arizona and Utah. She had just finished the Arizona Trail, an 827-mile route, in record time: 9 days, 8 hours, and 23 minutes, which bested the existing record by more than two hours.
Wilcox, a rising star in the niche cycling discipline of ultra-distance cycling, was thrilled. Her days on-trail had been grueling: she averaged just under 90 miles a day on a rocky, technical route that involved ample hike-a-bike. She carried all her own supplies, found water and food along the way, and pedaled without a pacer or support crew. But she was not alone. Her wife, photojournalist Rue Kaladyte, and a friend, Sean Randolph, drove along the route and hiked or biked out to Wilcox about twice a day to shoot videos and photos of her effort. They took pains not to provide her with any mechanical assistance or to hand her any food or drink, as a way to preserve the ride’s status as being self-supported.
But when Wilcox finished the ride and announced her time online, John Schilling, the race director […]