Lael Rides Alaska Women’s Scholarship

Lael Rides Alaska, Lael Wilcox, Hope, Palmer Creek Road, Alaska

Palmer Creek Road August 8, 2017, near Hope, Alaska. Photo: Rugile Kaladyte 

On behalf of Specialized Bicycles, Revelate Designs, Big Agnes, GU Energy and Patagonia, I’m offering the “Lael Rides Alaska” Women’s Scholarship.

Design and ride a 1,000 mile route in Alaska this summer. Expect the ride to take about three weeks. Include an entrance and exit strategy and a budget.

One woman will receive:

— Specialized Diverge bicycle
— Revelate Designs bikepacking bags
— 10,000 Alaska Airlines air miles courtesy of Revelate Designs
— Big Agnes tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad
—$1000 community funded travel stipend
— Patagonia apparel
— GU Energy Nutrition
— a copy of The Milepost guidebook

Where do you want to go? What do you want to see? How do you want to get there? Be Creative. You can include planes, trains and ferries in your trip plan. You can ride alone. You can ride with others. Do you want to pedal north of the Arctic Circle? Do you want to ride in the rainforests of Southeast Alaska? Do you want to link up as many glaciers as possible? Do you want to spend the 4th of July where the sun never sets?

Lael Rides Alaska, Lael Wilcox, Specialized, Specialized Diverge

Specialized Diverge after hitching a ride with a semi-truck July 3, 2017, out of Deadhorse, Alaska. Photo: Lael Wilcox

In the summer of 2017, I set out to ride all of the major roads in Alaska, a total of 4500 miles. I used The Milepost as my guide— any road in The Milepost was a road I had to ride. Over twice the size of Texas, Alaska is a massive land with a very limited road system and less than a million people. Roads reach out like veins to the different corners of the state. I am fourth generation Alaskan. There are so many places I’d only ever heard of and never seen. I wanted to see those places and everything that was in between. I wanted to learn the roads, the terrain, why they exist and who’s out there.

What I found was stunning. The roads are a mix of pavement and high quality gravel. Fifty miles beyond any hub city like Anchorage or Fairbanks or Delta Junction or Tok, there is almost no traffic. The roads are so quiet that at times, they feel like bike paths. I pedaled past muskox, foxes, moose, black and grizzly bears, bald eagles, and at least a dozen glaciers. I rode through the Brooks Range past tree line where the rolling tundra descends to the Arctic Ocean.

Lael Rides Alaska, Lael Wilcox, Prudhoe Bay, musk ox, musk oxen

Musk oxen gather along the pipeline July 2, 2017, near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Photo: Lael Wilcox

I rode fast and far. Covering around 150 miles a day for the first month, I didn’t have lights and I didn’t need them. The sun never went down. Sometimes I rode until three in the morning and slept in until noon. When I got tired, I pulled over on the road to camp. There’s nobody out there— you can sleep almost anywhere. When I met people, I stopped to visit. It wasn’t a race. I wasn’t rushed. It just felt like total freedom and endless days— time enough for everything and I could ride as much as I wanted.

Lael Rides Alaska, Lael Wilcox, Alascom Road, Glacier View

Lael Wilcox rides the Alascom Road on August 27, 2017, in Glacier View, Alaska. Photo: Rugile Kaladyte

The “Lael Rides Alaska” Women’s Scholarship is my effort to provide the equipment for another woman to go on her own Alaska Roads adventure.

Where do you want to go? What do you want to see? How do you want to get there?

Email applications to lael.wilcox@gmail.com by March 17, 2018. The recipient of the scholarship will be announced on March 26, 2018.

AK women’s scholarship application

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19 thoughts on “Lael Rides Alaska Women’s Scholarship

  1. Toni Swearingen says:

    This is great! I love to say “I knew you when…”

  2. timosimmo says:

    Wow! This is stunning. What a wonderful gift. A lot of people are talking about bike packing and bike touring. It’s becoming popular. Lots of press and lots of advertising. And I think that’s great. More people on bikes. But I don’t know of anyone else who is doing what you are doing Lael. You are definitely out in front. And not just on your bike but in giving back and inspiring and encouraging others to get on their bikes. It’s very impressive. This Alaska scholarship is something special. And on that note: I’d love to read more about YOUR Alaska adventure…when you get a minute. 🙂 Thanks!

    • laelwilcox says:

      Thank you! I’m really looking forward to writing about my Alaska Roads project. I just haven’t had the time for it yet, but hope to fit it in before I announce the scholarship recipient on March 26.

  3. Kelsey says:

    Hey there! I don’t know Alaska very well, but would mid April be too early to start this adventure? I start a really serious grad program May 14th and won’t be able to commit the three weeks after then 😛
    Ps- how inspiring you are, especially to beginner adventure women such as myself. Thank you SO much for reaching out to the community of women adventure cyclists and also for sharing your experience.

    • laelwilcox says:

      Hi Kelsey! Depending on the snow pack, mid April could work. It’ll definitely be cold in the north, but south central and south east AK could be okay. Excited to see your proposal!

  4. Hi Lael! I’ve got another question when you have a chance –
    Can you clarify info about flights to and from AK? Should we work the flights into the $1000 travel stipend or are we expected to cover that separately with help from the air miles? Thanks again. 🙂

    • laelwilcox says:

      Hi Annalisa! I’m working hard on getting flights taken care of, but at this point, I just have 10,000 Alaska Airlines miles donated by Revelate Designs. Please include flight cost in your budget.

  5. Yeah! Let’s bike Canada to Alaska! Annnndddd, If we’re still grinin’ let’s do a 180, and head back home!

  6. Alanarose says:

    Hey so would I be able to stop in a town and take a shower during the trip?

  7. Sarah says:

    I have been pondering this for a while now…if we go much more than 1000 miles, does that part not get counted? I would love to do something from the farthest point north to the south, either going through Canada to hit SE Alaska or taking a ferry from Homer to Kodiak Island, but the total cycling distance would exceed 1000 miles. Is this a problem? Also, is it too boring to just do a straight shot south from Deadhorse? I also like the idea of going from Deadhorse to Whitehorse for literary reasons, but that ends up putting too much of the riding in the Yukon. But the ride could continue down to Skagway from Whitehorse, where I could get a ferry to further roads in SE Alaska. SO many options, and not enough miles!!

    I’m also thinking that the flight prices will have changed by the time the winner is announced, but this is a trip worth paying for if the budget ends up higher than expected!

  8. Beth says:

    Do mosquitos cover ALL of Alaska in the summertime? Asking for a friend. 🙂

    • laelwilcox says:

      It really depends on the year. The mosquitos are definitely worse as you head further north– north of Fairbanks towards the North Slope can be terrible. That is the main reason that I carried a tent last year with a bug net. I couldn’t imagine sleeping with that many mosquitos around. However, I’ve heard that last year was a low mosquito year, so it could definitely be worse.

  9. oaklivia says:

    Hey there! I have a question concerning the application. What format would you prefer; the application filled out in the original word doc, the responses to the application as the body of the email with route photos and budget attached, or the application as a PDF report including responses, budget, and photos? Thanks in advance!

    P.S. Thank you so much for working to make this opportunity available. Just being empowered to dream up a route is a blast!

    • laelwilcox says:

      Wow, I think any of these applications would work– I just want to make sure that I can open the document and read what you have to say. Looking forward to it 🙂

  10. Sarah says:

    I have another question. About camping. Is it generally easy to find a place to camp for free? And how safe is it? I’m worried bear spray won’t help if my tent gets ripped open while I’m sleeping!

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