Lael Wilcox and her 2021 Hope 1000 Race Rig

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The Hope 1000 race starts in Switzerland tomorrow, and we caught up with ever-inspiring endurance athlete Lael Wilcox ahead of time for her thoughts on the route and a detailed breakdown of her bike and kit. Find that here, accompanied by photos from Rugile Kaladyte…

Words by Lael Wilcox (@laelwilcox), photos by Rugile Kaladyte (@rugilekaladyte)

The Hope 1000 is a 1,000-kilometer self-supported mountain bike race across the Swiss Alps with just over 30,000 meters of climbing. It’s possibly my favorite route in the world. Willi Felix, the Swiss-born race organizer, spent decades scouting terrain in his home country and organized 20 unique week-long mountain rallies. As a result, he has an intimate knowledge of the great number of mountain passes around his country.

The route is a masterpiece and a real beast of an effort. It begins at Lake Constance in German-speaking Switzerland and finishes at the statue of Freddie Mercury on Lake Geneva. Resupply is easy. There are fountains of fresh water nearly every 5 or 10 kilometers, every town has a bakery, and stores stock fresh, high-quality food. The real challenge is purely physical. When I last raced it in 2018, I finished in 4 days, 10 hours—that’s nearly climbing Mount Everest every day, four days in a row, on singletrack, doubletrack, gravel roads, and quiet paved lanes.

  • Navad 1000 Bikepacking Route
  • Navad 1000 Bikepacking Route
  • Navad 1000 Bikepacking Route
  • Navad 1000 Bikepacking Route
  • Navad 1000 Bikepacking Route
Photos from Lael’s 2018 Hope 1000 (then Navad 1000) ride by Rugile Kaladyte

Willi says, “There’s a lot of descending too!” He’s 60 years old, he rides his own race every year, and has the record for most finishes.

The route makes a great tour as well. It’s hard and spectacular regardless of pace. Willi recommends starting at Lake Constance because much of the climbing is on quiet dirt and paved roads, while the descents generally start on alpine trails.

There was a lot of snow in the Swiss Alps this winter and some still remains at higher elevation. We’ll definitely be pushing our bikes a little. The weather is looking really hot this year with thunderstorms forecasted nearly every day. I’m looking forward to a huge, beautiful ride. We’ll see how it goes.

I last raced the Hope 1000 on a Specialized Epic Hardtail. This year, I’ll be riding full suspension with a dropper post. The descents should be much more fun!

Lael Wilcox, Hope 1000

Lael’s Hope 1000 Race Rig

Bike

  • 2021 Specialized Epic EVO frame
  • Rockshox SID 120mm suspension fork
  • Rockshox 110mm rear shock
  • Zipp wheels
  • Rene Herse Fleecer Ridge tires, endurance casing
  • Hope carbon handlebars
  • Ergon GP2 grips with bar ends
  • SRAM XX carbon crankset, 30T chainring
  • SRAM 10-50T cassette
  • SRAM AXS rear derailleur
  • SRAM AXS shifter
  • Ergon Women’s SR Pro saddle
  • Rockshox Reverb AXS dropper post
Lael Wilcox, Hope 1000
  • Lael Wilcox, Hope 1000
  • Lael Wilcox, Hope 1000

Luggage

  • 2 x Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag
  • Revelate Designs Mag-Tank 2000
  • Revelate Designs custom frame bag>

Lighting

  • Lupine Blika headlight
  • Black Diamond Icon Polar for my helmet (powered by AA batteries)
  • Blinky tail light
  • Lael Wilcox, Hope 1000
  • Lael Wilcox, Hope 1000
Lael Wilcox, Hope 1000

Navigation & Electronics

  • Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM GPS (one on bars, one spare)
  • iPhone on Quad Lock mount
  • Anker 10,000 mAH powerbank
  • Spare SRAM AXS battery and charger
  • Lupine headlight battery
  • Apple Airpod Pro headphones
  • Micro USB cord, iPhone charging cable

Maintenance

  • Spare tube
  • Patch kit
  • Tire lever
  • Hand pump
  • Pliers
  • 2 oz. sealant
  • Tire plugs
  • Multitool
  • Chain breaker
  • Wheels Manufacturing derailleur hanger
  • SRAM Eagle quicklinks
  • CO2 and inflator
  • Chain lube
  • Zipties
  • (Gotta find some spare brake pads)
Lael Wilcox, Hope 1000

Clothing

  • Rapha Flyweight Jersey
  • Rapha Core Cargo shorts (with the chamois removed)
  • Rapha Lightweight Gilet
  • Rapha Long Sleeve Technical T-shirt
  • Rapha Lightweight Gore-Tex Jacket
  • Rapha Pro Team Mitts
  • Rapha Wool Socks
  • Rapha Explore Powerweave Shoes
  • Clear glasses
  • Sunglasses

Sleep

  • Western Mountaineering HighLite sleeping bag
  • Lael Wilcox, Hope 1000
  • Lael Wilcox, Hope 1000

Personal Items and Nutrition

  • Topo Designs wallet & mask
  • Inhaler (for asthma)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick
  • Extra hair tie
  • Rapha bidon
  • Empty Revelate Feedbag for drinks (coke, juice, yogurt)
  • Gnarly Vegan Meal Replacement, Performance Greens, Fuel20 (I’m carrying enough to drink a protein-green smoothie every night and every morning, a test run)
  • Sandwiches & pastries
Lael Wilcox, Hope 1000

2018 Hope 1000 Route

You can head over to komoot to see more from Lael’s previous effort on the Hope 1000 route in 2018, including more photos, a full route map, and elevation profiles. Additionally, Lael and Rue also thoroughly documented their 2018 ride for our full Hope 1000 route guide here.

The 2021 Hope 1000 race begins at 6 a.m. tomorrow, June 19th, in Romanshorn, Switzerland. Follow along live here. We’d like to wish everyone participating in this year’s event a safe ride and good luck out there! Stay tuned for more from Lael’s ride soon…

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