It's one of the most challenging bicycle races in the entire world. But a local PHI Flight Paramedic is taking the 3,000 mile race and doubling it. We first told you about Billy Rice and his quest to make history in what's called the Tour Divide Challenge.
“It's pretty amazing up here!” exclaimed Billy Rice in a cell phone video he took from the top of a mountain. “The wind is a lot better than yesterday.”
It's already a challenge in itself.
“It's been thunderstorms all day and the wind, it just wears you down,” Rice described.
Whether it rain, sleet or snow -- mountain bikers are braving all elements of Mother Nature -- while traveling down the Great Divide Route from Banff, Canada all the way to the finish line in Antelope Wells New Mexico.
"Hey it's Billy from Texas calling in, so here's the deal, New Mexico is Hot!” said Rice.
Rice calls to check in and give phone updates on a website called “mlbcast.com.” It’s a site that allows his biggest fans to keep a close eye out on his progress.
He completed the challenge in 2012; and if your name is Billy Rice -- it would only make sense to not only complete the challenge again this year; but to double the distance.
“He's one of those people that once he sets his mind to it, it's going to happen," said Rice’s wife, Alejandra.
He began his journey a little under two weeks ago in Antelope Wells New Mexico; it's a location most riders will call the finish line. The race officially begins June 14th in Banff Canada, where Rice will join 125 other riders. According to his GPS tracking device, at last check Billy was biking through Steam Boat Springs, Colorado; that's more than 800 miles into his race.
He is journey so far has provided more challenges than one.
“I just got a picture of the bike in pieces and he said he was having trouble with the back tire,” explained Alejandra.
“This is Billy Rice, calling from outside the Orange Peel Bicycle Shop in Steam Boat Springs, Colorado,” said Rice during a phone update on mlbcast.com. “Wind and mechanical pretty much sums up everything so far so just need a touch up and Wyoming here I come.”
"He saw his first bear today,” Alejandra explained.
His wife Alejandra says those are just some of the hurdles to expect, but says she knows with her husband’s positive attitude and humor, he'll have no problem dominating and defeating one of the most challenging mental and emotional accomplishments in race history.
"So I'm here with some Tour Divide Race fans,” said Billy while holding a stick as a microphone and interviewing a pair of horses on a mountain. “Oh, yea, so, do you have any Tour Divide Race favorites? Oh, that’s so kind of you!"
“It's just who he is,” laughed Alejandra. “Part of it, I can see the sleep deprivation and the over-exertion working itself, but it's definitely comforting to know he's still smiling and that's all that matters.”
You can keep up with Billy's progress by the minute. We've got the website that's tracking his every move by GPS on the website below this story.