Imagine temporarily leaving your job, friends and family with nothing but the clothes on your back to ride your bike nearly 5,500 miles from New Mexico to Canada and back again.
Billy Rice, the local PHI Flight paramedic just got home from his world record ride in the Tour Divide Challenge.
He's 22 pounds lighter and extraordinarily exhausted, but after biking 5,490 miles in 44 days across the continental divide, Billy Rice is finally home.
“It's like you've got to keep it together, you know you're falling apart and you're not healing,” said Rice.
Rice is the first person ever to double the Great Divide Mountain Bike ride; the longest off-road mountain bike route in the world which takes riders from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Unpredictable Mountain and desert weather can bring snow, rain, high winds, and temperature extremes at any time of year.
“You know all of these things, but if you have to do it again tomorrow, you do it," Rice said. "And as soon as you're done, it's like your body knows you're done and it's time to let the healing and recovering process begin and you're really at the mercy and limitation of whatever happens."
It's a race that pushes not only the bike outside its intended usage -- it pushes the mind and body along with it.
“It's a balancing act of trying to keep the bike healthy, trying to keep you healthy and make everything mesh so you're making good time,” Rice said.
Support from family, friends and what he calls his "trail angels" helped him press on.
"The cold front hit when I was in Red Meadow Pass, you know the whole deal, cold, shivering, rain, all that,” said Rice. “When I got into the town of White Fish, there were people from the lodge; I think it's called the Confused Moose or something and there were people just standing in the road with beer and towels.”
Rice prevailed. He finished the race Sunday around 2AM and came in right behind the 39th cyclist. Now he's back home, adjusting to reality.
“Making that adjustment," Rice added. "Yea...life on the divide is just so simple; the goal is simple; everything about it is simple."
After learning of Rice's goal to be the first to ride the divide twice without stopping -- Texas A&M began studying and testing Rice. He'll continue that testing for the next several weeks.
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