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PHI Flight Medic to Bike 5K Miles in 'Tour Divide' Challenge

By: Nicole Morten Email
By: Nicole Morten Email

It's just mountain range to mountain range across huge valleys and you just get lost in that,” explained PHI Flight Medic, Billy Rice.

It's an excursion that no man has ever conquered before.

It's 200,000 feet of a vertical elevation gain and along the route, its 2745 miles total, one way,” added Rice of his challenge he’ll embark on come mid-June.

As if biking 2,745 miles one way wasn't enough, PHI Flight Medic, Billy Rice is taking an already extreme challenge....to the extreme.

“This year I'm looking to double that. It's never been done,” added Rice.

In less than 60 days Rice will enter the "Tour Divide." bicycle challenge. Cyclists from all over the world meet to begin the race in Banff, Alberta, Canada; the finish line is 2745 miles away in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.

“In 2009 a movie came out called Ride the divide which is responsible for explosion in the mountain biking circuit,” said Rice. “That really created a lot of awareness. I saw it like most people, I figured out how to make it happen and now I'm hooked."

Rice says last year 105 participated. Only a handful actually finished.

“This year, I expect about 130 or 140 that will start and about half of those will finish,” Rice said.

The length of the race and back is equivalent to climbing Mount Everest 14 times; and it's done in a single stage: no checkpoints, no feeding stations, and no trophy.

“All the food you buy is on route...you're not cooking. You're eating on the bike. You're never off the bike and if you're off the bike then you're sleeping,” said Rice.

Billy's challenge to double the length of the race sparked interest with researchers at Texas A&M.

“A lot of the times we hear of ultra-endurance races they’re often 50 to 100 miles and they're often done in a few days,” explained Texas A&M’s Dr. Andrew Jagmin of the Exercise and Sports Nutrition Laboratory. “The original race alone seems impossible and the fact he's doubling it and doing it twice, we don't know how anyone can accomplish something like this.”

Rice is currently undergoing a number of strength and agility tests so that researchers can monitor his progress before, during and after the race.

“We're just curious to see what his body is going to be put through and see the type of changes are going to affect him as a result of the race,” Jagmin said. “We are going to monitor the physiological demands of this race, how much strength he's going to lose, power he's going to lose, how many calories he's burning, consuming, and we're going to assess it all and try and truly quantify how truly difficult this race is. “

The challenge officially begins June 14th. And while it's a challenge that no man has ever accomplished -- it's one Rice says he's willing and ready to face.

“In order for anyone to participate in something of this magnitude, we’re talking months and months of training, lots of long rides and building up strength and stamina as much as possible,” said Jagmin. “Just getting his mind ready for grueling hours out there by himself day after day after day – I mean, it’s just as much a mental battle as it is physically for this race.”

Rice has conquered the race last year for the first time. He said it took 25 days 19 hours and 23 minutes to reach the finish line.

If you'd like to support Billy during his challenge, you can buy a "TEAM BILLY" shirt at Aggieland Fitness dome in College Station at the Front desk.


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