On the night of May 19, 2015 at 10:30pm Mountain Time, Billy Rice departed on his third excursion of the Tour Divide.  This trip was sort of a last minute decision to yoyo the route again.  His first ride was a traditional south bound adventure in 2012.  His second was the first ever yoyo of the route in 2013.  I saw Billy leaving Silver City at the start of his first yoyo.  I didn’t know him then, but I could tell you one thing – his bike didn’t fit.  This year Billy’s first intention was to start with the Grand Depart in Banff with his daughter Lina aboard a sweet 29+ Cjell Mone tandem #1.  I’ve ridden Mone tandem #1.  It’s a beast laden with huge frame bags, Rholoff equipped, and a fork topped with a Canadian Toonie on one side, a Mexican Peso on the other.  However, about a month ago, with some career changes and the itch for the Divide, Billy booked an airline ticket to El Paso for May 19. I picked Billy up at the El Paso airport just before lunch, dropped him off at my house, spent a few minutes checking out his rig, and showed him my modest accommodations for him to utilize while I finished my work day. His bike is sweet.  Much lighter than expected with a last minute change from 29+ wheels to sweet Enve carbon standard 29 wheels and Specialized tires, 3 electronic shifters to operate the 1x set up, sleep kit strapped in-line with the aero bars, a brand new Rotor ring which he installed in my garage, and a half frame bag, it’s obvious that he’s looking to go fast.  If he runs into mucky conditions, he’s got an amazing amount of mud clearance and will probably be able to ride more than anyone ever has if he hits the Bannock Tack at the wrong time. After grabbing some BBQ, I proceeded to make a wrong turn before the border of HWY #9, but eventually got back on route and boogied over to Antelope Wells.  It was a stellar night and we started seeing lots of wildlife as it started to get dark.  Then all of a sudden, I was slamming on the brakes while a deer raced to hit the front of my new van.  It looked bad with the radiator and transmission cooler having been depressed a bit towards the motor, but no leaks, no tire rubbing and the alignment was still spot-on.  A couple miles later and we were at the border station in the dirt lot letting the dogs run around and getting ready for some sleep.  Billy’s original plan was “to sleep until midnight….or maybe 2 am…I’m not sure.” I had just fallen asleep in the van when I heard a bunch of ruckus outside and saw Billy strapping stuff to his bike…at 10:15pm.  After a few pics and a small snafu with his lighting system, he finally got rolling at 10:30pm.  I went back to bed under the star covered sky and cool temps (39 F when I woke at 6 am to leave). Keep your fingers crossed for Billy Rice.  It’s still snowing in ColoRADo and I’d be surprised if any road grader operators bother doing anything before June up there.  His set up is super dope (it fits!), his mindset is ridiculously positive, and he’s on his way to becoming the patron of Tour Divide….He is on his way to being the nicest patron.

Dave Wilson is the Owner of Nuke Sunrise Stitchworks.

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