Last year Billy Rice decided to ride the Tour Divide route for his second AND third time, as he completed the first YO-YO ride on the divide route going north, then south. Here is what he had to say about last year, and what he has in the plans for this year.   Where did you grow up, where is “home?” San Antonio Texas. Grew up there, raced my first mountain bike in the mid 90’s thanks to Cycle Logic Bike shop on the northeast side. I currently reside in Bryan Texas, several hours east. Came here for college and got stuck? It’s an amazing town, great atmosphere, just no mountains…. I have petitioned city council several times to have some shipped in, but I feel as if i’m not really getting anywhere with that.   What do you do for a living? I am a flight paramedic and manage an air medical helicopter (Air Med 12) here for PHI Air Medical, in association with St Joseph Regional Health System. I had the honor of opening the base here 9 years ago and haven’t looked back. I get to fly all around the Brazos Valley (and by “valley” we really mean more like a divot???), and do all sorts of really cutting edge medical procedures. On top of all that, everyone here seems to be really into all of my ridiculous races so it works out. 🙂   When did you pick up mountain biking? Well I raced traditional mountain bikes in the mid 90’s. I’m talking some serious cutting edge racing. I had a 95 VooDoo Dhab, titanium with a bright yellow Judy SL, and those super cool green Avid brake levers. Pretty sure I even had the first ever grip shifters (yellow), and the little colored peace symbols that held your brake cables. Fun times. However, I didn’t even own a bike in November 2011 when I committed to racing the divide.   What was your first bikepacking experience? Were you instantly hooked? Ummmm… Tour Divide 2012. I had no idea what I was doing, and yes obviously, I was totally hooked. I had tons of mountain travel time. I graduated from the National Outdoor Leadership School, and spent most (ok, all) summers in Colorado, or Wyoming. The more remote the better. But when I first saw Ride the Divide in 2011, I knew instantly I had to figure that out.   You completed the first ever Yo-Yo of the Tour Divide route, what made you decide to do it? I guess thats the magic question. In it’s most simple form I guess I needed to do it to see if I could. It had never been done before, and that is a lot of alone time. Just completing the Yo-Yo was part of it, but I really wanted to do well. I’m a big guy as far as cyclists go. I’m 6’5” and 210 on most days. It takes a lot of calories to keep 210 moving up those passes. I didn’t want that to be an excuse though. I really wanted to make each pass my very best. If you noticed, I even started early with the intent of being at the Grand Depart 20 days later. 20 days is a serious time on the divide and I almost made it. I made it south bound 🙂   Did you come up with the fitting name? Haha. I’m not really sure who is responsible for that. I credit Mathew Lee. I first heard the term sometime in 2012 before my first race. I didn’t really know anyone then, but someone was talking about someone turning around in Mexico and going back. The details are fuzzy and I may have made it all up, but I thought about it a lot while riding in 2012. I didn’t feel like I did all that great but loved every minute. Even the minutes near Rich Wolf. Crazy, I know 🙂 Another funny story, there was one guy in 2012 who drove to Whitefish Montana, and then rode his bike all the way to Banff for the start. I met him on day one and thought he was totally crazy.   What was the most rewarding part, the finish? Oh Geez… I really don’t like the finish. Like not even a little bit. The end of these things are weird. So here’s the deal. I’m pretty good at figuring out who will do well and who will have a hard time in these kind of races. YOU MUST ENJOY THE MOMENT. Just watch Ride the Divide. The riders who routinely talk about the future, have the hardest time. So if you are enjoying every minute, or at least finding joy in every minute then you will do really well. I must say that I am at total peace out there. It’s a peace that you can’t really explain. So then to pass mile 3 (mile 3 is when you can first see the boarder) and get a full dose of reality is hard. I have typically gone multiple days without sleep and am totally exhausted. You want to celebrate and everyone is so excited for you, and I can hardly walk. You know everyone is there for you, but it’s super hard to make sense of it all. This last year, I literally got in the car and fell asleep. I woke up like 16 hours later in Bryan. So the most rewarding part? Trail Angles. People like Scot Banks and Kirsten Henricksen, of course, but the surprise ones like Tim Hinderman (look for him in 2014!) and other riders (there are WAY too many of you to mention) they make the race. That’s the best part.   About how long did it take you to recover from the 5,500 mile ride and what hurt the most? The clock is still ticking. It’s been tough, but the Trans Am starts June 7 so no time for a depressed immune system.   You are racing the first ever Trans Am Race and The Trans North Georgia (TNGA) this year. These are two very different types of races. What made you decide on these two? Well I really wanted to race the TNGA last year and just couldn’t.  I got to know some really super people like Scott Thigpen, who I rode with south bound on the YOYO for a few days, and I hear there are some super cool people at this place called Mulberry Gap. I feel like I should meet them, so I will need to go race. As for the Trans Am, it just kind of fit. My original plan called for a custom tandem bike and some crazy times on the divide but that got delayed a year. At the same time, Marin bikes was all like, hey, we have a road bike you know, you should go do something crazy on it, and I was all like, lets do it 🙂   What are your goals/timetable for finishing the Trans Am? I want to do really well – 200-250 miles a day maybe? I’ll push really hard. I am really not a very good road cyclist. I have been riding as much as I can but learning to live at 20mph actually takes some skill. Its really easy to make fun of those skinny tires and shinny parts, but try unfolding a map on a road bike and you will find that there are some complexities to this Trans Am thing. So I guess it’s just another opportunity to learn.   What bike are you using for the Trans Am? I will be riding a Marin Cortina. It comes Ultegra DI2. I love the DI2. I’ll also be running a dynamo wheel set and because I have a 38 inch inseam, a super long titanium seat post.   Bags? Bags are a combination. Most of my set up is from a new company called Apidura. GREAT folks. I’ll also be using one bag I majorly modified to fit my style. The key will be keeping the set up as aero as possible. Bags create a lot of drag. No way around that.   What are you goals for the TNGA? Goal 1.) Meet those Mulberry Gap folks Goal 2.) beat Scott Thigpen’s time 🙂 Seriously, thats pretty much it. I’ve never raced out there and just want to see what its like. Hey, has anyone ever YOYO’d the TNGA?   What bike are you using for the Trans North Georgia? Depends. I have a race ready Marin Team CXR 29er Pro mountain bike that will probably go. Or if the stars align, I may get to take a full suspension Marin. Either way, it will be a Marin.   Tires? Tires on the Trans Am are Vittoria Open Pave 27mm. I really don’t know anything about road tires other than they don’t seem to last very long, and they say these with the green line survive some race called the Roubiux, and that means they are tough. Tires for the TNGA will be Specialized Fast Traks. LOVE THEM. I used to use that tire that everyone ran on the divide (can’t remember the name anymore, Nano’s maybe?), but Scot at Absolute Bikes in Salida turned me onto the Fast Trak and I haven’t looked back. I took it one step further and started running a really wide rim. This gives me the ability to lower the pressure and get great traction when I otherwise would have needed a more aggressive and slower tread. I don’t really seem to need very aggressive tread patterns anymore.   How have you been training for your big summer? Well, I continued my training from last year. I have a degree in Exercise Physiology, which helps, and I work with my very good friend and trainer, Dave Marethouse. Other than that, you know… riding 🙂   What else are you getting into this season? Well I do have to go to work sometimes…   Any further routes or races you would like to accomplish in the future? Oh yes! So my daughter and I have been playing with the idea of racing the divide tandem in 2015. Not just any tandem… a Cjell Monē tandem!! So the build up and design has been fun so far. Lots of work to do on that but I am really exited about that one. Then there is the Iditasport. That one is a few years out and I have a lot to learn but seriously, a Texan on a fat bike in February in Alaska? That has a pretty cool ring to it.   Sponsors? Oh there are bunches. First and foremost, the FAMILY. They don’t really get a logo on the jersey but trust me, they are there. PHI Air medical Marin Bikes Texas Brain and Spine Institute Cycle Logic Bike Shop Bagel Factory in San Antonio Aggieland Fitness Dome Richardson Farms Marethouse Fitness Boy Scout Troop 285 Aerofit And I’m asking that donations this year go to the Medical Relief Foundation   Favorite food? Gummy Bears! I seriously think Haribo should sponsor me. Those things are packed with calories and go down easy. If you are really lucky, you find the cola flavored ones. I have a few other dietary quirks. I always have a dark colored soda. I am a huge believer that phosphate based soda go a long way for preventing refeeding syndrome. And bigger guys doing the races have the ability to loose a pound a day. Thats a huge problem. I will spare you the biochem, but trust me, dark soda. Also, never pass up a pizza.   Bikepacker Radio: Interview with Billy Rice  

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