Lina Rice was the youngest female to compete in this year’s Tour Divide. She completed the race in 30 days on a tandem with her father, who is no stranger to the route. After spending a month in the saddle behind her dad, we were able to catch up with Lina and get her thoughts on their experience.
You completed the Tour Divide on a tandem with your Dad at age 16. Give me one sentence describing your feelings about this?
I can’t believe I actually did that.
How much riding on the tandem did you do before taking off in Banff?
As my dad says “not enough.” We didn’t actually get the tandem until April, so every Sunday leading up to the race we would ride. This wasn’t really a whole lot, but I had so much going on during the week with being a highschool student that Sunday was the only time we both had.
What was the most difficult moment you had on the Tour Divide?
When the mosquitoes tried to kill us in northern Wyoming I had a mental breakdown. It was pretty rough and that was the first time I really cried. It was crazy and there were swarms of them everywhere – I didn’t know what to do. That was probably the most mentally challenging section.
We noticed you dealt with a number of flat tires before making your way to Salida. Was this the extent of your mechanicals?
Yeah, the flats were annoying but once we changed the tire we had zero flats.
How many beds did you sleep in and what was your most comfortable accommodation?
Not sure exactly on the number of beds I slept in, but the most comfortable was the one in Abiquiu. We had been in a storm earlier that day so it was nice to dry off and for some reason that bed was just extra comfy!
How was sharing a 1 person tent with your Dad when you camped?
It wasn’t that bad, it kept us warm. When I was little he would take me and my brother camping and we would take a 2 man tent for three people – that was way tighter than him and I in a 1 man tent.
Describe some aches and pains you felt along the way. Did you have any major falls?
My right Achilles bothered me some and I had saddle sores in the beginning. It was also interesting that I was growing while we rode. We discovered this after the race because I am now taller than my mom, and I was her height when we left. Because of my growth my saddle height became too short and my knees would hurt but that was really all. We did fall right outside of Del Norte but we didn’t get injured. My dad had a few scrapes but that was it.
What were your mentally highest and mentally lowest moments?
My mentally highest moment was probably the day we got to Salida. I was just so excited for that descent into Salida that I just wanted to be on the bike. I was very happy and you can hear it in our videos and the podcast from that day. I felt like it was day one again.
My mentally lowest day as I mentioned earlier was in the northern part of Wyoming from the border to Flagg Ranch. Those mosquitoes were horrible and looking back I honestly don’t know why it was so bad. I am now terrified of mosquitoes. I was outside the other day and I saw one mosquito and I flipped out.
Tell us about you and your Dad’s relationship, and how it grew over the course of the month together.
I’ve always been close to my dad but we definitely got closer through this trip. He describes it best as, “you know you just had roughly 5 years of bonding with me in 30 days,” which is very true because we had to constantly work together and we were always 8 inches apart.
What was the best thing you ate on your journey?
I had a lot of really good food but the two best things that I ate were at Brush Mountain Lodge and in Pie Town. The first was Kirsten’s Brush Mountain strawberries! I love strawberries and I hadn’t had any since I left so I was pretty excited. But for an actual meal I loved the pasta salad in Pie Town that Kathy made. I had 2 orders of it and it was so good. If you watched our dot you would know we were there a while thanks to that mud.
What was your favorite state? Favorite town? Favorite person?
Favorite state… not Wyoming! But my favorite section was in Wyoming, the double track on the Oregon Trail – but as a whole I didn’t like it very much. My favorite state was probably Colorado. Everyone was so nice and you could always count on good food. Also the cars don’t try to run you over during any road sections – there’s a nice bike path in there too!
I love Salida. It was the best town and the people are just so great. You can also can eat while getting your bike worked on which is pretty nice.
I don’t have just one favorite person. There where so many people along the way that were so nice – from Canada to Mexico you always had someone around cheering you on.
Was there one item you wished you had that you didn’t bring? One thing you could have left behind?
Is a bed something I could bring? Or a house? Ooo, how about a shower! That would have been nice to have everyday. But in reality we had everything we needed.
Something we could have left behind were the Invictus bracelets my dad had made for the race. We brought them to give to people, but everyone we saw I would ask my dad, “should I give them one?” and he would say “No, I gave them one when I went northbound.” At the finish line we still had 100 bracelets that we didn’t need at all because everyone already had a one.
Were there any moments where you two didn’t think you would finish?
Yes! Many moments actually. I wasn’t quite sure I would make it to the next state but I pushed myself to just keep going. The motto was “If it takes forever, it takes forever – but just finish,” finishing was the ultimate goal.
Describe your feeling at the finish line? What were you craving?
I was really quite confused because the finish line was just an idea and belief that I had. Even though I had seen it before when my dad finished in the past I didn’t know if it was really there because it’s what I call “the never ending race.” For it to end was crazy. When we got there I didn’t know what to do or say I just kind of did what everyone said. If they said smile I would smile for the camera, if they put food in front of me I ate it. It was especially weird the next morning when I was able to sleep in – that was the craziest thing ever.
At the end I was definitely craving a million showers and some good food.
What is your favorite thing to do besides riding bikes?
I love dancing. I have been dancing forever and I am on the drill team back home – so that and bikes pretty much sums up my life, That’s all I do when I’m not doing school work.
Your favorite subject in school?
History! I love knowing about the past and just seeing how everyone lived way back when. It is so interesting to me. During the Tour Divide we got to ride along the Oregon Trail, as I mentioned earlier, and that was just so neat because you could just imagine all of the people in their wagons heading west. Or if you are my Dad you could see “all the fugitive pioneers heading to Mexico…” we argued about where they were going quite a lot.
Anyone in particular you would like to thank?
Well everyone from my Mom who let us go in the first place, all of my family who believed in us, all of our Facebook followers who cheered us on. Everyone made this journey so incredible and amazing. All of the people who fed us, ya’ll were AWESOME. Just a big thank you to everyone.