For most people, biking 2,745 miles from Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico seems ludicrous.
But for Bear Stillwagon, it was anything but. Biking is a way of life for the Butte native. He pushes his body to the limit all for the spirit of the open road, but even he’ll admit it took some time for his amazing accomplishment to set in.
“You didn’t have time to think about it and let it settle in what happened,” said Stillwagon. “Then, you know, maybe a week or two weeks later it kind of sunk in, like, 'Holy crap, you know, I finished it, I’m done.' It took a while to settle in.”
Before Stillwagon took on the Tour Divide Race, he was already set to race the Butte 100, knowing that in just less than a month he’d have to push his limits again for 100 miles in one of the most renowned bike races in the country.
“I didn’t know if I’d recover in time to race the Butte 100,” added Stillwagon. “Some people take a couple of months, some people take even six months. Really, just a few days later I felt good, I wanted to ride again and I did ride.”
To most people it seems crazy to push your body through that kind of physical strain -- to do it twice in a month span might seem impossible.
"I hate not being on the bike and, really, in the few days I had off … coming back to Butte from the tour I just wanted to get back on the bike,” he said. “And like this week we taper, we get off the bike a little bit and not ride as much, and I’ve been telling everyone I’m dying to ride again. It’s killing me to actually not ride this week trying to get ready for it.”
Stillwagon raced the Butte 100, conquering the 100-mile trek in 9 hours, 53 minutes to take home a third-place finish. Above all, Stillwagon's biggest love is the countless people he meets along the way.
“It is a culture and we understand each other, it’s great,” he said. “The friends are a big part of why I love biking too.”