|Carter, Molly, Thomas, Parker are ready to race!|
After setting up the canopy tent and what not I began preparing for the race. My team mate David Shabat arrived and we formulated our plan. Here was our plan: Ride Hard. Other than a good start it's really the only thing you can do in a 6 hour mountain bike race. Speaking of the start, here's how that went. Kenny (who's race this is) had us start in an open field. Across the field was the opening to a trail that lead us straight thru the Start/Finish line and out on course. If you wanted to be the first into the trail then obviously you need to be the first one across the field. Are you looking at the picture? It wasn't pretty. Why is it important to be in the trail first if the race lasts 6 hours? Well, if you are super mega competitive it doesn't take but one race to figure out that having to pass a lot of slower people on the first lap can put you behind on time. That's time I myself am not strong enough to make up on the other super mega competitive guys that went into the trail ahead of everyone else. Plus, if you're in the single track and someone in front crashes it stops up the whole trail. So, when it came time to cross the field I hurried. I managed to enter the trail in about 5th. During the first lap I heard three crashes somewhere behind and the leader off the front took a wrong turn and gave up his position. The pine straw and loose sandy corners made the first lap scary. Once I got a good start I new I had
The carnage on the trail increased as the day wore on. During one lap I was navigating the switch backs and kept hearing riders ahead of me in the trail say, "Are you OK?" I soon learned who they were talking to when I rode past a man, jersey off, leaning on a tree, puking his guys out. It wasn't long after that I passed a guy laying on the ground with his hands behind his head and his foot on a tree. At first glance I thought he was relaxing, and he was, as he stretched out his cramping legs. Because of the heat everyone was in survival mode. My friend Dustin Mealor tried his luck in the 9 Hour Solo Category. He would say Pain is temporary, Glory last forever. I say stupid is as stupid does. But Dustin has a strong will and usually backs it up. On this day he did with a strong 5th Place in the Expert division. He's a cyborg. I'm just sayin.
|Trent Smith and Bill Mashburn - 5th Place|
|No, I'm not praying, I'm exhausted.|
David and I gave everything we had out there. It was stupid hot. But we knew it would be and were highly motivated. My family was there, David's parents were there and we had a lot of friends in the race. Our friends the Pattillo's were there too. Last year before TJ Pattillo was called home he entered this race. He'd been riding about a month. Although ignorance is bliss I felt it was my duty as his friend to convince him that a 6 hour Solo mountain bike race may not be the best way to get his feet wet. Jumping in head first was his style believe me. Instead we raced Tribble Mill as a team last year. It's hard to say how I felt being back out there. After TJ was killed, Kenny the owner of Chainbuster's, who'd only met TJ once, decided he wanted to raise money for his children. Many of these very same racers gave what they could for the rest of the season last year and blessed the Pattillo's with that gift. It was one of many moments that kept all of us faithful. TJ had strength of character. He was a man of integrity who I'm sure would have approved when we all continued to follow our hearts and God's plan for our lives. I for one feel like I honor him when I forge ahead, when I make my family and his smile, when I choose righteous over easy. The future is bright and I've got things to do before I see my friend again. We all do. So keep at it people. Don't waste your time on pity or selfishness, anger or bitterness.
Thanks for reading! Finish well!