I'll begin this post by telling you what the 24 Hours of Georgia is. It's a mountain bike race lasting from 11AM on Saturday to 11AM on Sunday. Categories range from Solo, 2 Person Male, 2 Person Coed, 3-5 Person Teams, and 10+ Person Corporate Teams. It's put on by two promoters; Dirty Spokes Racing and Chainbuster Racing. It's like nothing I've ever done before.
The journey to this race began at the bike shop. Joe Elam of Habersham Bicycles started months ago trying to coerce his "regulars" into creating teams and competing in it. He soon settled on two teams; a 5 Person "Competition" Team and a Corporate "For Fun" Team. We chose our team names and signed up for what is now another big check mark on my bucket list. Here were the teams:
Team Habersham Hillbillies - Trace Nabors, Trent Smith, Craig Tinsley, David Shabat, Chad Hayes
Team Habersham Bicycles FF - Joe Elam, David Laddy, Tommy Blackstock, Blake Duck, Preston Elam.
Since my personal experience was most closely with my team mates I'll only describe their personalities to you as best I can. But I'm no psych major so don't use this on any job applications.
Tumbling Creek Race. I like to say that Trace is like a diesel. He's got one strong, fast, powerful speed. He's not aggressive. If you want to take the corner first, be his guest. Just don't take it personally as he passes you when you fade later on. Trace is soft spoken and fun loving. He's a great Christian husband and father. He's a good friend.
So that's our team. We were set to compete as a 5 Person Relay Team in a 24 hour mountain bike race. And we had no idea what to do about it.
I knew one thing... I wanted to record as much of the event as I could. I brought a super slim video camera and took pictures with my phone every chance I could. I also didn't want to arrive unprepared so I packed a few things like: a 6 man tent, 12 foot canopy tent, large cooler stocked with food and ice, large water cooler of ice water, small charcoal grill, small 2 cycle generator, my entire wardrobe of cycling clothes in one bag, a tote full of all my tools, spare parts, and lubes. I brought two bikes; my trusty GIANT Anthem 29er with American Racing tubeless wheels (with fresh Stan's glue in them) and my new to me GIANT Cyclocross bike which I set on a trainer for us to use to warm up. Oh and a radio so we could listen to Georgia beat Tennessee! (What's up Bill Mashburn?)
Our conversations in the week leading up to the race always had the same theme, Have Fun. No matter what happened we must have fun. We all agreed that if we wanted to look back at this with happy feelings we had better resolve to it now. An so...we did. There was no pressure. We had no lofty goals. Just go hard and see where we end up by morning. The only other thing we agreed on was to not have any dead time on course. In other words be there at the transition for your team mate and don't make him look for you.
|Trace Nabors at the start under threat of Dustin Mealor|
Trace saw the course for the first time on his first lap and still put us into third. We decided the order of riders would be; Trace, Chad, David, Craig, Trent and we'd rotate in that order the rest of the day. As the hours went by we found ourselves slipping down and up. Our worst spot was after Trent had a flat on his third lap at 2AM which dropped us all the way to 6th place. But then we started a new rotation and went to work. Night riding took it's toll on folks and we managed to creep back up into 3rd place by the time Craig finished his lap at dawn.
Here's a list of problem's we incurred: The big one was Trent flatting on the granite section. Craig dropped his chain several times. Everybody washed out and crashed at least once. I dropped my chain three times and then twisted it somehow requiring it to be replaced. A great big THANK YOU to Todd Fisher from Team Spare Parts for bartering me a new chain for a hamburger off our grill!
|The Course = 12.3 miles.|
As dawn approched we figured out that we were back in 3rd Place by at least 5 minutes! I was as excited as a man can be after being up for 25 hours. The rotation called for Craig to hand off to Trent and then based on time we'd only have enough for one more lap which would be Trace. We decided to let Trace go next and I would finish the last lap. Here's our logic: Trace and I were rested. Trace and I were riding 29er's which were well suited for this course. We both had tubeless tires which helped also. And we both were clocking the fastest laps.
|Look at my face. Granite is not smooth.|
Since Trent had flatted on the granite we thought it would be best not to take that chance again. So... two more laps of trouble free riding and we could seal the deal. Our team had worked all day and night for this opportunity. You can see how focused we were if you watch the video and especially the melodrama from Trent. He's is so funny. I like him a lot. The video also gives you an idea of what a great encourager David is. I could drop the ball a million times and he'd be like, "No big deal Chad, you're awesome!"
Obviously you all know how we finished. I'll never be able to tell you everything that happened during the night as we tried to encourage each other, remember to eat and drink, get some rest, and repair our bikes. I'll just have to rely on the video to give you some clue as to why I'll never forget this race.
This year continues to be a confirmation of God's mercy and blessing. I used to get really intense and focused on winning. It shouldn't surprise me that when I put biking in it's place... I enjoy it a lot more. And I have more success at it. We finished Well, 3rd out of 33 teams! But most of all we met our goal...We had Fun!!!
|3rd Place - 24 Hours of Georgia - Craig Tinsley, Chad Hayes, David Shabat, Trent Smith, Trace Nabors|
And now... the moment you've all been waiting for... the Grammy Nominated short film of the year...