James Dunaway, a Griffin resident and graduate of Spalding Excessive College, has completed first in three of 5 begins within the Trans North Georgia Journey (TNGA) mountain bike race.
Starting and ending on the Georgia state strains with South Carolina and Alabama respectively, riders comply with a 350-mile route by way of the north Georgia mountains which Dunaway mentioned permits riders to see a lot of the state.
Massive parts of the route are unpaved and include singletrack (assume slender filth path by way of the woods), gravel roads, and forest service roads. Dunaway mentioned that solely about 60 miles of the route is paved roads.
Dunaway first rode within the TNGA in 2014. He would go on to experience once more in 2015, 2016, 2019, and 2020 and would end first in 2016, 2019, and once more this yr.
This yr’s experience was his quickest but. Dunaway completed in 42 hours and 45 minutes topping final yr’s time of 45 hours and 52 minutes.
“It by no means will get any simpler. It will get sooner, but it surely’s simply as exhausting,” Dunaway mentioned.
He mentioned his love for biking started in center faculty when he and pals constructed jumps for his or her bikes. They quickly graduated to using path techniques and he mentioned that it was someplace in there that he grew to become a bicycle owner.
Throughout highschool, he would journey with pals to north Georgia the place they’d experience segments of the TNGA route.
“They planted a seed and it blossomed from there,” Dunaway mentioned.
It was after his freshman yr of faculty — when he wished a problem — that he started working towards using the race. He and pals made it an annual problem and spent weekends and holidays using to organize.
He mentioned the route is difficult in some ways. There’s the apparent bodily problem of using 350 miles over mountainous terrain, however he mentioned there are different challenges as effectively, akin to studying the route and navigating it accurately. Although he amended that with trendy know-how the route just isn’t troublesome to comply with and mentioned he had enjoyable studying it.
One other problem is staying mentally current beneath taxing circumstances.
He mentioned the route is “among the most grotesque single monitor north Georgia gives. It’s important to be alert.”
Whereas a number of riders within the TNGA race like Dunaway, he mentioned most experience simply to attempt to end it.
Throughout his most up-to-date race, he spent simply over 38 hours bodily using his bike out of slightly below 43 hours of race time.
“You actually don’t sleep. You simply experience by way of the evening,” he mentioned.
He mentioned some riders camp in a single day however he doesn’t. At most, he’ll lie down for a couple of minutes right here or there.
The time he isn’t using, he spends getting meals, water or “accumulating my ideas.” He mentioned that the second day and evening, it’s straightforward to “begin to slip. It could possibly get actually scary.”
Hallucination is usually a drawback for some riders, particularly the second evening and Dunaway mentioned if that occurs, the one factor to do is to fall asleep. He mentioned it’s wonderful what even 10 minutes of sleep can do when hallucinations occur.
He additionally performs psychological video games to maintain his thoughts contemporary akin to listening to music, however ready till 2 or 3 a.m. or ready to eat a favourite meals till he has achieved a aim.
“That offers me one thing to look ahead to,” he mentioned.
He mentioned that dividing the race up helps him really feel like he’s making progress and it’s a mindset he applies to life.
“You’re not doing one 350-mile bike experience. You’re doing seven 50-mile rides. It’ll eat you alive your first day in the event you take it multi functional,” he mentioned.
He doesn’t know if he’ll experience the TNGA once more subsequent yr. He hopes to go to medical faculty and is uncertain if he may have availability.
Then once more, “I say no yearly, however then I find yourself doing it,” he mentioned.