Inspiration comes in the strangest ways. I’m often inspired by a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a classic work of art, a book that I’ve picked up. As a runner, inspiration goes hand in hand with motivation, and most of the time my inspiration is that 26.2 miles won’t run themselves and November 6 looms large.
This weekend, though, I was inspired by a group of 8 men, a mountain, and a motorcycle. My husband, Gary, has been an Enduro dirt bike racer for a number of years now. He loves it, he has fun with it, and even though he’ll say it’s not true, he’s pretty fast for an old dude. (He’ll deny the fast part, not the old dude part). A few months ago, he was asked to be part of a six man racing team that would participate in a 24 hour dirt bike race through the woods of Perry Mountain, Alabama. This team would be an outreach arm of a ministry run by Pastor Gasper “Doty” Pizzolato and his wife Gracie and is called Team M.O.R.E. (Motorcycle Out Reach Evangelism).
Let me stop here and say a word about Doty and his beautiful wife. They are an inspiration in themselves. Doty is a lay preacher who spends his weekends during race season in the woods, ministering to fellow dirt bike enthusiasts. He offers a church service on Saturday nights and brings a fresh word from God each time he stands before the men (and their families) who come to hear him speak. He is very dedicated to this ministry, I’ve seen him show up at a race in a rental car because his truck broke down on the 6 hour trip, or have to rent a motel room because his camper broke down on the way to the race. Did I mention that this is an unpaid position? Doty does this because God has called him to it. He and Gracie head up Team M.O.R.E. which is a non-profit organization that raises money to purchase motorcycles for missionaries all over the world. I’ll post a link later this week where you can learn more about Team M.O.R.E. and how you can be a part of reaching others for Christ, two wheels at a time. I really enjoyed getting to know Doty and Gracie a little better this weekend.
Back to the mountain. I went with Gary, not really knowing what to expect. Most of the time when I go to races with him, I enjoy a trail run, lots of quiet time (which I usually spend reading or writing), a grilled steak, and a nice weekend with my man. This weekend would be different, I knew going in. Gary and I are typically in bed by 9:30 (on a night when the Braves are playing) and up early. I wasn’t sure either one of us was up for an all-nighter.
|The Start (It was a little dusty)|
The race started at 10 am sharp Saturday morning. At 10 am on a June morning in Alabama, it’s hot. Throw in no rain for a while, a mountain, and a slew of other men/women on bikes all jockeying to be first along the trail, and you’ve got yourself a race. The men worked as a team, each rider doing two laps that took approximately an hour, then coming in to pit row for a gas refill, bike check, new rider. This went on through the heat of a June afternoon (temps reached 103 by some accounts). Doty and Bobby were support, the riders were Manny, Jack, Erin, Benny, John, and Gary. These are men from all walks of life, some coming from as far away as Texas to spend a long weekend raising money for the cause of Christ. I was inspired by them as individuals who spent time, money, effort, and huge amounts of sweat to come together as a team and pull off this incredible feat of endurance. By midnight, they were exhausted, overheated, and now riding a dusty, narrow, heavily traveled, wooded trail on a dirt bike in the dark. Shortly after midnight, we got the distressing news that we had a rider down. Jack had wrecked and we spent a long half hour or so waiting to hear how badly hurt he was. Turns out, he broke his collarbone badly and Doty transported him to a nearby hospital for x-rays. This put us down a man and we lost a lap. We had another man who was resting to recover from a bad spill he had taken earlier in the evening. The team was down from six to four men, but they stepped up and covered the time as best they could. No rest for the weary. Most of the men made do on a cat nap and a fervently lifted prayer. They ended up taking fourth place, only a minute down from third, having made up the lost lap and bounced back from fifth right after the accident. A true testament to team work!!
I ended up enjoying the weekend very much, making some new friends, and feeling like 26.2 miles will be nothing compared to that!
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12: 1-3 (Emphasis mine)