24-Hour Challenge a success despite thunderstorms

Riders had a smooth start to Perry Mountain's 13th annual 24-Hour Challenge at Reynolds Pasture in Maplesville on Saturday morning before facing thunderstorms later in the race.

Riders had a smooth start to Perry Mountain’s 13th annual 24-Hour Challenge at Reynolds Pasture in Maplesville on Saturday morning before facing thunderstorms later in the race.

Thunderstorms delayed Perry Mountain Motorcycle Club’s 24-hour race, but did not hinder the riders’ determination as they adjusted to the inclement weather and muddy track.

Valley Exteriors, a team competing in the Elite category, took home the overall win.

The event underwent a delay of about three hours in the midst of the competition Saturday night due to a thunderstorm warning and large amounts of precipitation.

The delay resulted in a quick remaking of the course after excessive mud did some damage to the track.

Event organizer Glenn Hollingshead said that despite the inclement weather and a couple of injuries, the race went as planned.

“I don’t think [the delay] actually affected the outcome of the race,” Hollingshead said. “The riders were grateful that we weren’t making them ride through lightning and storms. Their safety is our No. 1 concern.”

The winners were based on the number of laps completed at the end of the 24 hours. If the number of laps were the same, then the first to cross the finish line seized the victory.

Gary Barr, 56, of PawPaw Racing, was the winner of the Ironman 50+ category in which the rider tackles the 10-mile course by themselves for the full 24 hours.

Barr, a native of Grant, completed 30 laps, and said that it is all in the way you strategize for the race.

“A lot of it comes down to being not only physically ready, but also emotionally ready,” Barr said. “There will be a point when your body just wants to quit, and you have to be prepared to emotionally push through and keep going.”

During his daily morning workouts, Barr would do “lots of push-ups and sit-ups,” and would also spend a couple of hours on his bike each day.

As the race inched closer, Barr began working out with no air conditioner to become accustomed to the summer heat.

“It’s a good thing to work toward and gives me a reason to get up and not sleep in,” Barr said. “It keeps me young.”

Barr has raced in Perry Mountain’s 24-hour race nine times, with five of those times racing alone, which he prefers.

“I was in the first 24-hour race they ever had in Maplesville,” Barr said. “I’ve seen it evolve over the years and become such a respected race that real quality riders from around the country come to be a part of. The Maplesville crew who work on the tracks and have built the race over the years are really incredible, and we are so lucky to have something like this in Alabama.”

People from all over the country came to cheer on their home teams, and numerous locals flocked to the race to enjoy a weekend of family fun and excitement.

Once a local race with only Alabama riders, the event has grown tremendously in 13 short years and now attracts riders from thousands of miles away.

Danny Morphew, member of the victorious Valley Exteriors team, agreed that Maplesville and the Perry Mountain Motorcycle Club have made this event “something special.”

“I have to hand it to the Perry Mountain group,” Morphew said. “They have a unique event. I don’t know of a more grueling competition that tests your endurance as much as this.”

Although it is rare for the overall winner to be an independent team rather than a team sponsored by a dirt-bike manufacturer, Valley Exteriors proved their worth by securing the win with 42 laps in the 24-hour time period.

Morphew said that their first concern is to make sure their bike is prepared to handle 24 consecutive hours.

The bike was built “bolt by bolt” in the two months prior to the race, and possessed features such as an adequate light for night riding.

Companies such as ReKluse (Tennessee), Performance Supercycles (Idaho) and Valley Exteriors (Huntsville) provided the winning team with parts for their all-enduring bike.

Time on the bike was split between the team’s six riders, each one taking on three laps at a time and then switching.

Morphew shared that only 30 seconds were allowed to change riders and fuel up the bike.

Valley Exteriors have been among the competitors in the past six 24-hour races, placing third last year before finally earning the title in the 2014 competition.

“We’ve slowly progressed towards first place,” Morphew said, laughingly. “But it really is quite an accomplishment. There are close to 100 teams from all over the country and we came out on top. We’ve been working for this quite a while.”

A celebration and plaques are in the making for the Valley Exterior team, but their first priority is to “recover from their sleep deprivation” and relax after their huge win.

The Valley Exteriors riders are as follows: Ryan Morphew, Cookville, Tenn.; Dustin Gibson, Van Leer, Tenn.; Dirk Richards, Cookville, Tenn.; Jeff Callen, Huntsville; Brandon Ferguson, Jolten, Tenn.; Tanner McCoy, Tiplersville, Miss.

The group winners are as follows: Elite, Valley Exteriors; Open Expert, Team Numbnuts; 40+, Misfit Toys; Open Sportsman, Weasel Wackers; 250 Sportsman, Team Yee Yee Honda; 30+ Sportsman, NAP/Rekluse; Women’s Team, Team More Grits; Duo Class, Reese Miller; Duo Family, Grandpa Slice Racing; Ironman Open, Mike Phillips; Ironman 50+, PawPaw Racing; Ironwoman, Heather McCall.




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