300 Miles, 24 Hours And A Great Cause
By Bill Smith
The 24-Hour Bike Across Arkansas for D.A.R.E. is the toughest event you’ve never heard of, and based in the place you’d least expect it. A fundraiser for the Jonesboro Police Department’s youth outreach, the premise is simple: ride the length of the state in a single day.
Depending on weather, the event rides south from Missouri or north from Louisiana. The cyclists who achieve the roughly 300-mile task in less than 24 hours earn an engraved brick on Main Street in downtown Jonesboro. This year’s event is set for October 9.
Kevin Foust with JPD says the one-day ride evolved from the tourist-paced four-day version held over Memorial Day. “It’s one thing to do it in four days,” Foust says. “One day is a whole other level.”
Foust credits the trio of Andy Shatley, Jeff Chastain and Dr. Spencer Guinn with the 24-hour concept. Shatley has made each ride, but remembers the event almost ending the inaugural year of 2012. The six-rider crew was stranded fighting through weather from Missouri to Jonesboro. “We’re in the basement, the sirens are going off,” Shatley recalls. “Everyone is looking at each other and saying, are we really going to do this?”
The storm passed, a strong tailwind followed, and the riders restarted for Louisiana, reaching their goal with nine minutes to spare. Contrast it with the next year’s perfect weather and a record 18:52 time. “It’s hard, challenging mentally and physically, but it does give you a sense of accomplishment,” Shatley says. “And, if you can raise money for a good cause, promote health and fitness, and educate kids on the dangers of drugs—what better combination is there?”
“There are obvious physical challenges,” two-time rider Chastain says. “What you can’t really prepare for is how dark of a place you can find yourself in at 3 a.m., when your body is used to being asleep and you still have hours to go.”
Each rider is required to raise a minimum of $500 to participate, but most go above and beyond. For the 2015 event, Chastain is partnering with the local Crimestoppers chapter for a $10,000 goal. “We want more first-time riders and to get more people involved,” Foust says. “This was a record year with 23 in the spring and the 14 we expect this fall.”
To learn more, contact Kevin Foust at 870-919-8530