Triumph on the Trails

By admin

Photos by Shandon Smith of Lifeprints Photography

Shawn Smith
Age: 41
Family life: Wife Shandon, son Brayden (11)
Career: Exactech Level III Finisher
What is your sport? Cross-Country Mountain Biking

How do you live a 360life?

In addition to my cycling, I try to eat as healthy as I can, but still allow myself to enjoy my favorite foods once in a while. I drink water all the time to ensure I’m hydrated. I also visit my chiropractor, Chance Chiropractic, on a regular basis to maintain a healthy mind and body through their holistic approach. I also enjoy going out on rides with my son and encouraging him to be active.

Q: What is your wellness mantra?

A: “Pain is temporary, victory is forever.”

Q: How long have you been cycling and competing?

A: I have always loved riding my bike since I was a little boy. I started competing in 1996, when I moved here from the Outer Banks.

Q: Please share your favorite race, in detail, and what it meant to you.

A: In 2013, I raced my first 8 Hours of Labor, an endurance event held once a year. I was in the open solo category, which means I was the only one racing for eight hours (beginners to pros), as opposed to being on a team of two to three people. The purpose of this race is to get in as many laps as you can within a certain time period. For the first half of the race I felt great and maintained a second place position. I wanted to keep a decent pace in preparation for the last four hours of the race. About halfway through the race I had an asthma attack and was starting to dehydrate. I decided to stop in the middle of the trail and use my inhaler. It was a decision I had to make, even though I knew the guy in first place was ahead and stopping would increase his lead. But I had to do it. For the next few hours I tried to rehydrate while I was on the bike as well as close the gap between first place and myself. With only 30 minutes left in the race and coming up on the last lap, I saw first place just ahead of me. I noticed that he had no idea that I was gaining ground. As we were climbing the hill, I caught him and forced myself into first as we entered the woods. I went as hard as I could possibly go to create distance between us. We approached an open section of the trail leading back to the finish line, and I realized that I had opened a decent gap in a short period of time, so I kept pushing to the start/finish. As I crossed the finish line, I thought I had just won the race. But as I did so, I was told that I had enough time to go out for another lap. At this point, I was completely exhausted from doing all the extra work for what I thought was the win. As much as I wanted the race to be over, I just couldn’t not go out for another lap knowing that I could end up in second place if the guy behind me kept going. So I kept going, capitalizing on the lead I had. I remained in the lead for the last lap without being challenged and ended up winning the race by almost five minutes.

This past June I raced Marathon Nationals in Georgia, and it was just as memorable as the 8 Hours of Labor. I placed second in the nation for my age group and am ready to take the title next year in Arkansas!

Q: What keeps you motivated?

A: Preparing for new races, challenging myself, staying in shape for my wife and staying healthy.

Q: Do you have races that you would like to complete on your bucket list?

A: The BC Bike Race in Canada.

Q: What are you training for right now?

A: I’m not sure … I might do the Florida State Championship in the fall or I might find some more endurance races to compete in.

Q: What is your go to eating plan?

A: Paleo with some healthy carbs like brown rice and oatmeal. I also supplement with protein shakes and Crank Sports e-Fuel, which is a clean hydration system.

Q: How would you encourage others to start living a 360life?

A: Find something active you love to do and do it! Why feel miserable on the couch when you can feel miserable doing something active and staying healthy?

Q: What is your daily workout routine?

A: When I’m training, my coach gives me specific workouts to do. Day to day differs, so I work more on a weekly basis, which can include a ride that’s between 40 minutes and four hours. In a week I can ride anything up to 12+ hours and 200+ miles.

Q: What is the most important lesson riding and competing has taught you?

A: Leave it all out on the course. There’s no feeling worse than realizing you gave it any less than you could have. You’ll just end up beating yourself up.

Q: What is one thing you wouldn’t ride without?

A: My bike, LOL. No, really … my helmet. EVERYONE needs to wear a helmet. No matter how old you are or where you are. Never ride without one.

Q: Anything else you would like to share?

A: I’m accepting sponsorship applications now! I would like to thank my wife and family, who have supported me since I started racing in 1996. Shandon has been a major part of my success and countless wins. I would also like to thank my 2016 sponsors: Super Cool Bike Shop, Chance Chiropractic Center, my coach Danny Connell at Cycology Coaching Solutions, Crank Sports E-fuel and E-gel, Wolf Tooth Components and Shimano.

Q: What is on your playlist right now?

A: Pandora, ranges from rap to EDM to rock. It depends on my mood.

Q: What is your go to pre-race meal?

A: I usually eat Mexican the night before a race.

Q: What would you tell someone who wanted to get into this sport to do first?

A: Go to Super Cool Bike Shop to get a bike and a helmet, and have them fit you properly for both. Look online for group rides on the Gainesville Cycling Club website (

“Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision.” – Muhammad Ali