When the Longleaf Trace opened about 20 years ago, James Moore and his father built an observation deck at Beaver Lake at mile marker 13 – a deck that has seen its share of wear and tear over the years.
To facilitate much-needed repairs on that deck – and to help individuals in local drug treatment with their recovery process – Moore recently led a men’s group from Pine Grove Behavioral Health on a four-hour restoration job at the site.
“It’s just in bad need of repair,” said Moore, who owns Moore’s Bicycle Shop in Hattiesburg. “The guys wanted to kind of give something back to the Trace, so we got about 15 guys here – along with some of their counselors – spending the day building this deck out here.
“When their counselor came to me a few weeks ago and said they’d like to do something bike-related as a service project, they were thinking of maybe repairing some bikes to donate or stuff like that. I said, ‘I’ve got the perfect thing that the trail needs, and I think you guys would be up for it.’ They kind of liked the idea as well.”
The group spent the day completely overhauling the deck by installing new boards.
“We’re fixing the deck and helping out,” said one volunteer who declined to use his name. “Mr. Moore, if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be here.
“He just gives so much back to the community, and I enjoy being able to give back to the community so people can show more love and understanding for the addict community.”
For the last couple of years, Moore, who lost his son to addiction in 2015, also has led weekly bike rides along the trace, which have covered enough collective miles to go from New York to Los Angeles and back twice. That endeavor is especially important to Moore as biking was important to him early in life.
“Even in junior high, I would just go out and ride,” he said. “When I had things that were troubling me or bothering me, I could go out for a 30-mile ride in the country.
“Things just sort of work themselves out when you’re physically engaged.”
Moore also points to several studies that reference a group of people who were given a certain problem in a classroom and given 15 minutes to solve it.
On average, each person had one solution. However, a different group of people were given the same problem and told to go walk on a nature trail with a clipboard while thinking about solutions.
When that group came back, each person on average had three possible scenarios worked out.
“So, the importance of being able to free the brain to work at a better level with some physical activity (is tremendous),” Moore said. “The other thing that those in recovery face is the third set of eight hours in the day that you’re at risk.
“You’ve got eight hours to sleep and eight hours to work, but it’s those (other) eight hours that you are solely responsible for how you use your time that can bite you in the butt and lead to relapse. This is just trying to show them something that they might add into their life to fill that time in a positive way.”
So far, the bike rides seem to be doing just that for the participants.
“This gives me the ability to clear my mind, and get the focus off substances,” the volunteer said. “It’s just finding a new hobby that I can do that doesn’t involve drugs and alcohol. It’s something that’s more productive, something that can keep me physically healthy while still using those endorphins.”