Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bring it on Home Nabbing 1st at 12 hrs Cranky Monkey

At some point, you reach that age where you sit back and think, "wow, it is time to take it easy and just enjoy riding my bike for the sake of riding." Well, that time…aint here yet. I feel like I am in the best shape I have been in in quite some time. My eyes are going south, but as long as I can hear the trail, I am sitting pretty good.

This past weekend was the weekend of the 12 hours of Cranky Monkey. I have always loved this race. I have won it before (with a 17 year old as I was 42) and I have finished 2nd more times than I like to admit. One of those times being last years sufferfest at Quantico with my endurance events race partner Liz. So this year it was redemption time in the co-ed duo field! Lord can I get an Amen!

Only 11 hours and 58 minutes to go...
This year's event was held at Schaeffer Farms. I have raced there in the past, but this would be the first 12 hours there. This would also be one with out my always sensationally ravishing (yet quietly comical) wife Bambo (no, that is not her real name). Anyway, I remembered this venue as fast with a lot of little climbs. What I found was, roots and rocks and the climbs felt much different than before; like I am older or something and my body is telling me that you need to take it easy…stupid body. Each lap was 9.3 miles and 1000ft of climbing; pretty tough. It was cloudy and the chance of rain was spotty at best. You know when things seem to be not quite what you want them to be, but you're not sure what it is? Well what it was, was the fact that both of us thought that each other was going to bring a tent. You don't have one? Man, I thought you had one…well together we have none. Not a good day to have none. I am sure we looked like some bike derelicts just looking for a place to hang for a while…sad. I should have put out a hat and played "I'm a Loser" by Beck and maybe we could have raised some money to buy an umbrella.

It was decided that I would be the lead-off guy and get us on board quick. Normally I don't try to get too close to the front on these events, but today was not going to be the case. I headed in around 12th and quickly moved up to around 7th. I quickly found out that it rained earlier and it was like an adult slip n slide only roots aren't as easy on the body as grass is. No crashes, but just relentless pounding on the arms and legs. I brought 4 kits to change into and by 3 or so, they were all wet, muddy and quite frankly I would have rather rode naked. Careful with those dangly things. My socks were soaked, my shoes felt like moon boots and my helmet smelled like a stable, but we were winning.

Riding the rigid singlespeed certainly made my technical skills take it up a notch just a bit. My first lap was a scorching 48:27 (good enough for 10th overall for the day). I felt a little tired, but not bad. I came in and Liz was off, but not before telling me that her tire on her geared bike got broke, so she was off on the ss. One thing about Liz is that I know what to expect and when to expect her in. My lap put us 2:12 ahead and Lizs lap added another 5 minutes. We never looked back. Our lead built on every lap, well except my third. Just as I head off, the skies opened up and I swear I saw Noah's Ark. It was wet, muddy and borderline sketchy. I basically took it easy to ensure my streak of non-hospital visits due to cycling. I turned in a 56:12, which took 3 minutes from our lead. That would be the last time.

Again, as the day went on, my times got a little bit faster. Liz continued to put out consistent times as well. Now, I love numbers and most of my time in the pits was spent at the timing tent to keep track of our times and 2nd and 3rd place too. By 4:00, we were sitting comfortably 21:32 minutes ahead of second. Those are numbers that I can live with.

During these races I love to mingle with some old friends and getting a chance to meet some new "friends" as well. Scott McGill was next to us and allowed use of his trailer to change and get dry between laps and of course play with his dogs. Never officially met him before, but now that is no longer the case and chalk up another friend thanks to this great sport we call cycling. I just love being able to catch up with guys that you just pick up where you left off. I am going to call out some people that I have raced with, raced against and just happy to call them friends: Don, Joe (won the 3 male division), Vijay, Adam, Chris (who won the solo male), Christian, Scott and Bill (won the 3 male cat) and Jeff. These guys are great competitors and even better people.

These races are completely different from the shorter times races. You are competing with others, but you get to talk to them and discuss how the race is unfolding (and lying about how good you feel and you could ride all day like this) and what each other is feeling. It can be really nerve racking at times and you have to start to figure in some race strategies to get you to the end.
Top 3 in Duo Co-Ed
I knew by 5:00 that (barring any mechanicals or injuries) that we had this thing in the bag. We were up by 31:00 at that point which allows for some breathing room for sure. I was super happy with how I rode. I got faster as the day went on and was able to hammer through some pain and fatigue. I really was able to stay focused-wet roots and rocks have that effect I suppose. I ended up with 6 laps and 55.46 miles with 6527ft of elevation. Liz also got in 6 laps. We finished with 12 overall and 1 lap ahead of 2nd…that is what I call a victory my friends.

This isn't meant to sound conceited or anything, but I love the fact that I can hammer on a rigid ss and put out times that are pretty close to guys half my age. Hey, an old guy has to keep that carrot dangling in front at all times. Seriously though, It does feel good to be able to go out there and stay competitive and be able to hang with those young rodeo clowns.

I am glad that Liz finally got her top spot in this race. She is an awesome teammate and a fierce competitor to boot. I wish my wife was there to enjoy our victory, but she is allowed to take a break too.