This past Saturday, June 28th, I participated in the 2nd annual 12 Hours of Cranky Monkey at Quantico Marine Corps Base. Like last year I did the race as part of a Duo team, however, unlike last year I had a female partner and we races the Duo Open Class. A couple weeks ago Liz asked if I wanted to team up and do the race duo instead of solo, which was my original plan. Full and vivid memories of the oppressive heat and rolling course made my decision an easy one and we were set to race. One of these days I will try an event like this as a solo racer, but, I also enjoy the ability to socialize a little between laps, something the solo racer really doesn't get to enjoy. Someday....maybe.
The morning started out like any other morning, only a hell of a lot earlier and a bit more stressful. Liz, thankfully, went down the day before to help out the EX2 people with registration and she set up our pit that we combined with the Bike Lane/Wakefield/Kilroy's crew. Upon arrival my teammate informs me she has a slow leak in her rear tire and asks if I can take care of it. Easy enough, until I remove the tire only to notice a broken spoke. With no spare nipple in my tool box and The Bike Lane Spinter no where in sight I begin to get nervous. Several minutes later the Spinter arrives and Liz goes in search of a nipple while I attend the pre-race meeting.....an hour before the start. Nipple in hand I leave the meeting early and set off to get her bike rolling. Old one out, new one in, I notice a wobble in the wheel and decide to quickly "true" it. As I apply pressure to my wrench this next spoke gives way with a resounding "sproing!". Crap, another broken nipple....and I don't have a spare. It is now 7:20, 40 minutes to start. John heroically pulls out an extra spoke and nipple from his spares bin and I get her rolling, sorta.
I quickly gear-up, one final check of the bike and pop a couple e-caps. The race starts with a long run around and into a softball field where we grab our bikes walk/run with them some more until we can finally mount them in front of the timers tent. I line up in the front row and haul ass once the gun goes off, grab my bike and enter the woods somewhere around the #12 spot. 4 guys blow the first turn and I move up into 7 or 8 on the first climb. Going balls out, heart rate pegged and legs screaming I maintain my position going into the first big climb. A couple guys make it, but, most everyone else dismounts and runs up the steep section. Back on the bike there is a quick decent, gravel road climb and we are back into the single track. Great riding through most of the course and there were a few new sections of trail that didn't exist last year. The new sections and course re-route added about a mile to the course over last year. Right around mile 9 a geared rider makes up some time on the long gravel decent as I am spun out and almost catches me before it levels out. Not wanting to give up a spot this late in the lap I kick it up a notch and make him earn any advance he has in mind. The long gradual climb out from 9 to 10 worked in my favor and I was able to hold him off until we popped out onto the flat field where he geared down and slowly pulled ahead. At the end of the lap we shook hands over a well fought first lap. I believe I rolled in 7th or 8th with a 58 minute lap.
Liz heads out on our second lap and pulls a very respectable 1:15........ and that is after she stopped to help a rider who crashed at the log pyramid. She comes into the timing tent, un-necessarily apologizes for being late, and I roll out for lap two. Lap two goes pretty smoothly, I'm feeling good but the day is really starting to warm up at this point. The rest of the day will be all about resting between laps and staying hydrated. This would be my best lap at 57 minutes and change.
Liz goes out on her second and does what she does best, rides consistently. You can set a watch by her times and number two mirrored the first with a 1:15. Out on number three I am now running into people who are apparently getting tired and confused. On four different occasions as I call up to let a rider know I'm about to pass, they turn into my passing side. People, "on your left" means I am passing "on your left"......this does not mean I want you to move left. Two people actually brought me to a complete stop as we collided in their heat induced haze. These lapses in judgment also made me kick a little harder when passing which brought on a very nasty side effect, severe cramping. I cramped up, severely, three times during this lap. The most comical one must have been me walking peg-legged up a climb because I refused to stop moving. Somehow, after all that, I still manged a sub-hour lap and came in at 59 minutes.
At this point in the day Dante has turned up the heat in his Inferno and things were really cooking, literally and figuratively. It is hot outside, hot and humid. A severe thunderstorm watch has a number of us wishing for the "8 Hours of Cranky Monkey" so we can get to the beer drinking a little sooner. A couple distant thunder booms are all we get as the clouds move out and the sun continues its assault on the racers. Upon the advice of someone in my pit, not the people drinking tequila, I stop putting electrolytes in everything I consume and run straight water in my pack. Apparently your body needs pure water to process all those electrolytes and I wasn't drinking straight water after the second lap. New plan in place I head out for lap 4. This new plan also includes reeling the pace back a little as the first place team kept increasing their lead to 22 minutes at this point. Of course, we had well over an hour over the third place team. So, I go out to ride smart, maintain our position and save a little for my next and possibly last lap. I get an occasional twinge in my leg, but, never get hit with a major cramp during the lap. I have now gone past my wish for sub-hour laps and turn in at 1:01.
Liz rolls in from lap 4 at 1:20 and things are looking good for the number 2 position. A major catastrophe to the first place team is about the only thing that could move us up into that position, so, I go out like I did on my previous lap, smart and steady. I am now drinking water with much more frequency and in larger quantities. I even start grabbing water from the check points as I roll through them. A little for my mouth and a little for my neck......man, that feels good! Lap 5 was fairly uneventful in that I didn't fall over from heat exhaustion and I didn't cramp up. Not really playing with the numbers I didn't know if a 6th lap was in my future or not. Upon completing my lap, Liz informs me that if I pull a double, a fast double, we have a chance to pull ahead of the first place team. Now, I'm no rocket scientist, but, last time I checked they were 27 minutes ahead of us. Terry was slated to roll their last lap and she was running 1:20's. I just rolled a 1:02 and wasn't going to do any better if I went out for a double. She, Liz, tells me she is "more than happy" to go out again and I tell her to "have fun, it's beer time for me". Back in the pit I shower under a hose, get into some cotton clothes and crack a cold Peg Leg Stout. Second place is just fine with me.