12 Hours of Cranky Monkey

This past weekend brought all the excitement, headaches, nausea and fun that is endurance racing. The 12 Hours of Cranky Monkey was being put on by EX2 Adventures on the Quantico Marine Base. This was the first occurrence of what will hopefully become an annual event.

After asking around about the course, I decided it be best if I were able to get up there Saturday afternoon after work for a quick pre-ride. While I was up there I would also be able to sign-in and reserve a pit location next to JB and Jason as well.

The pre-ride went something like this: Jump on the bike ... Ride about 4.5 miles ... Catch a flat on the rear ... "SHIT! I don't have the tools to get my chain tensioners off!" ... Hike last 5 miles or so out. Not a total loss though. I was able to gather that although I was able to push the 36X16 ratio I did not think I would be able to do it for 12 hours. While riding, err hiking, Mom and Dad setup/reserved a pit.

On the way back to the house, I was wondering what may have caused the flat. Puncture or Pinch? That was the question. Got home, threw the BUSS up on the stand to find it was a pinch. Thought to myself "Hey stupid! Put some air in your tires!" Wanting to make sure I did not pinch again tomorrow I put a couple extra pounds in. Started my search for a bigger freewheel as well. Turns out I have a couple 17's and one 18. 18 it was! Through it on, washed my hands and off to bed.

When we arrived back on the base Sunday morning Mom and Dad finished setting up the pit while I went to get my baton. Found out that there were 7 in the SS solo class now and not just 3. This was cool because it meant more people to race against. I stayed with my original plan however, which was to try to keep pace with the other larger solo class if possible.

Race started promptly at 8am with a 400 yard Le Mans style run. Have I ever voiced my opinion of Le Mans starts? Well I HATE them! Running is not fun to me at all! You see all those bikes in the racks to the right? Well lets just say I had no problem finding mine once I got to them. Seemed almost all of the ones around mine had disappeared down the trail by that time.

Keeping a steady pace I was told I was the second solo rider to check in at the end of the first lap. "Really?" I asked. That is a bit odd for me as I usually start really slow and play the I can outlast you game. I told myself not to do anything silly and just to keep MY pace and things will unfold as they will.

Somewhere in the lap 3-4 range the nausea came. "This cannot be good." While trying to figure out what might have been causing it, the nausea became vomiting on the side of the trail. Got back on the bike trying to salvage the lap. While passing through an aid station I took on a cup of water so I could rinse my mouth out. Saw a few riders dumping the water over their head and began to ponder if it was the heat making me sick. Over the head the rest of the cup of water went. Damn that was cold! Felt a little better however.

Took on more Carb/Hydro-boom to replenish what I just lost on the side of the trail, at the end of the lap. It didn't take long for my stomach to settle down once again when I noticed the tops of my feet were beginning to be rubbed raw from all the hiking I was doing. It took less energy to walk the bigger climbs than it did to ride them. That's the wonderful thing about endurance racing, one thing never plagues you for too long as something always comes around to make you forget the other part hurt just moments before.

Post Race Rawness

Started lap 7 still in second place. Got about 2 miles into the lap when I hear the dreaded ... Psssssssssssttttttttt after one of the handful of logpiles. "SHIT! I don't have a pump!" I had loaned my pump to another rider a few laps ago and never stopped by the pit to get it. Luckily for me I was able to borrow one from a fellow SS solo rider who was a couple of laps down. Having changed many a tubes before, I took my time, checked the tire for any shards of what caused the flat then put the new tube in. While I was busy forcing air into the new tube I saw another SS rider come by ... "Are you solo?" I asked. Guy replies, "I'm in second place. I cannot stop!".

A running dialogue with myself began. "Did he really just yell at me? If he is in second, does that mean I had moved up to first? I have to catch him! Did he really just yell at me?" Caught up to him on the flat section on the top of the next climb. We had a brief conversation about placing and then another big climb came. I had decided I would do whatever he did on the climb. If he walked, I would walk. If he rode, I would ride. He dismounted at the bottom of the hill. Seeing just how far he would have to walk, I got the crazy idea to continue riding. But not at an easy pace. Time to get the time gap back. Up the hill I went trying to ignore the fact my HR just went through the roof! By the end of the lap I had put 4 minutes between the two of us.

John and I on the long and fast gravel decent

On Lap 8 I forgot about my raw feet as the nausea had returned. Somewhere before the first aid station at the 3.5 mile marker I began to vomit once again. I had been to occupied with the time gaps to remember to pour the ice cold water over my head. Arrived at the aid station, poured the water over my bald head and kept riding. A few miles later I noticed that once again my stomach decided to behave itself. At that moment I began to convince myself it was the heat and to grab and pour at every aid station. There were three by the way.

After lap 9 Dad had told me I was gaining on the leader with every lap. Do I actually have a chance at winning this thing? Probably not still about 12 minutes behind. Tried to push myself a little harder on the 10th lap as the time was winding down. Plan was if I could make it back before the cut off time of 7 o'clock and I was still the same distance down on first I was just going to wait and see if 3rd place made it back in time to go out for another lap. I was feeling confident that with a 10-15 minute rest while waiting for him I would be able to out ride him on the last lap if we left at the same time.

Finishing Lap 10 alongside JB

Finished lap 10 with about 20 minutes remaining. Mom and Dad were fairly certain third place would make it back before 7. They made me eat once again, gave me a couple of fresh bottles and sent me on my way. I was happy with finishing in second so I was just riding to "stay out of trouble". A little more cautiously than before but not to cautiously. Finished the race in second place.

Mom and Dad were sitting just across the finish line in the transition area looking much happier than I did.

Mom: "We think you just won!"
Me: "What?! I never passed the leader."
Dad: "He started the 10th lap after you. He took a break and then didn't make it back in time to start the last lap."
Me: "Seriously?!"
Mom: "Go ask the scorer"
Me: "Could you tell me where I finished, please?"
Timer: "You finished in first, congratulations."
Me: "Holy Shit!"

Still in somewhat disbelief that I had pulled another one off, I headed back to the pit sit down. OK crash on the ground and want to weep. Everything on my body had begun to hurt. After cleaning up the pit area we headed over to the awards assembly. Come to find out not only did I win my class but I did more laps than any other solo rider in any of the classes as well. Tell you what I felt every one of those laps on the ride home and while trying to sleep Sunday night.

Thanks go out to EX2 Adventures, all the great volunteers, the rider that loaned me his pump, JB and Jason for the encouragement along the trail, Carb-boom, Twin-Six, Maxxis (Those High Rollers are ama-za-zing!) and especially my parents! Without you two it would not have been possible. You guys kept me out of the pits (never entered them once!) and rolling forward.

I will be off the bike until Saturday's pre-ride at the Scout Camp where Yoda Lama's Juicy Sin will be getting together for a few laps. Looking forward to it guys!