Tuesday, May 15, 2012

9 Hours of Cranky Monkey vs. 100 laps at the oval

April 28th, I got the notion it was a good idea to race 3 races in one morning at the Bud Harris Memorial Oval. I fared well in the first 2 races placing 6th and 5th but got dropped like bad habit in the third event I had signed up for.  At one point as I sluggishly rolled through the start/finish line I heard JR announce that I was completing my 92nd lap of the day (and there were still 5 to go). I started pondering that statement for validity, and even though I was seeing blue and red dots and could taste the wretch in the back of my throat, I was able to calculate that his statement was in fact true. 35 in the masters, 30 in the C's and 31 with the B's(I got lapped 4 times).  All told, I finished the day with 96 laps completed and a new goal for this season (100 laps at the oval in a day).  I have never been so spent in my entire racing career.

Mens 105+ podium
The following week was the 9 hours of Cranky Monkey in Flintstone, MD.  Let it be known that I am a roadie who mountain bikes, unlike most of my friends who are mountain bikers and ride the roads when the trails are too hard to get to. But I signed up for the adventure anyways, with Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team powered by Pathfinder teammate Chris Jones and friend Travis Olson. I've always liked the idea of team endurance racing because of the challenges and comradery that go with it. Lets just say that I was not disappointed with either aspect when the weekend was over. We finished 2nd in the Mens 105+ team classification and we were joined by fellow teammate, Shawn Geiger and friends Mike Janeiro and Scott House on the podium who finished in 5th place.  JR and Stacie Truszkowski, who teamed up to race the Duo Coed team, also podiumed with a solid 2nd place finish.  Dynamic Physical Therapy and Pathfinder of WV were well represented in the awards ceremony.  After 4 laps of the 8 mile loop, I was thoroughly exhaused and ready for a few days of recovery. At one point, Gina Desmond asked me how I liked it and I smartly quipped back that I'd rather race 3 races at the oval anytime. But over the next few hours I thought about that and wasn't so sure.

Masters Podium
So when ABRA hosted their 2nd of 10 Saturday Morning Oval Races, I again signed up for 3 classes to 1) go for my new goal of 100 laps and 2) to really analyze whether the crit racing or the mountain biking was tougher on the body.  Fortunately, we were blessed with gorgeous weather to race (which can't be said of round 1 of the series). The Masters race was also as different as the weather for week 2. There were 12 racers and only 2 teams had more than 1 rider and both teams only had 2 at the most. The race was far less taxing than the previous edition but still entertaining.  As we made our way down the backstretch for the final time, Dan Schar made a brilliant move going into turn 3 and was able to power his way through turn 4 and held off the field  for his first win in a few years. Nice Job Dan! I finished in 6th, just inches out of 5th place, so it was basically the same result as two weeks prior.

The 4/5 race was up next on the docket. It was the largest field of the day with 21 riders and I was joined by JR who was just looking to work the legs since he wasn't going to get to ride the following day. After catching a bunch of grief about the condition of my bar tape from John Cotter, the second of my 3 scheduled races was under way. The race was somewhat boring as no one really wanted to try to make any moves. I was itching to spark things but I knew I still had another race to go against a tougher field of riders so I mostly stayed in. I challenged for the series points prime but lost to the eventual race winner and series points leader, but decided to try to keep the break going. We stayed away for a few laps but Duncan couldn't sustain any hard efforts so we were soon reeled in. As we sprinted to the finish line, I was in about 8th spot as I started my charge. I put 2 riders behind me and was closing in on JR who was in 5th place. I looked over my right shoulder and saw there was no threat from anyone else so I eased up and rolled across in 6th spot. I don't think I would have caught him either way, but I figured that I'd need all the energy I could muster when the 3/4 race started in a couple hours.  

The next race was supposed to be the womens races but since only one female showed up, JR decided to run a Miss and Out race. The idea is that the rider in last place each lap is eliminated until only 1 rider remains. At first I opted not to participate since I had already done 2 races and still had one to go. But as they were getting their directions at the starting line, I started thinking twice and was a last minute addition to the race. We started with 3 laps and started eliminating people on the 4th. My only goals was to avoid being one of the first 10 eliminated. But as the field was reduced each lap, that was harder and harder to accomplish. I was racing with some strong riders who hadn't participated in their first event yet and my legs were already 70 laps into it. I made it to 4th place but just couldn't hang with the final acceleration so I missed and was out, but added another 17 laps to my count for the day. I will also add that hands down, that was the funnest race I've ever done at the oval. I hope beyond all hopes that we get to do it again.

So, having wasted my down time by racing the bonus race, I wasn't lookng forward to the final race. My legs were aching and my back was starting to get sore.  I knew I was beyond needing just a Honey Stinger Waffle to get me through the event, but since that was all I had, I put two of them away and washed them down with a little Coca-Cola. It may have been the best lunch I'd eaten in a week.  I know Honey Stinger is a sponsor and I am SUPPOSED to say good things about them, but the truth is I love them. Heck, even my dog loves them. He found my stash of cycling food and ate all 8 of the waffles that were left over.  He did leave me a few cliff bars, cliff shots, and sunkist fruit chews, but the little booger found the waffles to be very palatable to his taste.

Shawn Geiger was joining me for the 3/4 race but he was pretty much on his own. I had a little energy in the tank, but with some big motors like Kyle Kukeiza in the field, I was well aware that holding on for dear life was my best option. Fortunately, Kyle, Gray Patton, and Tom Senkevich pulled away early and their teammates did a great job of blocking for them. It was honestly the first time that I was happy that the tactic was deployed. I was able to hang with the main field ALOT longer than I had anticipated.  A couple of attacks were made, I even tried to bridge the gap at one point but failed and was brought back into the group. With the blocking by TOP, About Time Cycling, and DPS Penn, the trio was away for good. I was left to fight for 4th, if I could hang on long enough. Unfortunately with 3 to go, there was a hard acceleration that went and as the group responded I realized my legs were cooked. I did manage to hang on, but only barely and only because the field slowed up as it came back together. Coming out of turn 4 the last time, I tried to give it the "Old College Try" but the gap in front of me just grew. I finished in 15th place out of 20 and 8 spots behind my nemesis Shawn Geiger. But, I had completed all 100 laps that I had signed up for and an additional 17 for the Miss and Out Race, so I had successfully managed to acchieve another goal for the season.

And after reflecting on the PRO's an CON's of both the 9 Hours of Cranky Monkey and 100 laps at the oval, Cranky Monkey was the hands down winner. It left my entire body sore and aching: forearms, tricepts, back, legs, feet, and even my hands ached. Doing 117 laps, the main area of concern was my posterior and my legs. But Cranky Monkey is once a year and I still have 8 more opportunities to do 100 laps at the oval. My next goal is to get a podium spot in at least 2 races on any given day. Stay tuned to see how that goes.

Next up is a a mountain bike race at Wisp followed by the Mother Tucker of all one day races... Tour of Tucker County. Hope to see you out there.