I have raced 9 Hours Cranky Monkey twice before as part of a three person relay team. I knew the course, but it was going to be very different this year. I signed up for my first three hour solo race and was excited to do something that was longer than what I'm used to. I can easily say that this has been my favorite race since the beginning. The atmosphere is fun and everyone is there to have a good time.
I was the first woman right from the Le Mans start and never looked back. The course is well rounded with a mix of fast single track, technical sections, and climbing. My first lap time placed me high in the rankings with the Sport/Expert Males and I was determined to keep up the speed. The second lap was about three minutes slower and I was starting to feel the burn. I ate my GU and it somehow smothered itself all over my face and then some dirt stuck to it to top it off. My GU and dirt beard gave me a disguise and I rode like a ninja! My third lap was about three minutes slower than the second. I pulled into the transition area and made the cutoff for a 4th lap. However, since I had enough of a lead on second place, the official told me to cross the line and finish. Cheers for a good race! First place Three Hour Solo Open Woman! (PLUS MOMMY WITH A FANTASTIC THIRD PLACE FINISH)
We arrived in Wisp, Maryland and our goal was to pre-ride the course... However, it was not marked yet so we rode multiple trails that we thought would be part of the course... SURPRISE! Nothing we rode was in the race! In fact, we were on the wrong side of the mountain! It was quite the adventure not knowing what was in store for me.
It down poured only on the morning of the race (it figures) and I knew it was going to be a muddy one. But what I imagined and reality were two different things. It was SO muddy that even the tiniest off-camber incline would send you sliding down the side of the trail. It was horrendous. Every slippery root was a sneaky ninja that would karate chop your wheel and make it slide out in the blink of an eye. Right in the first mile, there was a really wide (and apparently really deep) puddle crossing. I "assumed" it was rideable but ended up riding into an ocean for crying out loud. I rode into hip level water and my front tire lodged into the rocks below as my back tire flew up and over me. I was more shocked than hurt and I pulled myself out of the deadly H20. I SURVIVED THE PUDDLE OF DEATH.
As time progressed, I realized I had a pretty good gap on the Cat 2 field but conditions were getting worse. The lap times were so slow for everyone that they started cutting laps out. By the time I was finishing up my first lap and mentally preparing to "get through" another, the race director (my good buddy J.R.) flashed me a big smile and said: "You're done!" Sweet - a first place finish in the first ABRA MTB race of the season! Wish I had a pic of how muddy I was but I went straight to the shower - clothes on and all! Going to be a long day of bike maintenance tomorrow!
I was so excited for this race! I teamed up with Angelina Palermo as "The Powerpuff Girls" and we were determined to show what we were made of. This was my first six hour duo. Angelina (AP) set out on the first lap and held her own with a great lap time. I didn't want to let my teammate down so I pushed extra hard. My Garmin showed my first lap as fifty one minutes and this put me right on par with the expert women. But I was not used to pacing myself for this type of race and my lap times increased. Angelina has more experience with endurance races and did a good job with staying consistent. While she was going steady, I knew I needed to hold up my end of the bargain. My second lap came up as fifty six minutes. My legs were feeling heavy now. I ate a PB & J and procrastinated about my final lap. AP pulled in and I headed out with the finish in mind. I just missed a sub one hour lap, but was still fast enough to make the cutoff. Angelina would have to go off on a fourth lap... She was a good sport and rode off for another dreaded lap. She finished and "The Powerpuff Girls" were victorious!