Arriving at Rosaryville State Park for the 6 Hours of Cranky Monkey felt a lot more like a ‘cross race than a mountain bike race. It was about 30 degrees out, the grass was covered in frost, and tents were lined along the Tacchino finish area. I smiled with happy ‘cross memories and prepared for a much longer day. The goal of this race is to do as many 11-mile laps as possible in about 6 hours. After 5.5 hours, no one is allowed out for another lap, but you can finish the one you are on. Some people ride solo, some on teams alternating laps. The trails at Rosaryville are smooth, fast, twisty singletrack, that held much potential for a very fun day.
I was riding solo, and I hung back at the start to let the relay teams sprint away, avoided a crash that was right in front of me, and entered the woods in a big blob. We were nose to tail on the trail for about 7 miles which made for an interesting test of skills. After the first lap, I knew there were several women ahead of me and that did not make me happy. I made up some places on lap 2 and rode with one of my teammates for a while. After every lap I swapped out water bottles, grabbed a cream cheese and apple butter waffle sandwich from my cooler, and headed back out as quickly as possible.
The laps kind of blended together in a blur of smooth, flowy, fun singletrack, and I felt great. The trails were absolutely perfect and fast, and it was just so much fun to be out riding on a nice day. When friends on the course asked how I was feeling, I was having so much fun that I wanted to say “Like a unicorn with rainbows shooting out of its feet!” but instead I just answered “good.” I am sure they knew what I meant. At times, I thought I might be going too hard, but I decided to just see what would happen. If I exploded in a glorious fashion all over the trail, at least I would know for next time.
By laps 3 and 4 I really wanted to know what place I was in. I knew there was at least one woman ahead of me, but I wanted to know if there were more. Luckily, John arrived before the end of my 4th lap and was ready with results when I asked where I was in the race. He said I was in second place, and after lap 3, I was 4 minutes ahead of 3rd. This was super motivating, and I decided that my last lap would be my fastest. Making up 4 minutes was not out of the question for my competition, and I did not want to get caught. I was still feeling pretty good, and I decided that if I did not arrive at the finish about ready to die, that I would not be happy with my race.
I finished in 2nd place with 5 laps and a time of 5:45. As it turns out, 3rd place had made up several minutes on lap 4, and finished not far behind me. I was also right ahead of the 2nd place female-duo team who I had been going back and forth with throughout the race. It was one of those rare days where everything just kind of goes perfectly. Everyone throughout the race was so friendly too. It was just an excellent and fun day all around.