here is a race report that I sent to my team mates on the City Bikes Mountain Bike
it may not be the most dramatic or exciting report
maybe I will get more try to put a more creative spin on it later
Race Report: Cranky Monkey #1 at Wakefield

2004 is the Year of the Monkey!
And not just for those of Chinese descent, but for me as well.
Early in 2004 I bought a Surly Karate Monkey and had it built it up as a rigid single speed. After riding and racing the 29 inch wheel bike I felt that I had finally found a bicycle that fits me. The 22 inch frame is part of the equation, but the 29 inch wheels are the "clincher." With the 24 Hours of Snowshoe rapidly approaching I had considered making some upgrades to my Rocky Mountain Blizzard, this bike which is a few years old is in deep need of some TLC; some vitals included new bottom bracket, handlebars, new cables and was also thinking that I would upgrade the well used v-brakes to disc, well, disc in the front which would also merit the purchase of a new wheel. The initial inclination was to buy an inexpensive steel bike out of a box, Jamis has some great bikes with some solid features and I have a good deal through City Bikes. Lucky for me the bike I wanted with the parts I needed was not available, thus causing me to rethink my needs/direction. Then the Monkey to surface. After some discussion back and forth with friends and resources around the country I went ahead and called Mike at the Chevy Chase store. HE HOOKED ME UP! It did not seem like all of this could happen two weeks before the 24 Hours of Snowshoe, but he it did. He said he would...he said he could....and he did....and for that I am beyond grateful. THE MONKEY HAS LANDED! Landed with plenty of time to break things in. Made the inaugural dirt voyage at this Cranky Monkey race at Wakefield. All those hours of stress and fear that the bike would not arrive in time are forgotten, now my heart rate can concentrate on the race and the long climbs instead of whether my bike is ready or if it will hold up for one more race/ride.

I had the original intention of heading off to Delaware for the Fairhill Classic, lucky for me I did not take that drive as that race is not till the 18th of next month. It was not clear if I was going to race or just going to ride on this Father's day Sunday, but as we celebrated my older son Dean's 3rd birthday at my father's pool I got to talking with two other City Bikes Team members; my brother Marc and Dave Vannier. They were both planning on racing at Wakefield. So I opted to follow their lead, local and close is the family man's way to go (especially if it is the only way to go.) The Cranky Monkey did not offer a Clydesdale Class so I went with the Experts. This being a smaller local race without any climbs I figured I would get my money's worth and race the greater distance. After all, someone needs to be last and why not let that person be me. This is not to say that in the future on a different course with a more competitive field I will not drop back down to Sport.

The Cranky Monkey had a good showing and City Bikes was well represented, with a handful of racers in the single speed category and Joe Foley bumping up to Sport. My brother Marc also lined up in the Expert category as well did some other riders/racer friends of mine that I knew I was similar skill as; so I did not feel entirely out of place in this class on this course this day. At the line up all the racers chatted as the morning sun started to bake our skin. The prerace anxiety was a tad less than usual because on this day my experience was more about riding my new bike hard rather than racing and placing. Clydesdale is more my class than sport or expert, so to me there is a little less on the line when I am not racing my fellow big boys. Eventually the race started. There had been a long drawn out description of watch out for this and avoid that and remember to turn here and not to turn there, but as I have not ridden the course before it would be a waste of my energy to try and memorize these recommendations, more than likely I would be asking myself, "is this where I stay right when the beaten trail goes left?" So I opted to follow the racers in front of me and look out for arrows marking the trail. The 15 mile expert class was going to be a three lap race, sending the racers up a gravel hill towards the singletrack. As to be expected it was a tight in the single track, which ease was not aided by some moisture from rain some days prior. I managed to crash several times, at the same point on the course during lap one and lap two, but wiser on lap three. There were some tight turns on some wet roots, not sure if less tire pressure would have helped me maintain balance. Tire pressure is a riddle that I have yet to figure out.....took me years to combat the snake bite, now I have to learn about traction. This PSI thing may be a balance that I will never learn.

The Monkey treated me well. The large frame and the large wheels are a different ride and it may take a few more hours of riding to get accustom to the demands of a 29 inch wheel machine and what it has to offer. Keep in mind that even if the 21 inch bike with 26 inch wheels was an improper fit, it is the only fit that I have known for all my years of riding. A good metaphor for the move from 26 inch wheel bike to the 29 inch wheel bike may be the idea of going from a 164cm snowboard to a 174 cm. Sure on the flats and the wide open the may be some speed advantages, while it may take some learning to maneuver in the tighter more winding sections (ie the bumps) Sure this longer board may land airs with greater stability, but the increased size will add more weight so getting into the air may be more of a challenge. There was a great deal of stop and go, a tall bike with wide bars can be difficult in the tighter sections of single track. The wet roots were a barrier for all. I am sure that I am not the only person who slide out on certain corners. I could feel the taller wheels rolled through some sand and mud just like the reviews said, but only with momentum. Without momentum this bike can stop dead without touching the brakes. The bike climbed well enough, but there were no real climbs to really test the geometry/positioning and whether or not the heavy bike would be an issue going up the climbs. In the end it is a good fitting bike and not all that different from a 26 inch wheeled bike, other than a more comfortable fit. On this bike I managed to ride and race with moderate success and very little disappointment. Am I significantly faster on the bike with taller wheels? Perhaps not, but a new bike with any sized wheels will ride better with the well lubed and finely tuned parts. The bike held up well and I feel confident that it will treat me well at the 24 Hours of Snowshoe this weekend. So confident that I will be traveling to Snowshoe with my two Karate Monkeys, leaving the Rocky Mountain Blizzard at home. It is a tad sad, I do not want to abandon the Blizzard, but it may be time to say goodbye. I knew the time would come, but I never thought that I would leave the Blizzard for another hardtail, not to mention a big burley 29 inch hardtail.

you want results?