Friday, August 7, 2015

Under a Yellow Blue Moon - Midnight Century 2015

Well ok the Blue Moon was technically the night before, but we did ride under an almost full moon that was yellow due to the smoke in the sky from the wildfires in the region.  Moving on…

Short version: rode to the Elk, Hawaiian shirt green Chrome shoes Vaya bike, met a few people, 30-40-50-some bikers, good turnout, fiddled with my bike, everybody took off all of a sudden, legs ache, hills, washboard, thick gravel, finished 9 hours 20 minutes later no crashes.  Garmin map here.

Long, Long, Long Version; being a most comprehensive report of my ride, with many minor boring details:

I've always chuckled at the cue sheet that mentions the weird blue house at Mile 26.6. It's dark, of course, and I didn't see any blue house my first two years.  Well, there's a reason for that - I've managed to take a wrong turn each year just before the blue house.  Checking my garmin map from last year against the cue sheet, I found where I went wrong - I turned right onto Mission Ave around mile 25.7 instead of left on Idaho Rd.  The natural flow of the corner takes me right, even though it's pretty clear on the cue sheet and flashing Garmin navigation to go left, unless you have blurry vision from dry contacts and are half-blind anyway.  A week ago, Debbie and I went out and rode from the Centennial Trail at the WA/ID to Idaho Rd so I could see where to go.  She's a trouper for riding out on the gravel with me, and she only cursed David Blaine (MC founder) and me a few times. (Idaho Rd is now known as the David Blaine Death Hill).  Turns out Idaho Rd is way steep.

So my only goal this year for the Midnight Century was to not take that wrong turn but go left on Idaho Rd.  As long as I did that, I'd be ok with myself, even if I didn't finish.

If you read my previous post, you might remember how I bungee-corded a Platypus 2-liter water bladder to the rear rack. I was a little proud of my set-up, but you might have been thinking, yeah that's not going to stay on the bike. Well, just before I left I came across my Revelate Pica seat bag, and realized it would be a better solution, except I'd have to open the bag to get to the water instead of just unscrewing the cap.  It was about 11pm and I decided not to switch.  Read on, and you will find out if this was a good decision.

I had a couple slices of peanut butter & jam toast, rode down to the Elk, said hi to a couple people then started fiddling with my bike.  I had put a Paul Components Gino light mount on my front rack, but didn't like the rack shadow that the light was throwing on the street.  Didn't think that would be good out on some of the dirt and gravel we'd be riding on, so switched the light to the handlebars. I took out my gopro and started to mount it on the Gino. Just then Debbie and her friends appeared - they had been out celebrating a birthday with a Glow Run - glow sticks and sparkly running clothes - and stopped to see me off.  Debbie had given me some glow sticks, and one of her friends said, after looking over the other bikers mostly clad in lycra and jerseys, "these guys seem serious, you're not going to make him put those on?".  But I already had on a Hawaiian shirt and green shoes so I looped a couple on the rear rack.  I decided I wouldn't use the gopro much due to battery life, and took it out of it's casing and handed the mount to Debbie. I stuck the gopro in my feedbag and planned on using it for photos. Then took my long sleeved shirt off my front rack and handed it to her, too.  Seemed like there was a reason I packed the long-sleeve, but it was awful warm.

Just a few minutes to go, so I headed to the middle of the pack, then suddenly there was movement up front and we were off.  There were about three packs, and I was in the back one which got stopped at a red light and we separated from the others.

Debbie and her fiends cheered us on at the Opera House I
mean INB Performing Arts Center 
After the ride through the Opera House breezeway, I sped up and attempted to catch up with the main pack.  Usually my plan is ride as fast as possible to the state line to make up for slow hill climbing later on, but I soon realized I didn't have it in me this night to catch up so I pedaled along at a slower yet still brisk pace.

My bike was making a clicking noise at the bottom of my pedal stroke, and around mile 10 it turned into a double-click.  I decided I would keep going until either I or the bike broke down.

When I reached the state line and crossed over the freeway, I caught up with a group of riders that had stopped.  This buoyed my spirits a bit to know I wasn't in the back by myself, and gave me some energy.  We all rode on.  A couple guys in team jerseys asked me if I knew where the archery range was, as they heard there was water there shortly after the state line. I said I think it's up ahead a bit, I remember people stopping there last year.  I briefly considered offering water if they needed a refill.  But I knew there was also water at a fire station somewhere up ahead, so I didn't.

Soon I made it to Idaho/Mission, and I saw the two riders pedaling out of sight up Mission.  I turned left - woo too! - and saw a group behind me stopping to check their maps and cue sheets.  Not sure if they all followed me or the other two.  Then I passed by the Blue House - another woo hoo - and I started up the hill.  I didn't seem so steep in the dark, but that was only temporary, because after a false summit it got way steep. Maybe 3/4's up, I got off the bike and walked.  A guy on a mountain bike up ahead also was walking which made me feel better, and then a guy on a cross bike passed us.

I felt pretty good staying on course this time, and had a good ride down. It seemed like there was a fresh layer of gravel laid over the ruts, which made for some tricky handling. This was going to be a theme for much of the night, and I was starting to wish I brought my Fargo instead of the Vaya.

Picture time! This phone pic was taken at 2:41am/30miles so probably along Quinimose before the turn onto Saltese.

spokane, the valley, liberty lake?
hand-held gopro. imagine silhouetted trees in front of the
moon (time stamp is 2:48, but think is off by 30-40 mins
one way on the other 
Off and on, it'd get cold in the valleys or when past farmland, and I remembered why I packed a long sleeve.  I missed it, but figured I wouldn't have taken the time to stop and put it on, anyway.

Heading down Quinimose, my garmin flashed to take a left turn. I turned left, but either I turned too soon, or I should've turned lefter, as I was heading up a narrow driveway and was at somebody's house and a dead-end.  I headed back down the drive, and lost my bearings when I got back on course and wasn't sure which way to go. Luckily a couple riders came down the hill and I followed them, and we soon turned left onto Saltese.

About this time, I'm thinking just where is that archery range? Where's that fire station? (Well…How did I get here?).  Guess it's a bit further ahead than I thought. Tooled along under the yellow moon on Saltese for awhile, then took the left turn on Linke around 3:15/40miles.  And then there it was - the Archery place! (Spokane Valley Archery I believe. Didn't actually know it was an archery place the last two years.). "Feed the Sheep" said a sign. No time for that. Ok so it's a bit more than just past the state line, good thing to remember if you're low on water.

Typical for this section, was getting passed by some riders, they'd stop, I'd pass them, they'd stop, I pass. Lots of leap frogging.  At one point, I don't remember if it was on Saltese or later, I passed a group of 8 or more riders stopped.  It seems like all the groups of 2-3 that I'd been leap frogging with had stopped, including the two team jersey guys. Wasn't sure if there was a mechanical problem, or what was going on, or why they were all stopped.  Thought it was strange.

They never caught back up with me, which was stranger still considering they were all stronger riders.

Another guy on a full sus mtb not with that group, passed me a couple times. At Highway 27 I saw him come from the wrong direction turning onto Dishman-Mica.  He waited for me and then said with a laugh, I think I'll stay with you, you seem to know where you're going.  I said, well only until my garmin batter dies, because I'd misplaced my cue sheet. (Turned out it was in my feed bag which I didn't figure out until the Centennial Trail, you know when I really needed it).

He had started out on a road bike, but the derailer broke and his wife was able to bring him the mtb.  He was glad he had the mtb on the gravel and go a lot faster on it. Said he a group he passed had given him some dirty looks.  Told him I was sorry I didn't bring my Fargo.

We rode for a bit and made it up Sands and Bruna.  We turned left downhill too soon and my garmin flashed we were off course, but his said we were ok so we kept going.  Then I said this doesn't look right, but the gamins were pointing towards the course so we kept going, and we passed between a house and some outbuildings, and I definitely didn't remember that.  We were soon back on Bruna, but we missed that great dusty dirt Bruna downhill section.

Turning on to Excelsior Road, I had the first of my bladder problems.  No no not that kind, although I am getting up in years.  I was going too fast and couldn't make the turn and ran over some rough gravel section, and the platypus came loose from my expertly wrapped tire-tube bungee cord. Yeah, didn't foresee that happening did you?

I was thinking of telling Kevin he could go on ahead as I didn't want to hold him back.  We found the Dunn Rd gate, and he pulled ahead on his full sus tires.  Then I had another bladder issue as the rocky trail section jarred the platypus of the bike again, but this time it sprung a leak. I stopped and refilled my water bottles and got the flat platypus securely on the rack.

When I got out of the rocky section of Dunn, I could barely see Kevin up ahead on the gravel rollers of either Dunn or Elder, and once he saw I was ok, he was free to move on.

Elder or Yale Rd?

I waited for a turkey family to cross the Spangle Creek Rd
think this at the turn on to Watt Rd

Nearing Spangle! So happy to see it

After Spangle, it's on to Jennings Rd which just seems to go on and on, made worst by the fact that you know you're on the home stretch and just want to get home.  It occurred to me as I bounced over the washboards and squirmed in the gravel, that under differ circumstances I'd like riding this road.  But at the tail end of the MC, I just wanted to hurry up and get to Cheney-Spangle Rd.

Finally, I made it to the Cheney Rd, and then finally the Fish Lake Trail where I picked up a little steam.  (And finally, you're thinking, if you're still with me). But by the time I got to Fish Lake, I was slowing down.  Took the unfinished no-mans land connection to the new paved section, and then crawled in at varying speeds.  Sometimes 15mph, then 12-13.

Finally made it to Central Food:

yep that's me
I was over an hour slower this year, mostly due to lack of preparation and other factors. It's been too hot for me to go on many long rides. But heck yeah, I finished!


  1. Night rides area a hoot. I do the Boston Marathon route the night before the runners. We begin riding at midnight on the 26 point something mile route. Like you, I'm a bit slower now proven because a few runners in the marathon crossed the finish line in less time than it took me to ride my bike the same distance.
    We both finished and that's what really matters.

  2. yeah night rides are fun, there's something about them. After I finished I swore I wasn't going to do it again, but I'll be out there next year most likely