Well, it was. Last Saturday 11:59pm. So here's the basic report, complete with nerdy bike details.
It was my toughest Midnight Century yet, and toughest ever bike ride. I remembered there were hills on this course, but I forgot about all the hills in between the hills.
The Bike set-up:
After riding the Vaya last year, and enduring all those washboard gravel roads, I said I was going to ride my Fargo next time. Well, the Vaya has been riding great lately - new chainring, chain, cassette, and front brake caliper, so I just had to take it. And I hoped maybe the low pressure 42mm tubeless tires that I have on it now would smooth out the washboard a bit.
The Salsa rear rack was moved to the Fargo for my John Wayne Trail ride. Without racks or fenders, and no more brake drag, the Vaya is downright zippy and the tires roll smoothly. The Velo-Orange front rack didn't fit the Fargo so it went back on the Vaya, but the bike still has zip to it.
This year I packed a Platypus 2-liter collapsible water bottle into the frame bag that I bought for the Fargo, instead of carrying the bladder on the back rack. Small bottle in the Revelate feed bag, larger 21 oz bottle on down tube, and 32 oz bottle below (a 48 oz bottle will fit the Topeak Modula cage, but hits the tires on this bike). Camelbaks are handy, but I hate sucking out of those tubes and don't like to carry too much on my back. No-bake cookies and misc bars in the handle bar bag.
One thing I miscalculated on was the hills. The Fargo has the same 11-36 range in back but smaller rings in front. There were some hills I was really struggling on where I wondered if the shop accidentally put on a 11-32 cassette in back, or larger small ring in front. That's when I remembered the other reason to take the Fargo - lower gears.
Preparing for the ride:
The usual no-train-it's-too-hot-just-bike-commute training plan. Oh, and I stopped taking baby aspirin a couple days before so I wouldn't bleed as quickly in case of a crash. No Hawaiian shirt this time, but I thought it'd be funny to go ultra romancer and get a long hair and beard costume. Maybe next year.
I headed out on the Centennial trail portion faster than last year, and started thinking I'd finish better. Ha! I tried the usual strategy - ride fast to Liberty Lake and then slog through the rest. I was in a fairly fast group that broke up after a while with two ahead and more behind me and then I was on my own. I seriously gave thought to just riding to the state line and then head back, making for a nice 45 mile late night ride. But I kept going.
Heading out of Liberty Lake, I played leapfrog with a group of younger bikers. They'd pass me on the hills, then stop for water or whatnot, then pass me on the hills again. I started to get a bit of a complex watching them ride by multiple times when I was wondering where my legs were and was I missing a lower gear? Eventually they stopped for water at the Archery and Feed the Sheep place and I never saw them again until the very end.
I felt proud of my route finding and gave myself a pat on the back as I took the left turn onto Idaho for the 2nd year in a row, instead of going on Mission. But then I missed the left turn onto Linke. My garmin started buzzing at me, but I thought I got back on course until I met the young guns going the other way and asking me if I'd seen Linke. I looked at the garmin map and realized, shoot it was back the other way at that jog in the road.
I rode past Barker before Linke around the 39 mile mark, and wondered if it'd be any quicker home if I bailed there. I knew it'd be flatter, at least. But I kept pedaling. No use turning around now.
Further down Linke I got thrown off when I came to Chapman and my garmin buzzed that I was off course. I thought what, did I miss Belmont? and turned around. I met a couple going the other way and they assured me Belmont was 4-5 miles further down Linke. I made a mental note to mark down Chapman on the cue sheet when I got home. Oh, look, it's already there - "Stay on Linke as it turns 90 degrees at Chapman Road".
I stuck with the couple for awhile, since we were biking about the same speed. And because the last time I let a couple that I was biking with go ahead, I got terribly lost in Issaquah - more on that when I get around to my Iron Horse/John Wayne Pioneer story.
The couple took a break, and I arrived at the downhill Bruna Rd section. It was fairly light out. I remember the first year I did the MC, it was dark here with a group of riders bunched together at the top. Ok, I am not going to get this done any faster than last year, and I began to suspect I was going slower. But somewhere along the line I had decided it doesn't matter when I finish or how fast I was going. I was just going to finish the darn thing.
Sometime after Bruna, I think. There was lightning in the distance, and I stayed here for a bit trying to capture it. Got it on the live photo, but no direct shot.
I don't remember seeing this sign clearly before - it's usually darker out.
I saw the couple a few times, and eventually, and I mean way eventually, I made it to the Columbia Plateau Trail/Fish Lake Trail. It was great to be on flat, smooth pavement. Loved it. I usually hate the last 15-20 miles because I just want to get to Spokane, but this time I enjoyed it. Even thought I might make it in about the same time time last year around the 9:30 mark.
But as I got to the end of the Fish Lake Trail, I found I better high tail it if I was going to make it under 10 hours. One more curvy, twisty climb up to the Centennial Trail, then a straight shot to Central Food. I figured I'd have to break the 15 mph speed limit to make it in. My garmin had died a ways back, so I'm not sure but I don't think I was able to go faster than 15. Just as I reached the walkway it was 10:58am, and when I looked at the time when I got to the sign-in sheet, it was 9:59. So I used that time. Made it under 10 hours! woo hoo! The I heard a voice behind me - "How'd you do?". What? It was one of the lost tribe that I'd last seen by the archery place. They were right behind me! He said they took a few wrong turns. I said yeah me too, and left out the fact I'm slower than mud.
I like riding at night, there's something about it I can't put into words. So, I'll be back next year even though my legs ached almost the whole ride. Maybe I'll look into one of those e-assist bikes. There are no rules on the Midnight Century.