Thursday, November 2, 2017

That was the Midnight Century, son!

I’m not sure what 60’s or 70’s song movie or tv show I’m trying to reference in that post title. Maybe the Lone Ranger: Who was that masked man? That was the Lone Ranger, son.

When the time for the Midnight Century rolls around on the first Saturday in August, I start hearing that old Creedence Clearwater song (via Leadbelly and countless others) in my head: “Let the Midnight Special, shine a light on me” and I try to replace the words with Midnight Century specific lyrics. Still working on that.

So, yes, that was the Midnight Century a few months ago rolling through the county, shining bike lights on dark country roads and paths. And I’m just now getting around to blogging it, after a suitable amount of time reflecting on the ride. Except, now I’ve forgotten most of it.

I do remember having the bright idea a week before of riding it backwards, that is forwards in a counterclockwise direction to spice it up a bit. I'm not sure if it'd be easier or about the same mixture of fun, contemplative riding, cursing, and misery. Hank was up for it, but I didn’t look too closely at the route with with my backwards glasses on.

The evening of the ride I debated the perennial pros and cons of the Vaya vs. Fargo - lower gears and bigger knobbier tires on the Fargo versus higher gears and smooth rolling tires on the Vaya. I settled on the Vaya again, knowing I'd be wishing I was on the Fargo on the Liberty Lake hills, and also those washboard gravel roads before Spangle.

I finally left home around 11:40pm, hightailing it down to Browns Addition. I was late, and was expecting to see the group leaving as I rode on Pacific Ave towards the The Elk. A block away, I spied a couple bike lights and figured it was maybe a couple stragglers. But no, as I reached the Elk it wasn’t quite midnight yet and there was a contingent of 20-30 bikers milling about. No time for fries, coffee, and beer.

I briefly discussed with Hank and Eric about riding the route backwards, and we went with forwards. I wasn't too sure about way finding backwards in the dark, but next year for sure it'll be in reverse.

With a bit of staggered hesitancy, the group took off at 11:59pm or so, there not being any official starting horn or gun, and no leader.  My strategy this year was to just take it easy on the Centennial Trail portion out to the state line, instead of racing fast with the group. Then I would just plug along. Eric was taking it easy also, so we rode together behind the main group.

We chatted along, and Eric peeled off after crossing I-90 to visit some friends in Liberty Lake, saying he'd see me at breakfast at Central Food. I replied, if I make it that far! Like the last year or so, I was out of shape having not ridden much in the summer heat beyond commuting.

Okay, this is the point in the blog post where I say this has gone on long enough, let's just get the story over. I'm basically a lazy writer. So random thoughts from here on out.

This was the 2nd year in a row where I didn't miss a certain turn and I rode by the purple or blue house mentioned in the cue sheet. The website seems to be down, so I can't look at the cue sheet and tell you which rode this was on. **update: website back up and it’s the weird blue house on Idaho Rd., mile 26.6. The first couple years I went up Mission and missed Idaho Rd. **
And this was the first year I believe I didn't miss any turns. I tried to shortly after crossing I-90 when my Garmin was blinking at me, trying to tell me to turn the wrong way. Damn electronic subterfuge. I knew the turn didn't look right, and Hank rolled up and confirmed the course was the other thataway. I also accidentally hit the stop button on my timer, and had to restart the ride.

This is a typical scene out in the country:

3:46am: East 32nd Ave
A couple youngsters did the same as last year: stop for beer, catch up and pass me, stop for beer and snacks, pass me, stop for beer, etc., then never seeing them again until the end.

My legs felt felt like they made it through the Liberty Lake hills better than last year and so I was thinking my time this year might be better, but much later on when the sun rose I realized I was further along last year at the same time. Oh well.
5:57am: Excelsior Rd.
6:04am: Conner Rd. (wait, is Conner Rd on the route?)
There were some other stop-and-take-a-pic worthy scenes, but since I didn't bring my better camera, I didn't. Sometimes the iPhone takes just as well or better pics and now I'm sorry I didn't. I could use pics instead of words to pad out this post.

Usually the worst part of the ride is the last 20 or so miles on the highway and the Fish Lake Trail, where I just plod along thinking about real food like scrambled eggs and cheese. This year it seems to go better, but those last 5 miles were a killer. No difficult climbing involved, just nice easy rolling on pavement, I don't know why I dislike it so much. Maybe because it is so straight and boring and I've ridden it a million times.

So....I finished in the slowest time ever for me at least: 10 hours 28 minutes.  I didn't even feel presentable enough to eat breakfast at Central Food.

I haven't gone on any real long rides since, but as I'm typing this up I'm getting the urge to head out and get another long one in before the snow really flies. Belsby Road is calling, and so is Euclid Rd.