Sunday, August 24, 2008

Midnight Century

The Midnight Century ride last night definitely falls into my top-ten rides. I was just so fun. I was expecting a clobbering pace, but it was pretty moderate. And talking to David today, I think knowing what lay ahead on the course made it enjoyable; I was able to pace myself well for the hard dirt climbs and for Spangle Creek Road.

We left the Elk at mid-night with 12 riders. All but 3 of us DNF'd. We lost the first 4 on the Centennial Trail. We learned later, that that group ended up doing an out and back to CdA. The ride to the border was uneventful -- as the flat, paved Centennial Trail usually is.

We headed north on Idaho road and then did our first dirt climb. It felt great to be on the gravel with the new bike. My Rawland is about the most optimal bike for this type of ride: fat slicks, triple chain ring. The bike really did disappear underneath me for this ride. Everything worked flawlessly on it.

One guy (Pat? not Pat but a new Pat to me) had a wonky front derailleur so he was stuck in the big ring up front. The poor guy grinded up the dirt climb (and then Molter) in his impossibly high gear.

At about 3 am, as we descended Henry Road into Saltese flats we came across a lone cyclist on his way home from work. He was a bit surprised to see a bunch of really bright cyclist lights descending on him. His response: "What the hell?"

We lost 2 more guys as we came across 32nd Ave outside of Saltese. Pat and Ron took off at this point somewhere. So it was me, David Blaine, Jake McBurns, Jon Hawkins, and Bradley Bleck that started the climb up Lehman, en route to Sands Road.

Sands Road was one of a handful of hard climbs and probably the most demanding dirt climb. By the time we got to the top David was not looking good. The day previous, his bike was ripped off, so the night previous, he didn't sleep as he worried about it. He end up recovering the bike, but not his sleep. He was ready to nap in the dirt on the side of the road.

So as we crossed the Palouse Highway, David and Bradley peeled off and headed home.

Jake, Jon and I continued on Dunn road, took the closed portion of road where David had dropped off water and Pepsi (thanks David), and then climbed up to Elder Road.

At this point, Jake kicked in and we picked up the pace. Or maybe I was starting to get really tired because I was having a hard time staying with Jake for the rest of the trip.

The sun began to come up after we climbed Spangle Creek Road. Jake got a great picture of the sun just beginning to seep over the horizon. I was starving and hoping we'd stop in Spangle for breakfast. The Harvester opened at 6 am and we were about 3 miles out at 6 am. I was dreaming of a massive pile of hash browns.

Jake, in his wisdom, wisely talked me down. If he hadn't, it would've been a gruelling ride back to Spokane.

I had a piece of smoked salmon stashed in my bag that sated my need for fatty salt. We all three took a hunk and pedaled on to Jenkins road. Jenkins is about 8-10 miles of rolling dirt road that empties out on Cheney-Spangle. We re-grouped again at the Fish Lake Trail head on Cheney-Spangle.

We opted to hop onto the Cheney-Spokane road at the Fish Lake Trail head. We were all hungry and ready to be home. I was able to stay with Jake until about Scribner, where I just couldn't. The guy has more energy stored in one calve muscle than I have in an entire week of riding. Or something.

I arrived at Maron, across the street from the Elk, at 8:07. Jon pulled in a couple minutes later, a-whoopin and a-hollering. Liza and Maddie had just arrived, and Jake had already put in an order for 3 sides of breakfast potatoes. I ate a lot.

A great great ride.


bleckb said...

I have to say the first 54 miles before I headed home were among the toughest 54 miles I'd ridden. I'm just not all that keen on the dirt roads. If they were packed and not soft, that would have been one thing for me, but the washboard and loose gravel and finding out the hard way I need better lights made it tough, which is why I was bringin' up the rear most of the night.

Next time I'm going with a wider cyclocross tire and I'm gonna get better lights, and a lot more miles under my belt on dirt roads, and then maybe the dirt won't be so hard on me. All in all, I'm not sure I had all that much fun, but hearing coyotes howl, seeing the deer dart across the road in the headlights, and squealing down the hills in the dark wondering about the next curve and not knowing where I was, even when I should have known because I'd been there before was nothing it not worth it.

Hank Greer said...

Helluva job, guys.

Michael said...

Wow, that's awesome.

Pat S said...

Thanks for the report, John . . . I've been dying to know how it went. Another great job of capturing the flavor of the ride.

Interesting to see the long sleeves in your pics. I had it figured as a SS ride all the way, given the amount to heat-generating climbs and and slower pace. My plan (if I hadn't of wimped) was to wear a SS jersey and bring a wind vest along.

Thanks, David, for putting this together. Congrats to everyone who partipated and especially to the three of you who finished.

John Speare said...

Brad - Liza let me borrow her minewt light, which is a great light. The battery held up all night.

Pat: it got pretty chilly. I think around 50-something. I would heat up and sweat a bit on the climbs then get a bit breezy on the descents. But over all the temp was perfect to me.

Dyl said...

Sounds like a blast.

David Blaine said...

Nice riding John. it was tough to wath you guys ride away but I just kept riding slower and slower. With that said there will be a 6th annual Midnight Century in 2009. I will keep the same course but I will make some improvements to the directions/map concept. I will also focus on people forming groups of riders. This ride is no fun when you are out there on your own.
For those that missed it, I will be doing a daytime assualt coming up in Sept or Oct. I have some unsettled business.
I do like the route alot and may begin TT the course in order to establish a course record. I would like to see how much faster Jake would have been if he wasn't always waiting for the rest of us. 7:30 hours is mighty impressive especially when you saw how easy it was for him.

Apertome said...

A midnight century with dirt roads? Consider me impressed. Very impressed. Damn.

John Speare said...

David: i agree on all accounts:
-- buddy system for this course is good.
-- keeping this course as *the* midnight century course is a great idea as it will get those on-the-fencers some time to plan for the ride
-- TT'ing/Jake: no doubt about it. Jake's time this go around was nearly 8 hours, but only because he regrouped and waited for us. I think he could easily do under 7.
-- Again: thanks for putting this one on. Let me know when you do the day time version. I'd love to try it again.

EvilElf said...

I am left inspired by your adventure! John,as always, your writing is top notch. Thanks!