Now that I've had a good night's sleep...
This ride is kick ass. It starts you off with a smooth 25 miles that gets you warmed up and feeling good about knocking out the first fourth quickly. That done, it throws you up and down the terrain, gives you thrilling and terrifying descents made more so as your speed overtakes what your light is able to reveal. This is no place for mushy brakes--if you use your brakes.
It lays out washboards in patterns that ensure you will hit the worst ones every time you dodge a set, shaking you so hard you'd swear you were trying to hold a paint shaking machine still.
Deer and other animals pay you little attention as you pass by while they go about the business of staying alive, but you feel more of a connection with them when you're sitting in the dark in the middle of nowhere and a bunch of coyotes howling in the distance sound like they're coming closer. "I should get moving. I can finish this snack while I'm riding." You may not say it, but it's in the back if your mind.
The ascents in the dark attack your mind as much as your body. You can't see the top so you have no idea when you'll reach it. Your legs complain so your mind tries to allay their fears. "Almost there. Just a little more." The road levels out a bit and your legs breathe a sigh of relief. "See? It's okay now." Then you suddenly hit the steepest part and your legs cry in agony, "You lied to me!" Coming to several of the short climbs, the darkness misleads you as to how steep they are so you don't gear down. "This doesn't look like much and we've got some speed going," you tell your legs. Suddenly you're standing on the pedals chunk-chunking in a frantic attempt to shift down. Yeah, you'll be lying to your legs all night.
The peacefulness surrounding the dawn, while beautiful, can also chip away at your mindset. The lull and calm of the rising sun combined with being up through the night and the idea of a long rest clashes with the realization that you still have two or three or more hours to ride.
At just over the halfway point, you get a short reprieve from the dust, dirt, gravel and rocks and you're given a bit of smooth pavement. It's not a gift. It's the longest and steepest climb of the ride. Your legs ache and complain like never before and all you can do is suck it up. Following that you return to dirt roads where the gravel and the washboards seem deeper than ever. It's like it was intentional and you almost take it personally. You never stood so much while trying to pedal.
The last 20 miles you're mostly on pavement and your butt is so grateful. Smoothly cruising along the Cheney-Spangle highway and the Fish Lake Trail, your relief begins to convince you that this wasn't so bad. Then you reach the basalt infected, jarring interruption that is the unfinished section of Fish Lake Trail. It's your punishment for thinking you're almost done. One last slap down to remind you who the boss is. "This is the Midnight Century! I'm not done with you. How's your butt feelin', huh? That's what I thought. Now you can finish."
Rolling in to where you started hours before, the feelings of relief and accomplishment are overwhelming. And you don't mind being regarded as a lunatic by the early morning coffee drinkers whose curiosity compels them to ask what's going on. You just did the Midnight Century which is more that just something.
But you have to admit, it still kicked your ass.