Unfortunately, my brother John was unable to come over for the ride. As a result, I thought I'd try riding my single speed and seeing how that went. I heard there was a group that planned to take it slow, connected with them, and was invited to ride with them. Last Thursday and Friday I took the single speed out on some hills. That forced a change in plans. The gearing I have is for cyclocross racing, not for climbing Midnight Century hills. So for the sake of doing something different I put cyclocross tires on my commuter bike and went with that. I wasn't going for a PR, but I wanted to finish in about 8 hours.
I didn't get much rest before the ride. The afternoon thunderstorm knocked out the power while I was sleeping. With no air and no fan I heated up quickly and woke up in a sweat. My planned three hour snooze ended up being a 45-minute cat nap. I was not feeling optimum.
By my probably-nowhere-close-to-reality estimation, 40-45 people showed up for the ride. David Blaine, Midnight Century maker and Central Food proprietor and chef, was there to take on the course with his newly refurbished single speed. Five or six of the Jimmie John's bicycle delivery crew were there to tackle the course. (The young lady from the store would become, I think, the second solo female to ever complete the MC.) There were a lot of first timers, which is cool. I forgot my cue sheet at home so I downloaded the PDF to my phone. It came in handy several times later on, but never before I misdirected. Funny how that works.
I wasn't with a group but I wasn't too worried about it because grouping tends to flesh out after a while. I thought I'd stick close to David since I forgot my cue sheet. He being the course creator, I assumed I would take fewer wrong turns if I was somewhere near him. And I was right. Unfortunately, when I wasn't around him I took several wrong turns and, once I checked my phone, had to backtrack to the course proper.
The thunderstorm had blown down lots of branches on the Centennial Trail, which made riding in a group a bit precarious. Branches and twigs would snap under tires, fly up, and threaten spokes and derailleurs. We had to dodge fallen wires and a tree on Upriver Drive.
Around the 45-mile mark, my friend Brian Johnson and his crew caught up to me while I was double checking to make sure I hadn't taken a wrong turn. Brian invited me to join them. They seemed to appreciate my cranking tunes on a Bluetooth speaker system and they were shooting for a sub 8-hour finish. Nice. We ground our way up the hills, over the gravel, through the washboards, and up more hills. I was really feeling the climbs. Each time I'd fall back while mostly everyone else seemed to ascend without much effort.
We had a couple of treats along the way. David had prepositioned some gallon jugs of water and a large bottle of Coke on the bridge in the gated off section of Dunn Road. Everyone got to fill their bottles and get a shot of caffeine if they so desired. About a mile after the brutal climb up Spangle Creek Road we rolled up on a strange sight. A gentleman had a table set up and was offering water, cookies, and bananas. Art Thayer said he had read about the ride and is inspired to get in shape and do it. He lives near the route and on this night he got up at 3:00 am, drove to this part of the course, and waited for passing riders. I scarfed down a banana and split a delicious home-made maple oatmeal cookie.
We finished up the last of the gravel going to Spangle, decided not to stop in Spangle, and then shook our bones loose on the washboard gravel on Jennings until we arrived at the Cheney-Spangle Road. From there we lined up and made our speed a minimum of 18 mph. The whole time we were on Fish Lake Trail all I could think of was that this would soon be over. We pulled into Central Food at 7:57, achieving our sub 8-hour goal. Whoo-hoo! I ate a great breakfast and washed it down with a large bottle of hard apple cider. Another great ride with some great people.
Taking a short break. Chris Walmsley (L) rockin' a single speed and Brian Johnson (R).
Finished the Spangle Creek Road climb and on the way to Spangle.
(photo courtesy of Brian Johnson)
Art Thayer (light blue shirt), oh-dark-thirty angel of mercy.
Sunrise on the way to Spangle.
A dirty picture.
Another dirty picture.
An eager-to-finish pace line on Fish Lake Trail.