Last night I rode my fourth Midnight Century and it was the toughest one I've done yet. The gravel roads were in horrible condition with high washboards and lots of deep, loose gravel. I rode the Elephant CX bike and it was lively on those washboards to say the least.
I'm guessing there were about 40 starters. The fast burners, and there were many of them, disappeared before we got to Bernard Street, which is just over a mile from the start. I linked up with three other guys and we ripped along the Centennial Trail to the state line, arriving there about ten minutes after one. I was concerned I was burning myself up so I stopped to have a snack and get my mind together. I had my cue card out to make sure I didn't take any wrong turns. While climbing Idaho Road I connected with Jayce Robertson of This Bike Life. His battery was already low so we rode together on my lights. He used his on the downhill stretches.
Along Quinimose, Jayce and I connected with Ian Butler and a fellow named Chip. The four of us road together until just before Sands Road, which is the midpoint of the ride. I stopped for a short break and then started climbing after them. They were stopped on Bruna Road taking a break. When I arrived, Ian handed me a small bottle of Jack Daniels. That was a sweet drink. We continued riding together until just after the last climb up Spangle Creek Road. At the top of the hill and a little farther down the road on Yale there were gallon jugs of water, trail mix, and breakfast bars. I topped off my water bottle but I held out on food because just a little farther on, just like last year, Art and Julie Thayer had a table set up with coffee, cookies, and bananas. Thank you!
Once we reached Jennings, Chip started falling back. Ian, Jayce, and I rolled along the gravel as best we could. Ian almost bit it when he hit some deep sand but he worked through it. Going into Cheney on the pavement we were taking turns leading the pace line. Ian accelerated to take the lead and kept going at his new speed. Jayce gamely hung on. Since we were going uphill, I wasn't about to blow myself up trying stay with them. They drifted farther and farther away from me but I was okay with that. I stopped at Fish Lake Trail and ate a Clif bar to fuel up for the final push.
While I was zooming along the Fish Lake Trail I would time myself between the mile markers and figure out my speed. (I don't use any electronic gadgets on my bike.) I stayed at 18-19 mph all the way into town.
I rolled into Central Food at 7:35, which is about 20 minutes faster than I'd done before. Not very many riders were there since so many arrived before the restaurant opened. I was surprised when I looked at the sign in sheet. There were two people who signed in about an hour before me. I got ahead of them on the Centennial Trail at Plante's Ferry. I was on course the entire night and they never passed me. So something isn't right there. David Blaine said they came in from the wrong direction and they were not dirty from riding on the gravel roads, so that's pretty much an open and shut case. It's a shame people would do that.
Like I said, this was the hardest ride I've had yet because the gravel roads were so bad. And that's why it's the best ride I've ever had. The Midnight Century is supposed to be a grueling challenge and it really came through this year.