Sunday, August 2, 2015

Midnight Century 2015

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.


Wileydog said...

great job! yeah that gravel was a killer - it seemed like they recently laid down a fresh layer, and combined with the ruts made for some very tricky handling. heard about the suspicious finishers - I had been leap frogging with a few riders, and then I passed them and some others who were stopped alongside the road at one point. I wasn't sure what was up, but there were 8 or so of them. They never passed me after that, which i couldn't figure out because they were stronger riders than me. I finished at 9:20 - super slow this year - and 3 or so signed in after me. not sure what happened to the rest of that group.

Pat S said...

Great retelling, Hank. Damn, your writing chops just keep getting better and better. And congrats on a super fast time. John stopped by yesterday and we were remarking about how high the MC bar is now . . . it used to be something to just finish it, but now there are almost no dnf's and the number of people finishing in sub-seven is amazing. Of the three tries, the one time I finished in something like 12 hrs is comedic now. But I still consider it a major achievement. The MC is the MC, and there's nothing like it.

Chip lives a couple of blocks from me and we've done a few bike adventures together and it has been my thought that you guys should really be introduced, but I'm not good at that, so I'm glad you took care of it by yourselves.

Chip said...

Good to meet you that night, Hank. I would have liked to chat more but I was trying to hold it together and stay with the three of you. The cold got to me in the early morning and then ultimately the washboard chattering through my body. Next year I'll know what to expect and prepare. What a wonderful and surreal experience flowing along the river at night, climbing lonely roads up to the top of the plateau, and then being greeted by the sun among the wheat fields. I can understand some the deep Native American connection with this land.

Hope to ride with you again soon.


Hank Greer said...

Scott - Great to see you out there again.

Pat - Thanks for the kind words, although I am truly envious of your storytelling skills. Your posts are the best reads.

Chip - Sorry we didn't get to chat much, it at all. I'm mostly an introvert so getting to know people takes me a while anyway. The washboards were absolutely murderous this year. But what a ride, huh? I'm sure we'll meet again. Maybe it'll be a time when we'll have an opportunity to chat over a beer.

For a couple years now I've been thinking about coming up with another route. One with similar if not more challenges. There's a lot of good gravel and climbing north of Spokane. Not to take away from the original route, but I wonder how well it would be received if one year we took a different one. Better yet, if we alternated between three different routes.

Bryan R. said...

Hank, I just wanted to say thanks for pulling our group down the Centennial Trail for so long. By the way I was the one in the black Bike Hub jersey. Great job on the finish and great write-up.

Hank Greer said...

Thank you, Bryan.

Wileydog said...

hey wait thought i was the introvert in this gang! Anyways, i was thinking along the same lines as you hank, except instead of a different route for the MC, more along the lines of a similar non-sanctioned, non-supported big ride mostly on gravel and dirt.

Unknown said...

dear sweet nephew, Hank,

You WIN, you WIN....the trophy, the medal, the door prize, the ribbon, the grand prize!!

Now you can rest for stop this silly night time stuff?? much love, auntjanet