WHAM! Not just a cool sound from batman! It is the Whiting-Hammond After Midnight bike ride, and I am proud to say I did it. I signed up last minute for it, but thanks to a new friend it was a blast. Let me set the scene for you, it is dark, lots of bike, and 30 miles of open road!
I am really grateful for my friend inviting me to it, it really showed me how much I can push myself. I typically have been riding at about 12mph, but that night we were coming in close to 15 avg(and up at 18-19mph at times). It was such a unique experience and I hope my story can help others give it a try.
First off, we showed up early, right when registration was starting at about 9:30PM. I had been up since about a bit before 7am and was running on about 5 hours of sleep, always a great combo night and lack of sleep. We get registration out of the way, and look to go around and mingle, the only issue is that everyone is acting like it is high school. Everyone was simply hanging out in their clique and that was a bit disappointing. They had a DJ but the music was way to loud, and while a few good songs played, most of them were crap. Luckily we didn’t come for the music, right?
We had so much time to kill that we decided to go do a warm up ride, nothing crazy just a nice slow pace. I was later to find out that I worried my riding buddy a bit, he was thinking this was going to be high gear for me! We rode down the road trail until it ended in an area that looked kinda “rapey” as my friend put it. We meandered back to the pavilion and I was starting to feel a bit sleepy, though I hoped the excitement of the ride would wake me up a bit. We arrived in time to give us a chance to glo-ify the bikes(next year will be much better)
If I had one suggestion for the ride organizers it would be to figure out starting areas better! They had 3 classes of riders, and they wanted them to start at different times, but they didn’t really have 3 areas. The speedy riders were to go first, the long haulers(30 milers) second, and the short track(10milers) last. We were in the long hauler group, 30 miles of darkness! We were lucky that the weather was so amazing, it made the entire ride more comfortable. As we started out, this being my first organized ride, I realized that it was a bit scary! You have people riding at all different speeds, on many types of bikes, from wal-mart cruisers to high end racers! I even saw a couple of tandem riders to make the mix even more interesting. I followed my friend, who shale here by be referred to as Kool-Aid, and he followed a couple of guys we met in the line up! Sierra Nevada and Red, not their real names of course, but it will make sense at the end. They said they were going to shoot for a 12-13 mph pace, which is close to what we wanted(14ish). I soon found myself not only having to fight through the pack, but also having to deal with everyone’s rear blinker! It was freaking annoying as all get out!
We soon found ourselves pulling away from the pack, but I was very surprised when I noticed we were catching up with the front end of the long haulers! There were “sticks” on nice road bikes that we were leaving behind us, some of them with a shocked look on their face(Kool-Aide and I don’t really look like the type to be passing folks). I would be a lair if I didn’t say I enjoyed that part, just a little bit. There was suppose to be a SAG stop early on, but we never saw it. Our two friends SN and Red soon left us behind, and we settled into a comfortable pace. It was such an amazing experience, and I wish I could have stopped to take some pictures. The world is so different at midnight, ordinary buildings can look nearly magical in the soft glows. My light (http://astore.amazon.com/bigbonbik-20/detail/B00E1NQ3DU) that I brought was working great and ir was kinda neat that Kool-Aide actually had the same one!
We did actually catch up with our ridding buddies at a train crossing, and riding through the streets, owning them as if cars didn’t even exist, was an eye opening experience. How much better would our world be, if we all rode our bikes, or walked, just a little bit more? I want to take a moment and thank the police dept, state troopers, and others, who watched over the roads allowing us to move so freely. It was a comforting feeling knowing that someone had our safety in mind.
Cabela’s was the next scheduled stop and as we saw it up ahead we were ready for a quick break. We get to the corner where we should go straight, only to be met with a guy yelling “TURN RIGHT!”. Turning right, I figure that the SAG stop would be marked up ahead, but as I road further away I noticed that their was no SAG spot. We keep riding, noticing that we are nearly alone on the roads, I think most of the other riders had stopped at the Cabela’s store. Eventually, after about 25 miles we come to a stop! They were handing out water, and we both were getting hungry. Luckily someone had dropped off some food, and we were able to get a quick bite in. Refueled we hit the ground with a nice strong pace. All of a sudden there arose such a clatter, wait wrong story. All of a sudden Red comes up behind us and says “we are on our second lap!”, 12-13 mph my ass! Sierra Nevada soon comes up behind us and they both pass us again. As we roll into the last few turns, I find myself feeling sad that the ride ended so soon. We had only been out for 2 hours and 10 min, and that was including our stop for the train and the break. At least breakfast was waiting for us, hot yummy pancakes and sausage(though some eggs would have been nice).
We meet back up with out new friends and we all sit down to eat, I did find out that they really were NOT on a second lap, they apparently had found the SAG stop at Cabelas. After a few beers, a bit of bike chat and some facebook befriending, we all call it a morning. I slept from 5am till nearly noon, and I have to thank my amazing awesome wife for letting me do this!
I wish I could have written more, but much of that night was a blur. I recommend if you are in the NWI area you try out this ride next year. Event organizers, Beer Tent, Better Starting, and a 50 mile option!
Keep On Rolling,
Big Boned Biker
P.S. Thank you all for staying with me over this long dry spell of blogging.