At midnight an army of road, mountain, cross, single speed, hybrid, touring, and even fat bikes rolled off the capitol square and paraded through town. Parties in full swing WOOOOOed from balconies cars cars honked (in the good way), and confused bike path users yielded to the blinding light display that zipped past them. I forced an easy pace through the city to keep everyone well behaved at road crossings and to get some security by numbers through some of the sketchier parts of town. At the highway PD crossing the gates lifted and the lead groups started to form.
On the first few miles of pavement there was a lot of shuffling as everyone was feeling out the fast but not-yet-blistering pace. At Purcell road the pavement yields to crushed limestone and the racers shaped up into two packs and a few stragglers. Of course the regular riders just marched on and continued to enjoy the perfect evening lit by a nearly full moon.
The lead group of a dozen or so strong guys took off and a chase group congealed. Not many of us chasers were experienced road riders so it took quite a while to figure out how to work a proper pace line; this was complicated by the unnerving proposition of drafting in the dark, on obstacle filled trail, and a shower of grit being tossed up from the tire you followed.
Long story short, there was a sprint for the win, about half the riders reached or got within a few miles of the border as the lead group took their sweet time trying to lighten the trailer that the leader was to drag back. Everyone I spoke with before the ride, who weren't there to win it, mentioned that their goal was to reach Monroe which was just 6 miles from the border and happily they all did, other than a few folks who were rumored to have turned around early.
On the return ride the whole group settled into a relaxed pace with the occasional rest stop to enjoy a well earned brew stretch. I greatly over estimated how much beer would be had, which ended up being less than one per rider, so the winner dragging the trailer thought I was kidding about the second case that he was to pick up near the tunnel while there were still full bottles bouncing around behind him.
We stopped in front of the tunnel for a quick award ceremony where the winner Trevor, and the first woman Sarah, received their trophies. At this point there was a rumor that a mystery rider named Bill had passed the return group about 5 miles from the border but insisted that he wanted to continue on to complete the whole route. I'd prepared a trophy for the rider who 'never gave up' but for now that had to stay in the trailer until we could confirm the existence of 'Stubborn Bill'.
Feeling that leader had suffered long enough I forced everyone to pocket a bottle of beer to lighten the trailer. Unfortunately the slow leak that one of my trailer tires had wasn't as slow as I'd thought and our winner discovered this just a few miles out of town. He stopped to top off the tire but it surely didn't help his toil up to that point. Sorry about that buddy, I really should have fixed that before hand.
For the final stretch the ride dismantled into a number of smaller groups and pairs. The sunrise was a welcome site, especially for the struggling riders, and those of us who returned to the start line were greeted by the cheerful vendors who were just getting the farmers market rolling. Stories of police driving on the bike path, clipping racoons, bat strikes, near crashes, and flat tires were swapped over coffee and scones.
The winner, weary of dragging the heavy and poorly maintained trailer and clutching his trophy, announced my favorite quote of the event; "I do not want to win this next year"
Then the fabled 'Stubborn Bill' arrived to a heroes welcome and claimed his prize as the most bull headed rider of the night.
Special thanks to my lovely wife Tara and her equally lovely friend Margaret for braving the desolate roads (and the mysterious horses that cross them in the wee hours of the night) for depositing the trailer at the border. Also thanks to 'Newlow' for appearing from nowhere to be the event photographer, I can't wait to see what you captured.
Also, thanks everyone for chipping in. I'll be making a donation to the 'Friends of the Badger State Trail' for $100.
P.S. This will happen again next year.
Date: Friday 9/9.
Start: Madison WI, Capitol square
Finish: See below
Entry: Donations for misc costs, leftover cash will be donated to an appropriate group (probably the "friends of the badger state").
The "race" starts at the Capitol square at midnight on Friday 9/9 and heads directly to the Southwest Commuter path and proceeds to the Badger State trail and then all the way down to the IL/WI border. The first rider to reach the border wins, picks up a backpack of awards, chooses one for them self, and starts heading back. The first person that the winner runs into becomes 2nd place, next is 3rd, etc until there is a parade of all the riders heading back to town as the sun rises. Then breakfast somewhere.
The winner will do a total of about 90 miles and the slower you are the less you have to ride. No support, no sag wagon.
Some form of signup will appear on this site in the near future so keep an eye on it.
The race is just 4 nights away so I thought a few updates were in
order. For starters, thanks for signing up! Please keep passing word
along to like minded folk, I'm really pleased with the current
turnout, about 20 are signed up so far, but the more the merrier.
I wanted to make it perfectly clear that this ride has no official
support because, well, you get what you pay for. Right now, don't
wait, think of someone who cares about you and call/email them to let
them know what you're going to be up to. If you find yourself in a
bind that you can't ride out of you're going to need to be able to
call in your own cavalry. That said, the course doubles back on
itself, so if you run into an issue just stay put and the group will
catch up with you eventually.
Google maps - http://g.co/maps/ssxs
Map my ride - http://soc.li/cCMNLOG
A few of us did a late night scouting ride over the weekend,
everyone agreed that riding out there in the dark is a fantastic
experience. The trail is mostly smooth and clear but you'll need to
keep an eye out for gopher holes, they are tough to spot and we got
some practice slamming into them unexpectedly; although it's somewhat
jarring they failed to knock any of us over or damage the bikes
(though either of those outcomes is possible). The race starts at
midnight sharp on the night of Friday Sept 9, at the end of West
Washington Ave at the capitol. Be there at least 10 minutes before the
start. The first 6 miles will be an easy neutral lead out through
town, the official 'go' point will be at Hwy PD/Mckee road.
--What to bring--
Most people seem to be underestimating how long this ride will take
so I'll just say this; bring more calories and water than you think
you'll need, you're going to be out there for a while. Marked on the
Google map above is the location of a water fountain in Belleville
just off the trail, and a soda machine in Monroe that is visible from
the trail. Those are the only services that I'm aware of. There may be
something open in Monroe but you should not count on it and it's
likely that some of you will be caught by the returning group before
you reach Monroe.
Front and rear lights are required. You can get by with a pretty
basic head light, the more lumens the better, but a basic AA powered
commuter light should be just enough to avoid hitting anything big. I
recommend having a backup headlight and keep in mind that you may need
up to 6 hours of battery power.
--For the winner--
Whomever reaches the state line first wins and gets to bring back
the trailer that has refreshments and prizes, you will be popular.
If you can't figure out how to hook up the trailer to your bike
then you forfeit the win to the first person who can. Here is a link
to the instructions on how to attach this style of trailer, if you're
fast you should check this out:
Bike choice... The bulk of the route on crushed limestone bike path, the rest is pavement. A road bike will work fine unless you coddle yours like a newborn.
Lights... You'll need a front and rear light. The moon will be pretty much full and it's a wide open path with only the occasional low hanging branch, critter, and pothole to keep an eye out for so you shouldn't need a megawatt of lighting power. A basic commuter light powered by a couple of AA batteries should get you by (more can't hurt though), just keep in mind that you'll need about 6 hours of battery power. Again, you will need a front and rear light.
Support... There is none. If you crash, get lost, bonk, or find yourself in any sort of predicament then you're going to have an interesting night. Make sure someone who cares about your well being knows what you're up to.
For the winner... In a slight change from the original description, instead of a backpack there is going to be a bike trailer full of goodies at the finishing line that you are responsible for attaching to your bike and dragging back to Madison. It will hook up to any standard quick release or bolt on rear hub. It may be heavy. If you think you have a shot at winning and have concerns about how the trailer attaches drop me a line and we'll work through it.