Amazing to say that this was the third annual Night Bison, and the third Night Bison ride review post on this blog. Back in 2012, for the inaugural Night Bison, I was rolling a Ti Vaya with BPaul (on his old steel Vaya) and Aaron (on his old Colnago). We averaged 17.2mph, and I felt like we were kings. In 2013, we decided to ride it as a fun ride, and I rocked a lefty Spearfish and had a blast. This year…this year I knew of surprises in store.
(Photo credit for the following photos goes to Mateusz; you can click through to his Flickr if you’d like.)
We had an amazing turnout this year–more riders than ever.
Moreover, it wasn’t just a crowd, it was a good crowd. People were happy–smiling–jovial. People were also buying Axletree Merch and…if you didn’t get some…it’s not too late! We lit out at 7:57 (civil twilight), and everyone behaved going out of town–a nice uniform pack, all in the right lane, all respecting traffic. We turned right onto Keslinger, stopped and regrouped. There was a considerable amount of peeing that occurred at that point, for some reason. Then, the race was on.
I was riding with Tobie, Aaron and a group of other riders. We started with the lead group, but lost them when they were able to stop and go (before a car came) and we were forced to stop and wait (until the car passed). We pressed on thereafter, and had a good, steady group that was riding hard. Hard. We were riding as hard as I could maintain. There were about 10-12 riders, and there were about 4 of us who were taking regular pulls through the front. I would take my pulls in large measure because I saw Tobie and Aaron doing it. We were screaming for the first 25 miles or so…and then, we saw it in the distance. Christmas lights and…is that a TV on the side of the road?
Yes. It’s a TV. And Christmas lights. And an espresso machine. And a trailer from…
A mid-ride expresso never tasted so good. Seriously, this was the coolest thing to ever happen in the middle of a ride. I have no idea how he did it, but Tobie from NCC managed to realign some planets and convince a passing Rapha road crew to hit the Night Bison. So in the middle of the ride, we have a flat panel TV playing Rapha Continental videos, and the Rapha-rrista pulling shots of espresso. It was fantastic.
Some riders blew by. Some stopped, downed a shot and got back on the bike. I have to say…I was tempted when people started leaving. I wanted to get back on the bike. My competitive juices were flowing. Then I thought about it. How often am I going to meet a Rapha trailer in the middle of a cornfield? Probably never again. (Hopefully next September, but hey, I’m a realist). I lived in the moment, knowing that the bike would wait for me either way. I hung out with the guys at the stop, enjoyed my espresso, and smiled. It was surreal.
After 20-25 minutes, we got back on the bikes and headed out. I was feeling good–and strong. We set a big pace, and Tobie, Aaron and I started rotating through pulls. Again, there was a group of people who latched on and didn’t do any work–and they missed the fun of being in the front. After a while, we lost Tobie (who had been pushing the pace huge at the start), and it was just Aaron, myself and one other rider. Aaron and I took turns on the pulls, and pushed our speed up. I managed to find that line where you’re riding as hard as you can ride, without riding so hard that you can’t sustain it. I pushed beyond my limits, and rode amazingly well for myself.
We turned on the Harter B-Road, and had nearly passed through all of the rough stuff when Aaron wiped out. He was in front of me, and he called out, ‘watch that rut.’ Of course, just as he was saying that, I plowed into the rut and wiped out in the same spot. We both quickly got back on the bikes, and I decided to see how hard I could push. I buried myself on Harter, and ran down a few riders. Just as I was turning onto Lynch, I picked up a guy on a white Crux, wearing Johnny Sprockets kit. He hung on most of the way up Lynch, and then he took a pull on Lynch and a pull on Gurler. Having a couple brief respites was appreciated–and he rode well. I was in the zone enough that I forgot to even ask what his name was.
After a while, Handsome Dan came riding up behind me (having succumbed first to a seat post issue and second to a couple of beers that stowed away on someone’s bike), towing another rider along with him. We rolled into town together, and chatted on the way back to the bike shop. We talked about what it means to have a good bike shop, what it means to have great bikes, and what an awesome guy Josh Luce is. Dan is good people, and I miss being able to ride with him on a regular basis.
I finished my Night Bison with an average speed of 19.8mph, inclusive of the low-speed 3 mile rollout. Of course, I had a 20-25 minute espresso break in the middle, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. That stop, in the middle of nowhere, with an espresso and a Rapha video…that stop by itself was as good as the ride was. And perhaps equally as important for me, I was able to see what was truly important in that moment, and savor it with friends.
I rode my race, my pace, my way, and had the best Night Bison yet. They just keep getting better and better.
I’ll drop a quick gear note so I remember what I did when I’m planning for this next year: the Moots was perfect in every regard. I ran 3 bottles of water, but ended up really only drinking about 2.3. The Bontrager CX0s were perfect at 44psi front and rear (running a 38c front and 34c rear tire), and the set I have on now has a Gravel Metric, a 10,000, a Night Bison, and a lotta lotta lotta training miles in between on them. Everything was perfect, and I wouldn’t change the setup–or my riding–a bit.