I’d been bubbling with excitement over this year’s Crotona Midnight Run for the better part of a week. I could hardly wait to set off in to the cold dark night and get underway.

With the twists and turns of a daytime soap, the Crotona Midnight Run kicked off at midnight on Sunday February 20th. Sort of.

Crotona Midnight Run - Bikes at the Carmel Diner

Leaving Home

I had high hopes of sleeping late on Saturday morning. The only zzzz’s I would be catching though were in my daydreams of a nice lazy nap. Real sleep wasn’t to be. I milled around the house, ran errands and tried to make busy-work for my mind. With OCD-like precision I checked the weather and the clock 4,000 times before finally shoving off around 8:45pm.

Throughout the day the winds outside were positively howling. Gusts up to nearly 50mph were forecast for the night. I gave myself a little extra time to make it to the exit on the LIE where my friends were set to be meeting.

As I got my first taste of the wintery blast on the Expressway I was glad that I chose to ride the GS. The big bomber was probably a better match against the wind than the flimsy DRZ.

When I pulled in to the gas station, I saw only Robert and Quacka standing there. Though my instinct told me the contrary, I figured I was just early. I said my ‘hellos’ and gassed up the bike. The wind cut across my knuckles like a razor as I filled the tank. It was freezing.

As the 3 of us waited in the cold, a text message came through with bad news. Catfish’s Ural was crapped out on the highway, firing only on 1 cylinder. It was down for the night – he would not be making the ride. Quacka quickly dispatched himself to help as Robert and I waited for Bob.

Our numbers were dwindling, but my excitement wasn’t. As soon as Bob arrived, off we went to Yonkers.

To the Starting Line

Dont Do it Bob! Hotdog burps in the helmet - Ooofa!With little fanfare, we made the hour long trek to Yonkers. The wind gave me a good shove here and there, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I imagined something that felt like the constant blowing winds we experienced crossing the prairie in South Dakota. I was glad to be wrong.

As we stood in the freezing parking lot awaiting the sign-up table, I heard what could only be the deep, throaty rumble of Soth’s RC51, heading down Central Park Ave. Bwaaaaaaaaaaa…. Bwaaaaaaaaaaa.

Hugs, handshakes and introductions all around – we signed in and got our route sheets. It was so cold my bare hands were kind of frozen in a claw like shape. I could barely sign my name to become rider number 9.

Oh, the Humanity

Oops. Broke my zipper.I stood next to the bomber, about to swing my leg over and no dice. I couldn’t lift my leg to swing it. The liner in the pants shifted¬† and for some reason was hindering the motion. What the…? I stood there, messing with my pants only to pull zipper off the track. Fantastic! I broke the zipper on my pants.

I finally got on the bike only to discover that the grade on the parking lot made getting the huge beast off it’s sidestand nearly impossible. Rather than me getting off again, putting it on it’s center stand and then riding it off the stand, Robert pulled up next to me and gave the handlebar a tug so I could right myself. Who says chivalry is dead?!

Now that I had feeling like a complete douche out of the way, we motored over to the neighboring Nathan’s to warm up and prepare our route sheets.

To the Maps – Let’s Go!

I love that you aren’t allowed to use a GPS for this ride.

Crotona Midnight Run Route Sheet

When you first get the route sheets they look like an overwhelming jumble of number and letters. The idea of actually reading it while you’re in motion, in the dark, in the dead of winter can kind of feel like a shock to the system at first. But, if you just stop for a second and really look closely, its actually quite easy to follow.

Armed with my cutey skull lamp, the Rally Pack magnetic map pocket (which incidentally, I won in a raffle at the Ramapo 500 :) ) I was ready to roll. Gone was that nervous excitement about doing something unknown that I’d experienced during my go at the 2007 CMR.

Expect the Unexpected

When we pulled up to the staging area, we were notified that the first leg of the ride was… canceled. WHAT?! The high winds that the area had been experiencing all day managed to take some trees and power lines down. The whole first leg was scrapped. The ride would start from the layover point at the Carmel Diner at 3:00am.

Oh well, life happens. We were already there – might as well make the best of it. That’s just what we did. One of the riders stepped up to the plate and organized a really nice, hour long back road ride to the diner. Night time twisties!

Pete on his Zuma

Fancy Machine? Nah! All you need is the desire to ride! - Pete on his Zuma

We arrived at the diner, in good spirits and settled in for the layover with coffee and “breakfast.” Despite the setback, the overall mood of the riders coming in seemed to be upbeat. There was lots of laughing and chit-chat.

Hi Ben!

I was really happy to see Ben from Ramapo MC at the diner and then later on again at a checkpoint. Ben is always ready with a smile and a kind word. He introduced me to a writer/photographer whose name I have unfortunately forgotten. While we were talking he asked me, “Why do you do it?”

Why Indeed?

I’m not really sure I know the real answer to that question. Its riding motorcycles, what’s not to love? There is something to the idea that there might be a little hardship along the way that you have to overcome. I guess you could say the challenge is appealing. But, I just keep coming back to the same basic premise: because its fun!

65 Honda Scrambler

Nifty Honda Scrambler

My Wingmen

Bob was my official wingman for the night. He rode along with me for the whole route. I was his surrogate eyes since he didn’t have his reading glasses and couldn’t read the route :) He wasn’t there to win, he was there to finish the ride, so he wasn’t concerned about making the correct time. He didn’t fuss or complain and really had a good attitude about the whole thing. It was great having him at my mercy! Muhahahahaha! uh, I mean having him along.

Bob and Pete at the Carmel Diner

My other unofficial wingman was of course Soth. He was rider number 10 and was riding for time so he wasn’t always in my mirror but we did rubberband now and then. As much as he might have outwardly said “why am I doing this?” I think deep down inside he loved it. ;)

And We’re Off

Steady on the Fuzzy!3:09 marked my departure time and off I went putt-putting in to the night. In one of many missteps, I second guessed myself based on someone else’s u-turn and doubled back to check a signless street. I should have just trusted my gut and my horribly inaccurate odometer. U-turning again and heading back in the correct direction, I had to find Soth, who was rider number 10 and pass him and get myself back into the correct time slot.

While Bob and Soth smartly topped off their tanks at the Carmel Diner, I foolishly did not. I was staring down at 7 bars on the gas gauge to go 60 miles. No problem. I could ride home on that, for crying out loud.

At 3:19 we passed a digital bank sign that said it was 13 degrees. I’m happy to say my Gerbings gloves and liner were kicking much ass. I stayed plenty warm thanks to their toasty goodness.

For the most part the rest of the route was pretty straight forward and easy to follow. The only problem I was having was watching my gas gauge eat it’s bars at an alarming rate. Putt-putting around at 30mph ate 6 bars of gas in less than 50 miles. What THE HELL??

Back at the Diner I was busy telling Soth to fill up if he had any indication that he *might* need gas. Like a huge dummy, I didn’t even follow my own advice. I truly did not expect such tragic mileage out of the Panzer.

This is the End?

We came rolling in to what was now the abrupt end of the ride near Bedford, NY. Due to more downed trees, the final checkpoint was at around the 35 mile mark.

A single, lonely bar remained on my gas gauge. The closest open gas station was a mile down the road… on the other side of the downed trees :-/ As other riders came rolling in to the parking lot, I was offered gas by not 1 but 2 well-prepared riders. Their kindness and willingness to help was awesome.¬† Motorcycle people can be pretty great <3

So that was it. It was the abrupt end of the ride and we made it. Through cold, ice, wind, ripped pants and a nearly empty gas tank – we came out on the other side in one piece.

Motoring Home

Bob, Soth & I set off towards the Hutchinson River Parkway. Bob and I stopped at the parkway Mobile for gas and Soth put the hammer down with a honk and wave heading for Brooklyn. And then we were two.

We grabbed a cup of coffee and a biological break after filling up. During that time, in what was a string of missteps for the night – I managed to unplug my heated liner segment from the Y connector on the Gerbings. Only, I did not realize that until I was already underway and not willing to pull over. I was getting tired and just wanted to get home. Though it was cold with no heated liner on the highway, my heated gloves were cooking so things could have been worse.

During the hour it took me to get home, I had time to mull over the ride, the people, and my feelings about the whole thing. In those sleepy moments, I felt blessed to have nice people in my life who share the same enthusiasm for enjoying their time on the big blue marble. I really enjoyed the ride, but most of all I enjoyed the time with my friends.

Living so far east, it isn’t often that I get the opportunity to ride in to the sunrise. On Sunday morning I got to do just that. I thought it was a very fitting and beautiful end to my great night of riding.

Mistakes I Made:
  • Broken Pants Zipper
  • Couldn’t get bike off side stand
  • Second guessed my gut instinct
  • Overestimated my fuel range
  • Unplugged my heated liner
What I did Right:
  • Showed up
  • Had fun

Steady on the Humble

My dear friend Soth posted his ride 2011 Crotona Midnight Run report on Steady On The Humble. Don’t forget to head over there and read about the ride from his point of view.

Thank You, Ramapo Motorcycle Club

The folks at Ramapo MC really deserve a huge round of applause. They put in a lot of hours and hard work organizing a safe and fun event. They stand outside at check-ins and checkpoints all night long, freezing their piggies off and still have a smile for you when you pull up. It doesn’t go unnoticed. Great bunch of folks.