A Night Out on the Town – The 94th Crotona Midnight Run

A Night Out on the Town – The 94th Crotona Midnight Run

Will contestant 27 please come on down

There is an excitement that begins to simmer when you’re waiting for something to happen. And so it was this year for the Crotona Midnight Run. The day that the flyers were made public a low rumbling buzz began to circulate around local motorcycle circles.

The chit-chat about the Crotona seems to come in three basic flavors:

  • “Are you doing the Crotona?”
  • “Why would anyone want to do the Crotona?”
  • “Woohoo, I can’t wait for the Crotona!”

There have been some years where I have flatly dismissed the idea of doing the ride. And there have been others where I hemmed and hawed, committing nothing more than a ‘maybe’. But, this year was different. I was fully in the YES! camp right out of the gate.

The biggest obstacle for any motorcycle event here in the northeast during the winter would obviously be the weather. Who can know when they pick a date months in advance what the weather will be like? You could have roads covered in four feet of snow or… if the flying weather monkeys have the night off – clear skies and low temperatures in the 20’s.

The Day of the Big Dance

DanielDuring the afternoon, I wandered around the house anxiously awaiting to leave. I tried to relax, tried and failed to take a nap, watched tv – you know stuff to occupy my mind so that I didn’t gnaw my fingernails down to nubs prior to my 9pm departure.

The day dragged on until the last 45 minutes before I was set to leave. That of course went by in two shakes of a lambs tail as I tried to make sure that I had everything that I needed. Dressed and ready to go, I kissed Kenny goodbye and pointed my headlights west towards Yonkers. Part of me wished that he would be coming along, but it’s just not his thing.

This year I was heading to Yonkers solo, unsure if anyone I knew would actually be there. I spent the hour long slab ride wondering what the night would be like. I was glad to see Catfish and Carmine in the Ural and Daniel’s Ducati dry clutch clamoring away when I rode into the parking lot for registration.

Catfish and Carmine

Tiger at Nathans for the Crotona Midnight RunNot wanting to get a late key time, I quickly got on line to register. I received sticker number 27. Whew! I read somewhere that there were over 70 riders who checked in. Getting a post 1am key has to be a drag. That’s a lot of standing around for everyone involved.

As I sat idling in line waiting to be released, the lady timekeeper leaned to me and said – “I think you’re our only lady rider this year.” There were definitely other women there – some passengers and sidecar monkeys but I don’t know yet if there were any other pilots. I found that surprising. I kind of thought each year there would be a few more.

While her stopwatch counted down the seconds, I went through my standard procedure of thinking that I’d be terrible at navigating and will probably miss the first turn in my anxiety. It was a relief to successfully make the first left and put that craziness to bed. With each subsequent turn that came up, I began to relax a little bit more.

Captain America at the Crotona

For a while I was mixed in with a group of about 5 other riders. Based on what I thought my correct time was – they had to have been off their marks. We moved through the route together for quite a while. And then… and I’m not really sure how it happened, they were all gone. I was alone following the route under the stars. Before I knew it, I’d reach the end of my sheet and pulled in to the diner lot.

How two hours had just passed – I had no idea. The layover went by in a blink, too. It was like I was in a time-sucking wormhole.

Bikes at the Carmel Diner

If you happened to read my 2011 CMR post you might want to pat me on the back. Unlike then when I stupidly decided I had enough gas to finish the ride on that P.o.S GS, I topped off the Tiger prior to leaving for the second leg. Please, hold your applause.

Heading off into the dark at 4:27, my first turn was set to be 3.1 miles from the start. The first road I came to had no street sign. So, I decided to take my own advice and trust my gut (and my odometer) and make the left anyway. Riding along alone in the dark, doubt began to sneak up on me. Do I double back and take a look at the next road or keep going? I opted to go with my initial instinct and keep moving forward. As it turned out, I’d made the right choice. That same exercise in trust was repeated a few more times throughout the leg.

I clocked in at the final check point 2 minutes late on my time. I know I lost points on the other checkpoints as well but I have no idea how many, yet. I really admire the folks who can get a perfect score. Amazing.

Crotona Midnight Run 2012 Complete

It was nearly 7am when I started my hour long trek back home. With the nights events now complete, the universe let out a big sigh and the adrenaline wore off. It was no longer time to do math and watch the speedo and read roadsigns and watch for deer and hope I did that right and… and… and… It was time to burn the familiar miles on the Long Island Expressway.

All the way home even with my heated liner and gloves I felt cold, chilled through. I started to realize just how tired I was. The little devil on my shoulder started that horrible game of whispering, “you know you want to close your eyes, just for a second. What could happen?” in my ear. Hate that guy.

I played little games with myself to stay alert and not be lulled into a relaxed state. I worked at remembering pieces of the night, I focused hard on my surroundings, I thought about how much it would suck to be plastered on the back of a coach bus.  When my exit sign appeared in the distance, I may or may not have said “Thank God,” out loud in my helmet.

A little after 8am, I fumbled with my keys and walked in to our empty house. My gear came off of me in an explosion and I just left it where it fell and went to lay down. I sent a text to Kenny to let them know I’d made it home safe and sound and then sleep came calling as I shivered under the blankets.

Sleepy faceWhen I awoke 3 hours later my monkeys were back home and we sat and talked about the ride. My eyes were puffy and red – my face windburned. My thoughts weren’t sharp or clear. They were more like a watercolor, a loose interpretation of what I wanted to say washed over everything because of the general haze hung over my mind. I tried hard not to nap all day and completely screw up my sleep for the following night.  For someone who rarely sees the stroke of midnight – starting my ride at that time is really difficult and I felt the effects of it all day.

Now with some sleep under my belt, I am able to relish all of the twists and turns, the challenge and the fun of the ride. I had a great time. And yes, I can’t wait for next year.

So, What Did I Learn?

  • Trust your instincts
  • Fill up at the halfway point!

 Big Thanks

A huge thanks has to go out again to road-captain Dick Roberts and the whole gang over Ramapo MC for hosting the Crotona Midnight Run. It’s a lot of work and takes a lot of good will and dedication to prepare the route and then stand out there in the cold dark night. Thank you, all.

27 Replies to “A Night Out on the Town – The 94th Crotona Midnight Run”

  1. Glad you made it home safe and sound! Sounded like one helluva time and good on you for trusting your instincts. Sorry I couldn’t make it this year or the past three years haha. I just had so much going on I couldn’t make the time for it. Next year for sure!!

    I hate that guy telling you to sleep too, the devil of all devils.

    1. One day, Ben – One day you’ll be there. I actually think you’d enjoy it. Maybe not so much on the 1098, but the challenge of it is really fun.

      It was really good to see Arc there and your other SU bro, Pete 🙂

      I kind of wondered if we’d see Eric come rolling in, but it didn’t happen 🙁

  2. Well Done Fuzzy, I have to say I missed last year do to some stupid sand at the end of my block and this year was missed due to the fact that I have yet to replace my beloved Connie 14 after a run in with a 17 year old in Aug that has left me bikeless. ATGATT saved me from what should have been a really bad accident. I had many offers for a loaner bike. I am sure that some folks were looking around at the sign-up to see if I was going to come walking in throught the door or not. Then when it was realized I was not coming, those folks took a deep breath and with mixed feelings were happy and sad that I would not be around to challenge them for the top spot. In the 7 years I rode the midnight run I have won 5 times and trophied the other two.

    1. Thanks, Carolyn-
      I’m sure you know how it is – if you want it to be fun – it will be!
      The ride is like a big puzzle. The problem solving is something I really like. And well,it’s riding. SCORE!

      I totally hear you on the uselessness. Sounds like I’m a lot like you. My days of being up all night are long gone. I’m one of those weird “morning people” now.

    1. Thanks, T-
      I do have great vision but not so much at night.It seems to be better when there isn’t a lot of oncoming lights. At 2am in the suburbs where this ride happens – there aren’t many other cars on the road so it works out okay.

  3. Great write-up, as usual. I always enjoy your way of describing things. This time especially since I wasn’t able to make it this year. I had made every one since 1998. I left Binghamton Saturday hoping to be back home sometime Sunday with the memories you wrote of. It wasn’t to be. Due to a corroded/split oil line, my plans changed. 6 years of that damn salt apparently took a toll.

    I couldn’t agree more with your expression of gratitude to Dick and the Ramapo Club. They do a great job on a unique event.

    I will be there next year!

  4. Very nice write-up.
    I was # 44 this year. 1st year I actualy finished. Last year the course was canceled due to weather. Year before I got lost out of the gate. This year I believe I did okay. Thank you Ramapo for hosting.

    1. It’s a 120 mile course that you must complete at 30mph. The good thing is, you really don’t spend any time in Yonkers other than at signup. It’s mostly in the lovely back lanes of Westchester.

    1. I’m so glad. You seemed to take everything in stride, you weren’t one of those whiner types – it was all good!

      The ride itself was really quite nice. I’ll have to give it a whirl in the daylight.

  5. Fuzzy:

    I don’t know how you can stay up all night riding around in the dark. On one of our Rallies there is a Midnight run which used to start at Midnight. They pushed it back to 1am last time. I can’t keep my eyes open that late

    congrats for finishing it

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Thanks, Bob-
      I think while you’re doing it – you are amped so you aren’t sleepy. Once its over and time to ride home.. that’s when the sleep devil comes callin’.

  6. Fuzzy, It was good to see you at the layover if only for a brief moment. I enjoyed your writeup. Here’s my version of the 2012 MNR, written Sunday morning:

    The weather was clear in the low 20’s, and the roads were clear with some wet spots. I trailered my K/EML rig down from NH on Saturday morning, and met my daughter Bev at my Moms in Somers. On the way down,I lost all my running lights on my Tundra and flatbed, including instrument lights. I was able to find and repair a power wire on the trailer that had rubbed bare, before heading down to the start at Nathan’s on Central Ave in Yonkers. I got on the Sprain Pkwy from 287, knowing full well trailers are not allowed, but hey, it’s a direct route to Jackson Ave and sometimes ya just gotta color outside the lines.

    Turns out I left my stopwatch home, and the electric odometer I grabbed off the shelf in my garage would not work with the pickup unit on the bike. So now we were flying bind. DOH! We said F*ck it, and just decided to have fun and do the best we could using Bev’s iPhone as a stopwatch. We also ditched the half-assed intercom I had rigged up, and I just leaned into the sidecar to get instructions and converse, adding to the challenge of riding on back roads in the dark, while trying to kinda stay on time and not get lost.

    We managed to hit the first checkpoint on time by sheer luck, and then settled into a routine of trying to keep on our minute by using the mileage of the turns on the route sheet to guage our speed. It worked pretty well, combined with luck and dead reckoning, and we think we hit all the checkpoints of the first leg on our minute. It did not help that we were on minute 48, I had put our helmet stickers on the right side of the sidecar windshield, and I had a sticker on my helmet with minute 5 from a previous year! I am an idiot.

    The two hour layover in Carmel passed quickly, and I was ready to go after a big bowl of Chili. Long story short; we think we hit all the second leg checkpoints on our minute, dispite a slight off course excursion by the Kensico Dam in Valhalla! Sidecars are awesome for making up time, cuz you can toss them into corners, and not worry about ice or sand. We hit the end checkpoint right on time, successfully navigating the maze of little roads in Scarsdale, said our goodbyes, loaded up and headed back to Somers. Bev was asleep almost immediately, and I was left to fight droopy eyes for the next 45 minutes!

    After a 4 hr snooze, I left my Moms for home in NH, with black coffe and some peanutbutter crackers. Traffic was light, and I made the 180 miles in less than 3 hours. I was able to unload and put all my crap away before it got dark. I’m gonna try stay awake for the Super Bowl, cuz I don’t wanna miss Madonna at halftime…. Yeah, right!

    Bob B

    Update: My daughter and I finished 2nd overall by one point and first in the Expert class! We’ll take it! BB

  7. Hey Fuzzy!
    First off, I want to thank you for posting your experiences with the CMR. Your information helped me get ready for the run and also what to expect on the road.
    I was the guy on the Harley behind you (#28).

    I would really appreciate if you can e-mail me the pictures you have posted of Catfish and Carmine on the Ural (I’m next to them) as well as the Nathans picture and the bikes lined up at the Carmel Diner.

    I agree that the Ramapo MC does a great job with this run. Hope to see you next year!
    You have an awesome website!!!

    Ride Safe Bob L

    1. Heya Bob 🙂

      I’ll send you those pics tonight. They’re not such great quality at large size. The iPhone isn’t so hot in low light – but you’re welcome to them anyway.

      I’m glad you got something good out of the posts! It was fun, wasn’t it?

      Thanks for the nice words, I sure appreciate it.

      Check your mail later!

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