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
During 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.
Not 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.
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.
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.
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.
When 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!
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.