Or at least, that was an apt description of last night. There was nothing for it but to go for a ride. Some might have questioned the wisdom of going for a ride the night after a 171km jaunt the day before, but I really wanted to do another decent night ride. I'd originally planned to ride out to Canungra and meet an old friend for the climb to O'Reillys, but apparently he didn't fancy the weather. In the end, I decided to ride the old Numinbah Valley circuit, but in reverse this time around.
The early part of the ride through the suburbs was uneventful, but I started to feel the early climbs of Bilambil and Hogans Road. It was when I dropped into the John Hogan rainforest (and the glow worms), that the rain really started. Surprisingly, the final descent into the Tweed Valley wasn't as nasty as I expected (Hogans rd really has some nasty bends). My legs didn't fancy the westerly wind on the road that bypasses Murwillumbah, and eventually onto Chillingham, but this stretch of road was still beaten without too many problems.
After Chillingham comes the climb of the Macpherson Range, and to the border. It's ups and downs without any real gain for the first few km, before the climb really kicks. This was actually a perfect night to do this climb, while it was overcast and raining, there was still enough moonlight to create the silhouette of the clouds on the mountains surrounding. That was until I hit the really steep part, and the mist intensified. Now it was difficult to see anything -- the road has no line markings, all I could see were the little reflectors on the sign posts on the side of the road. Allied to this, the road was too slippery for getting out of the saddle, the sign at the top says the gradient is 25%. I'm not convinced about that, but 15% wouldn't be exaggerating.
Then I noticed something about the reflectors, the gradient seemed to be easing a little just up the road. I hammered the pedals, climbing the last few metres as the rain kicked in again. Through the border gate, still couldn't see a thing, but the climb was over. It was a fast descent back into the Numinbah Valley, dropping out of the immediate mist to more amazing scenes of clouds gathering on mountains in moonlight. Eventually the road established a flat run with a tailwind through the valley, but the incidents weren't over yet.
Ahead I saw a group of hoons spinning ridiculously before heading off on the Springbrook Road. I'd see them again another couple of times, I'm not going to speculate on what they were doing until I'm convinced they've figured it out themselves. I even found time to offer assistance to someone whose car had broken down out there (not that I could have done much about it). Contrary to popular belief, I am actually a reasonable person.
A late twist on the ride was the 10km section through Advancetown to Clagiraba, a series of short, sharp climbs. I found the energy to attack the late ones, just as I did the 10% grade of Alexander Drive near Nerang which is the start of suburbia. Now I was almost home, and not a minute too soon either. Tired as my legs were feeling at that point, I had been surprised at the time I'd made to get back from the top of the Numinbah climb. Maybe the wind was stronger than I thought.
Final impressions? Well, it's difficult to quantify as a training ride for the Midnight Century because it followed a long ride the day before. I will say that riding late at night provides a definite mental challenge that isn't there during the day. It's a time when the muscle fibres would normally be sleeping, and aren't afraid to make it clear. Sometimes, however, a beacon on the horizon can overcome this, and these can be found in the most unlikely places.