I’ve ridden all kinds of gravel. Loose gravel, packed gravel, mostly dirt gravel, peanut buttery slop gravel, rutty gravel, washed-out gravel and gravel that’s practically cement. But until last night, I’d never ridden any kind of gravel in the pitch-black darkness of north Texas. Ponder, Texas to be exact. On a ride called the ”Midnight Massacre” — an unsupported, metric century gravel road race with a twist: an 8pm start time.
At the start, the sun was still up (and it was still 100 degrees) but by 9:30pm, the temperature had dropped and Ponder went dark. Real dark. Averaging 15mph, that leaves about 2.5 hours to be guided solely by fellow riders’ flashing red taillights, the occasional reflective directional marker and the 20 feet of illuminated terra-not-so-firma directly in front of you. Dicey.
I ran the Cygolite Turbo 330 and a helmet-mounted, 45-lumen, cheapy headlamp — together providing me with just enough light to keep me out of trouble and see (in vivid detail) one armadillo, one possum, six barking dogs and three tarantulas with fuzzy black abdomens as big as ping pong balls.
I rode the 64.5 miles in about four hours. Here’s my Strava link. Overall, I’d say it felt pretty good — way better than Almanzo. My faith in gravel has been restored. The Foundry performed flawlessly, as usual — and it’s much more comfortable since I swapped out the WTB for a Fizik Aliante. Next up? A tubeless upgrade and more Skratch. Love that stuff.