Indeed, the first half of our s24o was delightful. As dusk set in and I discovered that the seam tape on at least one seam of my bivy sack had failed, my enthusiasm quickly waned. I packed fairly light, so I didn't have much in the way of insulated clothes to get me through the night comfortably without a reasonably warm sleeping bag, and my soaked down sleeping bag and sleeping pad were no longer able to provide that need. My choices of discomfort were either sharing a tent, thus crowding and likely disturbing a friend with my restless sleep through the night, or packing up and riding home. I obviously chose the latter. Unfortunately for Dan, he didn't want me riding alone, so he opted to ride into the night with me.
I love riding at night. I really should do it more, though with more optimal lighting than Korey's stand-by low-power headlight. The night has a mysterious way of hiding some of the effort and provides me with a sense of serenity that I struggle to find when I ride under the sun. At the same time there was far more of a sense of urgency than our out-bound trip, as we were eager to limit our exposure to the dropping temperature and out-pace our eroding mental drive.
The night environment was very agreeable. The temps were in the 60s at the start and didn't dip below the 50s, the winds were mostly calm or at our backs, and a nearly full moon helped ease our detection of the road. I had a powerful taillight and Dan had a reasonably powerful headlamp, so together we managed fairly well when we were light challenged. Our route mostly paralleled I-86, so the freeway's on-coming car headlights hindered our vision at times.
The section of road from Seagull Bay to the Rainbow Road freeway exit (~5mi) is on Fort Hall Indian Reservation land and is in very poor condition. Rain from the earlier downpour had filled the multitude of wheel-eating potholes. With little wind, the puddles reflected light very well, thus appearing to be freshly patched areas instead of the pits of despair that they were (sadly, we figured this out experimentally). After our first pitfall experience and some wet legs, we were more diligent in dodging the inviting dark patches.
Once beyond the bumpy section we managed much better, though we were getting incrementally colder and more sore where the body meets the bike. We arrived back home around midnight, which we considered to be fairly fast for the 30+ miles, especially considering the added weight and lighting constraints. Dan was a trooper, and while his legs didn't thank him, I sure did! While I didn't meet the '24' of the s24o, it was definitely epic for me.