South of Fitchburg the group spread out and I found myself riding solo under a full moon. In open spaces I could switch off my lights and still see the light-colored, crushed limestone trail. However, I mainly kept my lights on, watching for the racoons and possums that might wander across the trail.
A trailer filled with beer, food, and prizes awaited the first place finisher at the border. According to the unofficial race's rules, the winner had the privilege of hooking the trailer to his bike and leading the procession back to Madison. In Monroe and in the Stewart Tunnel, the beers and snacks were distributed to lighten the load.
I was within a few miles of the border when I saw the blinding lights of a train of cyclists heading towards me. I hitched on and headed back at a casual pace, chatting with a fellow bike camper and touring cyclist. By Belleville, the sun was starting to rise and it was 8 am before I was back in bed. When I awoke around noon, it felt like the whole race had been a dream.