Monday, December 10, 2012

Lunch at Nick's

Saturday, the permanent route owner, Ken, came out to the bakery to sign brevet cards.  He gave tips about the route, including a slight eyebrow bounce at the mention of Stag Hollow Road, which turned out to be gravel.  He also mentioned another rider was doing the route - Alan.

As usual, we started a bit later than planned.  It was chilly but dry.  We kept a comfortable but decent pace all the way to the first control at North Plains Market.  Owner / operator Kim is all business when signing brevet cards.  She's probably seen a million of 'em.

Heading south, we enjoyed even more dry skies.  Riding on Fern Hill reminded me of the detour we had to take around this flooded section on a different day.  Riding on Mineral Springs and Gun Club Road reminded me of last summer's winery ride.  And then there's Spring Hill, which reminds me of trespass touring and of beer in Gaston, even though we didn't go there.
Missing the turn onto scenic Riverside Drive forces one through the sprawly and ugly and trafficky Highway 99 into McMinnville and created a cartoon-like contrast with the historic district, rife with carolers and horse drawn carriages and garlands across the street.  I felt like I had just stumbled, or pedaled, onto the set of It's A Wonderful Life - sans snow, that is.

We didn't eat lunch at Nick's but at an inexpensive cafe instead.  I had a craving for squash soup and was blown away when I learned the special at the cafe was squash soup.  With braised fennel!  And kale!  Fried chickpeas on the side completed a scrumptious lunch.
While we smacked sugar at a candy stop at the top of a little hill on Spring Hill, up rolled the real Alan.  After assuming every rider was Alan and yelling "Alan!!" all across the countryside, it was obvious that this guy was the real deal. There was no mistaking his genuine rando status.  I learned later that in addition to helping design the Oregon Randonneur jersey, this dude is an actual Ancien.  He's ridden Paris-Brest-Paris!

We rode together for a nice little while.  Then the rain started.  Just a little drizzle, but enough to require a raincoat.  Daylight started fading and rain continued.  This is the part of the day where I start to feel strong.  Riding my own pace, instead of "chase pace", makes me faster in the long run.

Back at Kim's market in North Plains, I was glad to have a second hat and spare gloves to change into.  I've learned just what spare gear to carry for comfort in changing conditions.  I drank a milk and ate some nuts before filling my bottle with hot water and tossing a tea bag in.  Another thing I've learned from these long rides is just what my body needs nutrition-wise.

Dark now, regrouped with Alan and on our way back through the suburbs, I was grateful for Alan's familiarity with the territory as it meant way fewer stops to mess with cue sheets.  Riding at night is an acquired taste and I enjoy it now.

Ten more miles to go and I feel invincible.  I start thinking about three hundred Ks and hope the future holds some.  Pedaling, I peek down at my shadow, and pedal faster.  Soon, we're turning off.  We're in front of a corner store. 

Walking inside, just like countless controls done before, I get my brevet card signed.  But this time is different.  I imagine crowds cheering, confetti flying.  I'm almost tearful as I look at my soggy little card.  I've done it.  I've earned my R12.  "R What?!"  I'd boast later that evening, all dressed up and enjoying treats at a holiday party.  "R12, that's what!"

To earn one's R12, a Randonneur, or in my case, Randonneuse, must ride a 200K permanent every month for twelve consecutive months.

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