Nine of us sat at Starbucks sipping coffee and folding our cue sheets just so. Departing Wilsonville, we immediately jumped on the I-5 freeway to cross the river. It's dark and traffic is passing fast. I drop my computer and u-turn to retrieve it.
I love the first exit into the Charbonneau District. Leaving the suburban sprawl, then the busy freeway bridge, this exit takes us smack dab into pretty country. Also, it sounds french.
Arndt, Bents and Fargo are like old friends. These are your postcard perfect Willamette Valley roads. Quilted like farm country usually is, it's easy to spot other riders ahead or behind, even at 90 degree angles.
We're enjoying the long pretty stretch along the Santiam River when someone's crank comes off. I looked at his fully inflated tires, wondering why he stopped. It took two of us to help him unclip from the detached crank arm. Soon Rando Jeff rolled up to the rescue with an 8mm wrench that's not part of a multi-tool.
Back together again, both people and parts that is, we're off to the cafe. This quaint little coffee house and restaurant is just east of the middle of nowhere, but there's a line inside. We get sandwiches and cocoas and scones and a big corner table.
Now it's time to head back. I'm riding with Rando Laura and Rando Chris and we're going fast. Ahead of everyone else by several miles, we're racing daylight. We take a right onto Angel-Gervais Road. You know, the one where you're supposed to turn left. One gorgeous sunset and three hilly miles later, we realize our error and turn back.
It's dark and there's the sound of a hundred dogs barking. We plow on ahead, squinting to catch a glimpse of a flashing red tail light ahead of us. Catching the group becomes our carrot. Finally, almost back to the freeway bridge, we see a light. It's one dude alone, so we continue on as a foursome to the finish control, where we are dead last.