Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mill City Coffee Run

"Who's better than us?" asked 9969.  "Nobody, that's who!"

Some days when I get out of bed, I feel like I'm stepping outside of the regular world.  The alarm gongs early, still dark, and I spring up, thinking "Today!  I get to ride bikes all day!".  The enthusiasm wanes, but not for several hours.

9969, aka the Kid, aka the Pirate - my ride to the ride - showed up thirty minutes early and I was still in the bath.  I let him in and got back in the bath.  Things go better if I have a hot soak and mellowing out period to start days like this.

It was 25 degrees as we walked out of the cafe in Wilsonville, ready to jump on the Boone Bridge and get to the Charbonneau District.  Crossing the Willamette River takes you away from suburban sprawl and drops you into a pastoral post card.

Howell Prairie Road was gorgeous and neverending, and also on the route of a new permanent I'm creating.  The Portland-Aumsville-Portland, or the PAP, was inspired by the icy weather creating dangerous areas on higher elevation roads.  I need something flat and easy that starts nearby for days like this.

We rode through Aumsville before arriving at our control in Stayton.  I checked out the restaurant control for PAP and even spied a deli market across the parking lot.  Golden.  On we pedaled to our french fry snack in Stayton.  Leaving town via a circuitous route made sense after we missed a turn and spent an unpleasant mile on the main street.
Soon we were on Old Mehama Road.  The countryside here was so quiet and peaceful, it felt almost haunted.  Even the dilapidated old barn surrounded by sheep and heaps of discarded farm equipment looked picturesque.  Soon we were singing songs about stink and soon after that we encountered an extremely smelly pig farm.  Bacon's revenge.

We were getting short on time as we entered Mill City, which doesn't seem to have a mill and is so small it's barely a town.  After riding in circles for ten minutes, 9969 chimes in with an "I thought you rode this before", I reminded him that was a year and many thousand miles ago, and with seven other people leading the way.  Finally we stumbled onto Rosie's Cafe, our destination.

I don't think they were excited to see us city slickers in our tight pants there at the cafe.  When I asked for my order "for here" she asked if we would be sitting outside.  In the frigid cold.  The muffin and truffle I had were delicious nonetheless, and we enjoyed a friendly conversation with a neighboring table.

Onward and upward, or downward, we jumped back on highway 22.   All morning we had watched the telltales and felt sure our future included a massive headwind on the way back north.  This dreaded hypothetical headwind never did show up until Butteville Road, many miles later.  First we had to get back to Stayton.  We agreed that chocolate milk would make our world a better place and got matching receipts.
Back to Aumsville and back onto Howell Prairie Road.  The sun started to set but the temperature stayed on the good side of forty.  Twilight seems to be the time of day dogs are on guard and we had many run out at us.  We started to be quiet so we wouldn't call them all out.  We saw a pair of boys jumping in a blue barrel to crush down leaves, and I laughed out loud when one of them fell over and out of the barrel.

My back felt sore and pedaling hurt so I slowed way down and watched the red blinking light ahead of me recede.  Soon enough I was at the Angel-Gervais turn, but my riding partner missed it.  I called and voicemailed and texted, then rolled on ahead to Gervais.

A bag of chips and a bathroom break "behind the Gatorade machine" in the Gervais store freshened me right up.  On to Butteville Road.  It felt even longer than Howell Prairie, if that's possible.  My headlight only served to show how dark the world had gotten, and keep me from riding into a ditch.  But the sky felt big and glowed navy blue.  It was the only thing that kept me going for many miles.

C'mon Fargo.  Please be Fargo.  The telltale green street sign would glimmer up ahead, reflecting my headlight and teasing me with the hope that it might say Fargo.  Sign after sign did not say Fargo. The F on the Feller Road sign gave me a momentary flutter, but still no Fargo.  9969 phoned to tell me he'd made it back to the car.  I wanted to beg him to send me Fargo Road.

Finally, lifetimes later, Fargo Road materialized.  Then Bents and Arndt and Boones Ferry.  Only two miles on Boones Ferry, then, onto the freeway and over the bridge and back to the car and beer and burgers and the euphoria of sitting still.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lunch at Nick's III

It was rainy most of the day on my third circuit of this route.  I forgot which gloves do best in the rain so I brought the wrong ones, which are nearly impossible to take off and put on again once wet.  I can't believe Fern Hill wasn't flooded out.  The unfairness of the rain is that it's sunny and dry two days later while I'm trapped inside at work.

The sour weather made it all worth it on Stag Hollow.  Oh man, I could hit the replay button on that one over and over.  That little bit of road was is so enormously cool I could barely contain myself.  I was laughing loudly and the wind was shitting on us so heartily no one could hear me.  A while later, on the way back, it was clear and felt like a different place on a different day.  The orderly lines of yellow vineyards make me buzz.  I felt like a genius for remembering where the jog is and keeping really quiet so that mean dog wouldn't hear us.

The huge colony of geese we saw had us talking about birds for a long time.  I learned how to identify a kestrel and a flicker.  9969 (formerly "the Kid") is a fountain of knowledge.  These geese, gal dang there were so many, were originally heading north, then the front wave turned back and they formed a giant tornado going around in the sky.  

My new Sidis worked out fantastically.  I guess my good shoe karma is #7600's bad shoe karma because he rode a perm the same day and forgot his bike shoes.  My feet never hurt, not for a second, not a numb toe, not a hot spot, nada.  Knees golden.  Shoulders golden.  Back is a piece of crap but I told it to shut up with ice. 

Dairy is my best friend.  I subsisted on lattes and ice cream, except at Nick's Italian Cafe, for which the ride is named, we all enjoyed minestrone and pane and coffee.  They treated us like royalty.  When the waiter saw us leaning our bikes outside, he started setting the front table.  Automatically brought us separate bills and extra receipts.  We were in and out in a half hour.

9669 stopped with me while I photographed a bus stop for my calendar project.  A few miles later, we were turning right, when he said calmly "Maria there's a dog next to you" and sure enough there was a mean-looking german shephard who was all foamy at the mouth.  We turned right and it went straight.  I was really thankful for the warning because that prevented my signature EGADS (early generalized anxiety disorder syndrome) gasp and holler, which most certainly would've triggered the dog into eating me in one bite.

Later on we saw another dog, a bouncy puppy who looked part whippet and part spaniel.  He bounded out to give chase but rider 6229 pointed at it and swerved toward it and oh boy did that cute little mongrel hop away home.  Good trick to remember.

Spring Hill Road and my favorite hill are still there, in case anyone's wondering.  So is Trespass territory.  They never did do whatever they were going to do - make it a reserve and build a parking lot or some such.  I kept thinking about how I got poison oak and 7600 didn't.  I thought of him again when we passed that little area on the east where we ducked into tractor shade one summer day to cool off.

We saw five cyclists all day, including a lady at dusk with a bunch of groceries strapped all over her bike.  6229 said he was amazed we didn't run into anyone I know.  Then we went to Lucky Lab and Edwin was there.  I ordered an iced tea and almost passed out from the effort of not ordering a deliciously rewarding and hopalicious IPA as I had earned and deserved.  Next perm, the beer fast will be broken!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Half Baked

The new way to ride a century is to join the SAG driver for the first fifty miles, then hop out at lunch and pretend you're one of the riders.

Then, with fresh legs, brand spankin' new legs, paint a carrot on each rider's back.  Follow them far behind and size them up.  Stealthily sip on water, shift and accelerate.

Coast, for just a moment, as you pass them.  Don't look back.  Pedal as hard as you can until you're just over the rise or just around the bend, then blow up.

Recover, drink more, shift and relax.  Repeat.