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.

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