Old Blue Mountain

Old Blue Mountain sits above Highway 34 and the North Fork of the Alsea. At 2800+ ft., it’s not one of the biggest Coast Range peaks, especially when compared with Mary’s (a bit above 4000′) and Grass Mountain (a bit above 3500′),  which loom above Old Blue to the north and southwest respectively.  It’s a pretty tough ride up though (note that the tracker died on the way down, so the true mileage is 15.5 or so, with about 2600′ to climb in 7 3/4 miles.

The Logging Road Cyclist had long eyed Old Blue, partly because it was an obvious feature with a cool and unusual name, and partly because he had ridden past it any number of times heading into the NF Alsea drainage. Vague maps, a densely forested summit, and bigger fish to fry had kept him away.

But a few weeks ago, TLRC and Devil Puppy had hiked up Mary’s Peak, and for the first time he noticed that Weyerhauser had finally gotten to the top of Old Blue. Google Earth showed an obvious path up. Looking for a shorter sort of ride and Something New, TLRC hauled himself off to check it out.

Five miles of moderate climbing through a moderately pleasant “forest” leads to a big three-way intersection at the divide into the NF Alsea. Go right, take the next right and climb 1600 feet in the next 2.75 miles. Just go uphill at each intersection.

At the top there is a unique close up view of Mary’s Peak from the south,

and at the reverse azimuth a full view of the loooooong profile of Prairie Mtn/Peak and the pastoral lower reaches of the NF Alsea:

 

TLRC had a nice quiet ride until the end, where someone was popping off with a small caliber firearm. As usual TLRC whistled as loud as he could in a vain hope to alert the gunners of his presence as he swerved into the defilade provided by the cutback. He felt pretty safe there until well behind all the action.

TLRC Reviews the ISM PM 2.0 Saddle

Disclaimer

The Logging Road Cyclist has no relationship with ISM other than the full price he paid to the vendors from whom he obtained the saddles reviewed here. The opinions expressed in this review are his alone and may not apply to other cyclists, although he hopes that they are useful.

Abstract

The Logging Road Cyclist reviews the ISM PM 2.0 mountain bike saddle on his road, gravel and mountain bikes. He finds that in terms of relieving perineal pressure, this saddle does everything the manufacturer claims., i.e. that pressure on the perineum is relieved while riding. After 6 months of testing, TLRC never had his significantly damaged pudendal nerve affected, and once correctly adjusted, the saddle is quite comfortable.  The only drawback to the ISM saddle is that it requires significant setback for it to be fit correctly, possibly requiring expensive setback seat posts for proper adjustment.

Introduction

Three and a half years ago, The Logging Road Cyclist severely damaged what he came to believe was his pudendal nerve. After about a year he was recovered enough to start trying out “perineum relief” saddles of which there are many. He has tried most of them, generally without success. He believes that some of them might well have prevented his injury, but, once he was injured they were not sufficiently effective at removing pressure from that sensitive spot. (As an aside for any other cyclists suffering rom this malady, the most successful thing for both rehabilitation and diagnosis for TLRC was pelvic floor therapy, provided by a suitably trained physical therapist; yes, they do it for men too.)

When searching online for saddles that claim to relieve perineal pressure the ISM family shows up among the first candidates, and indeed they were one of the first such saddles that TLRC tried. However much he wanted them to work (and he really, really did), TLRC just couldn’t quite figure out how to sit on them, and they scared him a little, he not wanting to re-injure himself.

Lately he ran into another old cyclist who was using one, and shortly thereafter found this very good video on fitting ISM’s and he got intrigued again. And this time, he figured out how to adjust and use the PM 2.0, and was very pleased with the results.

Fitting the ISM

There is a lot of good information on the ISM website and various YouTube videos about setting up these saddles. Generally speaking, they show how to do it, but the details are a bit trickier. There are two things going on. First, the new user is not quite sure how to sit on these very different saddles. Moreover, as ISM says, at first their saddles may not be comfortable, given how different the sitting position is. TLRC wholeheartedly agrees. Given that one is not entirely sure how to sit on the saddle, and initially may be uncomfortable when sitting on it correctly, how does one go about fitting it to the bike? This is why using ISM’s takes some commitment and an investment of time and rides done with wrenches to hand.

The basics are simple. Since one sits on the front of the saddle, the saddle needs to be displaced to the rear if the rider is to maintain his original position on the bike. ISM also recommends that the saddle be lowered a bit relative to a “normal” saddle. Again, there are lots of resources out there. It would probably be a big help to spend the money and find a fitter who knows how to work with ISM saddles.

TLRC did it himself and, fiddling with four bikes (for he committed), it took quite a while. He does not suggest this as an optimal way to do things…

Riding the PM 2.0

Once adjusted correctly, this is quite a comfortable saddle. To TLRC’s surprise there are a number of riding positions that he finds congenial. Since this is one of ISM’s short saddles, there is a tilt at the back. One can snuggle one’s sitbones just in front of this and it feels like sitting in a sling chair. Slide up a bit and roll forward, and the pubic ramii take up the load. Slide a bit further up and the sitbones can rest on the twin noses just as well. TLRC has no idea if these are all “official” riding positions, but they work for him and allow various parts of the load-bearing surface to rest from time to time. The more forward positions allow for forward weight shift on steep climbs.

Remember that these saddles are designed to be ridden forward. From a male perspective, TLRC finds “almost off the front” about covers it. If chafing on the inner thighs occurs, one is likely not forward enough. Chafing in the groin area may also indicate that the saddle is too high (ISM recommends starting 5mm lower than your present saddle). TLRC got a terrible case of irritation behind his legs when the saddle on his full suspension mountain bike was way too far forward (more anon). 

The tilt of the saddle is also important, and requires quite a bit of work. TLRC found it best to tilt the saddle down enough that he felt himself sliding off the front and bring it up incrementally from there to a point of stability.

But here is the salient point: Even when poorly adjusted, TLRC suffered no discomfort at all in his damaged area. It is hard to emphasize this enough. He is very conservative about what saddles he will try, out of fear of re-damaging himself and being unable to ride (which has happened). It took him a month to figure out that he was safe on these saddles, and then could concentrate on adjusting them correctly.

Setback: The Fly In the Ointment

As stated, these saddles are designed to be ridden on the forward part. To keep the rider positioned as with a regular saddle the ISM must be moved back “2-3 inches” (per ISM) with respect to that regular saddle.  This is a really long way.  If, like TLRC on his road bike, the saddle is already pretty far back on a setback seatpost, it just won’t work. TLRC found that for his road bike, he needed a 32mm setback FSA K-Force post and for his gravel bike a 16mm setback Niner seatpost (and he wouldn’t mind a little more). These are $200 seat posts, so you have the best part of $400 above the seat post tube.

For mountain bikes with dropper posts, the choices are limited. TLRC found a Nine Point Eight the worked (another bunch of $$$).

Conclusion

For the primary and important goal of avoiding damage to the soft tissue in the perineum, TLRC found the ISM PM 2.0 to be very effective. Three of his four bikes required pretty spendy setback seat posts to accommodate the ISM saddles. Adjustment has been a long process, but ultimately TLRC has found these saddles to be quite comfortable, certainly more so than his homemade ones.

TLRC recommends trying one of these saddles if one is interested either in preventing or recovering from soft-tissue injury in the perineum. It certainly beats making your own! Good Luck.

Some local workout rides.

If, like The Logging Road Cyclist you are a poor to mediocre MTB rider, and are usually trying to get fit again after your most recent brush with senescence, you’ll like these  road/trail rides that use some of Mac Forest’s gravel and easy trails, a Short Workout Ride (11mi., 2300′) and a Longer Workout Ride (18mi., 3300′). TLRC saw a big, healthy Bobcat out on the Nettleton Rd. when he did the latter the other day.

Speaking of workout rides, it’s the season for the C2C-FS30 loop around Mary’s peak, so TLRC and Gnat did it on Sunday.  It’s pretty close to town, and about the same umph as the Longer Workout ride. The difference is that most of the climb is in one 8-mile push that is never really hard, but never really easy either…

TLRC ponders Mary’s Peak from the Harlan Valley at the base of the big climb.

Table Mountain Lite

Table Mountain has long been one of The Logging Road Cyclist’s favorite rides. At 27 miles and more than 5000′ of climbing, it’s a pretty stout haul. By the simple expedient of not making the brutal and rather pointless climb up Table Mountain, one can make a more reasonable ride: Table Mountain Lite which has all the nice features of the former, yet at 23/3000 is less debilitating and more refreshing.

Today’s trip was on yet another spectacular clear May day and found the climb up Grant Cr in good shape, but the descent into Drift Cr. especially ball-bearing-y. Poor TLRC found himself gripped and walking the steepest parts. Only his True Purpose kept him from regretting his 35 tires after seeing how much fun the MTB doggies had had last weekend on Little Grass.

Little Grass Mtn Traverse

A few years back, before figuring out with his buddy Gnat how easy it was to get to Little Grass Mtn, The Logging Road Cyclist had spent some time casting about on the ridge to the SW of the peak. This lead pretty much nowhere but up some very steep roads out of the Luckiamute. After getting up Little Grass, Gnat got obsessed with the whole area and this lead to a very steep and loose climb up Miller Cr. from the Luckiamute and some exploration out the spectacularly steep Cougar Ridge. They also extended TLRC’s earlier push and got to the peak from the SW. Thus assured that both sides went through, they had a loop, which Gnat and The Dirt Magnet completed a couple of years ago.

On  painfully clear and cool spring day, TLRC, Gnat and B went out to pedal this steep adventurous ride. A stiff climb from the Luckiamute leads up to the Mary’s River divide. Just as the road starts to drop down, a gate on the right blocks a road that traverses along across the head of the Mary’s River drainage. This gets obscure, but keep the faith.

Marys Peak burning above the West Branch of the Mary’s River

Eventually Little Grass Mtn road is reached and the summit is not far.

MTB makes it to Little Grass

Dropping down from the top, the road swings through the tippy-top of the Yaquina drainage, whence a bit of a climb out and along Green Ridge leads to the top of the road down Miller Cr. This is steep and loose, and poor TLRC on his 35’s got left way behing the MTBs with their 2.75 and 3-point-something tires, which truth be told he was a bit envious of.

Some fast but loose wheeling on the Valsetz road gets one back to wherever one parked.

This is a tough little adventure ride that is close to town and well worthwhile. Once the steep and rather obscure nature of the loop is seen, it is obvious why TLRC and Gnat lined it out from either end. Not a place to explore downhill…

Comfort where you find it…

After yet another hard winter of damage, both personal and to loved ones, The Logging Road Cyclist and Gnat headed out to Oregon’s Spectacular Coast Range for comfort and rebuilding on a truly spectacular Spring day that wasn’t supposed to have happened.

As they tooled out to Chandler Pass, they laughed companionably about how these little hills wore them out and traded to usual barbs, e.g. when Gnat stopped to doff gear at the base of the climb to the pass, TLRC remarked (politely, in his view) that he would just go slow until Gnat caught up. “What were you gonna do different if I hadn’t stopped?” Gnat asked.

Once near Valsetz, they headed back to the Luckiamute and compared notes on how their various owies were faring. Reaching the car, and apparently none the worse for wear, they headed home, happy with their day.

Until they passed the field where TLRC’s little black piggy friends lived and saw that it was empty save for one. TLRC, who had given up sliced deli ham on their behalf was distressed.  His unease grew as the miles passed and he wondered out loud if the worst fate of all had befallen them.

Gnat, who has a broad streak of kindness, looked over at the distraught TLRC, fixed his soothing brown eyes on his nearly tearful companion and said: “Don’t worry TLRC, I’m sure the farmer has just taken them to Piggy Camp for the weekend.” TLRC, who knew that Gnat rarely just made stuff up, smiled, leaned back into his headrest and took his usual 1pm nap.

New Feature: Occasional Quote of Note!

The Logging Road Cyclist recently received the following communique:

Dear TLRC,

I and the rest of the members of the TLRCFanCLub would like to express our fealty to the website and our Confucian respect for both your age and wisdom. At our last meeting, however, a plurality of our membership expressed polite dismay at your continuing, incessant whingeing about your increasing decrepitude. It was suggested that a fan club based upon admiration for such a querulous, anonymous figure might not be particulary long-lived. Perhaps it might be well if, during those times when you had nothing particulary enlightening to share with us about cycling on logging roads, but just more complaints about how damaged you are, you could extend your literary grasp into a more intellectual realm. The Membership agreed that, while you might be a beat-up old coot with not much to offer in the cycling line any more, you might regale us with some nuggets from your intellectual side. The Membership are unanimous in their agreement that, man of letters and learning that you are, surely you could offer us some blog-bits that don’t involve how much you happen to be in physical pain on a given day? After all, we here at the TLRCFC all have our quota of geezers in our own families who regularly subject us to this sort of thing.

Respectfully, etc, etc

XXXXXXX

TLRCFC Secretary

Well, thought TLRC, if his own fan base is sick of it, what must the world of web-surfers who stumble onto the site think? Perhaps it’s time to monetize the site with prune juice and walkers, perhaps take out an add in AARP?

TLRC will muffle his mild irritation at the sentiment expressed by the FC (which strikes him as anything but Confucian) and will initiate the occasional posting of Notable Quotes which from time to time cross his increasingly narrow fields of interest and view, or simply float up from memory (in the latter case, TLRC assures both Club and General Readership that he will check for accuracy on the Google, since as a “geezer” his “memory” is “going”).

Today’s quote is from Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, considered one of the finest fighting admirals in the US Navy. Spruance was in command at both Midway and The Battle of the Philippine Sea. His calm under immense stress was well-known and widely admired. The following is attributed to him:

“Some people think that when I am quiet that I am thinking some deep and important thoughts, when the fact is that I am thinking of nothing at all. My mind is blank”

 

When God Talks, TLRC Listens

The Logging Road Cyclist once built a beautiful wooden drift boat. From a kit to be sure, but it was the first woodworking he had ever done, and it was, after all a boat, so it was a very big deal for him. It turned out well, and he used it for many years, on some difficult rivers too. The boat got holed (memorably one time on the Rogue when The Long Suffering Girlfriend was steering; the biggest hole the boat ever got and she cried), and fixed. It was, after all a whitewater boat, not a fishing boat.

But the depredations of age took hold, TLRC’s shoulder and back made rowing less fun, and indeed frantic river running in general began to lose its attractions (too much driving, mainly, and crowded rivers), and the boat spent a long time sitting it the garage, unused.

TLRC spent a year or so pondering selling the boat and decided it was time. Not an easy decision, this, since the boat was the last vestige of a 40+ year whitewater run that had pretty much literally ended when they dragged his paddle (oars) from his cold stiff fingers.  But garage space was at a premium, what can one say? He pulled the boat out, cleaned it up and took some pictures to use in the sale.

On Monday afternoon, TLRC was composing an email to a prospective buyer, or at least a prospective conduit to buyers. He got down the salutation and a couple of words in the first sentence to the point where the words “drift boat” were required. He typed “difr” and stopped, backspaced and typed “drf”, stopped and backspaced again, typed “d” and paused, unable to continue. Was “drift boat” one word or two, he wondered. TLRC looked helplessly at the page, unable to type.

His mind, clear, roamed back over the recent past. He had just come home from the dog park. In his truck, he had noticed his vision distorted over the upper 1/4 or so of its range, as if the windshield had a defect up top. This lasted for 10-15 minutes and eventually faded away. The previous Thursday something similar had occurred: just after getting up in the morning TLRC’s vision doubled. Each eye had clear vision by itself, and they appeared not to be crossed, but double vision it was. This lasted about 10 minutes. Had it not been the case that this double vision had also occurred sometime in the last 6 months or so, TLRC wouldn’t have given it much thought, as indeed he hadn’t the first time it happened. TLRC was learning that, at age 64, if one pays excess attention to every health anomaly, one will soon go mad.

So this third visual anomaly had TLRC on alert. Perhaps the fact that the Thursday-Monday time segment neatly overlapped the Sunday-Sunday time segment bounded by the two funerals TLRC had just attended made him a bit more acutely aware of his mortality, and thus of this sort-of-frightening series. He had in fact gone to the doctor on the day of the Thursday last event, and was awaiting test results and for an MRI to be scheduled.

This sudden inability to type, normally second nature to TLRC (from whom words usually flow gurgling like warm molasses from a wide-mouthed jug) was, to put it mildly, of concern. He got up and was fortunate enough to get an appointment with his physician later that day. TLRC sat down again, pulled laptop to lap and entered “aphasia” into the Google, for he seemed to be able to type again. The Mayo Clinic page was down not very far and they advised Emergency Room, which was good enough for TLRC. He cancelled his appointment and tried to reach TLSG, who was likely out of reach for a while. He resolved to wait half-an hour and then get his stalwart, RPM on the case. Once called into action RPM was at The Forest Estate in minutes, and with minor direction hauled TLRC to the ER.

It turns out that “64 year old male with visual anomalies and aphasia” is as good as “64 year old male with yellow jacket sting in esophagus” in terms of getting attention, and everyone went into “this guy is having a stroke” mode. They all especially perked up when TLRC stumbled over his address. That was kind of fun, in a twisted way.

TLSG showed up soon, and she and the doctor helped distract TLRC from the IV and blood draws (he faints if sitting and can barely tolerate it when lying down). TLSG wasn’t chortling this time (cf. TLRC Wasn’t Paranoid Until After the Attacks).

The ER doc was a straightforward, gruff kind of guy and TLRC liked him immediately. Doc: “You’re going to have an MRI over this anyway, so we might as well do it now. It will be a little while.” In not too long, the image guy came and wheeled TLRC into the tube, where, as usual, he asked for classical music on the headphones, and with his head firmly clamped side-to-side and covered with a hockey-mask like antenna array he fell asleep, his hands clasped below the second, neck-and-chest receiver. After a while they hauled him back to his ER room, where he lay intermittently napping while TLSG tapped away at work.

Not too long of a time later the doc came back and sounded the all clear. No clots, tumors, shedding from carotids, or anything else TIA or stroke-like: TLRC would die from something else it appeared. They pulled out the spike in his arm, and TLSG, who knows her man, asked where he wanted to go to eat. Both of them were a bit surprised (TLRC pleased) about how calmly he had taken all of this. He rather spoiled the effect by bingeing a Reuben and a pint of potato salad washed down by a Kambucha, all tamped firmly into place by a large box of plus-sized Halloween-themed sugar cookies.

Rather than needlessly terrifying himself with the internet, TLRC waits to talk to a physician about what all this might be, while failing to avoid obsessing over whether or not there are more than the usual amount of typos in his text (he thought there were, of course). Apparently, like YAWEH, the wooden boat he was once trying to sell is to be unamed and unsold, and has gone back home into the garage. TLRC gets the message.