Massif Traverse

The first ride of Spring was an old project that had lain dormant for a long time. Since first coming to ride in the Laurel Mountain Massif, The Logging Road Cyclist had had an eye on a traverse right across, from the Siletz North Fork to Falls City. His old riding buddy D. had also had a jones for this one, but they just never got to it. Having scoped out the S Line road during the winter the last piece fell into place and TLRC had a big loop to do just the way he liked them: a set of pieces that he knew well enough to put it all together without glancing at a map.

This ride is moderately long, moderately hard, and is a good introduction to serious Coast Range riding. It has a couple of big climbs that are not inordinately abusive, reasonably easy navigation, and a real sense of the isolation available out there. One gets a feel for the size of the Massif: It’s 25 miles from Falls City to the start of the traverse back at the base of the S Line, and then a solid 20 miles over the Massif, most of which is behind locked gates. If something happens, no one is going to come and get you, and even the sections along the Valsetz and North Fork Roads are only lightly travelled.

On this ride, there was a nice display of the Coast Range aesthetic. On his way into Falls City and the Post Office parking lot, TLRC saw an older gent in a small and beat-up pickup pull up in from of the store. He had a huge, rufous dog riding shotgun. TLRC was puzzling over what breed this might be when he suddenly realized this was no canine but rather a goat! A while later, grinding up the Valsetz grade he found yet another wonderful display of art loggeaux:

Oregon’s Spectacular Coast Range where Industry and Art blend harmoniously.

The weather was supposed to be reasonable, and it was up to the pass, but beyond into the Valsetz Triangle a steady soaking rain greeted TLRC.

Spring in The Triangle

The weather got back to tolerable, even pleasant up the North Fork, enough so that some nice views into the steep canyon that hold Boulder Creek were obtained.

Looking over the Boulder-NF Siletz confluence.

Looking up Boulder Creek.

TLRC felt he understood how timber prices were fairing lately. There are some truly appalling new clear cuts, even by Massif standards.

 

Blog Lacunae: Regretted, Adumbrated

 Every fucking night, I, that could cut a throat and sleep the sleep of the just, spend six fucking wakings trying to fill a piss-pot with my dribble and wondering when I got to be so old. – Al Swearengen

Early last Fall, The Logging Road Cyclist was paid a visit by his Little Sister, The Machine. A cyclist since her teens, she rides circles around TLRC, and a ride with her is akin to running with a faithful dog who sprints ahead out of sheer exuberance, and then, feeling guilty at leaving the pathetic and slow one behind, zooms back to check on him.

TLRC had lured her to Oregon by the prospect of an adventure down the upper part of the Middle Willamette trail. TLRC had ridden the lower parts, below Sacandaga, and was anxious to ride down from Indigo Lake.  He had considered self-shuttling by bike, but since the trail was unknown to him, and the climb to Timponagas long and steep, he thought it better to car shuttle it, at least the first time.

The Machine scoffed a bit at this, and, while consenting to use two cars, she allowed, after the first few miles down the trail, as to how she might just go ahead and do the shuttle herself by bike, just so as to be sure to get enough exercise for the day, since the trail was, after all “all downhill”.

Well, of course it isn’t all downhill, and in fact the trail has a surprising amount of rather brutal “uphill”. A few hours later when asked if she still intended to ride back to the car herself  The Machine (never one to shrink from her delusions) declared: “Well, that was a blowhard statement.”

On this trip, TLRC and LSTM met their heroes for life at Campers Flat.

Vicki, Manfred, Otto, LSTM

Otto and Manfred, German expats who were in at least their mid-seventies were installed at Camper’s Flat in their mini-RVs. Manfred’s bike, a fully tricked out Ibis with dropper post lounged against a tree. Manfred was down from WA, and Otto up from CA had hooked up for their annual OR MTB trip. Manfred had just spent a week or so riding around Bend. These guys were old enough to make the siblings feel like kids, and they (the sibs) were in awe that these guys were still at it. M&O commented on how tough the sibs were in that they were still sleeping on the ground. This was nothing, thought the sibs, and for the rest of the trip they reflected on how amazing it was that M&O were still out thrashing around.

The sibs were directing towards their elders what TLRC often gets from the kidz whom he occasionally rides with. They (at 35-40) seem amazed that TLRC is still at it at his advanced age.

TLRC is learning what it takes to stick with it, and he will here share the secret: Stuff on your person breaks and one simply has to do whatever it takes to get it fixed, or find a workaround. It takes persistence. Sometimes it takes rest. Sometimes you just have to quit something to save something else. Hence Blog Lacunae.

Through simple attrition TLRC has had to quit most of what he used to do for fun and fitness. Shoulder gone: no more kayaking or mad Ninja skillz. Hips scoured: no more runs through forest or desert. Feet: problematic, no more rock shoes. TLRC sometimes feels like he’s been hunted down into a corner and cycling is what’s left, so when that is threatened, he gets pretty upset, especially since low exercise means low cookie intake. This is aging, kids, and it isn’t dramatic, it’s petty and niggling and leaves one feeling sorry for one’s self while others of your cohort suffer from some real, honest, serious stuff that they did not bring upon themselves (cf. TLRC’s former lifestyles) while you can’t ride as much as you want to. Add self-dislike to your mild depression.

At times like these, TLRC usually begins a frantic round of visits to orthopedists, PT’s, acupuncturists (but never podiatrists), followed by a period of gingerly feeling his way back into form, noting to himself that he has been worse hurt before and hardly thinks about that now, and finally just gets back to it. The present round, maybe dicky feet, maybe a bit of a disk problem, who knows, has left TLRC to ride a bit. In this circumstance, he loses interest in the blog. No riding to note, no riding noted. While he has been out, e.g. on Feagles Cr. on a spectacular winter’s day

Prairie Mtn looms above Alsea as seen from Yew Cr. Rd.

and back out behind Praire Mtn on the biggest rain day in two months

these were tentative outings, and not the explorations TLRC likes to document here. Being in his usual final stage of just getting on with it, he hopes to take up keyboard and exploring both again now.

 

 

Over the S-Line

The Logging Road Cyclist was a serious kayaker for most of his adult life. The first or second winter of his boating career saw the establishment of a long lived tradition: the solo Christmas Day paddling trip. The first one was a trip down the now drowned Warm Springs Creek near his Sonoma County home. Between then and the demise of paddling for TLRC, whenever he was near a flowing stream, off he would go on his lonely observance of the Baby Jesus’ birthday. For the last few years of his paddling life, Quartzville Cr. usually filled the bill.

Absent paddling, TLRC keeps the tradition alive with a Christmas Day ride. Getting somewhere does’t really matter, it’s getting out in the cold when no one else is that feeds the TLRC soul. This year, he tried to do a loop encompassing the SW part of the Laurel Mtn Massif: from the Valsetz Rd. up Sand Cr. to Fanno Ridge, thence to the S-Line (the 8-8-12),  past Sugarloaf and back along the N and S Forks of the Siltetz to the car.

Two legs of this were unknown. The climb up to Fanno Ridge looked straightforward. TLRC had been out to Surgarloaf a couple of times, and there were a few miles beyond on an unknown part of the S-Line down to the N Siletz.

He got an early start, and headed  into the Valsetz Triangle via Falls City, for the views. Even on Xmas morning there were a couple of loners out wandering about. It didn’t take long for TLRC to get on the wrong (but very main-roadish) path, which cost him nearly a thousand feet of steep climbing and a wasted hour. Finally on track, he got up to Fanno Ridge, and on known ground (cf. Finally Fanno Ridge) he made it to the major Fanno-S-Line junction, where he took stock.

8-8-23 below Fanno, Xmas, 2014

It was very cold, and to the west, beyond Surgarloaf, the weather looked to be deteriorating. He was late by at least an hour, probably more. Ahead lay 5 or so miles of road he had seen a couple of times followed by about the same amount of unknown road that dropped steeply into the Siletz. That concerned him the most. A mistake out there would leave him retreating all the way back over Fanno late on a winters day, cold, with his energy flagging. TLRC knew himself well enough to foresee the angst that would nip at his heals as he dropped deeper into the large canyon. Without remorse or self-recrimination, he bagged it.

Happily retreating, he pondered his hobby, and his earlier loves, climbing and kayaking. It occurred to him that in all three, in serious circumstances, when one set out into the mountains, up a big cliff or down a remote canyon, several clocks started to tick. The one for daylight. The one for warmth, and the ones for energy, strength and focus. He realized that he and his partners always moved with all deliberate speed through uncertain or dangerous territory. There was a cushion of time that it was comfortable to have just in case. Beyond that was the satisfaction of simply being able to do it, to move fast and strong and gracefully, at ease, but aware that  one was trespassing and it was as well to keep that in mind. On this Christmas, TLRC felt more like fun than boldness, and wanted a lot of time left on all the clocks when he got back to his truck.

Ten days later, he had at it again. Now that the Fanno end of things was sewn up, he parked at Valsetz and headed off down the South Fork, planning to reverse the loop and climb up the unknown part of the S-Line in the time-honored tradition of Not Exploring Downhill.

This was classic Coast Range riding. Rain. 40 degrees, remnant ice from last week’s freezeout slouching down road cuts and cliffs, surfacing puddles.

SF Siletz.

The Siletz forks were, as usual, stunning and served to distract from the destruction wreaked on the slopes above. The low clouds helped that too. Reaching the S-Line, TLRC doffed his wet outer layers and started to climb. Being a very major road, the gradient is not bad, and TLRC seldom got into his lowest gears. The road follows a scenic small creek, and, he imagined, must have some stunning views into the large canyon of Boulder Cr. on a good day. There was no useful visibility, nor road signs, and TLRC checked himself at a section marker once before he reached known ground. “Known” is a relative term. He hadn’t been here for two years and while things looked “familiar” he was still happy to find himself at the big signed junction he had reached on Christmas.

Yippie!

As usual, bad weather down low meant real Winter up on the plateau, and even though he had covered the Fanno Rd very recently, TLRC, now pretty wet, was acutely aware of both how easy and how devastating  a wrong turn in the dismal conditions would be. Again, Coast Range riding at its finest.

Back at the truck earlier than he had hoped, TLRC was well satisfied. New ground on the SW part of the Massif, a couple of good connections from the Triangle thither, and the ground laid for a full (and long-planned) Falls City- NF Siletz traverse to be done on a longer and warmer day. A good ride.

 

 

 

Warnicke Falls

The Logging Road Cyclist, the Curmudgeon of the Coast Range, had begun to feel just a bit jaded. He was redoing his old classic rides for the fourth or sixth time, and was feeling the lack of a partner who might infuse some new ideas for future forays. As luck would would have it, TLRC supped last Thanksgiving with a logger who REALLY knows the Range, and this guy showed TLRC a picture of this big waterfall nearby his recent worksite. “Warnicke Falls,” he said, “two hundred feet high”. A true lover of the Caost Range, this man had actually scrambled to near the base of the Falls (no mean feat) and gotten some clear and closeup pictures. A stunning sight. Having no maps to hand, and a balky phone, TLRC took a vague idea of The Falls whereabouts home and soon found it was near some familiar ground. Warnicke Cr., sponsor of the Falls, is a tributary of that old friend, the NF Siletz, next tributary up from Boulder Cr. (of Boulder Pass), and it debouches into the NF Siletz up by the Valley of the Giants, another known point.

Access was a whole ‘nuther thang. While there is a road that reaches part way up Warnicke, it falls short. No road, it seems gets to the Falls from the Siletz side. Short of some almost unimaginable intrigue from the West, the best ways in looked to be straight south from Grande Ronde on HWY 18, or via Boulder Pass at the head of Mill Cr.

The former seemed both shorter, and to contain some very interesting geology. Off went TLRC on a cold and foggy morning that he was sure would turn sunny once the heights were reached.

The ride follows BLM 6-8-13 8 miles or so to the top of a steep ridge, but the first few miles are along the scenic and very whitewatery Rock Cr. Were TLRC a younger man with two (2) functioning shoulders, he’d head back there immediately to run it.

View downstream from the first bridge over Rock Cr. That’s a 10 foot drop.

As the ridge crest nears, the road gets steep, and good views along this impressive scarp and off to the North are had:

View E towards Condenser Peak from the 6-8-13

Looking N down Rock Cr. and over Grande Ronde from the 6-8-13

In spite of this being a BLM-numbered road, this is emphatically private timber land, and just past the top of the ridge as one passes into the Warnicke basin, the gate is locked, but has a warm welcome for LRC’s:

TLRC had two goals. First he wanted to get downstream on the north side of the Creek in hopes of some views back towards the Falls. He got his wish, through the trees.

These shots, from about 1/2 mile away show how impressive these Falls are. Having taken this in, TLRC headed back to the head of the Falls. Not only did he want to look off of them, he was curious about the type of rock that could support something this impressive. So far, all that was visible in the local quarries and road cuts was the soft layers of the Tyee sand and siltstone, not the stuff of a big Falls.

The new clearcut at the top of the Falls was easy to find, and after picking his way through a bit of treacherous slash:

Warnick Cr. warms up with this pretty little falls just above the main event.

Lip of the Falls

More Lip and a bit of the runout.

The canyon below the Falls.

Creeping back from the lip, TLRC dug around in a tree root for a hand specimen that wasn’t water-emplaced. Sure enough, it was his old buddy Mr. Gabbro, that sturdy stone whose stong back was holding up the Falls! Climbing out of the clearcut, he spied some more in a nearby road cut, a clear sign that the local geology was of sterner stuff.

Gabbro outcrop at the head of Warnicke Falls

TLRC had originally entertained the notion of swinging over to Boulder Pass to tie in with the Mill Cr. road network in aid of future efforts. But, as always, when out this far by himself on a short winter’s day, he took the conservative course, and headed home while the getting was good, well satisfied with this great ride.

On the way back, he noticed some classic examples of art loggeaux, such as this,  “Gabbro Sur Fir” (unknown artist).

Finally, Fanno Ridge

Thanksgiving day was wet and dreary, and a session of uncontrolled gluttony loomed, so, undeterred by the weather, The Logging Road Cyclist hauled himself out of bed and headed off on his usual Holiday Escape. Gingerly pivoting around the corner at the bottom of his hill (where, during the Unfortunate Event of 12/31/11 he had incurred his comminuted fracture of the right acetabulum), he headed on out to Mary’s Peak and beyond. The final stretch of his ride over Cardwell Hill Rd. was a pleasant surprise: The Powers That Be had rocked and compacted what used to be a veritable swamp in the winter so that this steep finale to the ride was simply that, rather than a test to see if one could make it through the mud lakes that used to comprise the “road” here. He paused at the top to admire his mud spattered De Salvo, with its new TLRC-made “Rattle-Free” ™ fenders:

This bit of exercise was certainly worth the several pieces of pie TLRC allowed himself that evening.

TLRC was back in love with his cross bike. As exciting, promising and new as the Lynskey was, it was simply outmatched on the Logging Roads by the DeSalvo. The Fall maintenance program had put the latter into tip-top shape, and she rode without a sound, shifting almost at the thought.

Thus TLRC got back into an exploring mood and he resolved to right an old wrong. Last March he had attempted a loop out of Falls City via Fanno Ridge, from which he was chased, whimpering in chilled misery and confusion, by the dogs of winter. Well, Sunday was wintry, but at least it was dry and clear, so TLRC had high hopes that he could avoid both hypothermia and becoming lost, so he headed back.

He left Falls City on this sub-freezing morning, well equipped for the cold. The grind up to the pass above the Valsetz Triangle seemed both easy and not really tedious. Likely the scenery improved with sun:

or TLRC was simply at peace with his surroundings. On a clear day, one gets a great view of the Laurel Mtn Massif proper:

Riley Peak and Laurel Mtn from the Valsetz Rd.

He reached the base of the Fanno Ridge Road in good order and relative warmth, and headed into the unknown. In contrast to the last time here, there were spectacular views off the ridge

Looking over Valsetz Lake from Fanno Ridge.

The road climbed up into winter. Soon the riding got tricky, with apricot- to peach-sized rocks and various sticks and branches hiding beneath a thin layer of snow. Frost heaves grabbed tires, and icy sheets lurked in the shade. The wind came up and TLRC found himself in full gear with double gloves against the cold. His water bottles froze. The navigation was tricky enough to pose a challenge but not to cause incipient panic, although TLRC was acutely aware of how quickly hypothermia would get him in the event of any unpleasantness. He was happy: this was exciting riding.

Mt Hood beyond the Little Luckiamute, Rickreall Cr. and the Willamette.

Sugarloaf Mtn.

A fortuitous BLM road sign gave him a fix, and soon TLRC was in the well-known ground behind Riley Peak. The steep descent to Falls City soon took him out of the land of ice and back to firm riding and a warm drive home.

In spite of the massive cutting going on in this area, this is still a worthwhile ride.

Another Dead End

It always seemed, The Logging Road Cyclist mused as he geared up in Mill Cr. County Park, to be colder in this part of the world than it should be. Even accounting for the Laurel Mtn Massif to the south, blocking much of the paltry winter sun, it  was cold. TLRC was better prepared for this than usual, having brought actual rain gear and padded jacket. No more freezouts for him.

He was back to try to drop into place yet anther piece of a long-standing puzzle: a gravel circumnavigation of Laurel Mtn. This was really the last bit, connecting Rickreall Cr.  to Mill Cr. Over the last couple of years, TLRC had familiarized himself with the Massif to the point where he could pretty much go map-free where he liked. If he could cross from Rickreall into Mill Cr., a Dallas-intiated route could go through all on known roads.

He had tried this crossing  two springs ago from the other side. All the maps showed a road coming up from the Aron Mercer Reservoir and descending Cedar Cr. to Mill. At the top of the divide, TLRC could discern not a hint of a road heading north, and, after casting around for a bit headed back down, where he ran into a little group of four (1-2-3-4) adolescent cougars lying about in the road, like TLRC enjoying the sunny spring day. As he stood there watching (cats between him and where he needed to go), they gradually in ones and twos sauntered off down the road and up into some dense new trees, about 15 feet away from where TLRC needed to pass.

Today’s task was to try from the north and see if he could find a way over. Google Earth showed a tantalizing trace through clearcut and trees, so off again up the scenic Mill Cr., today kayaker heaven with ample water and open gates.

Reaching Cedar Cr., he turned up it and headed for his goal. After a couple of pleasant miles up this surprisingly large creek, things got nasty: washouts, lots of debris that required walking. TLRC was wondering how long he was willing to do this, when a pair of bowhunters coming the other way told him that it got worse soon: the recent ice storm had brought down a lot of trees, and even for them, bikeless, it was pretty much impassable. An unridable road is just as worthless as no road at all for a long circumnavigation, so TLRC (lamentably hyper-caffeinated today) walked back with them to their truck, and doubtless they felt better informed on any number of issues by the time he mercifully left them to their lunch.

As it was, TLRC got a nice 20-mile ride out of it, and a cool look at a remnant stand of old growth up Cedar Cr.

They haven’t gotten all of it yet.

A Couple of Things That TLRC Just Cannot Understand How He Has Managed To Live This Long Without

The Logging Road Cyclist is one of those folks for whom a common occurrence is to get out of the house and down the road a ways when suddenly it occurs to him that he just might not have shut off the stove with the kettle on it. He then has to struggle do decide which is the stronger: 1) The honest fear that his house will burn down with his dogs inside, or 2) An unwillingness to give in and admit that he is in fact slightly neurotic. Generally the latter prevails, but, having once had a neighbor’s house burn to the ground quickly and spectacularly, it is often a real fight. Just the other day, TLRC put on the kettle to liven up an otherwise tense morning at the computer, retreated to his lair and promptly forgot about it. A whistling teakettle, it had always warned TLRC when it was ready, and for years it had done its job well. But lately, the top hadn’t been shutting all the way, and sometimes the whistle failed to whistle when the water boiled. So it did again, and the water all boiled away, and TLRC came out to a red-hot kettle whose plastic top was just shy of falling off onto the stove.

For years both TLRC’s buddy Stump, and TLRC’s mother had advised him to get one of those auto shut off electric kettles. TLRC, not a fan of counter top appliances in general, had for years fought off getting a toaster (only to find how much he enjoyed toast), and likewise eschewed the electric kettle, until this last straw. Out went the faithful whistler, and TLRC hauled himself off to BiMart, where for less than a new whistler, he got a Hamilton Beach electric.  What a treat! Fast safe hot water! Who would have known.

Last weekend on Praire Mountain, the TLRC feet were getting cold, and as a tactic to keep himself from getting driven nuts by an incessant snick-snick-snick and a seat post that simply would not tighten, he pondered how he might keep them (the feet) warm without using foot-cramping heavy socks (not an option for a variety of podiatric reasons) or cumbersome neoprene overboots. “I wonder” he mused while listening to neither the snick-snick-snick, nor checking the seat post gradation once again, “if someone makes a light, windproof sock, maybe Goretex?”. A number of other options coursed through his brain against the backdrop of the noise and slippage that were on the verge of having him chew through the side of his cheek (more later).

Well, as it turns out, there are Goretex socks, even ones specifically for cycling. TLRC got a pair and aired them out today. After a couple of hours of rain and muddy road, with a creek ford thrown in for good measure, the TLRC inner toe socks were dry enough to wear home and into the evening. How he managed to ride all those winters past without these babies is something TLRC cannot fathom.

Prairie Mountain, East Summit

Readers of the website will recall The Logging Road Cyclists’ fondness for Prairie Mountain.  He has been all over it, with one glaring exception: the high point lying roughly east of Gunsight Pass. When looking at Prairie from around Corvallis, this is a prominent feature, but TLRC had always just gone to the more glorious and higher (by 100′) Prairie Peak with it’s spectacular views, or miserable weather, depending. Short of geographical curiosity, there isn’t much reason to go to the East Summit itself, unless added in as a little bonus to the Prairie Mountain Loop. There is a nice summit meadow, disfigured by antennae, and a subsidiary lower meadow that does have nice views to the east.

Feeling adventurous, but not too much so, TLRC headed off up the well-trodden Tobe Cr. Rd. with the East Summit as a goal. The day was bright, beautiful and very cold. Still besotted by his new mistre…uh, 29er, he had left the old faithful Desavlo hanging in the garage. The had had a lot of good days together, to be sure, but (TLRC mused), perhaps like so many steadfast couples they has begun to grow apart of late. Nothing serious, but the shiny new light Lynskey, with its comfortable big tires and promise of trail excitement not easily gotten on the Desalvo had turned the TLRC head. Was he fickle? TLRC thought not, but was considering taking up the issue at his next men’s group meeting, or perhaps in the drum circle. He would eschew discussing it after yoga. Given the high percentage of female practitioners he felt unsure about getting a fair hearing.

Not that the new philly was without her little problems. There was a persistent snick snick snick coming from somewhere. It was hard to pin down on gravel. Not a brake pad…not sprues on the new tires…hopefully not one of the brand new King hubs…TLRC’s excitement with his new ride held off the inevitable loss of temper for a good ten miles or so, after which he was on and off the bike trying to reproduce the sound while walking so as not to bean himself by riding while trying to get his ear down by the front hub, all the while trying to remember that he was probably the most patient fellow one could meet. At the same time, he was also checking for slip on the new carbon seat post that had also been providing a wonderful tool for cultivating calmness. He had carbon-pasted it, ever so carefully crept up on the torque, to no avail. Finally he cut a piece of seat post shim and affixed a second clamp on the seat post above the seat tube. This seemed to be holding, and incidentally guarding TLRC against encroaching insanity from the snick snick snick, until, when leaning forward to listen once again, his thigh hit the nose of his saddle and the seat swung about 45 degrees out of alignment. But it didn’t slip down.

It seemed a longer than usual ride up to Gunsight pass. Heading east, TLRC found the road up to the East summit without much trouble and briefly enjoyed the sun and weird antenna array.

Summit facility, East Prairie Mtn.

Closeup of bizarre antenna array.

TLRC decided to risk the ice on the Alsea Falls road and make a loop of it. Buttoning up, he found his way down Coleman Creek and then picked his way through the ice patches on the paved road back to the truck. On the way, he determined that the snicking was a loose valve stem with no nut on it. In Philomath, he bought some brass shim stock which seemed to snug up the seat post…..

 

Et Reversus Est

For a while now, The Logging Road Cyclist has not been much of a cyclist of the logging roads. There are a number of reasons for this: an excess of stuff at work, the acquisition by the Long Suffering Girlfriend of a live-in granddaughter, the building and maintenance of bicycles, some logging at The Forest Estate with the various concomitant tasks thus entailed, an obsessive re-watching of The Sopranos. The granddaughter in particular has placed some demands on TLRC’s hitherto mostly open life schedule. He found himself, at various times, waiting in the middle school parking lot with all the other parents (most of whom, truth be told looked like children to him), attending a meeting about a forthcoming school trip, hauling her around to after school activities, even indulging in the occasional coffee/scone date. While certainly out of the usual course of events, TLRC found himself enjoying his new responsibilities.

At the same time, he felt his usual Autumn timidity. No lightweight, TLRC winter rides with the best of them, but something happens in the transition from bright, hot summer days on flowing trails to moist cold ones on unforgiving rattling roads. He tends to withdraw for the first few weeks of poor weather, indeed finds himself making excuses for not riding at the merest hint of a cloud.

Thus TLRC. He has, it must be said continued his usual local training schedule, while eschewing “TLRC” rides. Finally, he bestirred himself and a good goal, it seemed, was Grass Mountain.  TLRC usually does this ride at least once a year, but for some reason it fell off the 2013 schedule, and so it was time for a visit. Plus, it seemed a good ride to give the New Bike a longer shakedown:

Lynsky Ti 29er, TLRC Red Wheels, etc, etc.

This bike was great on a short local ride, but it needed a longer test, so off to Grass.

The weather had been mild of late, so TLRC was not expecting much in the way of misery. He has, however, learned the hard way not to underestimate the potential for it on damp days on the higher Coast Range Peaks. Grass Mtn did not disappoint. Climbing up the steep grade out of the Alsea, conditions deteriorated to steady rain and gusty winds. Soon things were looking like a winter day, welcoming the New Bike to it’s future:

November in the clear cuts…

Not having been out for a while, TLRC pondered the nature of his hobby. Heading further up into the blindness of a Coast Range storm, hoping he remembered all the right turns, he  thought how sketchy this was, all by himself out there, and the fundamental weirdness implied by the pleasure he took in it. Doubtless as the season progresses, he thought, this will all seem more normal…

The summit forest was as serene as he remembered, and he enjoyed the walk. His soaked and squishing shoes faded into the background as he marveled at the ease with which the Lynskey was hoisted over the various downed logs and road “decommissioning” tank traps. The summit meadows held psychedelic treasures but no view.

Huge Amanita?

Dog Days

After the Bigfoot Ride, a strange lassitude crept over The Logging Road Cyclist. He had been on the road a lot this summer and the driving was wearing thin. Perhaps the stress of cat/ape threats looming through the trees had taken their toll. At any rate, the comforts of a smooth road ride on a summer’s day, enjoying the new fit on the Merlin that let TLRC crank out a quick 30 or 60 miles had its attraction. No navigation or beasts to worry about, just a straightforward ride, no pack, no reservoir, no map.

Thus a few weeks passed, until one hot afternoon, TLRC rode by a rolled car on Fern Road, just out of Philomath. He must have missed it by minutes, and who knows what would have happened had he been there at the right (wrong) time. Clearly the driver took the curve too fast and lost it into the embankment. TLRC slipped by the gathering crowd before the emergency crews arrived to close the road. Soon enough, one by one, three police cars roared past going way too fast for what appeared to be a non-injury accident.

This got TLRC back to pondering why he likes gravel. Too much steel passing way too close and fast on the roads. Off he went to Waldo Lake, where he met up with the oldest buddy of all, Old Stumpy, for a ride around the Lake.

The Stumpster takes in Waldo Lake.

TLRC hadn’t ridden here for years, and had forgotten both how beautiful the Lake is, and how good the ride. Oh Yes: NO BUGS. On the way, they ran into a runner and his sleek buddies:

Wolfgang und Hermann

Wolfie was pretty friendly, and even sat on TLRC’s feet like a spaniel. Hermann less so. TLRC would have named them Hermann and Goering, were they his.

Just prior to all of this, was a Rogue River trip with The Long Suffering Girlfriend and her granddaughter the Bird Princess (whom TLRC thinks of as his Common-Law-Step-Granddaughter). TLRC broke his long standing vow never to go down the Rogue in the summer. There had been a number of experiences not to his taste, e.g., belligerent redneck families demanding to share a campsite, boom boxes, lines above Blossom Bar and the the boat ramp, etc., etc., etc… They had a great trip! With a bit of care taken when choosing nice and very small out-of-the-way campsites and an early take-out, no hassles! BP entertained all by swimming in the river and nearly causing TLSG a nervous fit, while dragging a dead salmon around and poking about in its mouth and gills.

It was a happy group who headed north over the pass from the take out to Powers. It’s quite a pull up to Agness Pass, and partway up, TLRC’s trusty ’97 Tacoma finally had a problem and overheated to the point of undriveability. In mile-long spurts they finally made it over and coasted into Powers.

Powers is a decaying Coast Range logging town, and it is desperately poor. The population is declining and is now around 600 souls. Logging is still stripping the rich hinterlands, and the trucks haul the bounty right through town, leaving nothing for the residents. TLRC and the gang pulled into town, and lo and behold, there was an open, functioning garage. Ready to take a big hit (really, what a mark, an overheating old truck pulling a heavy trailer home on vacation: TLRC could visualize the mechanics salivating), TLRC walked over. The greeter was a Rastafarian with a gold tooth, who told him (TLRC) to pull the truck over.

Next out were the proprietors and their hounds, Buck (redbone+walker) and little girl Weirdo (walker). They guys looked like mechanics on The Discovery Channel: shaved heads, tats and piercings. They had a few things to try, quoted TLRC a price and said the parts would come in tomorrow.

TKRC, TSLG and BP vowed to make the best of it and settled into the pleasant Powers county park, a quiet place built over an old mill site. They supped on burgers and fries in the small cafe, where the waitress, a girl of BP’s age or so, was so taken by BP’s emo styling that she asked shyly “Are you going to school here this year?”, perhaps hoping for a cool friend for the coming term.

After dinner they strolled through the park and found one of those “death to children” playgrounds that progressive places like Corvallis have done away with long ago, but that brought up fond memories for TLRC and TLSG. Two of the little foot-severing vomit-machine merry-go-rounds, teeter-totters made from steel pipe with sharp finger-chopping fittings at the pivot, high swings, slides coming out of a ten-foot high tower, and the Powers piece de resistance: a living room sized, 4 foot high concrete block with an attached block that rose another 5 feet or so, perfect for jumping and all manner of orthopedic distress.

At the park were a couple of boys, 5 and 7 (as they learned), armed with plastic combat knives, water cannon, camo-covered Warsaw Pact helmets, and a generally wild attitude: The Barbarians. Watched over by a truly long-suffering mother, they were almost completely out of control, and drew BP into their frolic with huge enthusiasm.

Bird Princess and the Barbarians

TLRC and TLSG sat with TLSM for about an hour watching the three of them flirt with serious injury. It was definitely one of those “… that’s alright until someone gets their eye poked out…” situations. The adults could barely contain their laughter while the Barbarians pounded BP, threw sand at each other’s faces, and played with all the death features at the park.

Exhausted, they returned to their site, where TLRC chatted up a pensioner riding around on a brand new Surly fat bike the guy had just got. “Spent my whole Social Security check on it!”

The next day, the mechanics labored away on the truck and finally concluded that it might work out with what they had done, or it might need a new radiator. TLRC thought it was time to move on and give it a try without. He offered them more than the estimate, since they had put in much more time than they predicted it would take, but the mechs were adamant in their refusal. “We’re here to serve the public, not rip them off.” They meant it too. Honest guys. The whole Powers interlude actually made the trip.

They were right about the radiator. Ten miles out of Camas Valley, TLRC finally gave up the ghost and they got towed to Roseburg, where the radiator was indeed replaced.

Back home, some road rides, some local MTB and TLRC had an itch to get out again. He wanted back in the woods and wanted some quality time with Devil Puppy, who missed the Rogue trip in favor of BP. Off they went up the Middle Willamette, into the smoke of the big, long-lived Deception fire. TLRC and DP hiked from Timponagas Lake and ascended Cowhorn Mtn.

Devil Puppy checking it out just prior to her First Known Ascent By A Show-Grade English Springer Spaniel of Cowhorn Mtn.

Of course, there was swimming to be had:

and a nice nap in the pumice sand at the precious Indigo Lake.

The next day, after a pleasant camp down in the valley, they nearly (TLRC having grown almost as uptight as TLSG about DP scampering off a cliff) got to the top of Sawtooth Mtn, but contented themselves with a view of the summit from a hundred feet away, followed by more downtime at Indigo on the way back. A delightful, non-bike outing.