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.

 

TLRC Wasn’t Paranoid Until After the Attacks

Another dream-like rain day in the Coast Range found The Logging Road Cyclist pedaling along a typical Range-scape: a muddy gravel road traversing a steep clearcut. On the left, a dropoff into the mist. To the right, the steep road cut was topped by the continuation of the relentless bare hillside, it too fading away into ground cloud.

TLRC found himself being pulled against his will towards the drop. He corrected his steering again and again, but as if some unfelt force pressed him, he drifted towards the brink. Finally, about to topple off the edge, he wrenched his steering one last time and got away with only his rear wheel drifting off the edge. He fell to the right, into the road.

And suddenly found himself up against the cutbank, lying on his right side. A huge white sedan, Caddy? Lincoln? roared up the road from the direction he had come. In a wide spot just up the way, it spun a 180 in the gravel and slid to a stop. A man in a skintight white jumpsuit opened the door and stood up behind it. He lifted a pump shotgun, a tactical gun, levelled it at TLRC and fired. He was so close that the impact of the shot and the boom of the round were simultaneous. TLRC was hit in his left arm, the bad one. From the small wounds he knew he had been hit by birdshot rather than the lethal 00 buck he was expecting.

As he pondered his wounds, two things happened: The man got back into the car and TLRC’s little frou frou dog came running full speed up the road whence the sedan had come.

TLRC, shocked by her appearance in this place and time, snagged her by the collar.  He looked back at the sedan in time to see the driver level a black rifle out the window. TLRC  got to his knees and clutched his doggie, back to the shooter. He hoped that whatever the driver was shooting wouldn’t go all the way through him into her, and

He woke up in bed covered with sweat and clutching his dog who was peacefully snoring against his chest. He slept poorly the rest of the night. The dream lingered  at the base of his consciousness for a week or so and is still vidid when he brings it up from memory.

A few weeks later, he was out on a road ride. It was a beautiful September day and he was trying out his Mk V saddle, with which he hoped he had finally smoothed out all the wrinkles. Just past BiMart on 53rd, rather than gear down a bit for the slight climb up to Plymouth Dr., he decided to open up the turbo, since he was feeling marginally more studly than usual. He propped open his mouth and began to oxygenate. On the third or fourth intake stroke, something popped in, hit his uvula and buzzed down his esophagus.

With his widely acknowledged intuitive sense, TLRC felt certain that this was some kind of stinging bug. Given how energetically it was buzzing around in there, almost precisely half-way down, he also guessed it was pissed off, and about to sting. TLRC pondered this as he braked his Merlin to a stop: spit or swallow? He wasn’t sure the former would work, and likewise, didn’t know how fast his digestive acids would kill it off. He pictured multiple, internal stings either way, down or up.

He found his mind made up for him, when after the first sting, an atavistic !Spit!, or more accurately !Near Vomit! response took hold, and on its way out, what TLRC saw to be a yellow-and-black flying thing, stung him on the lip too.

Now, TLRC is not allergic to these things, but he has been stung a lot in the last few years, and one hears how “sensitivities” can thus develop. Or, to put it another way, he thought as he stood there in rapidly increasing discomfort, you never really know. Given that he had a rapidly swelling lump on the left side of his swallow tube and a couple on his lower lip he thought that continuing with his ride wasn’t a good idea. That is, if he was not going to be breathing very well in a few minutes, maybe he should go somewhere with more, rather than less people, and that he should perhaps call his helpmate, The Long Suffering Girlfriend.

Retreating to BiMart, he sat down on the bags of chicken manure and gave her a call. She was at home and would, she said, speed over with both benadryl and her albuterol. TLRC waited, his airway still open. He figured if he was still breathing now he was OK. TLSGF called and said, maybe he should go to the Urgent Care that was about 100 yds away. TLRC snapped at her just to please do as she was asked (he was miserable, and cranky as a result) and did not want to try to explain to her that he wasn’t about to leave his irreplaceable Merlin Agilant with TA triple cranks and Chris King wheelset lying around some medical office.

She arrived, and for the swelling (which was bad both in his throat and on his lips) he swallowed three benadryl, and just in case, three hits off of her inhaler. They loaded the Merlin up and got some chloraseptic too, but it didn’t help as much as the blended iced lemonade from Dutch Bros did.

As they left the coffee hut, TLSGF finally prevailed on TLRC to go see a doctor. He predicted that “64 year old man with yellowjacket sting in esophagus” would work nearly as well for him as “96 year old woman with shortness of breath and chest pain” did with his mother in terms of getting to the front of the line in a medical facility.

There wasn’t much they could do. TLRC almost vomited on the doctor when she poked a tongue depressor in too far. She gave him some prednisone, which helped a lot later on. Most memorable was TLSGF sitting in the exam room, fiddling with her phone and chortling away at poor TLRC. The doctor thought this was all pretty funny too and the two of them had a nice female bonding time of it, ha ha, chuckling away about the whole thing. Not the least of which was how hard it was for TLRC to respond, given as he had a yellowjacket sting in his throat.