The insight and broad general knowledge of The Logging Road Cyclist is garnering much-deserved attention:
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.
“Perhaps”, thought The Logging Road Cyclist, as he climbed a very tricky 15% slope covered with ball-bearing like 1″ gravel, “things aren’t so bad after all, TLRC-wise”. The climb required a nice judgement of balance, front-to-back, to keep traction on the rear and weight on the front, and a certain amount of torque just to keep things going. He felt strong, and the doing of it wasn’t causing him a lot of thought.
Moreover, earlier in the day he had managed to pack quickly and not forget anything. Further down the road, the weather deteriorated, and it was a lot like the old days: all buttoned up with all his gear on, munching a bar to keep warmer.
He had decided to climb up Bald Mtn from the backside, up the Luckiamute. The routes up Bald Mtn were vague in his mind for some reason. On almost all of his routes, TLRC could pretty much visualize the path, and could likely do fine without a map. Not Bald Mtn though. Funky BLM map in hand off he went to spiral around the peak, spin off to Valsetz and arrow back to the truck.
The first part, up the river to the first view of the summit was easy.
Beyond here, finding the way is a bit tricky, but there are BLM boundary markers and section markers that bolstered TLRC’s shaky memory. There are some great views east across the Valley and a high waterfall below the road that pops out of a culvert. The final part of Bald Mtn Rd. heads about west and is a lot steeper than TLRC recalled. There are good views south and west through here.
TLRC had intended both to climb the peak, and then circumnavigate it. As to the former, the weather was deteriorating, and, having climbed up there a couple of times already in zero-zero, wet and cold conditions, he gave that a miss. This chink in the armor weakened his resolve and this is where he had the old self doubts. But maybe it was time to have a new, untortured TLRC, one that just had fun? That sounded fine, actually. But in this moment of pondering what to do, he noticed an old idea on the map, a direct route up from the west, certainly not something to be descended today in contravention of The Fundamental Axiom, rather A Project. He liked this. He felt some of his old energy return.
Heading back to the Luckiamute road, he found some some sketchy climbs, and encountered a family out for a day of fun in the clearcuts, wandering around in the rain with their rottweillers, both of whom charged TLRC from about 100 feet out. They seemed friendly enough, but…and they turned out to be. These people weren’t taking any chances: besides the livestock, the cute young Coast Range gal in the group was packing a 9mm (lefty!)
Driving back towards Hoskins, trying to get warm, TLRC noticed his friends The Little Black Pigs who had shamed him into eschewing ham last fall. Once again they came running to greet TLRC just as they had when last they induced so much guilt in him for his eating of pig. There were a lot more of them today. TLRC was glad that he was doing his part to keep them around and thriving.
Little things would slowly go askew. Ian Drury and the Blockeads
In prelapsarian times, The Logging Road Cyclist had, he felt, some reason to be pleased with himself. He would fling himself into rides that in retrospect seem to have been done by someone else. Fifty miles with 10K of climb, ATCA with no shuttle. Grim winter slogs into the unkown. TLRC’s logistics were tight too. Seldom did he carry too much, never too little. Packing was done nearly without thought and efficiency was the rule. His time was spent planning the next ride, and chomping at the bit to do it. He lived for this stuff. He was squared away. His shit was together.
Last night, preparing for a ride he had done many times before, TLRC found himself overwhelmed by packing. He simply couldn’t face the uncertainty of the morrow’s weather, so he just dumped everything into a duffel. He managed to oil his chain and pump his tires. A nagging uncertainty about navigation entered his mind. He knew he could find his way to the top of the Grant Cr. divide, but what about down to Drift Cr.? What if new clearcuts in the area had rendered things unrecognizable? Should he bring a map? Was that demeaning? He knew that common sense and the peace of mind of The Long Suffering Girlfriend both demanded that she be left a route map. It says so right there in the website. So he did that, but couldn’t bring himself to print off one for himself.
In the morning, over breakfast with TLSG, it came to light the the SPOT, another agreed upon device had been left at home. On the drive to Harlan, TLRC simply did not feel the urge to go out and grind away that he once had. It would have been a nice day to walk Devil Puppy. Did he really need to abandon her to go out and sweat through clearcuts several times seen? Was it the case, horrible to contemplate, that after two years of fitful recovery during which he had dreamed of nothing more than riding these hills again, that TLRC had, not to put to fine a point on it, gone soft?
At the well-known start of the ride, TLRC found himself fidgeting about to no purpose. His old pre-ride excitement felt dim. Flogging himself into action, he glimpsed his frame that was not festooned with water bottles. Cursing, he hoped they had fallen out in the truck rather than been forgotten as it turned out they had been. In cold weather, this wouldn’t have meant much for the ride he was doing, but it was practically hot, and TLRC was overdressed. Damning the possibility of various dehydration-induced drug toxicities, he started anyway.
The last time he was here, the Grant Cr. road was in terrible shape, and TLRC predicted that in a year or two it would be overgrown and impassable. Someone has decided it should be otherwise, however, and the road is now preserved for cyclists (among other non-motorized types) and is in the best shape TLRC has ever seen it.
Regardless, TLRC felt tired grinding up this initial grade. He had noticed this before in his new life: fatigue while riding that was not reflected in post-ride fatigue. Psychosomatic? Who knew? It oppressed TLRC at any rate. He felt that he might be compromised by lacking the strength to pedal back from anywhere, as he liked to imagine he once could. While he knew that this was likely as illusory as the fatigue itself, it served to occupy his mind less productively that he wished.
Breaching through the forest wall into the clearcuts that straddle the Grant/Savage/Drift Creeks divides, TLRC soaked in the views of snowcapped Mary’s Peak and Table Mtn.
The photos make clear the nature of the wasteland hereabouts.
Past the divide, the road began its plunge to Drift Cr. Indeed there were new clearcuts and this gave TLRC pause. He had noticed in recent years that his memory was failing, sometimes spectacularly, but not in the way he had expected it to. Rather than having memories fade into a gray shroud, or simply disappear, his memories were sharp, sharp as a photograph or a movie and very clear in his mind. They were just wrong. Completely inaccurate. He had learned not to argue with people, and to be philosophical about the whole thing. While perhaps not critical in daily life, the consequences out in the Coast Range were of another order.
TLRC did the best he could with the superfluity of features exposed by the new cuts. There was the branch road coming in from the north that he and D. had ridden once, he thought. There were the big outcrops of Tyee rock along the road, and they had a certain permanence, to be sure. The road also seemed to tuck into a snug little canyon as TLRC recalled. He pushed off.
Soon there was no doubt. He was plunging down a slope steep enough to defeat his brakes on a road covered by ping-pong-ball sized gravel. Was it wise, let alone fun to do this on 35 tires by one’s self? The jury was out. At the bottom of this little nightmare lay the well-recalled Drift Cr., a pretty and welcome sight.
On the final stretch, TLRC humbled himself to beg for water from a VERY nice couple who have an aquaculture installation up Gopher Cr. Rd. This is certainly the most pleasant part of this ride, capped by the beautiful meadows at the 31 Road.
So what’s the upshot? Well, a loop leaving from Harlan is about as intensive an immersion into the total Coast Range Experience as there is and this is still a pretty profound way to see it. TLRC finished his ride without undue thirst and headed home. He was happy. He felt like TLRC.
The Logging Road Cyclist was clawing his way back to fitness. This was a more complicated procedure than it sounds. Of course, there was the usual goal of cardiovascular tuning, which at present was pretty miserable, and the strengthening of the legs, which were weak. Rides often done in the past without much thought elicited a more-or-less continuous stream of “Did this used to be this steep?”, coupled with gasping, aching legs and the sudden impulse to just quit climbing and take a short rest.
The phenomenon of the rests might be the result of poor physical condition resulting from the months of no cycling that The Injury caused. It was also, TLRC thought a lack of mental toughness. Whereas before, he felt that he could pretty much power up anything that provided enough traction for his 35mm Schwalbes, and continue beyond indefinitely, he now doubted that, and took appropriate measures: the rests. He was no longer willing to do a long climb on a short, wet day and drop off the other side for fear of running out of gas. Getting lost and thus forcing a longer-than-planned ride was not something he was comfortable with. This colored his choice of rides.
As noted, he did the Chandler Pass ride out by Valsetz, and then the Rickreall-Falls City loop, both moderate, both reasonably well remembered. He got a might confused on the latter, and did some unintended climbing. The grade down to Black Rock had been heavily logged and looked much different, but he persevered, and gained back some confidence.
A harder ride, and one TLRC knew like the back of his hand was Grass Mountain. He had given it a try a few weeks earlier, but the Panzer Saddle on the DeSalvo had some issues and created a hot spot so quickly that he only got up the first four miles before having to retreat. He had fixed that and last weekend returned.
It was a nice day, foggy at home, sunny out in Alsea. He ground away, thinking how much steeper it seemed presently than in memory, but didn’t have to stop. Near the top, the road splits. Years ago, on his first successful ride up Grass, he had taken the left hand road, which in his memory was pleasant, woody, and not too steep. Since then, he had always taken the right branch, which besides being hella steep, had much better views. In his diminished state, he opted for the left.
A smattering of snow had appeared at this elevation. In the years since TLRC had been here last, the road had been covered by deadfalls and growth through the roadbed. The ridgeline TLRC thought he had to obtain seemed a lot higher that he recalled, and he was wondering how well he actually remembered this route.
Slinking under a large downed tree, TLRC looked forward along the snow patch into the heavy growth beyond and spied a line of cat tracks disappearing in the distance. Suddenly alert, he assessed them. A bit on the small size for cougar, but on the other hand, pretty big for a bobcat. He pondered. TLRC was not as a rule worried by cats, certainly not bobcats. His own (11!) encounters with cougars and ancillary reading had left him with the feeling that cougars pretty much wanted to be left alone. Still, lil’ cat or big cat, this one might well be retreating from TLRC himself and it struck him (given that whatever it was was certainly possessed of claws and teeth) as the height of folly to follow it into densely wooded terrain. Since TLRC was on the fence about dragging his bike through more of this mess anyway, back he went.
As it turned out, the hella steep, view-dripping way shortly became snow-bound. Another choice: slog through deepening snow into the afternoon, or call it good?
He called it and went back the way he came, once again marveling at how steep the climb up is.
For some reason, this buoyed TLRC’s spirits. Standing alone in the forest, in the snow, all alone and deciding what to do about the tracks left him feeling like his old self, an adventurous self he feared losing. He felt ready for some serious abuse: a visit to California and the Machine People.
Many people ask The Logging Road Cyclist:”TLRC, what is your best character trait?” Without skipping a beat, TLRC answers: Modesty. It was in that spirit that when the Fifth Birthday of the Blog came about earlier this month, he let it slide and didn’t make the spectacle out of it that it perhaps deserved. Rather, he thought of it as the end of the first Five Year Plan. While roughly the last 20% or so of the plan was disrupted by The Injury, TLRC thought that on the whole a lot was accomplished.
But out with the old, on with the Second Five Year Plan. This will be based firmly on the final form of the Mk IV “Panzer” saddles, without which, it seems TLRC will not be riding.
Things may or may not be helped by TLRC’s acquisition of an iPhone. Hopefully he can control himself.
Thus far, things are not looking good. An anonymous selfie, forsooth.
Certainly the micro trailer will help out on more exotic rides
At any rate, Devil Puppy enjoys snuggling there as much as anywhere.
On the first bike-trip-with-micro-trailer, TLRC camped in the beautiful, fire prone oak savannah of the Western Sacramento Valleythe night before and night after a ride from Paskenta up to Round Mtn through the Great Valley sequence of sediments and through the Elder Cr. Ophiolite.
But perhaps the biggest news is that TLRC shook off his wet-weather lethargy and went out in the Coast Range today in pretty funky weather for the Chandler Pass Lollypop, which he only vaguely remembered the route of, thus doing a downhill exploration Lite. The Luckiamute was pounding and opaque brown from the recent heavy rains, reminding TLRC of his past winter boating trips in conditions like this where all the mud and logs and high water made things sometimes less than really fun. It being the last or next-to-last weekend of regular hunting, the roads were busy with generally friendly hunters, but only one rifle shot was heard. Coming up to Chandler Pass, TLRC ran into a couple of country boys with lips full of chew, a massive 4×4 and a chainsaw cutting their way down the road. They offered to guide TLRC down to Valsetz! On the way back to Hoskins, TLRC, who has waffled back and forth into vegeterianism for years had cause to regret that rare purchase of ham he had made a couple of days before
when this cute little girl and one of her brothers came grunting and snorfling over to say hello like a couple of labradors. TLRC got home and immediately finished his ham, vowing “nada mas”. He may be off beef too, or at least yak.
Anyone who spends much time reading The Logging Road Cyclist (like Ryan), or for that matter spends much time out in Oregon’s Spectacular Coast Range gets the importance of navigation. It is really really really easy to get lost. Well here is a nice ride, in that it loops around Mary’s Peak (a worthy goal in itself), but furthermore, the C2C Trail folks have marked all the scary downhill part. You can just park at the end of Woods Cr. Road by the gate and fling yourself off the heights down to the Harlan Valley below and just follow these:
Don’t even bother with a map! There is even a short section of nice single track installed.
But listen up. They don’t want the trail chewed to bits when it’s wet, so follow the rules:
no riding this part Oct 15-May 15 (note the MkIV Panzer saddle peeking coyly out from behind the sign?).
After the single track another mile or so of road until a gate is reached. Turn left on the 30 road, ride to the pavement at the top, turn left, take the second right, pass a gate and slide back to the car. The climb up the 30 is stiff: 2300 feet in just under 8 miles.
TLRC thinks this is a good ride for anyone who thinks, but isn’t sure, that they will like this kind of riding.
Having just finished his second MkIV Panzer saddle, The Logging Road Cyclist slapped it on the DeSalvo and took off for a tune/fit ride, sandpaper ready to hand. He worked his way up Skillings Rd and to the McCulloch Peak road, stopping here and there to sand away thin layers of seat foam, getting the pads equally thick, getting the shape just right. At the top, he decided to head home. It was a hot and very smoky day, and, as always of late, TLRC was taking things a bit at a time so as not to hurt himself again in one way or another, and also because he couldn’t quite believe he was riding again.
Near the cutoff to The Forest Estate, TLRC passed a man with a toddler, a girl. TLRC slowed to a respectfully slow pace as he passed, and gave a polite hello. When past them a ways, TLRC heard the man say “I know you!”
Thinking he had misheard, TLRC dismounted, looked back and said “You know me?” “Yes”, the man said, “you’re TLRC.”
“You know I’m TLRC? How?”
“I recognize the bike.” Really. An honest to god aficionado! Turns out this guy had just moved to town, was looking for stuff to do in Mac Forest and had stumbled on to The Site’s page thereon. He said that there was “a lot of useful information”. Hooked, he continued to read, and admitted, after the initial discovery, to having read the whole damned thing. Really, the bike? This guy REALLY read the site!
Aside from the unadulterated joy of being not only recognized, nay praised for the site, TLRC was very, very pleased that someone found all this useful. The original intent of the site, after all, was pretty much just to catalog rides so folks could go do them. The incessant blather that accompanies that was neither intended nor stoppable…
About a year ago, The Logging Road Cyclist sustained serious damage to what he thinks is his pudendal nerve. While months of visits to various specialists failed to produce any definitive diagnosis, the fact of pain in the perineum, or colloquially the “taint”, remained. The damage happened while climbing up the steep Skillings side of McCulloch Peak, a road TLRC had ridden dozens of times before. Same ride, same bike, same seat. He had slid forward on the seat to keep the front wheel weighted as he had many times before. This time, however, at the top, he felt an odd pair of filament-like things down there, like tendons or something, and that was all she wrote.
Three months later, he was able to walk without causing pain in the affected area. Another month or so and after lot of seat modifications he could paddle his kayak and ride his recumbent a bit. TLRC had pretty much given up on ever riding his upright bikes again.
By the Fall, TLRC was experimenting with taking his Gold Rush recumbent out on the logging roads. With touring tires and fenders, he rode up McCulloch a couple of times. It took a lot of effort. He rode up Old Peak Road to the parking area at the North Ridge Trail and down Woods Cr. Rd. This was all encouraging, so he tried Prairie Mtn. This was not. About 5 miles up, a shooting pain in his right knee convinced TLRC that perhaps this superbly designed road machine was less than optimal for really steep logging roads and another debilitating injury lay ready to pounce should he persist.
Pudendal nerve injuries are a nightmare for the devoted cyclist. They are long-lasting, potentially career ending, and difficult to treat. As the Gnat put it, one of those things that might be the one that stops you. Based on TLRC’s experience, one must learn patience, Grasshopper, and try not to give up hope, find ways to adapt. Perhaps it is better not to identify one’s self totally with one’s pastime, e.g. not naming one’s self after it. On the other hand, since age will take it all away eventually, one might view it as a required “life experience”…
After this year of stoic suffering off of his bikes, TLRC felt healed enough to dip his toe into the water and try out some saddles designed to prevent or alleviate injuries like his.
That pudenal or perineal injuries are not uncommon is borne out by the number of bicycle saddles that purport to alleviate or prevent them. There seem to be three main types:
Relief Channels. Typified by the Selle Italia Max Flow the large family of Selle SMP saddles, and any number of offerings from other manufacturers, these use a cutout or trench running for some length along the saddle or its nose to relieve pressure. TLRC tried a number of these, and while they might have helped prevent his problem, he is damaged enough that they didn’t feel safe for him.
“Noseless” Saddles. Adamo makes an array of saddles considered noseless, but they do not seem noseless to TLRC. A lot of people seem to like these saddles, especially the tri community, but TLRC could never figure out how to hang himself on one of these. Bi-Saddle makes an intriguing product that is not quite noseless, but is highly adjustable and has potential. The only truly noseless saddle that TLRC spent any time on is the Spongy Wonder. This saddle truly has no pressure in the perineum, is built to be used seriously (unlike some of the other “bench” type saddles that are meant for comfort or city bikes), and in spite of the whining one will encounter on various forums about how one can’t control a bike without a nose on the saddle, it is quite possible to ride the Spongy Wonder over pretty rough terrain. TLRC thought he had found his solution, but he was unable to get the Spongy Wonder adjusted so that it did not impinge on his sciatic nerve, which was quickly leading to additional problems he didn’t want.
“Rear Lift” Saddles. Versions made by Rido and SQ-Lab reduce perineal pressure by raising the rear part of the saddle where the sitbones go so that the nose of the saddle doesn’t press into the soft parts so much. These are a great idea, and the SQ-Lab saddle that TLRC tried was especially comfortable, but none of them quite did it for TLRC. To much padding on the nose, an arch in the forward part of the nose and not enough padding at the rear made them just not quite work.
Finally, TLRC just decided that his One Goal for the summer would be to make a saddle that he could ride. All the commercial options above were close, so he figured he could make something work.
What he came up with is a combination of all three types:
TLRC began with the shell of a Bontrager Yatra saddle. He chose this mainly because it provides a good, flat surface to glue foam to. Once the cover is pulled off the little channel that edges the shell needs to be cut off and the nose trimmed. Finding suitable foam was difficult. Most closed cell foam is too soft, and will remain compressed past a certain point (thanks to The Foam Man for pointing this out!). TLRC got an extra hard yoga block to use. This has a couple of drawbacks but has worked well so far. Because of the curvature of the saddle, the foam needs to be cut into roughly 1/4″ slabs (TLRC made a miter box to guide the cuts and uses a Japanese pull saw). The foam is applied in three layers with a very generous 1″ wide relief channel, then trimmed to follow the edge of the shell. One of the tricks is to extend the foam forward far enough for one’s pubic ramii to rest on them when tucked forward, yet not so far as to extend into the groin and perineum. The other trick is to sand the foam so that it is the full 3/4″ thickness in the front, but only 1/4″ thick at the rear. For this TLRC used a sandpaper rasp: a piece of 1×4 with 60 grit paper glued to one side and 36 grit on the other). This allows the saddle to be mounted in a strongly nose-down position while maintaining a flat seat. Thus the nose is pretty much out of the way of one’s delicates. Some custom sanding of a dip so that the saddle has a curved surface helps with comfort (TLRC used a piece of 60-grit disk sandpaper to a 2-gallon bucket to get the curvature). Finally, because the nose is wicked sharp, TLRC fashioned a foam cover for it.
This thing actually works! It took a couple of months to finally settle on this design, but TLRC has done 2 unshuttled Alpine Trail rides, the Middle Willamette Trail and a bazillion local rides with no ill affect. It takes a lot of fiddling and sanding while out on rides to get it dialed in (one can expect, for example, that the two sides of the saddle will not be of exactly equal height). The foam TLRC used is pretty hard, but not a lot more unyeilding than a lot of high-end saddles. It is pretty funky, but it works:
The Logging Road Cyclist’s Perineam/Pudendal Relief Saddle, MkIV “Panzer”
TLRC is riding again!
The Logging Road Cyclist has had a couple of high-stress years. This included the inability to ride at all for nearly a year. TLRC aficionados will realize what this means. Another pair of external stressors that were right up there in the all-lifetime stress levels coupled with no riding brought back some nasty remnants from the past. TLRC is amazed at how similarly he responds now. It is, to loosely quote William Gibson, describing something else, “rather like having a Nazi tank buried in your back yard, grown over with grass and dandelions, but then you notice its engine is still idling.” Following is an example of one of the old events. TLRC is riding again (see other posts), and promises to pretty much drop the TLRC history lessons (especially the first person ones) and get back to the business of the site, which is after all, LRC, and happier.
The pager went of with its usual shriek and called us up to the old town of Placitas for a pedestrian hit by a car. It turned out to be a stupid guy rollerblading in the 50mph two-lane blacktop that ran through there. It was late at night, and given the lack of lighting, it would have been nearly impossible for the driver to have seen him before he dodged out into her path, got crumpled up over the front of her car and hammered face first through her windshield.
When we got onto the scene in our personal vehicle, the driver, an Hispanic woman of about 40, was still in the driver’s seat in hysterics. The windshield where his face had gone through was shattered in a circle a couple of feet across right in front of her. He was crawling around on the highway, on all fours, screaming like an animal. There was nothing human about it.
Our rescue rig arrived with some gear so that we could start doing some good, and soon after a county sheriff unit arrived and started to take control of the traffic. Everything was still out in the middle of the road and cars were stacking up in both directions. We got a backboard out of the rescue and took hold of the guy. This was a bit tricky. Given the mechanism of injury, i.e. face first through a high-speed windshield, we were by protocol required to immobilize him in case of spinal injury. On the other hand, he was combative and bloody, so we had to manhandle him onto the board without exacerbating his injuries and, at the same time maintain his airway with all that blood.
We got him down and rolled him over. His face was nightmarish. It looked like someone had spent 10 minutes slashing at him with a box cutter and every time he screamed, which was with each breath, the cuts lifted and moved around and bled. It was like some abstract rendition of a human face come to life through LSD. He screamed and fought us and bled and screamed some more. Finally there were four of us on him, one at the head, me at the right arm, one at the feet, another with the left arm. He pretty clearly wasn’t having any airway problems.
I held hard while my wife, an EMT-I, started a line in him. I am simply unable to watch IVs or blood draws, or even have my own blood drawn without getting the heebie-jeebies or fainting, but this time it didn’t bother me at all. I just watched all her prep and, pinning his arm against all of his contortions, closely watched her slide the catheter home.
By this time the Albuquerque Ambulance medics had arrived, so legally it was their scene, as we were all EMTs and outranked. One of them moved to the IV point with my wife, so I took over the feet from one of us who was having trouble dealing with this horror show. The medic in charge said he was calling medical control to get an order to paralyze the skater with versed, an anesthetic with amnesia-inducing properties, probably a good thing for him, and probably something we all could have used. He went back into the ambulance to make the call.
About this time the Sandoval County Sheriff deputy came up and looked to us to get the attention of someone. Since I was only holding feet and everyone else was either busy or in shock, he caught my eye and asked if he could take our rescue unit. He needed a second vehicle with emergency lights besides his own so that he could block off a section of the highway to make a landing zone for the helicopter that had been called. I looked around. It was Albuquerque’s scene; their ambulance had everything they needed and our rescue was pretty much just sitting there adding to the diesel atmosphere. I nodded and he gave a quick thanks and took off.
All this time the patient was screaming and kicking and bleeding and his face was fracturing and bleeding and this was all to be seen in the flashing of the emergency lights and the odd bright white light of someone’s heavy-duty flashlight or the ambulance’s spots and the diesel stank and the radios crackled and we could still hear the hysterics of the poor driver that this idiot had catapulted into hell when he went into her windshield.
The head medic came back with a syringe and pumped the versed into the line. Almost instantly the skater slumped peacefully. The wounds on his face settled neatly into place like a jigsaw puzzle and he looked human again, but as if someone had taken a red Sharpie and drawn several feet of lines all over his sleeping face. This remains one of the most graphic and vivid images of my life, not the screaming and the horror, but the falling into place on a quiet face of all that wounding.
This done, we packaged him up and carried him to the LZ a short distance away. The Life Flight medic climbed out, talked to the Abq guys, we loaded the patient and backed off to let the Aerospatial haul this poor stupid kid off to be fixed. I later heard that he got two hundred-odd stitches in his face.
We picked up a bit and got into my Volvo to head back to the station to clean all the blood out of the rescue. I was trying to compose myself after all I had just seen; not an easy thing to do. It was hard not to just curl up into a small ball and cry, which was really my inclination. After a few minutes, my wife, who was clearly stewing about something popped up: “Don’t you ever, EVER give away my ambulance like that. EVER!” I, a mere EMT-B (basic) was outranked by her EMT-I (intermediate) and was legally subordinate to her on emergency scenes. I explained to her what the cop had asked for, that it was Abq’s scene at that point, that Abq had no need for the rescue, that the LZ was the priority at that point and that I wasn’t in the habit of denying reasonable, if any, requests from the police. She would have none of it and started to lay into me again. I said, look, think what you want, but if you put me in that same situation 100 more times, I’d do the same thing every time, so just drop it, but she didn’t. I didn’t need this at that particular moment.
While we were in the station bay cleaning the shocking amount of blood that had gotten transferred into the rescue, the Sandoval deputy came in, looking for me particularly. He thanked me, in front of my wife, for giving him the rescue and said that without it there was no way he could have gotten a safe LZ and hence no way we could have flown the skater. She just looked on. I looked at her and said nothing. In retrospect, this event was the second- or third-to-last nail in the coffin of our marriage, demonstrating to me a growing and fundamental lack of respect. The last nail was firmly driven home a few weeks later during a similar incident, and I left soon after.
I often look back on the time I spent running with that fire department 20 years ago and wonder how I did it. In a period of about 18 months I responded to more than 12 calls, maybe 14, that involved death. There was a drug overdose. There was a multiple death car wreck on I-25 and the blood from the victims ran in rivulets across the banked asphalt into the median before we zipped the bodies into the bags. A guy in a small pickup towing another truck rear-ended someone on that same road and burned to death while his foot was trapped beneath the brake pedal and we had to extricate him which meant working in close proximity for an hour. (We really dropped the ball on this one: instead of doing it the way we were trained to do we let the coroner direct us. We should have told him to take a hike.) I honestly can’t even remember most of them; I just remember that when I stopped I counted and the number is what I know now. There was a lot of other stuff that didn’t involve death, but was gruesome too, like extricating a comatose drunk from a blood-soaked Caddy after a high-speed head-on with another drunk, or the story I just told.
There was a lot of feel-good to it too. For extended periods, since I worked at home, if you called 911 in our area, you got me. Medical calls were challenging and made me feel like I was really helping the community and usually didn’t have the emotional impact of serious trauma calls. But what really got us rockin’ were the 10-45’s: car crash with injuries. Not to say that I enjoyed them, for that implies that I found gratification from someone else’s disasters and that isn’t true. What 10-45’s did was to seep into my being, into my very living bones and expose all the flaws and weaknesses in me. Each one was a test of whether or not I could stand to see and deal with the worst. Each time I passed, I knew something about myself that changed me. I learned to drop a cloak of calm over myself, to detach from what was in front of me and focus on the task at hand. While I can still do this, and it is indeed an asset, eventually I paid a price. The accrual of all that trauma damaged me in a long-lasting way.
What sticks in my head is the nighttime nightmare stuff. Lit by the emergency bars, diesel in the air, something bad out in front of you, hoping you can hold it together if it’s as bad as you fear, that you won’t break. I never did, but I did take some long walks out into the desert and cry by myself sometimes. I know myself better now than I did then, and knowing what I know now, I would never have subjected myself to that kind of emotional loading. I’m picky about what books or movies I absorb and have to recognize that I have my limits. Recent situations have stretched those for me, and I found with that the same feelings that the lights and diesel and blood elicited all those years ago arise in me with a surprising freshness.