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.