Where’s TLRC Contest

The Logging Road Cyclist got the biggest Christmas gift ever on Christmas Eve! He had taken the El Mariachi out for a Mac Forest workout ride and stopped at Dimple Hill on the way back to take in the view. The fog had lifted, leaving streamers among all the valleys and ridges, and otherwise all was clear. In the evening sun, it was stunning.

Several groups of people were enjoying the scene, and one lone cyclist on a single speed. He asked TLRC where he had ridden, and with the usual useless arm waving, he had tried to describe it. The single speeder said he had a map, so TLRC pulled out his folding readers and they powwowed. After a bit, TLRC (a modest man) delicately alluded to the website, at which the single speeder said “Oh, you’re TLRC!”, to which the ever brilliant TLRC replied “Why yes, however did you know?” The single speeder (seemingly a polite fellow) tried to look like TLRC wasn’t an idiot and said “A website about gravel roads, Corvallis…how many could there be?”

Thus begins the “Where’s TLRC?” contest. Anyone who correctly identifies TLRC out in the world wins one of the cheap-ass TLRC magnets that fades in six months, or an equally cheap-ass sticker, at the discretion of TLRC. Single speeder, contact the site now, and claim your prize!

Nosing Around The Siletz

The Logging Road Cyclist has spent a lot of time riding both north and south of the Siletz drainage, but not much right in it. There is a large area north of the Blodgett-Eddyville Highway and south of the Laurel Mountain Massif that TLRC has visited, but not really tried to learn in detail. He and the oldest buddy of them all, Stumpy, once did a Hoskins-Valsetz-Logdsen-Hoskins loop that was a tiring 75 miles, and of course, back in the olden days, TLRC used to go paddle the Siletz once a year or so, and he ran the NF Siltez a couple of times. The impression left by these trips was that the Siletz drainage is sort of a clearcut Bermuda Triangle, a region logged enough to look like the Somme in 1916 with a road system so complex and unmarked that one entered, got blendered around in it for a few hours, and then spit out, hopefully somewhere recognizable enough that it was possible to find a way home. Add to this the absence of name-brand peaks (TLRC, that well-known braggart, loves to tell folks at parties “Yes, just the other day I rode my bike up Condenser Peak, the 12th highest point in the Coast Range” and bask in the resulting blank look), and the reader may get an inkling of why TLRC has not spent much time riding around the Siletz.

Of late, however, TLRC has felt some stirrings of interest in this area. For example, on his local training rides up the back side of McCulloch Peak from Sulphur Springs, he has noted a substantial peak looming above Kings Valley. Straight in line with Price Cr. this turns out to be Little Grass Mountain, a nice peak with a meadow at the top, and no slouch at nearly 2700′. Also, TLRC’s buddy D. has been poking around out there lately and has been agitating for some bike time in the area.

Thus the ever-methodical TLRC began to weave a web of known roads around and across this new area by taking a bite out of the southwest corner. The plan was to head up Big Rock Cr. Road, maybe over to Valsetz, then back around somehow to descend the ironically-named Sunshine Cr. to the Siletz R., whence the truck.

As TLRC expected, things started out inauspiciously.

Clearcut along Big Rock Cr. Road.

But after a while, while heading up a steep bit next to a narrow part of the creek, TLRC realized that not only was he rubbing shoulders with a gabbro outcrop, but that it was juxtaposed (across a small creek) with a nice example of Tyee sediments.

Gabbro (left foreground) and Tyee sediments on the right.

Interesting indeed! Dropping down to the big 5-way intersection, TLRC took stock and headed off for Valsetz. Navigation was purely by road intersection and topography since the only road signs (which were clear and abundant) were private timber company designators, and thus as useful to TLRC as if they were in Swahili, and there was not a section marker to be found. The maps indicated that Chandler Pass should be traversed, but TLRC soon realized that he was just wandering around in the clouds and probably was as likely to loop around to some unknown swamp as he was to make it to Valsetz. Retracing his steps back to the 5-way, he headed off down Sunshine Cr., feeling sure that with one of the biggest rivers in the Coast Range for a backstop, he’d get to the Siletz for sure.

On the way, more fascinating rocks:

Triple Play!

Off the photo to the right, and at the very tippy top of the quarry are Tyee sediments. The massive grey-black rock comprising the bulk of the quarry face are Siletz basalt, and the light brown exposure on the upper left of the quarry wall is our old friend Mr. Gabbro. While these sorts of contacts may be common, TLRC hasn’t run into them.

Finally, the Siletz. The visual shock of this  cut-over valley was mitigated by the undiminished beauty of the Siletz itself and the peacefully soaring bald eagle above it.

Looking upstream on the Siletz above Silache Rapids.

Here is where TLRC went today.


Elk River

The Elk River is a small stream of transparent water and nearly heartbreaking beauty. Tucked away in Oregon’s southern coastal mountains, the Elk lies just north of the Rogue River and in the transition from the monotonous fir and cedar of the Coast Range to the much more diverse  forests of the Klamath Mountains. The Logging Road Cyclist first had cause to visit the Elk in the Xmas-New Years gap of 1997, just after his (Armstice Day!) release from self-imposed exile in the drab New Mexican desert. On their first boating date, TLRC and his (then to become) long-time boating buddy H., had gone down and run Canton Cr., a tributary of Steamboat Cr., which tributaries on into the North Umpqua. Canton was fun, and the boys got along, so, while outside the Glide laundromat they schemed up the Elk River trip. Back in those days, they thought nothing of heading off for yet another three-hour drive (in separate cars, for the shuttle) to do yet another river. The Elk was exotic, and supposed to be fun, so off they went into the cold night.

The next morning, our heroes spent too much time getting acquainted and walking TLRC’s dog B. to get in a lot of paddling, but they still managed to run about 6 miles. To this day, TLRC has an almost physical memory of floating along this intimate little river with the drizzle falling down on his head, a soothing balm removing the chafes of the NM times. He was back on his misty cold rivers with his life back in his own hands.

Towards the end of the day, drizzle turned to rain and then downpour. By the time they were on the road home, the river had come up a foot, and by the time TLRC had changed his blown tire on the very narrow edge of the very narrow road clinging to the wall above one of the Elk’s mini-gorges, the river was up perhaps three feet. Sliding on home, TLRC stopped at an espresso stand in Bandon  and chatted up the teenager about the “Cheap Thrills” she was enjoying. TLRC, the atavist, had just re-bought it the month before, and was glad to see the hippie gene at least occasionally rising from dormancy.

By the time he drove through Camas Valley late that night, there were inches of snow to push through and a pretty big desire to go back and see the Elk again.

The next time was about 18 months later under a drastically different circumstance. A late, heavy snowfall in the Coast and Siskyou Ranges, followed by 80-degree weather was giving Sierra-like paddling conditions: hot weather and snowmelt. TLRC availed himself, first running the SF Coquille on a good flow and getting a sunburn (a far cry from the 40-degree February rain of the last time around), followed by an almost unimaginable day on the Elk. In shorts and lifejacket, TLRC did the whole run and saw the river in all it’s glory (and, for good measure, the MF Smith in CA that afternoon and the NF Smith with H. the next day, all in unseasonably hot weather).

Years later, on a coastal vacation, TLRC and The Long-Suffering Girlfriend had ridden their bikes up the Elk. It was in the Fall, another beautiful Elk day. Part way along, they saw a couple of guys in a drift boat (there is perhaps a mile or two of the upper Elk that will allow this, and very limited access), knee deep in butchered king salmon, bloody water and slime, making notations in waterproof notebooks. Obviously a fishy census of some sort. TLRC, ever the wag called out: “Do you guys need college degrees for that job?”. Fortunately, they saw the humor in this too, and called back that they both had master’s degrees (presumably in Science).

Just this week, in an effort to escape the Valley grey, TLRC and TLSG took a trip to Sunset Beach, the better to get fish and chips and take in the Xmas light show at Shore Acres. TLRC determined to ride up the Elk River from the hatchery up past the end of pavement and beyond to the Rogue divide. He prepared for this one. Armed with a 2006 publication describing not only the area geology but also the newly-discovered sheeted dike complex along the River, he was ready to note the Pearse Mtn diorite pluton and Humbug Mtn conglomerate (resistant rocks that host the little gorges the river cuts through) as well as the softer Galice Formation (yes, the same Galice) through which the river flows in the more serene sections.

Nix to all that. At the hatchery, ice was all around. All the way up the canyon on the pavement, big patches of black ice lay waiting in every shady patch (most of the road at this time of year). Finally, at Butler Bar, where the gravel starts, TLRC had had enough,  geared up and rode out. After 3 miles of dodging around sheets of ice 1″ thick that completely covered the gravel, TLRC (still vividly recalling the Unfortunate Events of 1/1/12 minus One, those involving a patch of ice, a bicycle and a comminuted, non-displaced fracture of the acetabulum) realized that while going up might be OK, coming down would be just as slow and more stressful. He bagged it and headed back to TLSG, a nice warm lunch and a long nap, vowing to include the Elk River in his projected Klamath Mountains Bicycle Transect.


Mini-gorge in Pearse Mtn Diorite.

As above.

Looking down the final gorge on the Elk, in the Humbug Mtn. conglomerate, beautiful rock with large rounded clasts.


Winter Frolic!

A beautiful day today! 24 degrees, crystal clear, no wind. The Logging Road Cyclist decided to ride up McCulloch Peak in the snow! He’d tried this a few times in the past, but always gotten skunked by too much snow and had quit and slunk home, beaten. Today was different in that there wasn’t all that much snow, and what there was was bone dry. El Mariachi was the tool of choice for this (the old girl is getting out a lot these days, what with the dry trails and night riding with Professor H., Ph.D, MMQ). It’s doubtful that the DeSalvo could have made it, if only because of the low-profile fenders jamming up with snow.

Off he went, soon remembering how much more work it is to ride in snow as opposed to finely-graded gravel. Ugh. Nevertheless, TLRC determined to ride the whole thing and walk not a bit of it, although minor rests after slippages were certainly allowed. He went the longer way, up the 770.

Top of Road 770.

Snow depth varied from an inch or so under the trees to 6″-8″ out in the open.  Dropping down to the main road, TLRC climbed up the wall and then took the low-gradient way up to the top.

McCulloch Peak.

Here TLRC bundled up for the ride home and set a spell admiring the view and enjoying the brisk air. Heavy Amphib tights, four (4!) layers of increasingly thick capilene, shell over all, balaclava, heavy gloves under waterproof lobster mits. Thick Wigwam socks and full neoprene overboots. TLRC had jammed everything he could into his pack. By the time he got to TLRCFE, TLRC was frozen through. Upon entering the warm Estate, the TLRC fingers felt as if someone had slammed them in a door. Holding his excruciatingly painful fingers over the wood stove, TLRC once again pondered the nature of outdoor fun.

No Limestone for You, TLRC! (part 2)

Avid readers of the blog will recall that The Logging Road Cyclist was nearly delirious with joy at the prospect that he finally might have discovered, high up on Laurel Mountain, an outcrop of the long sought after Rickreall Limestone Member of the Yamhill Formation  (cf. Laurel Mountain Plateau).

Reader commentary was clamorous, uniformly positive and evenly divided into the “Way to go TLRC! We knew you’d do it!” and the “Thank god, we don’t have to listen to that anymore!” camps.

But TLRC, with scientific rigor drilled into him by 30+ years of trying to avoid research errors, remained skeptical. After all, the early published reports on the Limestone made it clear that it is comprised mainly of the shells of tiny little critters, which his rock might or might not have been (no paleontologist, TLRC). Limestone should fizz when doused in acid; vinegar left the rock dormant. Perhaps, TLRC thought, he needed stronger acid. More likely a stronger mind. Thus, rock in hand, TLRC found himself at the door of the kind and patient Professor D., Ph.D., at OSU.

As Prof. D. looked over the find TLRC was pleased that he (PD) didn’t immediately ID the rock. TLRC was prepared for a jaunty ” For the love of god, TLRC, this isn’t limestone. Where did you go to school, anyway?” Rather, TLRC encountered Modern Geology, which impressed him no end. After a couple of informed speculations (and some stronger acid) , PD simply said “I don’t know, want me to X-ray it and see?” Cutting to the chase, indeed. Here was a man after the efficient heart of TLRC!

Within 48 hours, back came the results:


Here is the XRD pattern.  Looks like albite (sodic plagioclase) and quartz…might be a bit of K-feldspar/orthoclase….. so kaolinite and reddish earth hematite are minor.  My guess is that this is a tuff or more likely a tuffaceous sandstone (lacking much ash) that has had ash removed by water transport.  Pretty interesting, because it must represent a relatively silicic volcanic eruption somewhere nearby.

It should be noted that this was, in fact one of the informed speculations prior to analysis.

TLRC’s NiteRiding buddy, Professor H., Ph.D., MMQ (Monday Morning Quarterback), who, through his Network, was apprised of the results even before TLRC, sent TLRC a rather arch text message in which he (PH) informed TLRC that his guess, pre-analysis, tallied more or less exactly with the results. To which TLRC offers up a huh.

All this sent TLRC back to the literature. What could this be? He had never heard of this sort of thing in the Coast Range. Thus is displayed the silence of ignorance. Three or four minutes with the Google turned up the classic 1948 study of Snavely and Baldwin, “Siletz River Volcanic Series” (AAPG Bulletin, 32, 5, pp 805-812)  in which they note: “The interbedded sedimenatry rocks are predominant water-laid tuff and tuffaceous siltstone and sandstone ….”, so it really shouldn’t have been a surprise.

The writing on the wall is clear. More riding and nosing around accompanied by more study… woe is the readership.




The Element of Style

The Logging Road Cyclist would again like to thank the scores of correspondents who take the time to share with him how much they enjoy the website. TLRC (by most accounts the most humble of men) blushes at some  of the rather high-flown rhetoric used by these admirers. Generally speaking, TLRC is content to read these emails, emit an inward sigh of satisfaction, and get on with his day. But there lately has been a disturbing number of fans who speak of taking life-changing steps because they have been inspired by TLRC.

For example, one “Jared”, who, from the sound of it is one gnarly dude on a bike, but no man of letters, who wrote to tell TLRC that he is extending his degree in Hotel Management here at OSU for another year so he can minor in Creative Writing. The additional student loans for this will push him over $50K in debt.

Then there is “Brandi” who has never been much of a cyclist, but who just bought a Surly Cross Check, is quitting her MFA and moving back to Minneapolis to live with her parents and start a newsletter devoted to the Upper Midwest gravel grinding scene. According to “Brandi”, she could never find her Muse here at OSU, and, via TLRC, thinks she knows where it is.

On the one hand, TLRC takes no responsibility for any of this. Folks will read into internet content what they will, after all, and make their own life choices accordingly. On the other, TLRC is a notorious soft touch, and cannot help but be concerned that he has wrought havoc in these impressionable young lives. Thus he is taking a step that once he vowed never to take, namely to reveal the source of his (TLRC’s) literary inspiration, with the hope that he can save these young people the life tragedies that he feels sure they are busy creating for themselves.

When TLRC moved into the TLRC Forest Estate, he, fastidious fellow, made a point of changing all the cupboard linings. The thought of his tuna and garbanzo beans sitting on someone else’s liner made him, quite frankly, slightly ill. Far in the back of the peninsula cupboard, on the very bottom shelf beneath the faintly sticky fake cedar liner was the fragment of a letter, just the first page. Written to an unknown “Ernst”, the letter is a response to an earlier letter from “Ernst” to this unknown correspondent.

At a first reading, TLRC chuckled a bit. The letter fragment was pretty funny, in it’s odd way. He put it aside that day. The next morning he awoke with the letter in his mind, and re-read it number of times. Over the next few weeks he found himself increasingly drawn to the page, reading it several times an hour. It seemed somehow to contain the pure literary essence and became the fixture in TLRC’s thoughts. Never  a literary man, TLRC started to feel compelled to write stuff down, anything that would release the pressure, diminish the ever-growing obsession (for obsession it had become) with The Letter. TLRC became concerned with his situation, and feared that he had encountered the Zahir, his own twenty-centavo piece or astrolabe. Slowly, TLRC was becoming The Letter, unable to distinguish himself from it, or from what it represented.

Thus began TLRC. Before, he had been a regular man, with the usual accoutrements, like a name.  Suddenly, as an act of salvation, he had acquired camera, tracker, website, and become TLRC, compelled, if not compelling writer. Unable to remain separate from The Letter, as an act of desperation, he became somehow parallel to The Letter so that he might retain at least some of his former (ie. Pre-Letter) Self.

Thus, here is published The Letter, to be read at one’s own risk. Perhaps it will draw those embarking on irrevocable change into a more reasonable orbit; perhaps others will spiral within The Letter’s Schwarzchild Radius. Read on at your own risk.

Unfortunately, this is all there is. TLRC has done all but tear out drywall to find the next page. What could possibly be on it? More importantly, what is the cartoon? We’ll never know. But that is the point, really, isn’t it? We just need this fragment to point the way, and then all make our own “next page”.