So I rode with the group that meets at Cyclotopia every Tuesday/Thursday. Theoretically, the Tuesday ride is an easier, more gentle ride. Turns out that this week is "opposite week".
The ride starts at 6pm, and the group (8 of us, with one more meeting us at the forest's Oak Creek entrance) took off at a leisurely pace. After a bit of discussion, one guy decided, "It's the hottest day of the year so far, let's climb McCulloch Peak!" And so we rode, up, and up, and up, and up. McCulloch is the highest peak in McDonald Forest - something like a 2100' climb. But, no worries, we took the long way (somehow it's harder) up, road 6021, commonly known as "Cougar Bait Road".
If you take a look at the map of the forest, you can notice where road 700 T's into the road to McCulloch Peak. That's where most of the earlier rides with this group stopped. There's a trail named, "Top Secret" that is essentially an extension of road 700, except it is the size of a deer trail, and it dives off the edge of the mountain.
Little did I know, I had yet to climb "The Wall", the section of road from the T intersection to the top of McCulloch. I didn't think it was all that bad, it was just some more climbing. Finally we reached the top, and if I had a digicam, I would have taken a picture. Beautiful view of the rest of the forest, Corvallis, and the general Willamette valley to the east.
Now was time for the down. Common concensus was that the single track from the top was all steep. Half the group did the (evidentally) super-steep top section of South Side Slip, and the other half (including me) did some comparable, yet not quite as scary - though I forget the name. Our trail was due south from McColloch, while the upper SSS was east-south-east of the peak. We all met up on rd 6021 at the bottom of upper SSS. I faired fairly well on the alternative trail - it was steep enough that my front tire was slipping (I'm blaming it on the slow guy in front of me). I did a lot better after I stopped because I ran into a little tree. With my breath back, the last bit wasn't quite as bad.
The drop in for main portion of South Side Slip is pretty intimidating. It's gotta be close to a 45 degree slope, into the relative dark of the forest, with some ruts and rocks. Luckily, you just start slow and use the little bit of a run-out to regain any control you lost. The rest of the trail was challenging and fun. Lots of steep down with ruts (I hate that), and quite a few downed logs - some rideable, others requiring you to climb. I didn't ride any of the logs because I'm chicken shit, even though they had nice little ramps up them.
South Side Slip ends somewhere in the middle of 6020 - right around where the number is on the map. Most of us continued on my favorite ride, which is via Uproute to Extendo.
All in all a great ride. Nearly 3 hours of solid riding, with about half an hour of resting hither and yon. I'm kinda tired today, but much better off than I expected to be. I'll probably try again next week, perhaps on a Tuesday.