Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's the dirt

Today I met someone who subscribes to Oly Dirt.  I'm taking this as an indicator that there are people out there who actually read my attempts at jaded cynicism.  As a celebration of my newfound readership, I dedicate this piece of amateur journalism to Trey: the subscriber.

As you may have seen, we recently upgraded our logo.  According to the rule of "everything considered worthy of attention in Olympia must be written in a particular font hereby dictated as that which adorns the cans of holy Oly brew," our blog is now considered worthy of attention.  The slogan came naturally.  If you don't know what we mean by "its the dirt," then you first need to watch this video:

Pacific Northwest - Yeti Cycles from Yeti Cycles on Vimeo.

Now, take every glorified soft corner and slow motion roost shot in this video and think about the complete opposite.  Olympia has two types of dirt:  gravel pit and slick mud.  In technical terms, these are actually called glacial till and pure clay, respectively.  During the pleistocene epoch, the Cordilleran ice sheet's Puget lobe ended right around Olympia.  In fact, the Black hills (an area now mostly contained by Capitol Forest) were untouched by the last glaciation.  If you have ever wondered why Capitol Forest doesn't have the epic rock ridges and random granite boulders that make for incredible riding terrain from Seattle to British Columbia, the answer lies in the glaciers.  Rock ridges are the peaks of giant gouges scratched into bedrock from the passage of glaciers. Those granite boulders are glacial erratics, rocks that were transported for thousands of miles trapped in ice until being dumped off as the glacier melted.
Big rock=big jumps.  Photo: B. Walton
 Seeing as the black hills were not a part of the Cordilleran ice party, they didn't get any glacial erratic favors.  Instead, we were stuck with the shitty detritus of 90,000 years of ice as the glacier melted its way back to Canada.  Water running out of the melting icepack flowed in a giant stream between the Black hills and the Cascades, leaving behind Mima Mounds (although that's debated) and a huge dump of gravelly loam.  I know that every mountain biker on Earth thinks that loam is god's gift to rubber tires, but I'm talking about by its geologic definition: a mix of sand, silt, and clay.  Add a large dose of small rocks in there, and you have gravelly loam.  To recap: Olympia has two kinds of dirt, gravel and slick clay, and its all because we missed out on the glaciers.  When people talk about awesome NW dirt, they're talking about the dirt up north.  Don't be confused.

Here's some DNR stuff about the glaciers.

To get back to that video - despite the ridiculous dirt porn going on for most of it, it was good to see some real PNW trail bike shredding.  I wish I could shred corners like that all day.  Take note, FOCF:  that's what a real bike corner looks like.  Thanks for building.


  1. Awesome post! I could read stuff like this all day about our beloved Capitol Forest -Trey

  2. You've got other people who enjoy this stuff too. Interesting about the different geologic histories. I love coming down south to ride the Capitol Forest!

    -Logan from Bellingham

  3. I could feel the Batdorf Buzz through the screen here on Buker ST.

    Don't forget the crumbly and weak basalt!

    CLAY! Love it. Grease 9 months out of the year, regular days of super hero(like Bane kicking Batman's ass) traction and light speed firm Minion loving super highways of buffed and/or loose for the fleeting(and sometimes nearly non-existent) months of Capitol Forest summer.

    How do you explain the small area of granite on the north side of Capitol Forest? Was this the tip of the glacier? The final glacial granite deposit?

    Seeing CLAY! typed above made me think of our wandering buddy Trey Clay. Shouldn't he be coming home to Oly soon?

    Good read, Finn.

  4. Way to do your research. Interesting info in there. Cool thing about Oly is the dirt is unique, the trails are long and epic, descents aren't over in 30 seconds, and the ever elusive perfect northwest loam is within a short driving distance.

  5. Your just cranky cause the dirt here packs down so hard. Im sure you like it more If you had tried to burry your head in loam instead of the backside of the roller.

    On that note now that it seems like your alive and well Im ok saying that there needs to be more gopros at the pump track partys.

    Im also poaching that fact about blackhills and glaciation, adding it my collection of fun facts of the day.

  6. If it weren't for that goddamn hardpacked shit I would be in much less pain right now. Loam pumptrack? Yes please, as long as it goes downhill.