A cloud of Dust
June 2001 Moonride

It was the most populated ride ever for the Bikin’ Fools. 13 enthused riders plus Agent "R" ascended the hills above Knight’s Valley for an evening of unabashed frivolity. There were scintillating moon and skyscapes, the ones known only to dreams, lovers and over-the-edge artists. The moonrise was the most beautiful that God has ever created. This special edition blessed the grateful Lunatistas with more beauty than any one individual is likely to ever encounter in many lifetimes. The full, ripe moon arose along the southern edge of Mt. St. Helena as the dazzled bikers grappled with sensory overload.
The compounding factor of 14 bodies pegged the funnometer before the troops even left the parking lot at Dr. J’s shop. Several minutes of discussion occurred on the subject of a car shuffle. With the huge numbers involved, there was rampant confusion about which vehicles would be involved. Finally, Dr. J., carrying twenty thousand dollars worth of bikes simply started driving. Somehow all of the loose pieces of the puzzle fell together. Agent "R" was picked up from his rural compound. He would lead the pack to the edge of the human ability to experience fun, joy and total abandon.
The group assembled, made last minute preparations and headed down the trail from the 5th gate. Agent "R" was driving a 1959 two-wheeled tank that had no suspension, no modern components and the smallest brakes ever seen on a bike. Yet, his blue eyes were wild with the energy of the event and he shredded down the hill with such velocity that one had to conclude that he was cheating somehow. Within a very short distance, the crowd contacted the ‘burn zone’. This was the area that had recently experienced a wild land fire. CDF bulldozers and heavy equipment had traveled the dirt road and turned it into six inches of dry, powdery fluff. The first bikers through the moonscape kicked up a cloud of dust that was impressive. It was nearly zero-zero visibility by the time the rest of the bikers passed through the area.
The pack made a left turn and proceeded out to a shoulder in the hills. This vantagepoint yielded a commanding view of Knights Valley and the topography all the way to the Pacific. The sun was nearing the western horizon. It was settling into a nest of soft colorful clouds. Meanwhile the moon began its ascendance into the sky from the eastern horizon. The brilliant glowing orb was attended by a group of wispy clouds that accented the royal entrance of the Stately Lady of the Night. The pleasure centers of the Bikin’ Fools were in full operation. One could only stare at this magnificent scene with a sense of having escaped the confines of ‘normal’ living and found freedom and relief in this most majestic setting.
Agog from the beauty, the lunatistas proceeded on their mission. The pack rocketed downhill raising a cloud of dust not seen since Oklahoma. Agent "R" led the troops to intersection "A". At that point they had an extended stop while Matt exploded three tubes while trying to fix a flat. There was an amazing quantity of beer to help pass the time.
Finally when the mob was ready to shred, Agent "R" departed leaving the thirteen bikers to navigate for themselves. It was shortly noted that the pack was on the route of previous bike rides. In fact they were in the locality of the most famous Bovine Flanking Maneuver known to the moonlight riders. On that occasion Dr. J. inadvertently rode into the midst of the herd only to have them stampede. It is likely that the cows were reacting to the sense of fun and joy that the bikers brought. The cows jammed downhill in a thundering mass with Dr. J. in the center of the herd. As the bovines disappeared over the hill, some wondered about the fate of Mike. Someway he managed to separate himself from the cattle and rejoined the bikers.
Tony and Chris were the evening’s rookies. Tone had tried to make it on several previous rides, but finally connected on this beautiful evening. Chris was the other single-speeder. He and Mat showed blazing speed, enough to goad Korte into high gear. Jim K. loves the downhill. Austin was back showing good form after a winter’s absence. The winter of snowboarding kept his downhill skills tuned. Michel drove up from Berkeley and Lindsey was available despite scheduling pressures. Jim Wilson was there to prove that technology isn’t everything. He would wip his heavy weight mount down to hill and survive. His van would also provide extra-duty service in the car shuffle. Grant provided one of the best stacks while trying to pass Tone and Eric. In a classic front wheel washout, he performed the basic body plant and created an interesting obstacle for the two riders behind to avoid.
For much of the all-downhill ride several people contended for the front runner position. This a spot to which Jim K. aspires. He will add the extra effort to pass anyone. In a ‘dead’ heat with Chris, he did manage to pass. Jim, man of many tricks, pulled out a classic. He managed to pass Chris going backwards without his bike. After fixing the double flat resulting from the ‘accident’, the troops pressed onward some feeling a bit of relief that the lad didn’t put himself in a hospital bed next to his broken wife. Although stackage can happen to anyone, the lunatistas generally try to ride on the safe side of the scale. For Korte, safety is something that goes up in smoke.
The ride continued as a series of downhill dashes. The great mob would gather all of its components then shred for another section. Navigation was required for several locations where the trail either ended or went in the wrong direction. At one particular place the bikers had to climb a fence. All thirteen riders simultaneously climbed over. It was a scene out of D-day. Had the pentagon seen this maneuver, they likely would have scrambled the troops. The Bikin’ Fools were in the process of an assault on normality, the ordinary and the mundane. This special evening had the funnometer pegged all the way.
Eventually the crowd came out of the hills and contacted the drive along Maacama Creek. After the last rider passed out of the final gate, the group pedaled the four miles on the highway back to the point of the initial car shuffle. Tony, Sean (I’m going to the Inn tonight, honey), Austin and Eric pedaled back to Calistoga while the others did the car thing. It was amazing to once more experience a ‘once in a lifetime’ event.