November 07 moonride
Warmth in the cold November night
Fuzzy, hopelessly addicted to adventure
Story and pictures generously donated by Eric Sayetta
The lure of adventure was too much for Fuzzy and Lorna to resist. A bikin fools full moon ride with the
exotic destination of Harbin Hot Springs was simply too juicy to pass up. Lorna, a true amphibian, was
instantly intrigued by the idea of riding under the silver glow and slipping into a steaming pool in the
middle of the night. But wait, she said, remember that bikin fools ride I did last May? Remember the
rain, the fog, the shapeless grey blobs, and the narrow impenetrable tunnels of pine? Remember the
feeling after nine hours of brutal hiking and almost no biking? Did I not let loose a torrent of obscenities
during the final descent to Inverness as my body slipped into hypothermia? Did I not experience extreme
light starvation, shouting I just want some fucking light, right now! ?
Dont worry, Fuzzy said, Ill call Mike. If he says you can do it, then you can do it.
So Fuzzy talked to Mike and got the low down. It will be two-thirds as hard as the May ride, he said.
Mostly jeep roads, a little bit of well-lit singletrack, and no singletrack in the deep forest canopy. This was
somewhat reassuring, but Lorna was still wavering. Call Mike yourself, Fuzzy suggested. Ask him for
more details. She called and got precisely the same story that Fuzzy had just heard. With that, the two
apprentice bikin fools decided to throw caution to the wind and join in the quest for lunar enhancement
and sulfur therapy. Bring bathrobes and towels on the ride, they were told. Fuzzy learned that the
Camelbak Mayhem pack, which was designed to carry a helmet and full body armor, was probably not
designed to carry terry bathrobes.
The van, with wings spread, is ready to fly
At the shop -- which according to Mike is a place where husbands can get away from their wives and
wives can get away from their husbands -- the happily unmarried couple met Mike, Jim, Shawn, and
Michelle. The two apprentices received a grand tour of this unique refuge which is certainly unknown to
the tourists who, less than one block away, are finding solace by relieving themselves of $500 extra cash
in the posh boutiques and restaurants. Fuzzy and Lorna saw an enormous set of wine cave doors under
construction, and quite a few other things under construction, including the amazing Bella Donna, a true
dream boat. When this canopied vessel of mahogany and copper hits the water, you will want to be there
in your Sunday best. But it might take awhile, because a refuge is more attractive and useful if there is
After the usual unhurried ritual of standing around at the shop with beer and various rolled substances,
bikes were loaded into the van and people put themselves in the van or Jims comfy pickup. The
unhurried pre-ride preparations are a special feature of the full moon rides. There is no compelling
reason to rush when you are probably going to be out all night, anyway.
Michelle and Jim managed to break free from child rearing duties after missing too many full moon rides.
Shawn established an attendance streak of two months in a row. Lorna re-affirmed her foolishness by
attending a second full moon ride after learning first hand that adventure and the quiet grace of lunar
riding comes with a severe penalty of exhaustion, discomfort, and starvation.
Lorna, Mike, and Michelle prepare to depart
The shuttle vehicles headed up the pass on route 29 and descended into Middletown, passing only a few
meters from Eric A.D.s home. It would be a rare absence for the minister who usually presides over the
Church of the Holy Spoke and he would be missed, but Fuzzy made the best of the situation and quickly
volunteered to keep the tradition going in full swing by writing the ride report.
Soon after passing through Middletown, the pickup truck was deposited at a Y intersection and
everybody piled into the van for the ride to the demonstration forest on Boggs Mountain. The chill of the
night could be felt on that ride, but glimpses of the moon through the back doors kept the spirits high.
Finally the shuttling was over and the riders prepared to embark on the adventure. Fuzzy vaguely
recognized the demonstration forest from previous outings, but was still relatively disoriented. Lorna had
the privilege of seeing everything for the first time. It is likely that many of the bikin fools have forgotten
what that is like, but a completely virgin trip through unknown territory adds a dramatic element of mystery
As promised, the ride began on wide jeep roads in the forest. The riders were immediately bathed in the
soft blobs of moonlight that filtered through the trees. The riding was easy and it was possible to stare at
the multitude of abstract silver shapes that distorted and enhanced the riders sense of reality. The light
show is one part of the full moon rides that has to be experienced first hand to be appreciated. When
photographing the scene with an automatic digital camera, the soft light is completely washed out by the
harsh light of the camera flash.
Easy cruising in the demo forest
Junctions were reached and turns were made. The navigation must have been completely routine for the
Calistoga contingent, but Fuzzy and Lorna had entered the realm of complete mystery and suspense.
The group turned onto a jeep road that had enormous 3 4 foot high moguls, and Mike explained that
they were giant waterbars, and that we would soon understand why they were created. Some of the
waterbars were just at the edge of ride-ability, others were not worth the effort. The road had never been
in such bad shape, Mike assured us. The X-factor had finally come in to play with the group of six. Lorna
began what would be a long series of hike-a-bike excursions. After fighting the moguls for some time, the
group came upon the promised explanation for the waterbars. Erosion ditches of monumental scale were
encountered. The ditches were up to twenty feet deep and 15 feet wide. A moment of inattention could
lead to disaster. A careful glance far ahead was necessary to determine which side of the ditch to ride
The blurry splotches of delicate light eventually blurred the minds of the guest riders. At some point a fire
was made and dinner was eaten. It may have been before the giant waterbars, and it may have been
after. Under the light of La Luna, a ride can proceed in non-linear fashion. The rider may feel like a
character in Last Year at Marienbad. Whenever it was, the usual smorgasbord was consumed.
Cheeses, olives, baguettes, salmon, and the ever-popular roasted Portobello mushroom were passed
around. A flask of rum made the rounds and was emptied. Champagne was discussed but materialized
only in the world of fantasy. A healthy fire warmed body and soul. After the better part of an hour, a
partial consensus was reached to stop feeding the fire. Michelle, however, was oblivious to the
agreement and continued adding large amounts of fuel. For a few moments, Mike could be seen
removing one log as Michelle simultaneously added a same-size log. The bizarre spectacle continued for
a while until Michelle returned to the same time-space continuum as the rest of the group.
A fire warms the crew somewhere on Boggs Mountain.
Telling tall stories by the fire
After dinner (or was it before dinner?) the group was confronted by a choice of routes. The ease of fire
road travel was weighed against the beauty and grace of a singletrack option. Mike lobbied for the fire
road route with his guests in mind, but the golden rule of mountain biking eventually swayed the group.
Fuzzy kept quiet, having no clear idea of what the choices were, and Lorna bravely volunteered to walk if
need be. The singletrack was not very narrow, but the long downhill stretches were crazy steep. Only
the fingers and forearms could be placed in front of the seat; the rest of the riders body had to be
dangling over the rear wheel. Lorna opted to scramble down the slopes with YB (Yellow Bike) in tow.
There were some steep uphill climbs mixed in with the downhill action. Fuzzy and Lorna began to grasp
the epic nature of the ride. Its still not nearly two thirds as hard as the May moonride, Fuzzy stated in
optimistic tones. Theres still a lot more riding ahead, Mike said in a soft voice, trying hard not to sound
Perhaps there was more jeep road, and perhaps not. There may have been lots of rocks, or maybe it
was rock mirages caused by the moonlight. Leaves were everywhere, or maybe not. Each memory
melted or evaporated instantly. A sense of having travelled a long distance was the only certainty.
Cold sparkling water to refresh the body and kill the fire
Next, the six bikers grappled with a singletrack that may have been a traverse. The moon was now at its
apex and the entire forest was basking in the feminine glow. At some point on a long full
moon ride, the participants become completely acclimated to the subdued light, and what was foreign and
mysterious a few hours ago finally seems normal. The sense of time is stretched or disappears
completely. The heart beats slower. A feeling of gentleness and quiet floats in the air. Any rider who has
paid the dues to get to this point may become addicted to the experience.
The singletrack was gnarly and challenging, although well lit. Lorna started to feel the strain on her knees
due to extensive hike-a-biking. Mumbling and groaning could be heard occasionally. A long time
probably passed, or not. Fuzzy began to realize why there are no fences around Harbin Hot Springs. A
hike to the backside of the resort would rival a descent of Mount Shasta. The management opted for a
natural look, knowing that only a fool would try to enter from the rear. Fuzzy was reminded of a scene in
Lawrence of Arabia in which the port town of Aquaba is attacked from the rear after a grueling hike across
At the end of the singletrack, a large sign had been erected for the benefit of trail users travelling in the
opposite direction. DIFFICULT TRAIL was the headline, and under that, ADVANCED RIDERS ONLY.
Mike had inadvertently omitted that from his ride synopsis. OOPS, Sorry! he said sheepishly. No one is
immune from the amnesia and other aberrations of memory associated with the moon rides.
The group was finally near the Harbin Hot Springs compound. A very narrow trail soon became unrideable
and a long hike-a-bike commenced. Fuzzys ridiculously loud Hugi hub ratchet mechanism
would be a problem if he rolled the bike, so he carried it and once again was painfully reminded of his
lack of upper body strength. Fatigue hit a critical mass and Lorna could be heard cursing. This is the
hardest fucking trail I have ever seen! she cried.
Hush hush was the rule during the final approach. Disbelief (that it would ever be over) gradually gave
way to excitement. At last the moment came to stash the bikes and undress. The ride was about to
undergo an extreme change of venue.
Trail to Harbin
The riders disrobed and then robed. That is to say, they got naked and put on their bathrobes. Jim
decided to cash in on a rare opportunity to do nothing for one hour and curled up for a nap near the bikes.
The rest of the crew tiptoed down to the common areas. Lorna and Fuzzy were last, and though Lorna
had been to Harbin Hot Springs many moons ago, the couple was totally clueless and had no idea where
to go. Lorna was shivering and voted for immediate immersion in the first visible hot tub, but Fuzzy was
intent upon finding the rest of the fools, and this even despite the gorgeous Asian girl in the first visible
hot tub. After a few minutes of floundering, Mike was sighted in the warm pool. Immersion was
immediate and divine. The sense of relief was monumental.
Suddenly a survival experience was transformed into a refined and civilized event. The contrast would
have been too much to bear, if it wasnt so pleasant. Next, Lorna and Fuzzy tried to venture into the hot
pool but chickened out after dipping toes into the 118 degree water. They could swear that they would
walk away with third degree burns. Mike witnessed this hesitancy, and immediately gave advice: go all
the way in and dont move. This worked.
The dry sauna was the next stop. Lorna, Fuzzy, and Mike worked up a nice sweat and then jumped back
into the warm pool. After jumping back and forth for a while between the two pools and the sauna, the
crew gathered their robes and hiked back up to the bikes. After dressing, the audacious group tiptoed
past the pools and the main office with bikes in hand, then mounted their bikes and bombed past the
guard booth to safety. A short but biting cold descent on a paved road brought the crew back to the Y
intersection with pickup truck waiting. Everyone had the sense that it was a long ride, but still gasped
when they discovered that the time was 4:30am. After the 30 minute cruise over the pass on route 29,
the fools arrived in Calistoga and the thermometer in Lornas car registered 34 degrees. The moon was
setting. By the time the couple reached San Rafael, the sun was beating down on Fuzzys outdoor bed.
To say that Lorna was a trooper would be an understatement. After just over a year of mountain biking,
she has entered a realm where few have ever gone. She paid the price of admission and was rewarded
with the grace of gentle light frozen in time and calming waters to warm the soul. She slept through the
new day and thus was able to remain in the faintly glowing world of dreams for a full twenty four hours.
A Fuzzy view of the moon somewhere around 4:00 in the morning