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shawn confidently leading the way

March '02 Moonride

Dr. J. had lobbied for the Hennesy Triangle ride. That route, yet unexplored goes through areas of unreliable coordinates, likely to leave the confused riders trying to figure out how to not go in circles. Instead the urge to find Shawn’s lost theme park ride took precedence when the vote came down. Between 12 and 14 riders were present at any given time, depending on who was counting. Sebastion made another heroic appearance, driving all the way from Portland for the event. Michel came from Berkeley while Lindsey pushed the time envelope to the limit, arriving directly from SFO. He didn’t even stop for gas and sputtered on fumes to the beginning of the ride.

Matt and Chris represented the single-speed world. They would do the unthinkable (to those with gears) and shred the challenging terrain without the help of much physics. Grant and Auriah represented the Heckler group while Eric and Jim rode their Superlights. Shawn was on his Bullet keeping Santa Cruz was well represented. Sean, Ryan and Michel rode hard-tails.

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Five of the nine riders in Jim's truck

After the usual amount of confusion, several vehicles drove towards the start of the magnificent event. La Luna’s gracious energy filled the senses of the Lunatistas as they gathered at the bottom of Ida Clayton road. The first challenge came in the form of the car shuffle. With thirteen riders it seemed at least three cars would be necessary to transport the group to the county line. Somehow nine riders and four bikes ended up in Jim’s Toyota while nine bikes and the rest of the riders packed Mike’s Nissan for the entertaining eight-mile ride.

At the top of the mountain twenty-six wheels gathered and began to turn towards a great evening of bikin’ fun. All descended down the dark part of Ida Clayton to the ridgeline turn-off. The moon was still very low in the sky. At the beginning of the ride, the terrain to the southeast blocked most of the light. The jeep trail was barely evident. It forced one to ride in void vision. Under such low light one can only trust that the trail exists without awful hazards. It takes great courage to ride into the black hole, with only the faintest hint of the terrain visible.

The trail was in great shape. The trees that had fallen last year were removed. The ground was still moist and in some places soft. Otherwise the trail was in excellent shape. The crowd of bikers moved steadily along. Lindsey channeled extra speed from somewhere and confused the crowd. At each stop the question was asked; "Is Lindsey here yet?" The puzzling response was usually; "He’s already gone!"

The temperature was unusually mild. Short sleeves were perfectly comfortable even though it was quite windy. The sky was utterly clear. There were no cloud formations to be construed as anything, unlike the previous moonride. The discussion about where to have dinner was influenced by the strong winds. It was suggested that it would be a good idea to descend off of the ridge to a protected area to build the fire.

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Moondude tree spirit

Shawn was eager to navigate this outing properly since the last three attempts to find the magic park failed. The only problem that could exist was Jim whose gravitational plunges down hills tend to put him far ahead of everyone else. Although Jim’s wild rides are pretty cool, they can separate the pack. While some may claim that Jim has ‘lost’ it, tonight he would find nothing but cool riding and correct turns.

Most of the riders contacted the ground at one time or another. If not during the usual riding, the baby head section was guaranteed to create misfortune for nearly all. This particular section is too steep and too loose to be navigated safely. An occasional big rock makes the rider do something besides careen out of control down the hill. In addition to the unmanageable ground, branches reached across the trail to swat the rider in the face, chest or handlebar. The good fortune was in the fact that the baby head section was relatively short.

Shawn directed the event towards the hunting camp. Several key turns were properly made. Soon, as the riders descended from the ridge, the corral appeared. This feature assured that the troops were on course and that the hunting camp was nearby. The camp was clear of brush and had water. The owners generously made available chairs and a Weber barbecue. The thirteen lunatistas entered the euphoria zone. The beauty and intensity of the ride had captivated the attention. As they collected at the camp, a sense of having ‘found’ it came upon the hungry bikers. The scene was so pleasant and serene it gave a feeling of being among the chosen few. Clearly, it was a special moment under the watchful and generous eye of La Luna.

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the dinner scene

The crew set about to get a fire started. The chairs were arranged around the Weber. Beer appeared from various packs and the food was laid out in anticipation of another perfect cooking fire. One more feast was in store for the Bikin’ Fools. There was steak, salmon, sausage, organic leeks and carrots, garlic bread, pasta, potatoes, cabbage and baked apple. After the thrilling ride, the food tasted heavenly. It seemed that there was no more room at the top of the scale for the senses until Michel pulled out a bottle of Champaign! This was the second anniversary of his involvement in the moonrides. The toast honored the good fortune of the riders who have discovered the wonderful environment of mountain biking in the moonlight with a group of cool and unique people.

Eventually the dinner hour came to a close. The camp was carefully cleaned up, all of the chairs stacked neatly and put away and the fire doused. The water tank was shut off and the riders prepared to leave. Shawn led the procession, but Eric and Auriah found they had flat tires. Two tubes were quickly replaced and the final part of the ride began. Shawn carefully made the correct turns. The old car appeared on the hillside. This was a vital clue. Shortly after the car, a left turn had to be made. Jim had rocketed past, but stopped within earshot and had to climb back up the hill. For the first time in many years, the Bikin’ Fools finally found the Lost Mt. Bike Theme Park. The road swooped and curved down the open hillsides. The visibility was excellent as the open hills faced the bright moon. Jim, Shawn, Ryan and Auriah shredded out of sight. The rest of the crew followed.

The old, unused road descends mostly on open hillsides occasionally ducking into the woods. The crew stopped briefly at one of Jim Korte’s most memorable crash sights. The group gathered and began the final descent to Highway 128. The last gathering was at the bottom gate. Then, one by one, the bikers began to ride the last four miles on pavement back to the bottom of Ida Clayton road. Eric and Ryan rode back to Calistoga while the others waited for the car shuffle.

The thirteen riders conspired to make this event successful. There were huge successes as individuals cleaned very difficult, technical climbs. There were no stacks that required stitching or splints. Only a couple of flats marred the mechanical scene. The most notable feature of the evening was the sense of calm and beauty. Amidst a world in turmoil, among individuals struggling with a variety of issues, the ride served to offer the Bikin’ Fools a respite from the grinding reality that can tear down the spirit. This evening was special. It reminded the participants that joy exists eternally. Happiness can often be illusive, but it is clearly available to anyone willing to take the leap into the unknown and ride with the Bikin’ Fools on the mission of moonlight madness. The world was set straight during the night while the rest of humanity slept.

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it was a red-hot event