April Fools



The date for the April moonride remained a mystery until Sunday, April 24. At that point, by default, the ride was set. There was a rumored eclipse that was to happen. If it did, the bikin’ fools didn’t see it. The full moon occurred at three in the morning on Sunday. It rose at 8:30 that night, 45 minutes after sunset. There was a dearth of riders for this month. Michel would be A.W.O.L. (Absent With Out Lunage), Jim K. was tethered with family matters and Shawn had performed a utility knife procedure on his thumb. Mike, Lindsey, Cirrus, Belle, Swift and Eric showed up for the event.

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Crew members assemble for action

The ride selected was the St. Helena Downhill. An attempt had been made to sell the Bothe Mystery Route on Saturday, but that didn’t make the cut. The six bodies convened at the trailhead in darkness. The sun had set and the moon would not arrive for another half hour. The trail to the stone tablet was dark, yet the woods were soft and quiet. Faint starlight lit the path enough to make passage.

This was the first moonride for Miss Swift. She is the newcomer to the pack. She has been on dozens of day rides and knows the drill. Initially Miss Belle was not selected to go, but she deployed the big, sad, brown eyes when told to stay. Eric relented and she happily came along.

A short break was taken at RLS’s old cabin site. As the crew stood in the dark, the first lumens of the moon began to appear in the clear sky to the east. Then the group dropped a very dark and steep trail to Silver Street. It was so dark that the group had trouble navigating the loose, abrupt path. Each eventually made it to the rideable jeep trail and proceeded to the Silverado Ranch Road. Now the moon began to take effect and the riding was easy and sweet along the flank of Mt. St. Helena.

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Takin' a break at RLS's old place

The riders continued out the ranch road until it narrowed and the pavement ended. At this point the trail became overgrown with vegetation. The spring rains had prompted growth and the lack of activity allowed the trail to fade into the greenery. After a couple of climbs and a water stop for the dogs at the headwaters of the Napa River, the gang arrived at Turk’s Head. The moon was now well above the eastern horizon. There was no sign of an eclipse.

The four riders and two runners descended down the thorny alley to the approved rest stop. This point before the steep drop-in offers scintillating views and shelter from any cool wind that might blow. It was a non-dinner run. The group didn’t stay long. The drop down the nose was exciting and lead to the side hill gouger trail. At that point the riders had to decide which way to go. Whether to take the shortcut and a possible swim or take the longer trail. The longer trail got the nod. It was a decision that the crew would question for the rest of the evening.

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Belle attempts to keep Linz on the trail

As the group approached the trail split, the evidence of bovine activity became unavoidably obvious. The ground was pummeled with deep holes made by the future quarter-pounders. The riders climbed the last hill and dropped down to the road to Chino Flats. The group was all together as they started down the faster terrain. The road was reasonable, though pocked with cow hoof craters. The four riders descended for a half mile, then stopped to regroup. The meadow offered a beautiful moonlit view of the area. The Napa Valley stretched out below and the sky remained cloudless. Lindsey was not with the group. After a short pause in the action, a voice was heard on the hillside; “Where did the trail go?” Lindsey’s voice called out. The others looked at each other. They all had the thought; “Ah, ah, dunno.” It seemed simple enough to stay on the road, yet Linz had managed to wander off course and head into the trees. For several minutes the three at the bottom of the hill listened as Linz got deeper and deeper into the forest that was adjacent to the road. Eventually after his elective boonie thrash he stumbled back onto the road and the event continued.

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"Where's the trail?"

The road to Chino was a disaster of cow pucky. The road was unrideable in places though it was nearly level. It took a great amount of effort to transit the road, but eventually Chino Flats came into view. The rest of the descent was routine. The dogs were able to keep the pace. The last drop put the riders back into the valley and onto pavement. It was approaching midnight as the crew rolled easily back to town.

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Swift lopes back to civilization

The ride was a pleasant venture into the realm of the Lady of the Night. La Luna provided a near perfect platform for the Lunatistas to fulfill the monthly urge to tap into the soft, creative energy available in the wilderness at night.