Broken Ridge Revisited

Following the previous month's failed attempt to transit the Broken Ridge, the bikin' fools returned to the scene for another attempt to ride this remote and challenging terrain.

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Mega-thrilling spillway drop

Four volunteers were available for this 'ride'. It was not for the faint of heart. Mike, Linz, Eric and Kevin were the chosen group to explore new territory near Cloverdale. Hours of map and Google Earth searching led the group to believe that it was possible to travel from near Cloverdale to the top of the Prichett Peaks overlooking Lake Sonoma.

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Mike and Kev headin' into the hills

The ride started at Kelly Rd. The gate guarding the property behind it was open when the four initially pulled up to the barrier. Not wanting to park on private property, the van was parked close by along the public road. However, upon returning to the gate, they found it closed. Moments of confusion reigned until Kevin noticed that the gate was only apparently locked.

Navigation proceeded with delightful ease. The turning points were obvious and made sense on the map. Once off of Kelly Road, the four traveled for a short distance then found the rarely used turn that would carry the bikers up the spine of the ridge towards the highest terrain in the area.

The moon rose with spectacular fullness. It appeared yellow/orange from the thick smoke caused by the summer fires that polluted the atmosphere. The light was somewhat diminished at the beginning, yet the way was clearly in view. The four traveled with ease up the clear and obvious trail. The terrain was extremely rugged and steep.

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Still going


Spirits were high as the four continued to make progress up the mountain. The trail was easy and mostly rideable though steep in sections. Almost instantly the trail seemed to vanish. There was an area that required a slight descent. It was not apparent where the trail had gone. Confusion set in. The riders checked many different directions only to find the buckbrush impenetrable.

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Brush resists passage

It was decided to retrace the trail and look for any possible path. A sortie worked though a thin wall of brush. As quickly as the trail had disappeared, it reappeared. Once again the group could make headway, except that the trail was now thickly overgrown making passage extremely difficult. For the better part of a half hour, the four struggled to make a very short distance. The gnarly brush resisted passage as the trail became more and more steep.

The group inched towards trees that populated the steep, upper part of the mountain. Upon reaching the trees, the nasty brush relented and the trail was again obvious and easy to follow, except that it was now extemely steep.

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Linz struggles up the side of the mountain

It was obvious that the trail was an old bulldozer track that had run straight down the side of the mountain. It was hard to imagine that a machine could negotiate the steep pitch that the riders struggled to ascend. At times one could only take a step at a time to make progress up the very sharp incline. Often one step would slip only to send the exhausted biker several steps back down the hill. It only became steeper.

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Terrain finally levels at the top


Mike finally reached the top. It seemed a small miracle that the trail exited the woods exactly where the riders had looked into the woods on the previous moonride. The sign that read from the backside of the fence was the same the the group had seen before from the lake side. Everyone was tired and thrashed from the long, hard climb up the side of Prichett Peak. Kevin had managed to make the climb carrying the not-so-light Stinky. His downhill bike outweighed the others by a considerable amount.

It was finally time to take a break. The crew had traveled all the way to the top without stopping. Now it was time to thoroughly enjoy the beverages that had been packed and to eat food that was sorely needed. The view from the top was nothing short of spectacular. The woods ended at the top and the group sat in an open, grassy area overlooking the Broken Ridge to the west and Lake Sonoma to the south. The moon was now high in the sky and much brighter.

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Beautiful view from Prichett Peak

After a long, relaxing break the four again began to move. Again the bikes could be ridden. It would be mostly downhill from this point with only a few short climbs along the way. Kevin wasted no time in putting the Stinky to work. He left a cloud of dust as he shredded the descending terrain.

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Kev much happier on the downside

Only a flat slowed progress. It didn't take long to fix the tire and the crew again ripped downhill. The road along the ridgetop is serenely beautiful in spots. The oaks create a park-like setting. The riders took little time in reaching the spillway.

The previous ride down the spillway was somewhat tentitive as the riders didn't know what to expect. What they discovered on the first run was that the spillway was clear and wide open. For this ride, the riders chose to pull out the stops and let the bikes rip at whatever speed they might achieve.

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Linz cuts it loose

The speeds were off the charts. Each reported going faster than they have ever gone on a bike. It was scary, thrilling and exhillerating. It lasted only seconds but the effect was potent. It was a fitting end for all of the work it took to get there.

A short car shuffle ended the evening. It was a satisfying, unique transit of some very interesting country under the guidance of the full moon.