Companions, Camaraderie and Carnage
Group prepares for launch
As Jim and Eric shopped Cal-Mart, they tried to summon the inspiration for food for the evenings bonfire. It didnt seem to be falling easily into place. Eric selected Portobello mushrooms, Jim had a beer. A loaf of good bread would be a safe decision, but what cheese to go along. Jim is not a fan of the strong stuff, but others are. In fact Michel usually brings an offering that is only short of nasty in smell. When Eric saw the label; Warning, This Cheese is Strong in Odor and Smell, it seemed like a natural. It would be a culinary tribute to Michel, who would be M.I.A. for this ride. Jim added an avocado and a tomato. They were ready.
The winter months can offer some grim weather for the moonrides. However, on this fifteenth day of November, the sky was 100 percent clear and the temperature was unseasonably warm. It was a gracious offering for the thirteen participants who undertook Shawns Lost Option run. This high octane ride covers the high ridge between Lake and Sonoma counties before plummeting down a variety of trails. The trails range from baby-head impossible (except for Austin) to sweet, smooth, theme-park, raging fun.
photo; Ryan Gracy
Ryan tunin' up for more sensual overload
Sebastian sensed a great event and jetted down from Portland. Tonight would sport a rookie, Joe who survived in great shape and shredded the course without ill effects. Returning former rookie Alfredo would amplify his reputation for stackage by body slamming himself to the earth several times, each with increasing violence. He would refuse the shallow grave offer and finish the ride. Lindsey joined the single speed crowd when his Bo-Ti would be relegated to one gear. It was all he would need to deftly navigate the varying terrain. Jer would rip the ride Euro style making it look all too easy. Eric and Jim K. would again support high fashion wearing Fuzzy DudsÔ , which due to their wild designs can only be worn at night without fear of being accosted by the fashion police. Doctor Die was willing to shed any responsibility he might have and join the Lunatistas. Just as the twelve bikes were being loaded into Mikes van, a call was placed to Sean Large. He indicated interest, but no further word was heard.
Megan arrived at the shop just before the moonrise to see the riders off. She said she had seen the moon as she descended into the Napa Valley from Santa Rosa. It will rise right over there. She said indicating an area of the Palisades. It seemed way to far to the north, yet this time of the year the moon rides high in the sky on its winter ecliptic. Sure enough, within moments of the sunset, two brilliant spears of white, hot light pierced through cracks in the high rocks of the Palisades. The grand orb majestically rose into the clear November sky.
La Luna over the Palisades
This ride requires an extensive car shuffle. Jim K. offered to be the man for the job. The space van was loaded with nine bikes and eight people inside and four bikes outside. Lindsey, Dr. Die and Eric would ride in the comfort of the Beemer while the others rode in cattle-car fashion up the long, long Ida Clayton road. Eventually the troupe reached the point of beginning. As Dr. J. pulled into the parking spot another vehicle appeared. It was Sean Large! On no notice he had grabbed his stuff, ditched his family and made the cut.
photo; Ryan Gracy
It took the usual inordinate amount of time to rally the thirteen attendees. Eventually the twenty six wheels began to roll on perfectly smooth dirt. This was a far cry from previous outings on this route when the trail was rutted, blocked with trees, brush and was non-navigable in many places. However since the Geysers fire two years ago, the road was transformed into a veritable freeway. The happy crowd shredded across the landscape with levity and abandon. There was a sense of ease and a carefree attitude. This was a known ride (now) and had little L-Factor. There would be no confusion other than that generated in Alfredos gourd after striking the ground several times.
The Little L-factor
The ride proceeded swiftly until Linz flatted. This took only a few minutes to repair and the group sped along the high Maacama ridge with spectacular views to both Lake and Sonoma counties. Backbreaker hill was so smooth, it was not even noticed by many. The few steep climbs didnt last long. It took the group a small amount of time to reach the turn to Shawns Lost Option. From there the group dropped the initial steep hill to the only confusion of the night, the woods. Somehow the road disappears here. A short boonie thrash downhill reconnects to the route. Then the hardest section of all starts. Several sections of baby heads often with boulders and ditches mark this part of the steep passage. Only Austin would clean the whole thing, with Shawn and Jim close behind. Many took hits in this area. Near the bottom Dr. Die flatted near the dinner spot. Most of the group made it to the dining area while Mike, Sebastian, Eric and Dr. Die would arrive only a few minutes later.
photo; Ryan Gracy
Taking a break at the "Rock"
Plans for a fire were not implemented. Jim lobbied hard but to no avail. The high, gusty wind did not bode well for fire on this evening. It mattered little as most of the food required no cooking. Thirteen bikin fools sat around and ate an assortment of munchies, drank beer and exchanged pleasant banter in the warm, crisp moonlight.
Eventually the group reconvened and headed down the hills. From this point the trail mellows into a delightful romp down and across the grassy hills. The route was in excellent condition as the bakers dozen shredded under the brilliant moon. The temperature remained warm as the group descended into the valley. The road became smoother and less steep as the ride approached the bottom. At one point Joe stated he had lost a pedal. Upon closer inspection, he had hammered the entire cage off the spindle. He would heroically continue slightly handicapped.
Eventually the ride reached the pavement. It was a three mile ride back to Jims truck and the car shuffle. Ryan and Eric continued on the pavement for the rest of the ride back to Calistoga while the others waited for the return of the Space Van. The weather was exceptionally nice for the event. The route was in the best condition ever. La Luna offered her special audience to the Lunatistas who arrived on this special evening to dwell briefly in the benediction and grace of this unique activity.
photo; Ryan Gracy
Eric and Ryan pedal into the night