The Bikin' Fools
Classic St. Helena Downhill.
Mike rockets down the slippery slope
The November moonride attracted ten Lunatistas. The classic St. Helena downhill attracted ten eager lunatistas.. This offering of mt. bikin fun is unparalleled. The unique setting offers a full scale experience for riding and for massive moonage. The setting faces the south and accommodates the maximum amount of lumens available from the lady of the night. The other lady involved, St. Helena has a cornucopia of experience available to the adventurer. The weather conspired to make this event memorable. It was the latest ride in a decade long, unbroken string of mt. bikin excellence under the rays of the full moon.
Sebastion again made the most heroic effort to attend. He drove ten hours from Portland. Michels effort to drive from Berkeley seemed puny (usually heroic). Mark made another appearance with the core group of fools; Mike, Linz, Shawn, Sean, and Jim K., The single speeders Matt and Chris wouldnt need any other gears tonight. (Until the pavement at the end).
Sean, Mike and Linz could sort of see before this picture was taken
The trail through the woods was mystical. The darkness was intense under the canopy. The usually easy ride took a slight bit longer. The pack reassembled at RLSs old pad site. From that point they scrambled down the unrideable hill. Then across Silver St. to the junction of the road to Turks Head. The Stillbad cut-off was not taken. The direct route took the stealthy fools very near the residence. Had there been a dog present (a previous problem with going this way), it would have been a bust. Yet the pack of ten passed by the danger zone and proceeded to spin towards the bikin playground. At this point the light was much better. The moon was still low in the sky, but now the route is in the open. It would be after the nose-over before the group was to experience more darkness.
The first of the fall rains had drenched the landscape and ushered in the beginning of Lunar dinner season. Once again the Lunatistas would be able to build a fire and cook their assortment of tasty and delightful treats. The meal also serves the purpose of extending the time out of doors. This is very important for the spirit. In the lunar setting, the mind, heart and soul soar with the beauty present in this unlikely situation. The chosen spot for the dinner was near the headwaters of the Napa River near the three thousand foot contour. Normally the water flows over the road but this year it did not. The fire was located where the river usually flows. At some point this winter, the ashes from the fire will flow past Calistoga in the river. Perhaps the irresistible energy surrounding these remains will kindle new adventure in souls as it meanders past.
Dancing flames and Lunar light
The dinner scene faded and the bikers prepared for the next stage of extraordinary fun. Shortly after descending from Turk's head, after bashing through some brush that encroaches on the trail and finding the invisible doorway. the fools began the big drop. It starts out as a nearly level field of grass that travels past some beautiful oaks. Then it drops in a couple of steps, each becoming steeper than the one before. Finally the last pitch defies rideablity. It is about as steep as a bike can be ridden. Not all make it.
Once down the giant steps, the nature of the ride changes dramatically. The trail is only slightly downhill but it hangs precariously on the side of the steep flank of mountain. The pitch is so steep that it is disorienting and hard to keep balance. Especially in the daytime. At night one has the advantage of not being able to accurately judge the immense hazard that exists. All of the bikers made their way across the hillside. The intensity of the moon is greatest on this part of the ride. The grassy hills light up and the path (as narrow as it is) is easy to see. The views to the south and west are magnificent. The peak of Mt.St. Helen towers above the trail and the Palisades are in clear view to the southeast.
Do not highside here!
The trail enters the woods. Matt managed to shed his jacket along the path where the trail detours to avoid a fallen tree. it was picked up a few days later during a day sortie. All of the riders managed to process this difficult passage. Eventually the trail merges onto a shoulder of the hillside. A discussion of which way ensued. It was decided to go over the hill instead of the cow disaster area. this required a short hike-a-bike through the grass and a nice descent to the jeep trail. The road was easy to ride and no mud stuck to the bikes. Mud is a problem when it is wet. It is the worst mud in the world. It sticks to everything. It clogs up the entire bike. So the troops were happy about that.
At Chino Flats a critical decision was made. Instead of the usual exit from this route, the band of ten would follow Mike's pesky notion of riding the spillway. The trail to the dam was miserable. The cows had virtually destroyed the land side. It made for very difficult passage. Eventually the group made it to the dam and the spillway. A few of the lunatistas had experienced this unique feature in the past. Many had not. The concrete spillway is a daunting ten foot drop in. The initial angle of drop is nearly vertical. Then it curves sharply towards level and sends the water (and bikin' fool) down steam. The concrete passes under a series of beams that cross just over the head of one in the spillway. Should one experience brake failure, they would be dashed into the boulders that lie at the end of the spillway. One by one the bikers dropped over the lip. First the experienced ones showed it could be done. The others, with increasing trepidation, followed. Matt was the last to make the drop. He never found a thought in his thinking that made this idea OK. Yet, he surged past the high anxiety and joined the others in a well earned moment of glory.
The ten lunar soldiers made their way to the pavement and pedaled into town. It was only here that the single speeders found themselves hurting for gears. But it mattered not, the end was at hand. The ride tapped into all of what drives the lunatistas to these events. It was warm, there was dinner and there was great riding. All who were there were blessed with a moment in time that transcends most of what we experience. The ladies, La Luna and St. Helena once again blessed the fools with a sweet, memorable bike ride at night.
Happy moondude with bike