The Double CrossingÓ
As Morgan and Eric raced towards the lake, somewhere between Sparky's burn-zone and the Canyon exit, the funnometer began to nudge upward. The long, stressed day was yielding to the gracious Lady of the night, La Luna.
Mike and Sandy had the boats, the vehicles to transport the camping contingent to the mid-point of the ride. It would be the campsite where a gala dinner feast would occur. Mike had his day jammed with all the steps it takes to line up the ducks for a full-blown camp-out at the lake.
Morgan started his day with six hours of burly tree work. He showed up at the bike shop early only to discover a variety of maladies with his rig. Eric was starting to sprint towards the start of this special event. When Eric called the bike shop to announce a fifteen-minute delay in arrival, Morgan was happy to have the extra time to work on his rig. For Eric, the day started with an early morning dash to Oakland to take son Cirrus to the airport for a rafting trip on the Grand Ronde in Northeastern Oregon. The funnometer was looking potent for this summer's adventure offerings.
At Palisades market, Eric implored Dave to come along.
"Man," Dave said with desire ringing in his voice, "I gotta work 'til 8:00."
"Bummer, dude," Eric replied, "You gotta start telling the boss that there are required religious events in your life that are critical to your spiritual, emotional and physical well-being. Without attending these important ceremonies, you will not be such a stellar employee."
'1Yea, I know," Dave said dejectedly as he handed Eric a bag of candy, "I'll be there in spirit."
"We'll be thinking of you. " Eric said and left with the candy and a pesto/turkey sandwich.
Morgan was finishing up his bike as Eric wolfed down the sandwich. Finally it was time to hit the road. The beginning was, at last, happening. The happy sense that within 45 minutes the knobbies would be rolling down the singletrack began to flood the senses of the bikin' fools as they motored with gusto towards the lake. The trail around the lake awaited the crew to transport them to another place, a kind and generous playground for the kids on bikes.
On the road between Knights valley and Alexander Valley Morgan suddenly said; "Hey, that was Jim and Kelly going the other direction." Eric quickly looked in the mirror. Sure enough, the white Bronco was headed east (or south depending on how you look at it). Hummm
Eric and Morgan proceeded. The ride was supposed to begin at an hour between 6:30 and 7:00. It would be slightly after seven when they arrived. Shawn, Rebecca (rookie and second female ever to do a moonride with the boys), Mike and Lindsey awaited the arrival of the scrambling duo, late and on the fly. Eric wheeled the Toyota into the gated parking lot. It didn't seem to be a factor that the gate was lockable.
Within moments, Eric and Morgan put the final preparations to the task at hand, mounted the bikes and the troupe headed off to the adventure zone. Lindsey was the sweeper, seeing to it that no one got left behind. Within two hundred yards, Lindsey got lost. The rest of the crew jetted ahead. The excitement of the event, the camaraderie and the perfect single track led the bunch of bikin' fools down the trail at a great, fun pace. After a mile or so, Eric decided to wait for Lindsey. He waited. After a reasonable period of time, there was no Lindsey. Eric started to return to the start. This snafu had occurred before when the Indian Guide Travis soared wildly off course and ended up at the marina, not even close to the trail. It was an hour before Trav rejoined the group. For Linz, his error was quickly recognized and he trailed only by a minute or two. Regrouped and on course, the crew pedaled the perfectly groomed single track at warp speed. It was impossible to motor at a slower pace. The trail was simply to cool, to seductive and inviting to go at a pace less than full out. The endorphins hit overdrive early on.
The trail was so beautiful, that speeds remained high. Ground was covered at a quick pace. The marina faded quickly from view. Island view appeared across the water. The group descended to water level at an arm where several of the attendees had been boating only one week previous. The trail climbed along this arm of the lake past the resident, income challenged Homey who had taken up residence in his vintage (and very cobby) Chris Craft cabin cruiser. It was a scene taken straight from the Putah Creek outlet of Clear Lake.
Soon the first official and required safety meeting was at hand on the view rock several hundred feet above Island View. At this place, the trial comes out of the woods to a site that has commanding views all around. Much of the Warm Springs arm of the lake is visible, and much of the terrain to be ridden can be seen. The sun was very low in the sky. The heat of the day had begun to yield to pleasant warm breezes. The light faded to softer and more gentle hues. Rebecca took several pictures, being careful not to include anything that may piss-off the fiancée, like four of us stark naked. That was later.
Although the distance to campground was only a couple of miles, the trail followed contours that stretched out the distance by a factor of several times. Now the ride began to contact more redwood groves. Riding in the giant trees was a special garnish to this already delectable episode. The soft needles made it seem as though the wheels were barely touching the ground. The scent of the air was piney and refreshing. The trail continued to be gorgeous beyond description. Not a single rock, branch or hazard had yet made an appearance. With Morgan in front, the group came to Inspiration Grove. A small water crossing had to be made. Morgan never hesitated, Eric chickened out and the rest of the crew skillfully negotiated the hazard without incident. At the gurgling brook, Eric brought out the new technology for the ride, a water bottle with built in microporous filter. It was safe to drink the delicious, cold water from the stream. In that setting, under those conditions, the water tasted as divine nectar. It was easy to envision sipping cool life from the generous breast of La Luna.
Soon a sign to Black Mountain appeared. This signaled the final stages of this part of the ride. Across this big arm of the lake, voices could be heard at the campsite. The official bikin' fools whistle was offered. It was returned with whoops and hollers from the reveling campers, friends who had boated to this campsite to meet with the Bikin Fools. The crew now in the dark (no kidding!) proceeded to ride the last couple of miles to the turn-off to the awaiting gala dinning experience.
A nice fire had been started, the charcoals were tuned and awaiting the application of steaks, corn-on-the-cob, potatoes and even baked apples. The sizzling sounds and the aroma began to spike the senses again. Just how much fun could the bikers tolerate? It was a tough test, but the bikers continued to run the funnometer into the red zone.
Electrolyte replacement therapy added to the ascension of the spirits. Safety measures were carefully put in place and the crew was set for a stellar evening of fun and joy. Yet the ride was only partially over. Three intrepid riders would continue the adventure with a bike float/swim across the lake. From there Lindsey, Morgan and Eric would navigate the trail on the other side. This trail, it was believed, would lead them in short order back to the boat ramp and subsequent short ride to the cars.
Mike, though staying at camp, elected to do the swim anyway. There is some strange sense of fun by watching your bike precariously balanced on a flimsy air mattress float across the lake. A sense of financial danger exists with the possibility of the rig capsizing and sending the expensive bikes to Davie Jones locker. It was late in the evening. Most campers in the area had gone to bed. The water was absolutely still and calm. Although the water was warm, the air was chilly, especially when the swimmers got out on the other side. Eric shivered badly as he attempted to cover his skinny, non-insulated body with clothing. Lindsey did his polar bear thing, never seeming to be bothered by cooler temperatures.
The crossing was a rousing success. No bikes sunk and the beaching on the other side though on sketchy ground was successful. The beginning of this part of the (ride) was on near vertical ground. The hike-a-bike lasted for several hundred vertical feet before the terrain began to yield to more mellow slopes and before the trail was contacted. Now, it would be a simple matter of peddling the few miles back to the cars. NOT!
Although the trail started out fine, going in the proper direction etc., it became somewhat confusing after the Liberty Glen/Madrone Point road. Shawn and Eric had previously ridden up the road to the campground. It was a long arduous ride with the only saving grace being the spaghetti lady at the end. Tonight Lindsey, Morgan and Eric would follow the trail past the road. Soon a sight appeared for Liberty Glenn and Madrone Point. Hummm. Neither of these choices seems correct, though Madrone Point was sort of in the right direction. The trio continued for a while. Progress was made and things seemed in control.
Enter the L-Factor. For some reason a sign appeared indicating that our trail was an official bike trail. Strange. When the bike trail went in a direction that seemed questionable, the bikers went on an unmarked trail that dead-ended at a campsite.
"Hey Lindsey," Eric shouted, "This doesn't seem to go anywhere. There're tents and a dead end here."The people in the tent made no sounds. They were likely concerned about the intruders at midnight into a camp that is supposed to be accessible by boat only. Morgan returned to the bike trail just in time to see the phantom light-dude pedaling down the trail.
"Hey dude," Morgan said to the guy, "Where does this thing come out?"
No answer from the biker. Strange. The group watched as his headlight stabbed and splashed across the trail as he climbed the steep, tough trail and out of sight. He may have gone nutty watching his headlight jumping spasmodically in front of his wobbly way. Headlights in the full moon are not only worthless, but remove the soft quality of the moonlight. They allow the vision to see only what the light is pointing at, which at slow speed uphill is in constant, erratic, side-to-side motion.
With no choice, the three headed up the hill. Soon a signpost appeared offering direction to Liberty Glen. The three went the other way. This trail clearly went away from the lake. It was not the direction expected, yet it wasn't to Liberty Glen either. Now, with some weariness setting in, the three decided to take whatever steps necessary to get towards the boat ramp. Eventually, after a huge climb, another sign appeared. Bingo! This one said; "Boat Ramp". The crew was stoked and it looked to be an easy, no brainer to the ramp that was just out of sight over the last hill. The trail started out smooth, obvious and easy. Quickly it deteriorated to narrow singletrack, then to grown over singletrack to no track. It stopped cold.
"Bummer." Lindsey said, "Now what?"
"Piss on it," Eric said, "Let's booney thrash. It cant be that far."
Morgan led the way. He took about five steps.
"Hey, check this out! He suddenly declared.
Seemingly invisible, the highway was right there. Though wasn't exactly what the crew had in mind, the hour was very late, and thoughts of the comforter and pillow were flooding Eric's mind. Within 45 seconds the three jetted down the steep pavement and over the bridge. They pedaled tired but with determination up the final hill to the parking lot where the cars were LOCKED IN! !!
"Great," Eric said, "Now what?"
"There's got to be a way out of here." Morgan said.
Morgan and Lindsey set about to walk around the entire fence line, seeking just the slightest of breaks to get a vehicle through. Nothing!
"Hey, what about prying the lock off the chain?" Lindsey suggested.
"Not a bad idea, except that the car jack probably wouldn't do it, and if it did we would likely get busted with a three strike felony for damaging State property." Eric stated.
"What about taking off two of the boards from the posts?" Morgan said.
"Humm," Eric said, "Could work."
So the three set about trying to remove several long carriage bolts from the massive posts holding up the 2X10 boards. Several constraints prevented the job from being easily accomplished. In addition, further scouting by Morgan illuminated the fact that even if we did get the cars though the fence, another set of half-buried pipes would prevent our exit. Damn!
The three weary bikers paced the compound like caged animals.
"There has got to be a way out." Eric stated with determination.
This was problem solving at it best. Along the south line of the fence was a break protected by huge logs. This allowed hikers, horses and the bikes to get through the otherwise tight fence. The logs were nearly two feet in diameter and set in the ground with large metal stakes. They were too huge to budge. Eric ventured downhill and discovered the upper parking lot to the marina, a place where overflow traffic was parked on busy weekends. Lying in a shallow ditch was a 2X6. Eric, looking around, found several more. Some were in sad shape, a couple were fine. The tired mental gears started to turn again.
Eric returned with the wood and placed the boards up the logs.
"This just might work." He thought.
"Hey Lindsey," Eric called, "Check this out.
"You might have something there." Lindsey said.
Eric carefully aligned the Toyota truck with the wood. Slowly he nosed the vehicle high into the air as the wheels climbed the steep ramp. The front wheels now rested on one log and one board. It was precarious at best. Then with Morgan giving directions, Eric eased the rest of the truck onto the logs. So far so good. It was looking OK as Eric decided to flash the rest of the attempt. The right wheel fell off of the board making a crashing sound, but the vehicle kept moving and Eric jammed ahead and off of the formidable logs.
"Yea, baby!" Eric shouted, "I'm free!"
It was Lindsey's turn. The ramps were realigned to accommodate the Jetta. Lindsey slowly and carefully eased part way up the ramp.
"Looks good." Morgan shouted encouragement.
With that, Lindsey punched it, caught air mid-way across the logs, hit the ramps and rolled to a safe and successful outing.
The bikin' fools had foiled the rude authorities again. After all, what stupidity to lock the gate in the first place. This sort of bureaucratic folly deserves to be ignored, or violated. The three had gotten out without doing any damage to the sanctity of the State property. There would be no felonies.
The ride fell into the category of an exceptional experience. The Lady of the Night provided grace, fellowship and wonderful fun under her watchful lumens as the Bikin' Fools once again spent quality time in the illusive arena of magnificent play.
Ó Eric Striedieck, Bikin Fools, 1999