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Eric (Fuzzy) in Deep


March moonride '08

As the day approached there was some question about the ride. Several Lunatistas had experienced some tough sledding in the form of work, too much play or too much responsibility. These are just the items for which the moonrides have proved to be an effective elixir. However on this day of the Vernal Equinox, there would be a dearth of energy as the time approached.

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Are we having fun yet?

In the beginning only two were committed to the ride. It was primarily driven by the moon starved Freedom man. He had been A.W.O.L. (Absent Without Out Lunage) for some time. Eric (A.D.) had agreed to accompany the long suffering Lunatista out of pity for the lad’s plight. Only a few short years previous, he had lived a cycling dream. He was able to participate in most moonrides and several camping trips. With the application of a child, new job and a mortgage his windows of lunar opportunity began to slam closed.

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Shuttle disgorges bikin' adventure

Dr. J. (Mike) burdened with passed deadlines, threatening lawyers and Hollywood class drama announced he would have energy only for a subdued event. A.D. was on the verge of canceling the ride, when Eric (Fuzzy) called and announced he was in. Forty five minutes before the start, Sean Large appeared at the shop to inspect the Kinetic Sculpture. “Oh, there’s a ride tonight?” he innocently asked. On exceptionally short notice he went home to announce to his wife, despite dinner on the table and the kids clambering for attention that he would be doing something else that evening. He abandoned the domestic ship for the Lady of the Night. Yikes! Talk about daring! Tone decided that he could do with about fifty minutes or so of sleep before he had to go to work at 3:00 a.m.

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Miss Swift got to go along

Four cyclists gathered at the shop and waited impatiently for the Freedom man to arrive. Michel called and announced that he would be a “little” late. Fuzzy would be even later after he had to return for his Camelback. Mike, already tired from an 80 hour work week, positioned the van for an immediate departure. Finally all were on board and the event began in earnest. Once the wheels begin to turn on adventure, the mundane world slips away. For the next several hours the six adventurers would escape the confines of what most refer to as “the normal world”.

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Sean having too much fun

The ride selection was a local favorite, the St. Helena Downhill. It was billed as a relatively easy, not too long ride. As usual it was wildly misrepresented. Not only was it not easy, it ended up taking quite a while to process. The ride started at RLS. The first part of the ride is perhaps the smoothest and easiest of the entire event. The wide, mostly smooth single track climbs the mountain utilizing several switchbacks. The route departs the main trail about three quarters of a mile into the ride. A mild slide-for-life puts the riders on Silver Street. Mike would be the first one to sail over the handlebars, followed closely by Fuzzy.

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Dr. J. wheels his way to the zone

All made the stealth transition to the ranch road. It had been recently paved (for some strange reason). The group rode part way to Turk’s head. Mike selected a scenic overlook to build a fire. There the group feasted on a variety of mostly deli items. Only Michel actually brought anything to cook. He bravely defended his culinary reputation despite the urge for brevity with dinner.

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Michel's Fuzzy Duds™ - hotter than fire

At the conclusion of the meal, Mike and Tone headed, as planned, back to the van. The four others would begin the assault on the tricky and unpredictable downhill. It had been at least a year since anyone had ridden the course. In that time much can and did change. The part out to Turk’s head was mostly as expected with no real difficulties. The only problem was in Miss Swift’s mind, thinking that the cute black and white critter would be fun to chase. She would discover that skunks have phenomenal aim. The few climbs didn’t last too long. Miss Swift would appreciate water near the headwaters of the Napa river.

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She needs a lot more than water to remove Pepe LaPew's special cologne

The downhill began in earnest at Turk’s head. A.D. had warned of thick brush. Actually the thick brush occurred a year ago. Since then it had turned to nearly impenetrable. It was not simply bushes. It was the nastiest, most gnarly spiked buck brush known to nature. Amazingly all made it through only to find the next section completely overgrown also. After some more struggle, the four managed to bust out into the open, grassy slopes. It is this section for which the ride is named. The hill descends mildly, then steeply then way steep. It is rare that some carnage doesn’t happen. Fuzzy would fill this role with a spectacular F.O.B. (flight over bars).

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The scene shortly after a visit to Fuzzy's flight school

The side hill section begins once down the precipitous drop. This feature is fun but frightening in places. A high-side along this part of the trail will send the rider far enough down the slope to be a candidate for a shallow grave operation. However this part of the ride is spectacularly beautiful. Huge, open vistas stretch from Napa to Windsor. It has a southern exposure maximizing the moonlight. The trail, though narrow is smooth and navigable.

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Did we say it was all ride able?

There was discussion about which option to ride. Michel voted for the ride with the word “treacherous” in the description. However, there was some concern about navigation on that route. It was also shorter. So the four continued. They left the open slopes and headed into the woods. This was mostly hike-a-bike with some limited sections ride able. Ultimately the cow-funk meadow and the famous vaginated tree spot appeared.

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Tree notable in the Vagina Moonologues

Large headed down one trail while A.D. insisted upon another. They worked it out and the bikers began yet another, hike-a-bike uphill. They topped a bald hill, descended several hundred yards and repeated. At the top of the next hill another very steep, intimidating downhill had to be processed to reach the jeep road at the bottom. Concern about the condition of the road was quickly answered. It was OK. It was not great, but it was certainly passable.

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Many seasoned meadow muffins found the knobbies

Once on the other side of the gate, the road was much smoother. The ride to Chino Flat was easy. The group continued up one more climb, then began the final descent to the Napa Valley. The final part of the ride is on improved jeep road. It was blessedly easy. For a final treat, the gate at the bottom was open. The riders cruised to A.D.’s car. It was parked near the finish for the sake of Miss Swift who doesn’t fare well on pavement.

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Happy that it's over

The ride started with flat energy and slowly built to another offering of Lunar benediction. The time away from the “world” fused the Lunatistas with renewed gratitude for the opportunity to be alive. There were no mechanicals, no flats and no serious injuries. It was a fleeting moment of glory that will dwell until the Lady appears again.