Full Lunar Equinox Ritual (Virgins Included)
Two veterans and two virgins made up the March North Coast Squadron crew, one day into the vernal equinox and growing werewolfier by the minute. The group convened in Lucy's backyard to wait for the moon to rise above the treetops of the Arcata Community Forest while they sat in the dark by the babbling brook and got safe and hydrated.
Word had been circulating around the Revolution Bicycle Repair shop for awhile about this phenomenon known as moonriding, so Justin G. decided to find out for himself, bringing along Winston, who had devirginized himself with the NCS a couple years ago, and Drew showed up fresh from Oregon. The ACF was chosen as this night's venue, and the riders' energy began to rise along with the moon, which had just crested the toothy treeline of the park. Lucy had her lucky helmet and was happy to be back in the saddle after having rung her bell soundly during last month's ecliptical totality, and the riders set off prepared and stoked, if somewhat prematurely.
The ACF is heavily wooded, with a thick canopy in parts, and the moon still had awhile to approach her zenith, so initially the illumination was...well, it was pretty dang dark in there. But, all of the riders were quite familiar with the layout of the forest, and it was easy enough to stay on the fireroad as the group climbed towards the upper trails, occasionally veering off into parts unknown as their eyes adjusted to night vision. They regrouped at the picnic table and shared body energy electrolyte replenishment and tangerines, then set off down the fireroad to get some singletrack. La Luna was still shyly peeking through the trees, so this normally fast section of the route was executed at a slower pace, which allowed the riders to summon their sixth senses to aid in the fact that it was as dark as the inside of a pocket on a black coat.
Singletrack was embarked upon, and laughs and cartoon-like sound effects accompanied the riders as they picked their way down the trail, using the faint outlines of trees to navigate. Tiny little glowworms glimmered in the duff, adding a magical flavor to the forest floor. A bridge was approached and utilized as a midway point, and the Lady of the Night was properly paid homage to. The ride continued as before, only now occasional bright patches of moonlight began to pool on the trail, allowing the riders to sometimes see where the trail was merrily taking them. Back on the fireroad, a series of steep pitches were overcome as the group looped back around and earned their cardio and endurance training points for the night. The ACF was well-saturated after recent rains, and the muddy track added some more work to the ride, but also made for soft-ish landings if one of the riders chose to get grounded.
Eventually the lights of the HSU dorms which bordered the forest could be seen through the trees, and the moon was securely fastened above in the night sky. Stairs were dropped on campus and the group debriefed on the quad, remarking on the fact that "I didn't think it could be done, but we did it", a common sentiment shared by newly deflowered virgins and fools alike. Moonriding can be both a humbling and glorifying experience for the few and proud who choose to undertake such a journey. What could have been another random Friday night in the city limits of Arcata turned out to be a communion with darkness, wilderness, compadres, and always, the ever-shining and gracious custodian of tides and riders without lights, La Luna.