Geothermal Birthday

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Crumpled Rider at the end of a thrilling downhill


Dec. 1st marks the 34th year the earth has hosted the S.S. Seidel, alias bikin’ fool and Forward Navigational Specialist. It was his choice of moonrides. He selected a return to a previous, but failed attempt to circumnavigate Cobb Mountain through the rumbling, steaming lands of the geysers. On the previous outing the hapless crew ended up lost in the woods, huddling in the high mountain snow around a life saving campfire. On this ride new technology in the form of Google Earth would add new confusion to the moonlight attempt. Reality would prove to be more confusing than technology.

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Sebastion’s commute log registered more phenomenal miles when he again motored from Portland to attend the birthday ride. Jim K., Eric, Lindsey, Mike and Tony constituted the gang that headed up to Cobb. The Van carried the crew to Bottle Rock, near Check Point Charlie. Some cool single track riding ended up on what appeared to be a road kind of like highway 175. The object was to ride to the top of the terrain and peer into Big Sulfur Canyon.

Maps of the area indicate hot springs (other than the geothermal wells) in the area. It would be a score to find such a place. It was a long shot. The climb to the pass was many miles. The road was vacant for the most part. The moon was brilliant in the cold winter sky. The temperature was near freezing in the valley areas, and only slightly warmer on the higher mountainside. The peddling was simple but steep. The pavement was near perfect.

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Crew breaks for no reason

It would take the better part of an hour for the seven riders to scale the northwestern flank of Cobb Mt. The dark woods were quiet in the cold winter night. The bright light of the moon could be confused for other things, such as headlights around a distant corner…

“Car up!” a voice shouted. For classified reasons, the crew had decided that it was best to not be seen. There seemed plenty of time to duck over the hillside before the headlights illuminated the caper. Eric jumped off his bike and did his best J.I. Joe move over the hillside. Mike decided to simply ride off the side of the treacherously steep hill. His descent started a minor duff-o-lanch only milliseconds before the geometry of the situation demanded he exit over the handlebars. Tony’s attempt of hiding behind a tree worked pretty well. However his bike sticking out both sides of the tree was enough to stop the pick up who asked: “Everything all right?”

“Yea, we’re headed to Siegler Springs.” Tony cleverly responded. (worst possible answer)

“OK, well take care.” The truck left. Mike managed to untangle himself and return to the climb. The cold temperature was not a problem. The brilliant clear air allowed the moon to flood the land with ample light. The steady climbing warmed the riders. Eventually the top of the ridge came into view. At the top, four directions are possible, but only one paved. The plan was to ride the paved roads, if the correct intersection could be found

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A sign of things going right

The group stopped at the top to consider the situation. It was a repeat the previous ride to this spot. Tonight, however, the group decided to commit to dropping into the valley and looking for the illusive hot springs. The road dropped precipitously. If this was the wrong route, it would be a nasty climb back to the ridge. It looked bad when the road turned to the west. This was the wrong direction. Thoughts of the Owl Café in Cloverdale surfaced in the thinking. The nicely paved road allowed for warp speed. The wind was fierce and cold on this exposed part of the mountain. The road continued in the wrong direction until it began to wrap around the terrain. Suddenly a major intersection appeared behind the hill. A large sign indicated “Administration Center - 5 miles”.

Instantly all loose thoughts about being lost were dashed. It was obvious this was the correct road. Now the effort could be put towards finding the rumored hot springs. Shortly after making the turn, another dirt road split from the main highway. It held enough promise to check it out. There was a pond. The group spent several minutes scouting the area but found no hot water. The crew pressed onward.

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"Is it warm, Mike?"

After reaching the top of the terrain on the climb, the view opened massively to the Big Sulfur canyon. There were premium views of the opposing terrain. One could see the areas of previous moonrides on the Sonoma County side of the hills. The view is not available from any road other than the restricted Geyser’s highway. The group could also see a dirt road that paralleled the paved road. It was that dirt road that the group had tried to access previously.

As the group proceeded along the mountainside, another vehicle could be seen approaching from below. As it grew closer, the group once again dove over the steep hillside. Several rocks were dislodged and could be heard tumbling far down the hill as the riders crouched below the highway. The car passed without incident and the riders continued.

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Easy Riders

There were lights from the various steam wells. There was no question about the direction. It was only a matter of guessing where the road would intersect with Socrates Mine road. The question was answered when the crew arrived at the three way intersection of Pine Flats, Socrates and the administration road. The happy feeling of being on course was mitigated by the fact that the next couple of miles would be more steep, uphill climbing.

There was another guard shack at the top of the grade. The inside of the small building was glowing with light as the person on duty patiently waited for Osama Bin Laden to show up and piss in the steam vents. It wouldn’t be tonight. Besides, the entire city of Santa Rosa sends its waste to be pumped into Mother Earth. It really doesn’t seem like a bright idea. If there is such a thing as Karma, Santa Rosa will not be the place when the volcano goes off again.

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Troops soak up the night

The group stopped to prepare for the long, steep descent back into the Callayomi Valley. The temperature was in the high 30’s and would only drop as the altitude gave way. With no traffic to worry about, the riders screamed as fast as the fat tires would allow. The knobbie’s produced siren-like sounds as the riders jetted downhill. The miles flashed by quickly. It took only minutes to descend the altitude that took hours to climb. At the bottom, Eric’s car awaited the shuffle. Mike and Eric took off for the van while the others pedaled five more miles in sub-freezing temperatures back to Middletown.

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The Geothermal Triangle

The birthday boy served the troupes well with this interesting escapade through the Geyser area. No hot springs were found. The area remains ripe for further exploration when the Lunatistas return in the future to frolic in the sacred lumens of the Lady of The Night.