Near Epic Ride
Friday July 24 was the day selected by Michel to shed the constraints of civilized living and join with the Bikin' Fools for another romp in the boondocks. He had been absent for many months and was eager to ride into the zone, that place which only exists in certain, select situations. This day was just such a day and the ride selected would produce the desired altered states.
Jim and Michel feelin' good before the ride
Patrick was the fourth rider to join the group. Tone had expressed interest but work kept him from making the start time of 10:00. However, he did say he might meet the group later. Eric was nearly an hour late as he struggled to affix another (the fourth) swing arm on his SuperLight. There was a slightly harried sense of time as the day began to warm up. An early start would have been good.
Quick break at the Wedding Meadow
The four continued up the hill traveling at a sustainable pace, stopping only briefly to point out some of the terrain features to the newbie, Patrick. It was his first time ascending the Oat. It had been a couple of years since Jim had ridden up the hill. It took longer than previous, heroic attempts but the time was reasonable and the group eventually reached the Holmes Place.
Michel and Patrick grunt up the 6 mile hill
After a short break, the group again pedaled further into the boondocks. Now the aerobic zone was in full bloom. The endorphins and adrenaline had conspired to place the riders smack-dab in the middle of pleasure. The day remained cool. This was great good luck as the typical summer temps can reach over 100. Today it stayed in the eighties with a slight breeze. It was great.
Michel and Patrick continue the climb
The terrain past the Homes Place is more down than up. The miles clicked past with speed. After progressing about two miles the ride departs the Oat and begins the trip towards Van Ness Creek. The riders climbed past the cable gate, up to the igneous meadow and onward to Pocai Camp. At least a couple of the riders had begun to have beer visions. Beer is considered by some to be the perfect sports beverage. There was no shortage of the cultured liquid at the lunch stop. It helped to buoy the spirit and renew the clamber for an epic ride. There had been discussion of finishing the ride with a Mt.St. Helena downhill.
Pocai Camp hosts the lunch break
A call was placed to Tone: "I'm in!", he declared in his usual enthusiastic voice. The plan was set. He would meet the group at RLS and do the downhill. With new found energy the four began the long trek to the Park. The four smoked the section from Stopple Steps to the water crossing. It took only a few minutes. The pace continued in the 'blistering' range as Van Ness Creek flashed by. At the Creek Trail the group reassembled and continued for some more raging downhill. Once on the jeep road Jim threatened to give his guardian angel a coronary by getting all crossed up at speed.
Come on, guys; smile
The four eventually reached the highway and proceeded up the old toll road. Now bodies were weary and tiring. It was a matter of toughing it out until the parking lot where the riders could take a break, drink the beer that Tone was supposed to bring and finish the ride in spectacular fashion.
Once considered a place to stop and swim, now neglected except by the frogs
One by one the riders grunted up the punishing last climb. There was a time consideration because of the arrangement made with Tone. We would meet at 3:40, and the time was getting close. At 3:39 Patrick topped the climb just as Tone opened the door of his truck. Perfect. Well almost. The first question that Patrick asked: "Did you bring beer?"
Rendezvous at RLS
The spirits sank immediately and set in motion a cascading of thoughts that would eventually over rule the St. Helena Downhill idea. Tone generously offered to go with either plan. Michel had some time constraints, Eric was either way, Jim and Patrick voted for beer. It was unanimous. The ride ended with a drive back to town.
The riders convened at the shop with beer and spent the next hour in decompression mode. The electrolyte therapy was divine. It sated the last desire of the tired bodies. Michel had to get back to his new family. Tone went for a ride up the Oat. Patrick, Jim and Eric went home. It was a great ride, nearly epic but not quite.