The Bikin' Fools
A Huffy Moon
A Huffy Moon
The Huffy stood in stark contrast to the silver beauty that is Lindseys Bo-Ti. Yet, with their wholly different breeding, they came to meet under the moon and share one of the greatest bike rides that any human/bicycle combo has ever experienced. The selection for this late summer event was the warm springs arm of Lake Sonoma.
The event was supposed to start around the 6:00 p.m. hour. However, with the usual logistics of getting eleven people together (from as far away as Portland), the ride began about an hour late. The consequence of this delay meant that the Bikin Fools would have to ride much of the south side of the lake in the dark. This section of the ride is not favorable due to its northern exposure. Combined with the low orbit of the summer moon, the trail would disappear into the void.
Jim Wilson met us at the lake. The other ten riders arrived in an assortment of vehicles. Eric and Austin picked up Jim W. at the parking lot at the public boat launch. This would put a vehicle at the end of the ride. From there, the three motored several miles to the parking lot that stood at the top of the Island View bay.
After the usual preparations and adjustments, the eager group was ready for a night of great mountain bikin adventure. Dr. J. was in warp mode as he lead the way down the twisting, delightful trail to the lake. Austin in hot pursuit of the pack managed to stack as the trial suddenly turned right. He was instantly up and shredding on. The extra adrenaline would assist him to power far ahead of the pack. It was that sort of night. Despite what minor ailment might be visiting the Bikin Fool, this ride was the ride to straighten it all out. The trail was delightful and the air was soft and sweet. It was impossible to not enjoy the outing. Jim Korte was laid back. Tonight he would not court the horrible consequences of going way too fast. On this outing he blended into the pack and gave the new Santa Cruz a brake. A trip to Palisades Mountain Sports would not be necessary after this ride. Lindsey was shredding up and downhill at a sizzling pace. He would not represent the rear of the pack on this ride.
The lake appeared quickly. Then the pleasing single track began a modest climb over the hill that separated the lake from lake-view campground. The climb ended at the spectacular view that over looks the island. On this Labor Day weekend, many boats plied the waters below in the fading light. Water skiers ripped across wakes. Others were having fun tubing. No one in this county or beyond was having more fun than the Bikin Fools. The energy, the conditions and the mojo were dialed for a great time.
The original plan was to get to Black Mountain campsite by sunset, This plan failed by nearly an hour, leaving the Bikin Fools to navigate much of the single track in near total darkness. The only redeeming feature was the superb condition of the trail. The dark center of the trail gave minimal information to the scanning eye. When one yielded to the force and divined the trail, the ride became otherworldly. It was not possible to rely on the senses normally used for bicycle riding. Rather, one had to feel for the trail and trust the senses. In this mode, the rest of the world disappeared from consciousness. As the miles sped passed, the riders became a part of a cosmic deliverance, the threshold where normal existence is left behind.
Eventually the entourage arrived in waves at the campground. Shawn, Dave, Austin and Lindsey were the first to the camp. Shortly thereafter Mike, Sebastion, Michel, Jim Korte and Alex filed into the camp. Eric and Jim Wilson made the total of eleven Bikin Fools who happened to arrive at an empty campsite. The serendipity was nearly overwhelming. The chance of finding anything open on Labor Day weekend was a long shot at best. But yet, with the keeping of the benevolent energy of these moon events, the best possible campsite was available to the moonlight mavens. The campsite was near the water at the narrowest part of the lake, making the swim part of the ride so much easier.
Incredibly there was even wood at the camp. There was a fire was blazing within moments. An intense assortment of culinary delights appeared from the packs. There was corn on the cob, steak, sausage, potatoes, apples and sweet candied carrots. The feast was multiplied by the number of revelers and the brightness of the September moon. The soft and beautiful rays glimmered across the lake. The view was psychedelic. There was the dreamy sense that this experience was not real. It was extraordinary.
Once dinner was consumed, it was time to blow up the rafts. The sound of dazzled bikers wheezing into air mattresses commanded the next twenty minutes. One by one, twenty thousand dollars of bikes were granted marginal floatation for the two hundred-yard lake crossing. The flotilla crept across the lake at a snails pace. The leading contingent opted for a small cove slightly to the east while the major part of the expedition lead by Colonel Johnson made landing at the base of the steepest cliff within two miles. Dave, Austin, Eric and Jim Korte were granted amnesty from the cliff climb. While the Johnsonator did his spider thing, the rest had varying degrees of success with getting up the loose, steep rocky lake edge. Michel chose the pure adrenaline mode. This mode allows the participant to see only twenty-four inches ahead, and limits sounds to the cosmic whirlwind that often accompanies death.
Eric, Austin, Jim K. and Dave were nearly asleep by the time the rest of the crew assembled on the established trail. Michel had pinwheel eyes. But it was all worth it. The next part of the ride would go into the history book, as the sweetest bicycle riding that has been known to mankind. Since two wheels were straddled, none has seen a more pleasant, titillating and rewarding cruise than happened from that point forth. The trail continued smooth and sweet. The climbs were minor; the descents were great outrageous fun. The light shone brightly on this face of the terrain. Compared to the other side, it was nearly daylight.
The miles ripped passed. Soon the Madrone Point road intersected with the trail. Shortly after this point, the bikers would begin the massive climb up and over Bummer Peak. The climb started steep and remained as such for over 1000 vertical feet. It was hike-a-bike for most and mega-granny for those who attempted to ride it. Lindsey was climbing as an Olympic participant. His speed was phenomenal. Dave Frames racing season showed results as he powered ahead of most of the pack. This was one ride that he had dialed. Eric and Austin rode wheel to wheel, father and son communing in this awesome arena.
After a long, long climb the pack pedaled past a campsite. The attendant dog wasnt entirely certain that this operation was canine approved. He barked intermittently as the eleven cyclists passed by in the bright moonlight. The leading group, including Lindsey-turned-Adonis arrived at what appeared to be the top. When the whole pack was assembled, the group began what they thought was to be the long downhill portion of the ride. However the trail shortly began to climb again. Bummer! It passed over another false peak, descended and climbed again. The Bikin Fools were more than ready for the downhill. Again the trail ascended. It was obvious why this peak got its name.
Finally the riders reached the real summit. The entire universe showered benediction upon the ride. The single-track downhill was open and easy. The light was excellent for most of the downhill romp. Things were great for a while, but there was one wheel grabber on the twenty-mile course that Jim Wilson found. The resulting "Whomp!" left no doubt as to the severity of the impact. True to form, Jim shook off the rude encounter and continued. Michel was next. He was sporting the Huffy when she bucked at a ditch on the trail. "Zees bike eaze a leetle heavy." Michel would announce later.
Despite its lead weight, chinsy construction and marginal components, the Huffy served as a vehicle to a fun-filled event that defied description. The bike never failed, flatted or refused to go. In fact Sebastion shredded so fast on the Huffy that it defied the laws of physics. It proved that the real experience depends not so much on equipment, but in the spirit of the rider. This spirit was evoked by the serene and lovely setting and belongs to all who are willing to step out of bounds and simply be present in this unusual environment.
All eleven riders filed into the parking lot at the public boat ramp well after midnight. The ride had progressed well all evening. There were no flat tires and no major mechanical bummers. All of the riders had an opportunity to ride at their best and receive the glory that is attendant to an effort of major proportions. The twenty or so miles contained all that one could dream of on a cross-country excursion. It wasnt easy, but it was never hard. It was always challenging and always rewarding. It was a very special encounter with the moon and the grace that attends the special lady of the night. For the Bikin Fools, it was another miracle. To be granted this much fun is truly special.
The car shuffle marked the end of this very distinct ride. The drive back to Calistoga seemed long and tedious. By 3:30 a.m., most participants were under the safe, warm covers of bed. It was an evening to remember it was an evening of very special riding, the sort that dreams are made of. For another Lunar cycle, the Bikin Fools will eagerly await the next dreamy encounter with the seductive full moon.