The Bikin' Fools

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Jason and the Arrrg!-o-nauts

The June moonride combined the greatest ingredients known to bikedom. There was confusion, there was distress and there were differences of opinion. There were personal successes, there was stunning beauty, there was joy beyond description and there was massive contact with the Zone. None of the challenges could put a dent in the mission of Jason and the Arrrg!-o-nauts to capture the Golden Fleece of mt. bikin’ fun.

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Goddess Eve blesses the event

The Bikin’ Fools selected Lake Sonoma as this month’s venue for outrageous, summer bike riding. Nine riders, including rookie Jason, met at the overflow parking lot above the public boat ramp. Jer "Care Bear" Moore returned for a cameo appearance. Auriah, quickly becoming a regular, was ready to spend some more quality time in the boondocks. Brothers Austin and Cirrus along with dad Eric made the family one-third of the crowd. The selected task was to ride over Bummer Peak, past Madrone point to a spot across from the Black Mt. campsite. There, according to the plan, the fools would inflate air mattresses and float their bikes across the lake.

After the normal confusion at the beginning, the nine fools got underway. There was a slight possibility of personnel at the toll booth where the trail started. The crew decided on a mass start in case of contact with authority. It is much easier to ignore authority in a group. However, the Checkpoint Charlie was unoccupied and the mob of bikers proceeded with a green light across the pavement to the trailhead. The trail initially was familiar and in excellent condition. The nine riders shredded across one-quarter mile of beautiful single track that threaded through the woods along the water. All at once, the trail mysteriously quit. Suddenly confusion entered the picture, then a spontaneous Bovine Flanking maneuver occurred.

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Scintillating single track at the beginning

Communicating on the ozone plane, the intrepid bikers, except Jason, all headed with gusto uphill even though no one was leading the way nor anyone knew where to go. Jason headed uphill with a certain amount of skepticism. He looked at Jim as if to say; "What the hell did you get me into?" Jason was entering the ‘serious-learning-curve-zone.’ All of the other riders sort of knew what would transpire. Everyone knew the trail eventually went over Bummer Peak. At some point by hiking straight uphill, reason dictated, the crew would make contact with the path. It worked.

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suddenly no trail as Shawn and Auriah march uphill

With renewed enthusiasm and anxieties calmed, the trail climbed steeply for the next two miles. The climbing trail offered expanding views, a few technical challenges and a pleasant redwood grove. The nine riders fanned out to their respective climbing ability, except Lindsey. Normally in last place by a substantial margin, "Lightning" Waddell proceeded to nearly melt his 180 mm cranks as he blazed ahead of the entire pack. He led all of the Bikin’ Fools to the top of the long, towering climb. Austin who usually shreds at the front, blew out his hub trying to catch the fleeting L-Factor. Jason struggled to make time while Jim Korte patiently waited for the novice to show up at each stop.

"Arrrg! Matey" Jim said. "The lad’s a wee bit draggin."

The few delays made the arrival at the top of Bummer Peak perfectly coincide with the sunset and moonrise. The riders marveled at the bright orange ball that rose from the mountains to the east. Now the they faced a raging downhill, especially challenging for Austin whose freewheel was seized and would have to pedal not only this screaming descent but the entire ride, up and down.

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moonrise viewed from the top of bummer peak

As usual the downhill goes by with alarming speed. Everyone gathered at the bottom and waited for the stragglers. A head count was taken. "Who’s missing?" Someone asked.

"Dunno." Came the reply, "Did someone go ahead?"

"Beats me."

"I think we are the first."

One by one the riders arrived. Now the trail along the lake would travel for a couple of swift miles before coming to the junction of the Madrone Point trail. It was now dark. The moon was low in the sky still and low in its summer ecliptic. However, the southern exposure of the trail through mostly dry grass provided plenty of light for ultra pleasant riding. The trail had only minor climbs as it eased along the sparkling water of Lake Sonoma. The group energy was delightful and permeated all, including Jason.

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Junction to Madrone point

All too soon, the group arrived at the junction of the trail to Strawberry Creek and Madrone Point. The plan was to continue to a point opposite Black Mt. campground, another couple of miles. However, the hour was getting late.

hhh, what do you think about going to Madrone Point Eric asked.

"Humm," Linz said, "We could do that."

A discussion ensued as to the proper path to Madrone Point. Shawn and a couple of others disappeared without going down the path.

"Where’d they go?"

No one knew. The remaining bikers began to drop the narrow single track that carved across the hillside. Some anxiety arose as the trail seemed to be going for a long time. If this were a wrong turn, it would be a monster climb back up to the junction. Maybe Shawn was right? The path exited the woods into an open area with the lake and picnic tables. Bingo, the crew had arrived. Shawn shortly arrived from another direction. The confusion and separation did not dampen the effect. There was instantly a feeling of joyous serendipity. The scene was stunning. The south facing campsite was perfectly aligned with the full moon. The water shimmered brightly in the moonlight.

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delightful dinner site by lake

The wind was blowing towards the water. There would be no fire hazard. The crew set about immediately gathering firewood for the dinner fire. There were several picnic tables. The Argonauts chose the campsite closest to the water. Soon a subdued fire was blazing intently in the fire ring. A couple boats still plied the water at this late hour, which was somewhere in the neighborhood of midnight. Their wakes created a panoply of geometric patterns in the mystical light. One could only stare with the sense of being blessed to be witness to such lovely, soft, eye candy.

The senses were so piqued with adventure, time seemed to stand still. The water crossing loomed in some minds as a possible challenge. It would be a new swim of hard-to-estimate distance, late at night and after a big meal. Would boats still be out? What is the likelihood of a boater seeing a swarm of Bikin’ Fools swimming and their bikes on air mattresses? The dinner was another roaring success. A fine variety of satisfying, hearty food filled the bellies of the hungry Argonauts. Beer was well represented, considering the weight sacrifice made to get it thus far. Thanks to the official campsite status of the place, trash cans were available! This feature made for considerably lighter back packs for the rest of the outing.

The sound of puffing into the chinsy air mattresses floated across the campsite. Soon the crew were all preparing for the main event of the night. It took a while, but eventually all nine bikes and gear were precariously balanced on the flimsy air mattresses. Six of the nine were lashed into one giant mass of flotsam. Flotsam worth about twenty grand. It took a little while for all of the crew to finally be ready. For those who had been standing in the water, it began to feel chilly. With no warm up, cold water can drain precious energy. Finally the Argonauts shoved off. Instantly everyone spontaneously noticed the intense beauty of being in the water in the moonlight. The water was surprisingly warm. The flotilla eased across the lake at the western end of the ski zone where buoys marked the territory.

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Argonauts enroute to the further shore

"Let’s head straight across to the nearest point." Eric offered with a slight not of concern about the distance.

"No, let’s go to that point over there where we can get out." Shawn replied.

"I agree." Lindsey added.

Slowly the flotilla changed direction towards the more distant point. It made sense. Much of the lakeshore is not assailable by non-technical means. Steep, rocky slopes face much of the water. Cirrus and Austin pulled and pushed the bike-pile so quickly that Dad had a hard time keeping up. The swim was so enjoyable it was suddenly over. Incredulously, the Bikin’ Fools found themselves on the further shore, jazzed, stoked and ready for midnight, moonlight single trackin’ on one of the sweetest trails that has ever entertained 26" knobbies.

Shawn was the first dressed and ready for action. Now the bikers had to find the trail. They knew it was uphill. But how far? Not very. Not only was the trail nearby, but an obvious, old cut led to the very spot where the bikers had contacted the shore. The Advanced Navigation Specialist scored a direct hit. The bikers, one by one, filed up to the trail. From this assembly, the bikers headed out. They would string apart each adopting his own pace. The frequent stops gathered everyone except Jason. The eight would wait until he arrived, then immediately split. As a consequence, Jason never got to rest. He began to struggle. He had out-exercised his limits and was running on a wing and a prayer. In addition he had little experience navigating in moonlight. Though easy once learned, at first the soft lumens can cause tightness, emergency responses to ordinary situations. It can drain precious energy. Jason had hit the Arrrg! Zone.

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exuberant youth

The singletrack is smooth and normally plenty wide. It was created by a side-hill gouging machine, then a singletrack developed mostly in the middle of the cut. The trail rises and falls most of the time. It is rarely straight and offers all sorts of curves, turns, switchbacks and rollers. It is a playground for the bikin’ senses without being too tough. The climbs are only long enough to provide a full adrenaline, rocket ride through the dark woods.

The decision to go to Madrone Point was paying a big dividend. The original site would have required several more miles of riding in sometimes very deep, dark woods. Now the Fools were only a relatively short rip to the outer parking lot. A sign to Island View campground appeared. Shortly the eight riders would take a short detour to the overlook above the campsite. The commanding view offered a very special view of the Warm Springs arm of the lake. The rays danced magically on the water below.

"Arrg!, It’s Jason." Someone said.

"Far out! How’s it going Jason?"

"I’m a little outta shape." He replied with some honesty. Yet, as a novice mountain bike rider, he had managed to pull off a huge ride. Everyone was tired at this point. It was after 2:00 in the morning. Jer had weathered exceptionally well on his no suspension bike and no recent riding. Auriah’s catlike night vision allowed him to ride as if in daylight. Austin heroically pedaled with flare and speed despite not ever being able to coast. Cirrus powered every hill including the very last, long climb to the car. His quiet youth-power never quit.

One by one the riders arrived at the car. As if to turn the universe up-side-down, Lightning Waddell was one of the first to the car. Entire crews have fallen asleep waiting for Linz on past rides. This stunning departure from normalcy created confusion all night. There were no flats, only the freewheel bummer suffered by Austin. Cirrus had a minor stick in the deraillure event, but caused no serious damage. The ride was a colossal success.

The only task left was to perform the car shuffle.

"The plan is," Eric announced, "That Linz will take the drivers over to the parking lot, and them we’ll come back and get everyone."

"Wait," Lindsey said, "I think we can get everyone in my truck."

Lindsey is known for coming up with some pretty ‘out there’ ideas.

"You’re nuts." Eric said.

"No way." Auriah added.

"Ahh, I dunno..." Jim fudged, hinting that it might be possible.

"Nine people at two hundred apiece, that’s 1800 pounds, twice the capacity of the truck, then another couple hundred pounds of bikes."

"Where’s everyone going to sit?"

"There’s room for three on the roof, three in the cab and three on the tailgate."

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truckload of bikin' fools

The nine bikes fit with room to spare in the bed. As the riders adorned the truck, it sank all the way to the axles. With no lights, Lindsey began the five mile drive back to the other parking lot. The driving was easy in the moonlight. At 3:00 in the morning, no cars were on the remote highway. The truck seemed happy to be in such abundant company. The mass of humanity crept alone in first and second gear over the steep hills. The ride was a mini-adventure. It capped a night of awesome, mountain bikin’ fun. The ride reinvigorated the senses, gave the spirit a lift and created a space for great play and joyful abandon.

By 4:00 in the morning, just before first light, heads hit the pillows. The June moonride was history. Like so many before, it was unique and powerful. It was a zone for all kinds of goodness. The Bikin’ Fools quietly relish these special times, and continue to prepare for more.



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cirrus soaking up the

beauty abounding in the moonlight