The Bikin' Fools



Klassic Korte

As the month of July was winding down, it seemed like a perfect time to take a bike ride that included the option to swim. Thus the notion of dropping the hunting camp route at Lake Sonoma held great appeal. Jim had lobbied for a significant ride and Austin was up for adventure.

Austin and I drove to Healdsburg and hooked up with Jim. This ride would require a car shuffle to avoid many miles of boring and serious uphill pavement riding. We parked Jim’s truck at the outer lot above the Warm Springs side of the lake and piled the three bikes and riders into the Subaru and headed up Rockpile Road. After several miles we passed the gate that we would climb and parked just up the road. As we were preparing to leave, we heard the sound of a quad approaching. It drove on past and turned into the drive of a house just across the road. We didn’t think much about it at the time.

We scrambled over the fence and quickly dropped over the hill to get out of sight as quickly as possible. Soon we were established on the dirt road that would drop into the hunting camp. Suddenly we spotted several horse trailers, horses and people at a staging area not far from the top of the road. We stopped and convened a strategy meeting. We decided that we would continue, slowly and see what happened. The reasoning was that we would be allowed to pass or we would be turned away. It wasn’t likely that we would be shot if we acted with some civility. We have had luck in the past, talking our way through such situations.

As we cautiously approached the group, no one seemed bummed about our presence. We slowly drifted past exchanging waves with at least one old timer. We continued down the road. It was uncertain, but likely that there would be others at the camp below. The road traveled for a mile or so becoming, at times, quite steep. Although the plan was to stay together in a group, Jim began to accelerate and get ahead of Austin and myself. His speed increased until he was at the fragile limit of control. The last thing Austin and I saw was Jim going at warp speed just as the hunting camp came suddenly upon us. Jim never even slowed up. He rocketed through the camp like a madman. People were startled. That put me and Austin in a precarious situation. Even though we had talked about riding through the camp, the situation clearly wasn’t what we thought it might be. There were dozens of people, horses, and kids. With Jim having stirred up the hornet’s nest, Austin and I felt we had little chance at any negotiation and slowly made our way through the camp amidst shouts and yells from the inhabitants. We proceeded across the stream, contacted the washed out road and went as fast as our frightened feet would carry us. I intently listened for sounds of pursuit. We were able to ride for a short distance, then carried the bikes across the stream again, then shredded for another short distance before we came to the log pile, landslide. Once over this obstacle, we were safe. No quad, horse or man on foot could now reach us.

It happened so quick that we didn’t have time to react to Jim’s horrifically bogus action. Had we all stayed together in a reasonable manner, we had a good chance of getting permission to pass and perhaps make contacts that would bode well for the future. Worst case, they might have made us climb back to Rockpile Road. Now we were definitely personas non gratis.

I had noticed quad tracks all the way down the hill. If the quad dude and the horse people got together, it was obvious that they would make the connection with the Subaru and the bikers. For the rest of the ride I could not get my mind off of the Subaru. Had we not had to retrieve the thing, we would have been home free. It was too bad. It was a perfect day for bikin’. The weather was hot but not oppressive. We proceeded past the second hunting camp. No one was there. Good thing. We crossed three gates and finally felt all the options for getting caught were gone. We contacted the single track. It is superb and not traveled. We had the place to ourselves. The next fifteen miles would be magical riding.

At the Sawmill Camp, Jim announced that he was going swimming. Not a bad idea. We all jumped in, Austin and I were clothing optional but it didn’t really matter. Only two boats were in the area and they were far enough away to qualify for modesty. We swam to the rock an jumped off. Actually Austin dove off the high rock after I reported an unpleasant experience in the area where the proctologist makes his living. Finally we headed back to shore. Just before reaching the land again, Austin yelled: "Hey that looks like Johnson."

Sure enough, the ’56 Chris Craft motored into view. We swam out where he would have to maneuver to avoid us. He made several attempts to turn before announcing; "Hey, I know you guys!" It was a nice touch of serendipity to offset our earlier trauma. After exchanging pleasantries we all headed about our missions.

Jim, Austin and I proceeded to ride the undulating terrain on the west side of the lake. We paused at the redwood groves and at the special streams. Finally we climbed the last, long hill to Jim’s truck. We drove back to the main part of the lake, dropped Austin and the bikes off under the thinking that we wanted to be as stealth as possible when we returned for the Subaru. Jim and I drove the several miles while Austin waited. With an elevated heart rate we approached the Subaru. No one was around. I went to the back of the car to fetch the key from on top of the tire and to a sinking feeling noticed that the tire was flat. Since we were in view of the house that the quad went to, I decided to drive on the flat for a short distance to get out of the neighborhood. A short distance down the road I spotted two trucks with horse trailers and one without. I drove with flapping tire past them. They looked intently at the Subaru. When I felt I could no longer risk trashing the tire I pulled over and started to change it. The one pickup without a trailer approached slowly, drove past, then stopped. He backed up. My adrenaline surged. Where the fuck was the lug wrench?

"You guys sure messed up going through our camp." The cowboy exclaimed with little doubt that we were the perpetrators. Jim fielded the discussion while I proceeded to change the tire. Another pickup with a trailer approached and stopped. The two cowboys carried on a discussion. My concern was that they may have called the sheriff. If we could get out of here, it would lessen the likelihood of getting busted. The man mentioned that he had called the sheriff. However in the course of the discussion he mentioned that he didn’t really mind the bikes so much as the ‘asshole’ who blazed through the camp so fast. He cited the crowded encampment, kids and horses being startled by the move.

Finally I had the tire fixed and we were able to split. My sense was that they had exacted their punishment by poking a hole in my tire. I took some comfort in this. It was a small price to pay for a potential encounter with the law, perhaps a night in jail and lots of money etc. Austin was wondering what took so long. Finally we were free and clear. We looked forward to stopping at the nearest store for beer and kicking back for the rest of the day. Next time our tactics will be different. Maybe Jim won’t be there.