The Bikin' Fools



L-Factor, extreme duty


There are defining moments in any ride that will stand as sentinels of recall. It may be the lovely weather, the beautiful or terrible condition of the trail, the friends. Whatever, nothing will be kept in the mind so fresh and lucid as a good stack. Such was the case on this July 3rd, as Lindsey added a new dimension to the fabled and growing L-Factor. Today facepLant would be added to the defining terms of the L-Factor.

At 7:45 Eric’s phone rang; "Hello," Eric said.

"Hey Eric, it’s Tone," the voice of Tony announced. "I was thinking about a bike ride today, wanna go?"

"Sure, When?" Eric asked.

"Don’t matter," Tony said, "I was going to line out my day around a ride."

Plans were made for a ride later in the day. Shortly after eight, the phone rang again; "Hey Eric," Lindsey’s voice rang out, "I was thinking about catching a bike ride today."

"Great," Eric replied, "What time were you thinking about?"

"Sooner better than later." Lindsey stated.

"How about 10:00." Eric asked. "I’ll call Tony back and see if he can change his plans."

Plans were quickly changed with Tony and the schedule was set for ten. Eric would have just enough time to do some drive-by gardening. Eventually the three were ready to go by eleven. Several options were discussed. Finally Tony suggested Bell Canyon to China Camp. That made sense. It would require a much shorter shuffle than going all the way to Middletown, though that still remained as a possible extension if the Fools were feeling strong later in the day.

The bikers loaded into Lindsey’s truck for the seven-mile ride to the Bell Canyon reservoir. At the reservoir the three made final preparations and hit the trail, having no real idea of where they were going. On the far side of the lake, a barking dog indicated private property just ahead. Humm. The Fools elected to execute a 180-degree turn, however not before the dog barked enough to rally the Alpha Male into action. A couple of minutes later a vehicle approached the Fools from the rear. Lindsey stopped to negotiate terms of passage.

Now on a different route but still near the bottom, the Fools headed uphill. The road seemed promising until it appeared to dead end at a future building site. However, Tony discovered a road traveling past the site and uphill. That road continued for a couple of miles. The Fools gained a commanding view of Bell Canyon reservoir and the Napa Valley below. The direction seemed OK. Further up the hill, the Fools could see more and more vineyards that had been hacked out of the hills, leaving devastation and terribly messed up earth in the wake of vineyard construction.

When it seemed that the fools had shed the more traveled portions of this route and were getting deep into the boonies; they suddenly and unexpectedly came upon a tall deer fence. On the other side was the moonscape devastation of a new vineyard. It looked awkwardly out of place in this natural, rugged setting. As the Fools struggled to get past the fence, a crew of vineyard workers stared in unbelieving amusement as the bikers transited a portion of the vineyard.

"This pisses me off!" Tony shouted, "Look at the destruction of this place. This isn’t right."

Tony had a point. The damage to the landscape was stark and regrettable. To think that swilling wine is more important than preserving the earth in a sustainable manner is a concept hard to swallow. Yet, people will stop at nothing to be involved in the production, distribution and sales of this potent drug. It is obvious that the winter rains will play havoc with all of the streams, rivulets and brooks that normally would flow through the woods. Woods that had ground cover and would not provide areas for the water to pick up dirt and silt. Now the water will be brown and laden with the top of this beautiful hill.

As the Fools rounded a corner and began a traverse across a short valley from the vineyard, the workers began to yell and shout towards the Fools. They were used to seeing cyclists on the Silverado Trail; the Spandex Set riding from winery to winery. But they never expected to see bikers this far into the boonies. "What the heck were those guys doing all the way up here?"

At this point the bikers were nearing the upper ridges of the mountains. They had climbed over 2500 feet. The trail still did not seem familiar. However it was going in the proper direction so the fools continued to pedal. There was some discussion about where to go. A suggestion was made about going to Middletown.

For the next hour the Fools continued to progress towards the Oat Hill Mine road. The terrain remained sketchy. The riding was, at times, difficult because of the caterpillar that had recently passed over the remote mountain roads and turned them to powder. This not only made the riding difficult, but would also create a huge erosion situation next winter.

Finally, the three riders came to the unmistakable junction that put them on familiar ground for the first time in the ride. Now it was a matter of pedaling the remaining miles back towards more familiar territory. The trio stopped at Shawn’s cave to check it out. Then it was through the narrow bush to the Pickett side of Potato Hill.

On the high side of the hill, the trail could be seen dropping towards Pickett. This stretch of hill contained a steep, rocky, off-camber descent. As Lindsey was surfing gravity along this part, the ground suddenly reached out and grabbed the front tire of his bike and in an instant sent Linz on a short but impressive flight that would have gotten a chuckle from Superman. Three important parts of Linz’s body broke the fall, other wise it might have been catastrophic. His forehead, cheekbone and chin preformed yeoman’s duty in stopping the 200 pounds of the meteoric mass that rained down from the heavens.

Linz immediately began to recite the incantations of big trouble; "Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. This is bad. This is not good, oh shit."

Eric had just turned around in time to witness the carnage. The scene was horrific. "Oh the humanity!"

Eric’s first thoughts were about what first aid items were in his pack. From a distance it appeared that blood was not gushing, at least not yet. Eric scrambled back uphill to check out the scene. It was not pretty.

"Can you feel your teeth, are they OK?" Eric asked.

The entire right side of Lindsey’s face was bloodied with abrasions and an obvious gash just below the eye.

"Teeth seem OK." Lindsey reported.

"Looks like your nose is OK," Eric said, "It’s not bleeding and most of the damage is to the side.

For several minutes Lindsey sat on the ground trying to defrag the hard drive. As the first few minutes passed, it seemed that the damage would be limited to making Lindsey look like a Dr. Jekyll experiment. Slowly he gathered himself. As he began to make steerage towards Calistoga, now seemingly a long, long way, it looked as though it may take the rest of the day to get there.

Showing astonishing resilience, Lindsey began to incrementally increase his speed. At first walking, then riding he slowly became faster until he was shredding at nearly ‘normal’ speed. Fortunately he stacked near the Pickett turnoff. The rest of the ride would be an easy descent of nearly 2000 vertical feet. The three proceeded directly to Tony’s house where Linz would try to remove the ground-zero-Hiroshima look from the right side of his gourd. Tony and Eric jetted down the trail to retrieve Lindsey’s car.

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When they returned, Linz had miraculously transformed his Franken-face to something that would not cause women to faint. In fact he had recovered so completely that he was ready and demanding beer therapy. His argument that the cold beverage would keep down the swelling was accepted in order to humor the man who was clearly not entirely in control of this particular reality.

The Calistoga Inn was a whole lot cheaper than the emergency room and left the patient in much better spirits. When it was determined that Linz had at least one appendage in this world, Tony and Eric signed off on the ride. Linz would find his way home somehow. There is no doubt that he will return to pedal over the sacred lands again. His spirit is too expansive to be brought down by this rude blow. Mountain bikers know that stackage happens. One must pay debts to play. With luck and a blessing from the Great Spirit, perhaps Lindsey has earned some enduring credit for, hopefully, a long while to come.