The Bikin' Fools


             Lindsey’s choice                              July 2000 moonride




The question of "Where to go?" loomed in the minds of the Bikin' Fools for several weeks. The "Atlas Peak" dilemma convened much of the discussion. Atlas Peak is the southern most point on the Maacama chain of the coastal mountains that the Bikin' Fools care to venture. Napa and points ‘civilized’ mark the end of the real boondocks associated with this section of the coastal range of mountains. The Fools have transited the entire section from Cloverdale to Rector Reservoir during many years of moonrides. This represents nearly 100 miles of moonlit adventure on terrain varying from smooth wooded paths to hairball, tippy, rock-strewn mountainsides. The only remaining section near Napa of this range had yet to be crossed.

It would have to wait. Despite all of the talk and banter, the choice of rides for this July 16th 2000 (when Venus returns from the underworld) was made moments before the ride actually started. The mental processes can go only so far in trying to strike logic from the mold of the intellect. At times it furthers the effort to utterly give up. In the state of total confusion, there arises the possibility to ‘hear’ what’s happening. Clearly what was happening on this summer’s eve was the urge to tippy-toe into the realm of Lindsey’s Lost Trail.

This delightful romp starts up a Redwood lined path into the high hills dividing Calistoga from Santa Rosa. At a certain point, deep in the boondocks, there exists a "directional swirl" that will lure the hapless Bikin' Fool into giant circles. Although there is a known route, Lindsey’s Lost Trail remains lost. It was found once, but on this event, it was significantly lost.

7.5 bodies showed up for the blessed event. One-half of Jim Korte never really arrived. It takes a special vision to appreciate the benediction that occurs with the moonride. When the rider is not willing to fully surrender to the moment and give his heart, soul and body to stepping out of life-as-usual, the essence of the ride is missed. The significance of these outings cannot be measured is standard terms. They so far exceed normal experience that they can only be categorized in the realm of a religious experience. As such, they provide a forum for growth, for renewal, and for feeling intimately alive. Jim was conflicted with other ‘flack’ on this evening. He was unable to escape the constraints of the world at the bottom of Kortum Canyon. Beyond the end of the road is where the journey begins.

Sean made a rare appearance, having missed many months. Dennis appeared grinning from ear to ear in anticipation of another fun romp. Lindsey, Shawn, Mike and Eric were ready for this evening. It would be the 55th consecutive moonride that Eric had been on, and it would mark ten years of moonlight adventure for Dr. J. and the Linz. Rounding out the group of eight bikers was the rookie Ryan. He brought to the event unbridled enthusiasm, deft and coolness that defied his young age.

The eight bodies piled into two pick-ups and drove the few miles up Kortum Canyon to the beginning of the event. After the usual last moment tuning items, the crowd began to pick its way up the beautiful drainage along Porter Creek. The sun was nearing the western horizon as the riders began to warm up among the Redwoods. The trail climbed significantly for several miles. The weather had been beautiful for the past two days. It was cool and slightly overcast, keeping the hot summer temperatures moderate.

When the sun had set, it would be nearly a half-hour before the moon rose. The official full moon had occurred earlier in the day. However there was plenty of afterglow to light the paths of the Bikin' Fools as they climbed into the mountains for another nighttime adventure. At the very top of the terrain, there was an opening in the vegetation to the east. Along the high ridge of Diamond Mountain, there was a notch. As the group gathered at this lofty vantagepoint, a thin bright sliver of orange appeared growing in the notch of Diamond Mountain. The brightly glowing orb swelled with intensity as it was borne into the world of the Bikin' Fools. Unabashed serendipity rained upon the dazzled bikers.

It was at this juncture that the navigation began in earnest. Mike had recalled the ride when Orion completed an overhead three-sixty, a feat accomplished with the help of the L-Factor. Tonight Mike strategically avoided the Lost Loop and skillfully guided the troops into the wilderness. It was only at the nose of Diamond Mountain that things became sketchy. The hidden passage was never found and the choice to leave the ridge was made in hopes of finding the mythical Azalea trail. Several sorties in differing directions failed to uncover the way for sure. The best guess was made and the contingent filed downhill.

After much altitude was lost, the sound of a barking dog was heard in the distance. The troops gathered and discussed options. A light could be seen in the darkness. The fools decided to press on past the house in hopes of finding St. Helena road. This would allow Plan B: To access Bothe Park from the top of Spring Mountain. Mike led the way towards the house. Again the group stopped. It was decided that the group would proceed as a wad of humanity on bikes and hopefully get past the house. A figure appeared in the dark.

"We are unarmed." Mike announced.

"Who’s there?" Queried the stranger.

"It’s the Bikin' Fools." Mike announced. The strange nature of that announcement might have been enough for the average person to open fire. But the homeowner remained calm, as it became apparent that there was no threat. The poor guy who enjoyed a very remote dwelling was suddenly surrounded by eight lost mountain bikers.

"What is it?" A very nervous female voice called from the house.

"Some pretty lost folks." The man replied laughing.

After several minutes of questions and an attempt to figure out where the fools had found themselves, they bid farewell to Sam, the midnight man, and continued downhill towards St. Helena road.

Once out of the drive and onto the pavement, the bikers had to pedal three or four miles to the top of the Spring Mountain. About one mile into the paved riding, a bicyclist appeared from the other direction traveling at high speed. He blew past the Fools nearly hitting several of them. It was Jim Korte! Jim had snapped, again. His choice to leave the event was puzzling. To choose between a very special occasion with choice people and the doldrums of the working world seems a no-brainer. Yet, Jim was conflicted and chose to bail. It seemed a questionable choice in the face of an opportunity to dwell, however briefly, in the nurturing rays of La Luna on a mission that yielded nurturing peace and euphoria.

The seven bikers climbed the miles up St. Helena road eventually coming to the county line. Mike turned confidently north and headed towards the vineyards littering the hillside. Several options existed. The road split. The Fools took the left option and continued to the end. There, a vineyard marked the end of the road. The troops went to the fence and explored the immediate area.

"This doesn’t seem quite right." Mike muttered. "I remember a small pond."

The group executed a bovine flanking maneuver and proceeded back to the first intersection. There was no definitive indication that this was the correct route. However Mike was drawn downhill. Again the group proceeded cautiously until they came to a gate. Mike left his bike and continued on foot to explore the area. He returned declaring: "This doesn’t feel like it." It would have been easy to become discouraged at this point. It was well after midnight and the riders were tiring. No sound evidence existed of where to go. Yet, Mike was onto something. He was now operating solely on psychic information.

Another 180-degree turn took the gang back to a truck that was parked along a fence bordering a vineyard. Shawn scouted beyond the fence and discovered a gate that had the look of a State built item. Shawn seemed certain that this was the place. The Bikin' Fools continued ahead. Shortly another vineyard appeared and this time there was no outlet in sight anywhere. It appeared as a total dead-end.

Suddenly Ryan spoke out: This is it!" He said with certainty, pointing to a wall of brush and impenetrable vegetation. Eric was skeptical. He knew that Ryan wanted to be a player in this great adventure, but what he was pointing at seemed totally improbable. Without hesitation Ryan proceeded to burl through the dense thicket and disappeared into the woods. Shawn followed. As the rest of the group struggled to pass through the thicket, the voices ahead indicated success. Although the words could not be deciphered from a distance, the tone was clear. The light, giddy voices came from the trail. This was the last leg of the evening’s adventure.

The seven remaining cyclists glided through the beautiful redwood forests high in the mountains above the Napa Valley. The trail was familiar and known to several of the attendees. It would be all downhill in the mystical forest. The lovely scent filled the nostrils with soothing fragrance. The air was still warm though the fog had begun to envelope the upper reaches of the pass that the Fools had just transited. The light remained adequate though soft and diffused.

Near the two o’clock hour, the riders reached the bottom of the trail. Dennis peeled off and rode to St. Helena, Ryan bailed at his home near Bothe Park and the rest pedaled the few miles back to Calistoga. The ride showered the participants with another high quality dose of euphoria and abandon. It provided a forum for the Bikin' Fools to commune with nature, the Great Spirit of La Luna and with each other. It was another notch on the bottom bracket of extraordinary experiences.