Looking for Cloverdale


Sunday night was selected for the July moonride. The date would be open for three riders. Mike, Linz and Eric volunteered to explore the area of the Broken Ridge for a possible link to Cloverdale. A previous moonride attempted to connect the area around Lake Sonoma. The original idea was to ride the perimeter of the lake, then end with a dash down one of the coolest spillways ever created.

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Van disgorges the bikes

The problem with the first attempt occurred in the area of the Pritchett Peaks. The long ride successfully transited the Warm Springs side of the lake, crossed the water and climbed the tall terrain towards the dam. The group on that night came to an impassible area of tall terrain, cliffs and impenetrable buck brush. The riders on that fateful night ended up in the forest until dawn before stumbling out of the woods and into the Owl Café in Cloverdale.

This ride started at the base of the spillway for the Warm Springs Dam. This massive feature has never seen the lake water flow down the concrete structure. Since 1986 the rains have not been able to exceed the ability of the dam to release water from gates at the bottom. As a result, the concrete is absolutely clean and smooth. The riders debated the notion of where to start in order to get to the higher ground above the lake As the van was being parked, a mean looking lady with kids and a dog drove through a gate nearby. It seemed like a possible starting point, although Eric objected along the lines of not wanting to get shot at.

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A tempting possibility except for camera on distant poll

Eventually the three slowly began riding, wondering how to start the event. Another option was to ride to the top of the dam and cross over to the spillway side. Mike discovered the bike path. The riders began to climb into the woods on the opposite side of the spillway. At one point there seemed to be a “Y”. There was an easy route to the front of the dam where a service road existed. The daylight was fading and the darkness would cover the riders from any prying eyes of authority who might suspect evil doing from the innocent riders.


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That Way!

The route climbed sharply from the spillway into the hills to the west. The dirt road was relatively smooth. It was too steep to ride. For the next several minutes the riders climbed above the lake. The terrain was interesting. This was the area that had been rearranged to provide the ‘earth’ for the dam. No longer did the land have the rolling, natural appearance, but was angular and square from the excavation.

The trio continued to climb. Eventually they came to an area of a deep cut through the earth. This was the end of the old construction zone. The road continued into the natural terrain following the ridge. For several miles the road climbed and descended over a variety of small peaks that make up the ridgeline. It was hoped that at some point the road would make a turn towards the north in the direction of Cloverdale.

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Mike Ferrets out the bike trail at the beginning

The road continued to be in excellent shape. It had signs of use, though none recently. There was little rutting and few obstacles. The riders continued to gain altitude above the lake. As they neared the Pritchett peaks they were encouraged by the general direction of the road. At any moment it should begin a descent. Now tiring, the riders began to look for a decent place to stop for a break and food. The road suddenly became less traveled and climbed more steeply than before. However, once up the very steep climb, the road leveled and appeared to begin to descend exactly in the proper direction. It seemed a good time to take a break. Just on the south side of the ridge, the wind was blowing hard. The riders took a spot out of the wind and relaxed. There was not the usual offering of culinary delights. It was a practical, simple meal that provided fuel for the rest of the event.

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Linz judges dinner not up to usual standards

Once sated, the riders began what they thought would be an interesting descent into the boondocks outside of Cloverdale. Unfortunately, an optical illusion had deceived the crew. The road made a sharp bend to the west and began another steep climb. Now the road was overgrown and showed less signs of activity. The notion that the road may go through was now in question.

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The tough choice to turn around

Although the road wasn’t cooperating, it offered fantastic views of the lake and the surrounding terrain. The moon was as high in the sky as it would get in its winter ecliptic. The open, grassy areas offered great visibility and easy riding. Yet the road continued to climb until finally, it reached a high peak that looked across the Broken Ridge. Mike finally abandoned his hope that this was the right road.

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Moonlight on the lake

The choice to return had to be made. There wasn’t the energy to continue. Confusion reigned as the three tried to figure out where the proper road might be. The return ride was easier. It was slightly downhill along the ridge back to the area of the dam construction site. The three stopped at the bottom of the hill where the spillway began. An eight foot tall barrier prevented easy access to the facility. Mike helped Eric climb the wall. Once on top, it was obvious that this facility was designed for wheels and gravity. The swooping drop-in was right off of the tight end of a French curve. After the first steep drop, the smooth, clean concrete leveled slightly for while then dropped steeply for several hundred feet. Warp speed was possible before the spillway leveled out towards the bottom.

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Linz drops the big wall

Even though there was some concern about the exit from the spillway it was easy. A short climb was all that was needed to get to the adjacent drive. However there was a gate. It took some discussion, but it was finally agreed that they would climb over the short barrier. As the three approached to the gate, it opened on its own. It was a fitting close to a unique sortie. Although the route to Cloverdale remains unfound the road to glory was traveled by three Lunatistas for a brief moment. It was a quiet but sweet rendezvous with the full moon.