May Moonlight Madness


The weather had finally cleared and the wet skies of spring had relented to warm, clear days and nights. Ten people and Miss Swift made the call to romp in the back country for this beautiful spring night. This was the week of the Kinetic Sculpture Race. The building energy for the race helped to propel the fun factor into the stratosphere. A brief discussion of routes occurred and the choice of the St. Helena Downhill quickly gained approval.

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Food fest proceeds the ride

The prelude to the evening of bikin’ fun was another test run of the Kinetic barbeque. The grill passed the test with a grand assortment of meat and veggies. There were no hungry bikers at the start of the event. Cirrus was in town from Davis, Ron the rookie would pedal his seven speed with deft across the face of adventure. Sean Large provided the crew with lots of entertaining moves throughout the night. Lucy was in town from Humboldt ready to commune with the lunatistas. Sebastian made the huge trek from Portland, not only to make the ride but to help with the Sculpture. Michel appeared with enthusiasm, having enough sick days at work to accommodate the Monday event. Mike, Shawn, Lindsey and Eric made up the rest of the contingent.

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Heading for the hills

All eleven participants crammed into Mike’s van and rolled to the start of the ride. Within twenty yards, Lucy discovered a flat. A few minutes ensued while the tire got fixed. The ride was then off to a roaring start. The trail was completely dark as the moon had yet to rise. The only light was a minor amount of ambient light of the vanishing remnants of the sunset. The path is mostly smooth with a few inopportune technical items strewn randomly into the mix. The party made headway to the stone tablet, reassembled and dropped down to Silver Street. Once on the ranch road, the moon was available for pleasant riding across the southern flank of this grand mountain.

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Miss Swift quenches the thirst

Of note was the amount of water still running downhill. The recent rain had saturated the ground. The Napa River was running as strong as it does in the middle of winter. The group reached Turk’s Head and headed down to the official rest area before dropping the face of the hill. The conditions were near perfect for the big drop. All of the attendees made the descent OK. Then the side hill trail was ridden to the bypass route. Cow funk had made the longer route un-fun.

The crew spread out slightly as they made the second drop to the stealth stream crossing. Once past this point, the ride traverses the lower hills towards the lake. Another notable rest stop was taken a field overlooking the Napa Valley. The temperature was warm and pleasant. It was enormously easy to sit and enjoy the vast beauty of the bright night.

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Happy riders having fun

There was a rumor of a water crossing when the ride was chosen. It was assumed however that there would be an alternate to the swim. The proved to be in error. Several attempts were made to cross the water, all failed due to deepness. Another method had to be found to get across. The task force headed upstream a ways, then found an area that could be forded by wading up to chest height. On the other side, brush and thicket made the going especially tough. One by one the soaked riders came out of the brush and onto the final stretch of off-road. The group meandered back to civilization and closed the book on this great, outdoor, wilderness ride.


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Happy dog