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The Night After


The phone rang. “Hello”, Eric said.

“Hey, it’s Dr. Die,” Ron reported from the other end, “Man, I’m really looking forward to the bike ride tonight.”

Eric’s mind might have actually produced smoke as a massive amount of brain synapses fire simultaneously. A cascade of thoughts created a mental avalanche. The first thought was; “Opps, we forgot to call Dr. Die and tell him the ride was yesterday…”

“Ahh, actually we did the ride last night.” Eric replied.

“That’s cool.” Ron said unsuccessfully trying to mask his disappointment. “Well, maybe I can talk Abba into something tonight.”

“I could be up for something, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done two moonrides in one month.” Eric said.

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La Luna peaks through the Oaks

Abba bailed, leaving Dr. Die and Eric to do something. There was talk about a possible Wild Lilac, but that seemed a bit ambitious. A lesser but still very nice ride was selected. The duo decided on the St. Helena Downhill. It was not a bad choice. The moon was fuller than the previous night and there was no fog, at least at the beginning. There was discussion considering taking the driveway past the Silverado Ranch house. This seemed easier to the wasted Eric while Dr. Die was thrilled to do anything.

Eventually the decision was to climb through the park. It was reasoned that they might end up going this way if they were turned back at the house. The question remained whether anyone lived in the house currently or not. Bedsides the park ride was much more fun and not that much longer.

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Dr. Die in the haze of another reality

The two quickly pedaled up the wooded trail. The switchbacks seemed to pass quickly as the two reached the old Robert Lewis Stevenson cabin site. This was the darkest part of the ride although visibility was good. The moon was high in the sky and sent enough lumens through the trees to light up Silver St. The riders went into stealth mode as they approached the intersection of the ranch road. At that point, one can clearly see the house. There were lights on.

It took only a few minutes to pedal into a safe zone. Now out of the woods the light was brilliant. The sky remained clear as the bikers cruised across the southern flank of Matriarch of the Maacamas. The miles to Turk’s Head passed easily. Spirits were high. The temperature was reasonable, in fact nearly perfect for riding. They decided to travel to the official rest stop which lies just above the ride’s namesake, an exceptionally steep descent across a huge, open grassy field.

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A phantom of the night

The riders lounged for an extended period enjoying the pleasant evening. The landscape was glowing with the light of the moon. The distant cities of Napa, Santa Rosa and Cloverdale were clearly visible as their lights twinkled through the atmosphere. Eventually the time arrived to continue. The first challenge was the big drop. The lack of winter rain had caused the ground to dry out making the descent sketchy at best. Both made it safely to the side hill trail.

This feature offers huge exposure on the downhill side. The steep hillside trail wraps around the terrain for a mile or so then disappears into the woods. Though dark, there was little problem navigating the route. The trail dumps out at the cow-funk meadow. The dry ground made it possible to traverse this area with minimal impaction of bovine nastiness. The vaginated tree grove was another official safety zone. It marks the end of the downhill section and starts another climb across more semi bald hills.

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Massive buck brush impedes progress

The next concern in the minds of the riders was the condition of the dirt road. The cows have so badly tracked this area, it is hard to ride. This area might be the best test ever for suspension systems. It was bad. Fortunately it didn’t last too long and the duo managed to cross the area with minimal difficulty. After a couple more minor climbs the route opens to Chino Flats.

Chino Flats marks the final stage of this ride. The remaining road passed quickly. The final descent was pleasant and easy. Once down to Bennett Lane the two rode the last mile to Dr. Die’s car. All that remained was the car shuffle. It was a great ride. Dr. Die made up for the lack of energy in Eric’s world. The combination of ingredients acted to provide an escape route for the two. It was a welcomed departure from normality. It was time spent in the unique and gracious watch of the Lady of the Night, La Luna.

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Happy bikes at the end