On the Inside

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Belle waiting for dad to get ready

The April moonride extended the limits of the bikin’ fools. This ride added a southern link to the long list of rides in the Maacama mountains of Northern California, added fun and frivolity and added two rookies to the experience of moonlight madness. In this case madness was the operative word as the ride originated at the Looney bin in Napa.

It was the shortest commute for Michel. After the ride he would be home in bed before several of the lunatistas. (a first) Usually he has the longest drive to these events. Celebrity status was added to the group with the inclusion of John Castellano, famous bike designer and builder. Lucy dragged an unsuspecting guest along who fit seamlessly into the crew. There was some doubt about her choice when it was announced he would be riding another Huffy. Both rookies, it turned out, shredded the night ride with deft and the sense that they had done this before. Nine riders and one dog (Belle) made the event. Jim Korte had the longest drive from Healdsburg, Shawn made the event despite a blown ankle from the previous moonride. Lindsey successfully lobbied with Pat to clear him for the ride. Eric made the trek from Middletown.

Dr. J. chose the ride. The proximity to the Napa State Hospital (Looney bin) helped to add a sense of craziness to the atmosphere. After climbing over one fence to access the trail, it was uncertain whether the lunatistas were entering or exiting normality. It is a tough call to determine who is nuts in this world. The ride began on the flats and began a steady climb towards the distant ridge that stands over the southern part of the Napa Valley. The first part of the trail goes along a fence that separates the hospital from the bad influence of the world. (It is supposed to be the other way around). Nearby is another fence topped with concertina wire and populated with several guard houses. As the riders quietly proceeded along the fence there was the sense that the spotlight could come on at any time and bust the renegade riders.

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Sneaking past the Looney bin

Once past the nut house the riders relaxed and settled into climbing the 1800 vertical feet towards the ridge. The trail was pleasant and accommodating. There were few technical challenges that could not be ridden. The park is heavily used by mountain bikes in the daytime, making the single track smooth and pleasant. Once away from the city lights the bright moon illuminated the area with her soft lumens. The temperature was cool, but not cold and the sky was clear at the beginning. The single track led to park roads that led eventually to a lake. At this point the crew stopped and took a break.

From the lake another single track led uphill. The path traveled through woods and along a stream. At one point the trail simply dumped into the stream with no warning. Several riders nearly rode off of the bank and into the water. Once across this stream the trail crossed several meadows, brightly illuminated in the moonlight. At the top of the last meadow, Mike explained the options. There was the possibility of an old road leading to the top, yet that way was uncertain. Mike knew that a mild boonie thrash up the game trail would deliver the riders to the promised land.

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Lucy in hike-a-bike mode

The passage uphill was not a problem except for Shawn whose ankle was protesting. Finally at the top of the hill, he declared he would wait there for the others to go have dinner, party and have a good time. The others decided that wasn’t a great idea and the choice to have dinner there was offered. Several magnificent Oak trees adorned the meadow. A lake could be seen in the distance. It was a nice spot, but there was some wind, no water and the possibility of being seen from a distance existed. The group conferred briefly and decided to retreat down the hill to a better spot. The spot chosen was the stream crossing. There was a bountiful amount of wood. The trees and the canyon setting prevented any wind. A fire blazed quickly and food appeared. There was steak and shrimp and other goodies that pleased the palette. The happy bikers drank beer and spent the next hour in pleasant party mode.

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Lunatistas relax high in the hills

Finally the fire was doused and the descent began. This was the night of the daylight savings time change. In that process Lindsey would disappear for an hour, then magically reappear. He surfed the wormhole in time and missed part of the ride while ending up at the same place as the others. Once past the time warp the riders quickly descended the hill back to the neighborhood of the Looney bin. Lucy managed to flat during the last one hundred yards of the ride. It mattered not. The ride was another great success in the long list of monthly events. La Luna blessed the riders with a venture into the realm of temporary sanity while the rest of the world struggled at the doorstep of the Napa State Hospital.

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Lucy communes with the ancient energy