The Bikin' Fools

Parallel Universe


Eric’s 57th birthday started out well, gained momentum and continued to shower him with benediction for several days. The somewhat nondescript number of years didn’t seem to warrant much of a significant passage unlike the decade-years or doubles. The birthday treats began early Saturday morning and proceeded in grand fashion all day and into the next. Saturday afternoon was spent at the slopes skiing with three of his closest girl friends. The birthday dinner at Belle Star’s continued a trend of luscious feminine energy. To top off the day, the large, waxing moon lit up the Sierra in the soft splendor that only La Luna can provide. Sunday dawned bright and clear. It was a verdant spring offering from the universe. Tanya and Eric vegged much of the day but managed to get in a tandem ride during the afternoon. They rode over the county line on 128 along the skirt of Mt. St. Helena, the beautiful lady that watches over the Napa Valley.

Sunday evening Eric was invited to a delightful gathering of friends for some more birthday celebrating. Kelly and Don hosted a sensational dinner that included Don’s two sisters, mother and friend Jaycee. Mike, Shawn Don and Eric enjoyed a lovely evening, pleasantly outnumbered by happy Goddesses. They ate outrageous food, drank a fine assortment of beverages and shot off fireworks. Somewhere between the Far Niente ’95 Cab, the Champaign and Kahlua, it seemed obvious the moonride wasn’t going to happen on this night...

In fact, Shawn ‘super-scout’ Seidel and Eric had discussed the notion and solidly agreed that tonight was for merriment and feasting. When Eric arrived home he was bleary- eyed and ready for bed. He performed his shutdown routine, brushed his teeth, shut off all of the lights and opened the door to his bedroom. The phone rang.

"Hello?" Eric answered, slightly curious since he couldn’t see the caller ID without his glasses.

"Eric, It’s Mike." He said with a pesky hint of mischief. "Lindsey’s coming over, we’re going for a ride. Are you in?"

"Aw man," Eric said, "I think I’m down for the count."

"OK," He said with a tone that suggested Eric was about to miss something worthwhile. But Eric was ready for pillow and warm covers.

Again Eric reached for the bedroom door. The phone rang again.

"Hello?" Eric answered.

"Dude. I’m so bummed. I missed the moonride." Said Ryan, clearly distraught about his perception of the situation. "I went by Mike’s and they were already gone."

"No they weren’t." Eric said. "We just had a dinner thing together. Nobody’s going. This was the only night Lindsey could go and everyone has bailed. We’re going to go on Tuesday."

"Cool," Ryan cooed, "That’s way better for me. I can totally go on Tuesday."

"Great," Eric replied, "I’ll see you then. Mike had mumbled something about a ride with Linz tonight, but I don’t think anybody’s going."

"Cool," Ryan repeated, "See you Tuesday."

Eric hung up the phone and breathed a deep sigh and opened the bedroom door for the third time. The phone rang. It was 10:15

"Hello?" Eric answered.

"Dude," Mike’s voice dripped with exceptional persuasion, "Lindsey is here!"

Eric’s brain momentarily seized. One huge part of him was halfway into his very comfortable bed. Another chunk called in the distance. "Eric is a chicken..."

"Ah, what ride did you have in mind?" Eric hoped for an answer that would put it out of the question. Who knows what the L-Factor might be up for? It could be a monster in which case Eric was out for sure.

"We’re thinking," Mike said in a very calm, metered voice. "Of doing the St. Helena downhill."

"Dang," Eric thought, "This is an easy ride."

"OK," Eric said in defeat, " I’ll grab my stuff and see you at your house."

Eric arrived to a grinning Linz. He was eager for a ride and had obviously spent the day preparing. He had fined tuned his electrolyte level to exceed the minimum daily requirement by a fair amount. It is a little known fact that if one marks all of the brewpubs of Northern California on a map, then connects the dots it spells LINDSEY. His slightly slurred speech and hard-to-figure statements would eventually synchronize with a reality that we all shared. It would take the energy of La Luna, the 4000 foot high Mt. Saint Helena and a parallel universe, but we would arrive at the special, sacred place.

In short order the Bikin’ Fools were driving up the mountain. Eric remained slightly annoyed that he had allowed himself to be talked into this caper. The ride had been done dozens of times and no one needed boasting rights. The predominate thought since Eric made the fateful choice to go on this ride was; "If all goes well, Eric can be in bed by 1:00. That’s not too bad." With each delay, Eric bristled at the notion of a later bedtime. Lindsey’s unique driving style is safe, but can lack point to point swiftness, much like his bike riding style. Eric tried to vibe "Faster, faster" to Linz. But they apparently weren’t seeing the same road. There were at least two different Highway 29’s, parallel, but in different universes.

Finally the trio arrived at the starting point high on the side of the mountain. They elected to ride directly through the ranch, assuming that there was no caretaker. The assumption proved correct. However while grunting up the very steep, initial pitch Lindsey made an ill-fated decision to select another gear. His massive, locomotive legs turning lengthy 180 mm cranks proved too much for the chain. It exploded. Eric stared in disbelief. "Oh no, more delay." Eric thought.

It took the better part of 45 minutes to get the chain mated again. Eric steamed with discontent as the moon began to work on his ego. At a point in his thinking, Eric declared a deadline. After that time he would bail. It would be an easy descent down the highway and to his snuggly bed. Finally, Mike and Linz got the bike going. Mike walked uphill where his bike was located while Linz and Eric buttoned up the maintenance scene. Eric departed, rode for a long time but didn’t see Mike. He passed frequent stopping spots, but still didn’t see Mike. "Dang," He thought, "How the heck did I miss him?" Eric was no longer sure he was ahead and elected to wait for Linz to make sure he didn’t somehow pass Mike. Eric waited and waited and finally he had enough. He was going home and started pedaling in the direction of Linz.

"Have you seen Mike?" Eric asked when he finally came across the slow moving L-Factor.

"No, " Linz said, "I thought he was ahead of us."

"Me too." Eric said.

"Hey look," Eric announced with great gravity, "I can see a trend developing here. This ride is going to take all night. I’m thinkin’ of bailing out."

Lindsey looked out from his parallel universe. "Aw, come on. Be here now."

Although his advice was dead on, Eric wasn’t seeing the moment. He didn’t recognize that he had been ushered into the realm of the chosen few. The night was beautiful. The moon, not quite full, beamed quietude and serenity from the star-studded heavens.

"I dunno know," Eric said with shaky defiance, "Home sounds pretty good."

"Jeez," Linz said, "Don’t pull a Korte on us."

Lindsey had pulled the trump card. The words bore into Eric’s heart like hot lead. "Be like Korte.." The words echoed over and over. The worst possible response to wonderful adventure would be to bail out. Eric realized his bluff had been called.

"OK," Eric relented, "But let’s try to keep moving along."

From that point Eric was committed to the ride. From that point the benediction of being in the moonlight began to sink in. Eric immediately noticed the beautiful views, the lovely soft light. A sense of calm and acceptance eased his spirit and allowed him to be at home in the universe. Eric continued to pursue Mike who had jetted at warp speed most of the way to Turk’s head. Eventually he came across Mike. He was grinning from ear to ear. Surprisingly Lindsey didn’t take long to catch up.

When the chain dilemma occurred, the technicians had failed to route the chain through the front derailleur. A quick adjustment was needed. In just a few short seconds, Mike was holding a major, broken piece of Lindsey’s front derailleur in his hand.

"Humm," he said, "I guess you don’t need that."

It was true. Lindsey would be able to ride the rest of the ride in the middle ring, changing his front gears only by hand once or twice during the remainder of the ride. After all, this was the St. Helena downhill.

The most notable aspect of the ride was the balmy warm temperature. Even though it was midnight, the temperature had warmed considerably since climbing out of the valley. It must have been near 70 degrees. The conditions were perfect. A slight wetness of dew covered the new grass. The ground was firm and not muddy. The light was bright although the trail was not easy to see. The new spring grass was dark. It masked the trail somewhat, making the passage interesting.

The three finally made it to Turk’s head. This was the end of the ranch road and the beginning of the ‘downhill’ part of the ride. They shredded across the nose of the big hill and started the death-defying drop to the path below. Mike and Eric successfully dropped the steep, grassy face. Showing newfound confidence (i.e. hours at the beer pub), Linz cleaned the difficult section with great finesse.

At this point, the side hill gouger part of the ride began. The narrow path hangs precariously off the steep, grassy hillside. A highside along this section of the ride will result in serious airtime. Perhaps due to the dual nature of our experience, the time passed with amazing speed. Before they knew it, they were into the woods part of the ride. This section has its own share of interesting challenges. The path is visible for the most part but occasionally disappears into the blackness of the shaded woods. For these parts one must employ ‘void vision’: The willingness to ride into the unseen and the unknown.

A few short sections had been weathered over the winter, yet transit remained quick. There was a stop at the cow squish zone for safety concerns. This area of the earth has been trampled to smithereens by the cows. Their hoof prints are deep holes making the passage difficult. This damage can cause one to consider vegetarianism as a better way to treat the world.

Most notable during this part of our ride was Lindsey’s transformation to speed. His recent weight loss and the electrolyte training immediately prior to the ride seemed to propel Linz at here-to-fore unknown velocities. There was not the usual wait for Linz to show up. In fact as the ride progressed to the later stages, he began to overtake both Mike and Eric. He was clearly in the zone. (The ozone, part of the parallel universe). Apparently the brewpub formula was paying off.

To further enhance the ride, the section that offered the most potential difficulty was in excellent shape. The lower road section can be a muddy mess. The mud is the type that sticks and builds up to the point of stoppage. The road was moist and even sloppy in a few sections, yet it remained kind and easily passable. Again the magic of the night rays seemed to propel time fast forward. Soon we stood at Chino Flats, the beginning of the end. The only challenge remaining was to get past the dogs. Eric was the first down the hill. His passage woke the dogs; they chased Mike then turned and regrouped to terrorize Lindsey. As Mike and Eric stood at the bottom of the hill, they could hear the pitch of their bark change dramatically.

"We know where Lindsey is." Eric said.

The dog’s barking tapered off as Linz made it past. Finally all stood on the pavement of Bennett Lane. The temperature had plummeted by thirty degrees during the final descent to the valley floor. Wispy vapors hung near the ground giving a surrealistic, mystical view of the late night scene. The geyser was spouting in the distance, creating a large steaming column in the moonlight. They pedaled the last two miles to town. At Lake St., Eric turned left and headed to his long awaited bedtime while Mike and Linz departed to retrieve Lindsey’s car.

Once established on the ride, the perception of problems transformed to magic. There was a huge amount of resistance to get out there. It required a difficult step to get out of the normal bounds that tie one to routine existence. But when factors give a push, it becomes possible to rediscover and explore the parallel universe of La Luna. She refreshes, rejuvenates and restores the mind and spirit. This ride, as all of the moonrides, was unique and worthwhile. It was another spike on the Bikin’ Fools continuing happy relationship with La Luna.