The Bikin' Fools



The Penumbra Shadow



"...’’tis in the shadows deep

where doubt lie and fear lurk

‘tis beyond the dark zone

where mystical light and soft ray

await, to shine

to illuminate the way…"


The twentieth of January 2000 would go down in the history of the Bikin' Fools as a most notable and interesting outing. A plethora of moonstruck bikin’ individuals appeared at Dr. Johnson’s shop. Jim Wilson would return for a second dose of midnight madness. Dave and Shane appeared at Eric’s apt after a bum steer to the start of the event. Brent made a rare and short-lived appearance. Jim Korte made sure the event had some excitement, Lindsey would unleash the most amazing and effective L-Factor known to the universe and Shawn would dazzle the troops with pinpoint navigation when the shadow of doubt and despair were darkest and longest.

Two weeks earlier, several Bikin' Fools took a three day camping trip. They squeaked in under the weather. The day following that event, the skies darkened, and the moisture-laden air began a long period of rain. Thus there seemed a chance that the scheduled moonride might find a break in the skies to provide a front row seat for the eclipse.

"I heard that there is supposed to be an eclipse this evening?" Cirrus asked his dad.

"That’s right son, " Dad beamed with an air of knowing all, "It won’t be a very big deal really, the moon will be going through the penumbra so it won’t totally disappear, it will look red. Plus it will be slightly dark for only a short period of time, just a few minutes really."

Cirrus tried to look as though he believed dad.

"Quite frankly, it shouldn’t affect tonight’s bike ride at all, it should be all downhill." Dad said, symbolically speaking.

Cirrus also had heard the phrase; "It’s all down hill…" As an accomplished and experienced road rider, Cirrus had come to learn what the phrase really means. It comes as a statement by people who haven’t a clue about what’s really along the route.

The herd of bikers accomplished a very loose flanking maneuver and officially started the ride by passing the gated portal of the Oat Hill Mine road. The first little bump past the gate provides an opportunity to gauge just how the ride might go. Lindsey nicely cleaned the little effort, then stacked on the flat easy trail. Eric communed with the ground before getting out of the parking lot.

As the group of nine good-sense challenged individuals began the long arduous ascent up the mine road; the moon was clearly visible between and betwixt the clouds. Shortly into the ride, however, a dark shadow appeared on the side of La Luna. Despite the significant cloud cover, much light was getting to the surface to allow the cyclist’s to be able to use their bikes for the intended purpose; to ride. In rather quick order, the light began to noticeably fade. Then it disappeared altogether. There was no ‘red’ moon. There was only darkness. The precious few lumens came from the stars on this cloudy night. ‘Pitch’ darkness set in. Pitch is exactly what the bike would do to one who tried to continue riding. Not only did the riding become impossible, the only way at times to progress was to simply walk slightly behind the bike and use it as a blind person’s cane. The progress became tedious and slow. From time to time, one could hear a hapless biker crunch off the trail. There, he would stand for a confused moment and try to stare through the dense and total darkness. His eyes would strain; his brain would get very imaginative seeing all kinds of things that didn’t really exist. Usually the person would have to do a one-eighty until the trail was found and try it again.

Constantly the bikers kept looking up for signs of the moon emerging out the other side of the penumbra. After all, didn’t the moon just barely fit into the dimension of the shadow? How long could it take to come out the other side?

As the slow moving squad approached the View Rock, a blinding light appeared on the trail stabbing the darkness with a piercing beam. It would be Kevin on a high-speed descent. Although the fool’s prohibition on the use of artificial light was intact, the notion of riding and not walking held some appeal. Just up the trail, as Eric approached the rock, numerous voices were heard. Another group of bikers was gathered. Tony, Joe and a couple of others were out on this special night. They were headed back to town after a short jaunt to the bald hill.

The Oat Hill Mine road is a relatively easy ride in lighted conditions. Although it is uphill for nearly six miles, swift travel is normally possible. However, without visual input, riding the bike and hoping for the ‘line’ just doesn’t work. The brain puts the body in defense mode and confuses the situation by not being able to provide proper responses to unusual attitudes. The only viable choice is to simply walk the bike. The ride to the Holmes place would normally take an hour and a half. On this dark night, it took double that amount of time.

One of the recurrent themes that arise during transit of very dark passages is that one must let go and be open for what guidance is occurring. As dark as it gets, when nothing is to be seen, guidance is there. It is the task of the Bikin' Fool to become so open, so vulnerable as to pass into another dimension. Jim Korte achieved this notable status by marching into the void of space and plummeted ten feet, arriving in a heap with his bike only nano seconds behind. For that fleeting moment, Jim communed with the spirits on ‘the other side’ as his fate went temporarily limbo in the eyes of God.

Often only very, very faint outlines of the surrounding shrubbery can be discerned against the nearly black sky. One walks not knowing what is under the next step. The result of this non-knowing is deliverance to the here/now that is timeless. Forever is a word that could also be used, because that is what it seemed to take to get to the Holmes place. By the time the squadron had reached the top of the Oat Hill Mine road, two valiant warriors would have been sloughed off due to ‘irreconcilable differences’ with equipment. Brent parted company about the time that the moon initially vanished, early on the lower section of the mine road. Dave would experience cross chaining of the sensory strunods and had to pack it in near the Sunset Section of the upper part.

Seven Luna-t.i.c.s. arrived at the old Holmes place, still in utter darkness and now actually in the clouds. It was thick, pea soup. Only the sounds would identify the location of an individual. Now the wind was also a factor in the experience. It was time to don extra layers and mentally prepare for many more tough miles before one could luxuriate in warmth and the pleasure of basic enhanced electrolyte replacement. (B.E.E.R.) After a short break, the crew again departed on a mission. The excuse for this evening’s outing was to try to find the wreckage of a military aircraft that had spun in from a reported altitude of twenty thousand feet. The pilot had ejected and landed safely. But the airplane had smucked into the hills along the ridge of the Maacama Mountains. These mountains overlook the upper Napa Valley from the east. Just above Dutch Henry canyon is a visible knoll that is Potato Hill. It is near this peak that the wreckage has been seen by Eric from the little airplane, but not for nearly twenty years.

To augment the potential for logistically oriented sensory tweakage, (L.O.S.T.), a GPS (global position satellite navigation system) was brought along. This cleaver electronic unit, about the size of a cell phone, can yield an immense amount of navigational information, including; "YOU’RE TOTALLY LOST, AND NOT ONLY THAT, YOU JUST WENT IN A HUGE CIRCLE AND DIDN’T KNOW IT!" From the Holmes place, the GPS said it was about two miles in a straight line to the wreckage site. The lat./long was transposed from the topo. It would be two of the longest miles known to the Bikin' Fools.

Upon departure from the Holmes place, suddenly the appearance of light happened. It seemed a miracle. It had become so dark that the bikers assumed the cloud cover was responsible and not the extended journey of the La Luna through the shadow of the Earth. Through the clouds, the mystical light reappeared. The effect was to make the going so easy that it was forgotten. The spirits became light and giddy; Life was good, the Lady of the Night had returned to bless the world with her offering of her beauty and serenity to anyone or anything available. One’s presence in the full moon, in a natural setting fulfils the monthly requirement of the Church of the Holy Spoke to spend time with the Divine. This religious order recognizes the value of meditation upon the natural order. Hard climbing on the bike with the help of G.O.D. (Gears Of Divinity, specifically the 20/32 combo), will induce an altered state of consciousness. In this valued venue, as one approaches max cardiac output, one can often see beyond the little stars that appear in the eyes and find Holy entrances and venues evoking nirvana. (H.E.A.V.E.N.) The intense breathing qualifies as a traditional meditation technique based on the Buddhist practice of "riding the breath". The combination of ingredients when placed in a lovely natural setting, late at night under the watchful light of the moon, can easily create a sensational acute time outside rational imagination experience. (s.a.t.o.r.i.)

The initial climb from the Holmes place gave the attendees an opportunity to generate body heat. This would offset the very damp and cold conditions that caused ‘rain’ under the trees. The humidity was over one hundred percent. Anything exposed to the wind became wet. The bikes were again used for their intended purpose. To be able to ride created a totally different mindset than the situation of walking with the beast. Now the contraption was an avenue to rapid transit. Just over the top of the hill the bikers stopped at the cave uniting nature’s treasure with any human lucky enough to happen upon this enchanting rock womb of the Maacama Goddess.

The next notable point of navigation was the turnoff towards Pickett lane.

"We could head for beer." Shawn suggested, implying that he had had enough for the evening.

But the mission demanded a further attempt to locate the aircraft. The plan was not to proceed very far past the turn anyway. Now the GPS indicated less than a mile and a half. It would take only a few minutes of pedaling on the improved road and under visible conditions. Although the road was anything but level, rapid progress was made to the next junction. This would turn out to be the area of total ocular and sensory traumatism. (T.O.A.S.T.) It was here that the total effect of the Luna Bars, energy food formulated strictly for women, took hold of the thought process. Three of the seven remaining bikers went totally blond.

"I thought that was west." Eric decreed, pointing directly east.

"Nope, north is that way." Mike said with certain authority, indicating to the west. Shawn sat quietly. He was hoping for a decision to return to town.

Lindsey grinning from ear to ear offered a suggestion than made no sense to anyone including himself. Yet he spoke with such certainty that the group felt compelled to act on his rambling notion. For reasons known only to the L-Factor, the group assembled as a pack of committed Lemmings and proceeded to march straight off the end of the mountain. The GPS would later confirm the insanity of that decision.

About an hour later, the now-tiring group staggered back to the same point. It was here that Jim Korte and Shane, in fear of more loony decisions, decided to bail out and head back to town. Now five highly challenged bikers remained to look for the airplane. The only remaining choice was miraculously arrived at and the crew headed onward. For another period of time progress was incrementally added towards the distance to the site. At one point, a key navigational choice had to be made. Shawn astutely pointed out the stealth turn to take the bikers deep into the boony thrash trail. It shouldn’t have been that way, but an anti-mountain bike type had littered the trail with brush trimmings and rocks. Progress became tedious and labored. Fun was rapidly receding. Weariness, wetness, cold and thoughts of a warm bed replaced the notion of ‘getting there’. The ‘there’ was only coordinates on the GPS. Or so that’s what everyone but Shawn was thinking. Now he became possessed. When it seemed as though a suggestion to turn around and abandon the effort would find fertile ground, Shawn forcibly said, no! Suddenly he was on a mission when everyone else was ready to pack it in.

"Hey, I’m getting tired and cold," Eric complained, "Let’s turn around."

No response. The troops proceeded for several minutes through challenging obstacles. The woods became thicker and steeper. Finally at one point, someone said; "hey, let’s leave the bikes here and walk."

It was a good idea. Progress was much greater and easier. The GPS indicated now only three hundred feet from the target. Shawn marched ahead, found the next road and walked briskly away.

"The GPS says we’re passing the spot. It’s just to the west." Eric reported.

Shawn kept trucking. "This is Potato Hill," He finally said, indicating the hillock to the left. He promptly left the jeep trail and disappeared around the terrain with Mike in tow. Eric waited along the road for Lindsey and Jim. Lindsey had stayed behind with Jim for a one on one L-factor navigation session. Everyone thought they would be along shortly. Mike and Shawn’s voices faded.

After a substantial period of time, Eric wandered around the hill. He called and received an answer below and not far away.

"Down here," Mike said. "Be careful, it’s steep!"

Eric descended to where he had heard the voice and Voila! The most incredible and welcome sight greeted his unbelieving eyes. There was Shawn in a beautiful cave stoking a fire. At this moment in time, nothing could have more fired the pleasure senses. Lindsey and Jim would have to be retrieved from the quagmire of the L-zone. As the group communed with the dancing flames of the fire, a soothing warmth took over the minds, bodies and spirits of Bikin' Fools.

For a long period of time, the bikers roasted themselves and their wet cloths around the fire. The cyclists had been outside in cold wet conditions for nearly five hours. As the fire burned, the sense of time evaporated into pleasure. Finally when all was dry and warm, the lunatistas again assembled for the retreat from the deep boondocks. They walked back to the bikes and struggled up the vandalized trail, doing some maintenance along the way. The ridge road was again contacted and the five bikers were able to experience some middle chain ring riding as the dimly lit scenery flashed by.

The descent of over two thousand vertical feet proceeded quickly with only one stop to fix Lindsey’s flat. The moon danced in and out of layers of clouds. The five exited the fog and could see the lights in the valley again. Although being in the soup high in the mountains had the equivalent effect of rain; it only actually started raining as the gaggle proceeded across Rosedale road, only a few minutes from home. It was about three thirty when the Bikin' Fools finally rolled to the finish of this glorious exercise.

The gracious Lady of the Night again provided a forum for the attendees to explore the realm of the unknown, to venture into the shadows of this life and come back to the world with another generous portion of blessing and benediction. The experience would go down in the annals of the lunatistas as a ride of significant experience, a gift from the universe.