Pop’s Wild B-Day ride

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First event of the Brewpub to Brewpub ride.

At the end of the ride, it seemed, Eric would have few if any friends left. Wanting to do something unusual, he suggested the Bothe By-Pass route. This sketchy concept had no credibility with the troops outside of Lindsey and Eric, the only ones to have experienced this “ride”. The route starts at the very highest point of Diamond Mt. and traverses the saddle that connects Spring Mt. and Diamond Mt. along the Napa/Sonoma County line.

On a lark several years ago, Linz and Eric decided to continue uphill on a routine maintenance ride in Bothe Park. As they climbed higher and higher into hills, they began to see that it might be possible to connect to the top of Diamond Mt. Although the time was limited on that fateful day, they managed to thrash and flail their way all the way to the top. It was not easy, but they did find an old trail.

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Riders prepare for their fate

Six volunteers plus Azul chose to partake in the event. The band of riders were able to wrestle Dr. J. away from his important duties at Midnight Door. Linz was on hand to help with the navigation, Shawn was there to question the advisability of the event, Cirrus joined to support his dad’s problematic idea. Morgan would be present to make sure the ride didn’t happen without some weirdness.

Several delays occurred before the ride and allowed the attendees to consume more merriment. Eventually the six riders and Azul made the trek up the long, twisty road that eventually ends at the top of the mountain. After passing through a couple of gates, the riders assembled and began the event. The first part of the ride was on the road. Shortly the route leaves the road and follows a fence line uphill. This part of the event was somewhat nerve wracking due to the close proximity to a house. It was close enough that someone could yell: “YOU THERE!” But it never happened. The group quickly climbed steeply into the woods and out of sight.

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Crew slips into the woods

At the top of the terrain the scouts carefully looked for clues. The woods offered no real significant markers to indicate the area in which they might find the trail. Progress seemed good for a short while. Linz faded slightly left of the somewhat spread out pack. As the riders, now walking, made progress the hill became steeper. So far all were proceeding in the proper direction. As the hill began a steep drop, a few of the riders on the southwest side of the terrain made contact with the trail. Linz and Eric were just a few yards away. Eric decided to ‘angle’ over to the trail, only to find the terrain not cooperating. In what seemed like a bizarre twist of reality, suddenly Eric and Linz were separated from the others. Now deep in buck brush, the visibility was limited to only a few feet and the big picture was not in view.

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Bike toss area

It took nearly a half hour for Eric to extricate himself from the nasty brush. Lindsey’s voice could be heard not far away, yet it would take him another exhausting half hour to make it to the trail where the others were impatiently waiting. It was at this point that Eric looked carefully at the position of the sun. Due to the delay in starting the ride, time was now an important factor. They would have to at least make it to a trail in Bothe by dark to be able to get out of the woods. Otherwise it would be an all nighter if darkness fell upon the bikin’ fools.

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Linz looking like a Chia Pet after harvesting an enormous amout of seeds

Disheveled, covered with seeds from the manzanita, missing a lens from his glasses and having been relieved of his cell phone, Linz finally was able to make steerage along the proper path. The entire group covered the top part of the saddle before they encountered another patch of thick brush. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to get through. Finally the guides decided that a general descent would work to get the troops downhill and into the park. Progress was much easier. For an hour the six worked downhill. At first it was extremely steep. Deep stream ditches provided passage for a while. Then, as the terrain began to level, redwood groves made the transit reasonable.

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The wild ridge with Bothe park in the valley to the left

Knowing that any stream would eventually lead to the Napa Valley, the group trudged downhill. It was also known that the Ritchey Creek trail paralleled their route. Finally at one stream crossing, Eric scouted uphill. It was not far away at all, but it was impossible to see from below. The trail offered the bruised and bleeding adventurers the final solution to this bushwhacking dilemma. Only Azul would emerge unscathed. For him, it was among the easiest bike rides ever due to the exceptionally slow rate of progress. He would pay his dues on the four mile ride on the highway back to town.

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New bike path going to Calistoga

The sun was nearing the horizon as the six riders pedaled back to the Calistoga Inn for long awaited revelry. This was not supposed to be a very serious day. It would take several pitchers of electrolyte therapy to soothe the bodies and spirits. But the moods rebounded with the ferocity of the trip. It was joyful to be alive and not groveling in the dark. Favored bartender Danny worked his magic with food and spirit to seal the day in pleasure and celebration.

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Happy riders at second brewpub

The riders adjourned to Shawn’s place (Cedar St. Brewery) to cap the evening. More beer tasting followed. Tony arrived to help party down the night. By the end of the day, Eric had been the recipient of a monster B-day, a day that spiked sharply upwards on the charts of adventure, friendship, chaos, love and benediction.

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Mostly what the 'ride' looked like        Michael ferrets out a rare schroom            Manzanita blossoms