The Bikin' Fools
A good window of opportunity occurred on Friday the 12th of May for the Bikin' Fools to carry out another mission of mountain bikin fun.
"Hello," Eric said as he picked up the phone.
"Its Linz," the voice said, "I was thinking about trying to get a bike ride in this afternoon.
"Sounds great," Eric said, "I was looking to do something myself. Do you have anything in mind?"
"Ah, not sure, Im up for anything." Linz said casually. "We could do the Middletown thing."
"How about driving to Angwin and riding the ridge?" Eric suggested.
"That sounds good." Lindsey replied.
So it was set. The car shuffle to Angwin wouldnt be as lengthy as the trip over the mountain to Middletown. The two had inadvertently ridden to Angwin a couple of months previous. On that ride they had intended to take the Bell Canyon turnoff but managed to miss the turn and ended up in Angwin, much further down the trail. So it seemed that the ride was still somewhat fresh in the minds of the duo and navigation should be easy.
The two drove to Angwin and parked Lindseys truck on Buckeye Lane. This area is beginning to get off the beaten path and as such they were slightly worried about getting busted. Their worry was only a premonition of things to come. As they proceeded up the road, it didnt seem quite as familiar. None the less, they eventually came to the gate that they had clambered over on the other outing. The gate was adorned with fresh new, bright yellow "NO TRESPASSING" signs. In addition there was a mailbox hung on the gate.
"Humm," Eric mumbled, "This is different."
"I dont remember all of these truck tracks." Lindsey said, commenting on the obvious tracks that had not existed before.
As the two proceeded, the terrain seemed less and less familiar. On the earlier ride it was getting dark as they finished the ride, consequently the terrain wasnt clearly seen. The dirt road climbed steeply up the hill. At one point there appeared a cut in the hills going at right angles to the road. The cut looked very much like an old rail bed. For what ever reason Linz and Eric decided to checkout the route. It seemed to go in the proper direction and was, for the most part, rideable. They pedaled for a mile or so on the near level roadbed.
"Well," Eric said, "If this thing doesnt go where we want, we might consider doing a hike-a-bike up to the top of the terrain where we know a trail exists."
The concept of knowing has gotten the Bikin' Fools in trouble before. This cut through the hills was pleasant and groovy. It was slightly overgrown, but there appeared to be old bike (or motorcycle) tracks in the vegetation. Finally, the alternative route came to a dirt road. It was clearly the same road that the two had started out on. Humm. As the two scratched their heads trying to figure out why things didnt look familiar, Lindsey discovered that his rear tire was going flat. There was a pond nearby with a path that proceeded past a gate next to the road.
"Ive got a spare tube." Eric said as the two began to fix the flat in the middle of the road.
A sound was heard in the distance. "Is that a car coming?" Linz said slightly startled.
Eric paused and listened. "No, its an airplane from the Angwin airport, I think." Sure enough a little plane appeared in the distant sky and the two returned to the task of fixing the tire. Suddenly Lindsey jumped up. "There is a car coming!"
Sure enough a vehicle was approaching. The two grabbed their bikes and quickly attempted to get through the gate. As one might expect, they managed to jam each other and get stuck. After what seemed like an eternity, the bumbling duo got most of their scene through the narrow passage. However Eric managed to leave his pack right next to the road. It was uncertain whether approaching party had seen the two scrambling to get out of sight, but there was no question that they saw Erics pack sitting next to the road. The van slowed, passed by then stopped and backed up. Eric and Linz huddled behind the bushes for a moment. It was obvious that they were busted. Eric came out of the bushes to make sure they didnt take his pack.
"You there!" was the sound of a familiar refrain from authority to the Bikin' Fools. The van contained three people, an adult and two kids. The adult proclaimed first off; "This is private property."
"Gosh," Eric stuttered, "Is this the Duff property?" Knowing full well that it wasnt, but hoping to appear genuinely lost. A bright yellow no trespassing sign, like the one on the gate, was in his front window.
Lužs proceeded to lecture Linz and Eric on the fact that his neighbors (the hunting camp) were not so friendly and carried huge arsenals of firearms. He mentioned that he would be living out there for the next year on a full time basis, in a tent. Humm. He appeared to be from New York, judging from the license on the van. This opened the door for much speculation as to what he might be doing in the boonies for the next growing season. At any rate, Lužs was mellow and eventually drove off. The intrepid duo finished fixing Linzs flat and got back to being lost.
The road did not have the familiar appearance that they anticipated. However when they arrived at the hunting camp, it seemed very familiar. Yet the road seemed to dead end there. After much searching and covering the entire camp with bike tracks (the hunters will love that) Eric and Linz finally found a road leading uphill on the other side of the pond. This seemed even less familiar but was proceeding in the proper direction. Other road cuts could be seen in the higher terrain leading the direction-challenged bikers towards more confusion.
Eventually the road reached the ridge and headed northwest, the desired direction. The two proceeded for several miles on the backside of the Napa Valley. The correct route should have had a view of the valley for most of the ride. As several choices appeared, the two continued to make progress towards Machupicchu. Still the road that they were on did not go over the top of the terrain but behind the tall hill. There was a turn going in the wrong direction that probably connected with the desired route.
It mattered not. The day was a magnificent offering for mountain bike riding. The sky was partially overcast and the temperature was mild. Recent rains had settled dust making the surface ideal. The air was crystal clear and refreshing. Birds sung in the bush and raptors soared in the sky above. Tracks in mud indicated that a large bear had recently been around. Even though a bulldozer had been through the area recently, it was still very remote. It was surprising that anyone had bothered to run a machine way up there.
Soon Shawns Inn was at hand. Then the jeep road headed sharply downhill towards Pope Valley while the ridge trail headed off into the brush. The footpath continued for a mile or so before contacting another jeep road. At that point Linz and Eric tried to make a decision about how to return to Calistoga.
"We could take the Pickett turnoff," Eric suggested.
"That would probably be OK." Linz replied.
They continued along the ridge for several miles. A long descent put them in the neighborhood of the Pickett turn. Finally they arrived at the junction.
"Well, we could go on over to Oat Hill." Eric suggested, "Or just bail out here."
"There is somewhat of a time thing." Linz said.
"OK, thats fine with me." Eric replied.
They both stood and stared at the Pickett option for several moments. Then, slowly, they started down the road.
"Wait!" Lindsey exclaimed, "This doesnt feel right."
"Whaddya think?" Eric asked. "You know, we could jet over to the Holmes Place and hike the Palisades trail to Lasky point?"
"Yea, I think that sounds better." Linz said.
So the bikers turned around and headed towards the Oat Hill Mine road. In about ten minutes they arrived at the Holmes Place. A few minutes later they were established on the Palisades Trail headed for Lasky Point. The scenery was worth the extra effort. The fading sun produced a skyscape that worth every wheezing breath to get there. The trail was just slightly longer than the two had remembered, but there was still plenty of daylight.
After a brisk run across the hills below the Palisades, the trail to Palisades road appeared. This bailout allows a quick descent into the valley on a very pleasant jeep road. It was only a matter of minutes when the two contacted Highway 29 and the last stretch of road between great fun and beer. Lindsey, now in smelling distance of the Napa Valley Brewing Co., set a pace that would have challenged Greg Lemond.
The beer and munchies that followed capped a day of outrageous fun. What should have been a simple romp turned into a notable adventure. There was compound L-Factor (Lost, Loony, Lindsey and today; Lužs) After sating the senses, the two set about to perform the car shuffle. It was a fun great outing, a ride of significant experience. (R.O.S.E.) The two would be left with the question of how to bypass Lužs. Future adventure awaits the return of the Bikin' Fools.