The Bikin' Fools
June 2000 Moonride
"I cannot see zee trail," Antoine reported in his thick French accent "Everything eez a blur!"
The June 2000 Moonride was off to a questionable start. Erics boat tried its best to sink. Both Boatin Bob and Captain McNab would not make it to the lake. Mike had to make last minute, heroic repairs to the ignition system to get his mahogany Chris Craft to Lake Sonoma. There would be only one boat to shuttle everything and everyone to and from the campsite.
This ride was unusual with regard to the timing of the event. Nearly always, the Bikin' Fools try to time the rides to occur on the waxing side of the moon cycle. The energy is vastly different and the light is more generous. The moon had reached her peak at 3:27 that afternoon.
Morgan and Azule would make the trek from Lake Tahoe to be involved in the event along with the usual suspects Shawn, Mike, Jim Korte and Eric. Michel and his friend Antoine made the trip from Berkeley to be in attendance.
Jim Korte practicing a dismount
Mike and Teresa boated to the campground to deliver supplies while the others assembled and made the last minute preparations. When they returned, Teresa took the boat and Suzanne back to the camp. The ride started at the marina and proceeded on some of the nicest single track in the West. The ride was mostly on the south side of the lake, on a north-facing trail. This meant that the moon would spend time behind hills and trees.
Antoine was the rookie. He had never ventured out on the mountain bike with only La Luna lighting the way. The rays of the moon are soft. Things hide in the shadows. Once off the pavement and established on the trail, it became obvious as it got darker that Antoine was having serious difficulty. "It ezz all a blur " The sun had long since faded, the moon was not yet up and the only light left was afterglow from the western sky. It was a lovely time of the evening. Boats could be heard and their lights occasionally seen on the lake, revelers could be heard in full party mode.
Antoine and Morgan
It was dark. Way dark! While the other experienced Bikin' Fools made steerage towards Island View, Antoine became slower and slower. Mike stayed back with him. He could be heard counseling the Frenchman; "Just try to sense where the path is and listen to the sound that the wheel makes. You can hear when it leaves the sweet spot of the path."
"But," Antoine protested, "I cannot tell where the path is, Im blind!"
"Blind is OK," Mike said, "Just feel the path."
Antoine progressed at a snails pace. Jim and Morgan were way out in front blazing across the trail. The others were somewhere in between. The conditions were nearly perfect. The temperature was in the low sixties and the trail was in premier condition. The moon would not show for an hour or so even though it had officially risen. The steep hills kept the bikers in the dark.
It is a unique situation. The visual cues that one normally uses simply dont exist. One relies on other senses. It takes great courage to ride into the void. Often the very weak, peripheral cues vanish and one can only continue by letting go of the will to control. In total passivity, frequently the trail continues. It must be noted that speeds in these conditions are relatively slow. Fear is the greatest danger. It hangs on the rider like an anchor. In this milieu, the mind is overridden by the task at hand. It causes cessation of the mental white noise that is companion to modern man. In this regard, one approaches the glorious phenomenon of being here/now, even though it isnt recognized as such. It is recognized as a bitchin, great time.
For a while Michel kept company with Antoine, who still struggled to find the trail. The other riders had stopped to wait for the entire gaggle to arrive. A light could be seen stabbing the ground through the trees.
"Hey," Lindsey said, "No lights!"
"But I cannot see." Antoine protested.
"Dont worry," Mike said, "We wont ditch you. We will wait. Just try to relax."
The entourage continued. Of the fourteen miles, the Bikin' Fools had completed about two. At this rate, arrival at the campground would occur near sunrise.
As the train rounded the southwest corner of the lake, the moonlight improved. Morgan, Jim and Azule remained as the lead group. They shredded the trail with great speed and youthful abandon. They represented the other end of the scale that Antoine was struggling with. Antoine was starting to move a little better. In the bright moonlight he sped across the earth easily keeping up with the rest. In the shadows he became more relaxed and his speed continued to increase.
The trail was ideal; the surface was utterly smooth, leading one to sail at great rates. However, as with life itself, there were just enough hidden rocks and big sticks to keep one from getting entirely complacent. Just about the time that one began to think they had it made, a reminder of the dark side of cycling would happen. In addition to the occasional hazard, there were many miles on very steep slopes where a highside would send the intrepid biker many yards downhill. Shawn exercised this option twice. On one occasion Eric heard a noise in the woods far below the trail. Was it a critter? No! It was Shawn extracting himself from a wild, over-the-hill excursion.
As the mileage began to rack up, Antoine became faster and faster. Now he declared; "Zees is great, Im having fun now." Antoines new found joy was contagious. The others had been concerned that this trip might turn into a bummer. The energy of the moonrides historically has always been accommodating, joyful and rewarding. This one would be no exception. Despite the difficulties at the beginning, once on the trail the benediction of the full moon reigned upon the participants.
Left to right; Antoine, Michel, Mike, Shawn, Morgan, Jim
The Lake Loop has a few special sections. One such treat is where the trail enters the redwoods. There is a special grove with a pristine stream flowing through. The trail descends through a series of delightful switchbacks before crossing the stream, then ascends up the other side through fern lined woods. The atmosphere is wholly different in the redwoods. The air is laden with the fresh sent of pine and fern. With the overlay of bikin fun, this area of the ride imprints heavily upon the mind. It is an experience that lingers in the mental zone on par with rapture.
The ride was dreamlike; the sense that time stood still while the Fools soaked up a massive dose of sheer enjoyment. The mountain bike provides a vehicle to another place, not only mind and body, but in spirit also. The combination of ingredients created an alchemy that flooded the senses and left the Bikin' Fools, once again, boggled at the top end of the funnometer.
Somewhere around midnight and all too soon, the turn to Black Mountain camp appeared. The seven participants filed out of the woods and into the camp. Teresa and Suzanne, who had ferried the boat back from the beginning of the ride, had a campfire burning, food ready and made sure that the raccoons didnt drink all of the beer. Steaks and potatoes were placed on the grill. Michel and Antoine had brought a huge container of pasta. All that was left was to eat, drink and maintain merriment. It was not difficult.
The moon sparkled on the lake in the early hours of the morning as the non-camping contingent prepared to depart. Mike carefully loaded three bikes on the Chris Craft. Eric, Michel, Antoine and Suzanne began the putt back to the dock. Misty vapors rose off the water. Thick fog quickly rolled in obscuring the moon. Although there was plenty of light to navigate, the environment became surrealistic in the wispy vapors. It was totally unique. One had a sense of being in another world as the vintage boat plied the mysterious, blurry waters.
Finally in the wee hours of the morning, the adventure drew to a close. It had been a classic moonride in its own unique way. The seven riders and Azule had their souls refreshed and topped off with glorious, life affirming energy and had slipped the surly bonds of normal existence for a few precious hours.