The Bikin' Fools
Towards the end of January, 02 the mild days of winter lost their grip on Northern California. A series of arctic storms descended upon the state with a fury not seen in decades. The biggest storm of the series would directly collide with the full moon, creating the scene for yet another outrageous Bikin Fools event.
Four moonriders volunteered to take the sense of adventure into a winter wonderland, replete with a generous offering of several inches of snow. The stormy skies would miraculously part and allow the full, rotund moon to beam brightly through the cold arctic air to provide a luminous passage for the crew. Present for this dont-try-this-at-home ride were Shawn, Sean, Michael and Lindsey. The mission was to find the holy hot waters again. The ride was originally slated to start at the helicopter pad on Boggs Mt., but the road was simply snowed shut. The four slipped and slid as far as they could possibly get the Nissan to go. Finally when the car would only go backwards in any of the forward gears, it was time to ride the rest of the way.
The climb up Gifford Springs road is steep and exceptionally taxing under the best of circumstances. At night, on a two inch sheet of hard packed snow (ice), riding passed the difficult mode and into the fuzzy, out-there zone where the slightest errant move resulted in negative progress. Two much pressure on the pedals caused the tire to spin uselessly. Too little pressure on the pedals caused nothing to happen at all. Sean became curious about the nature of riding downhill. On his one and only try, he quickly discovered that turning the handlebars only caused a sliding crash, spectacular, but not fruitful.
The climb on the paved road eventually yields to a dirt road. First one must navigate the puddle challenge. This unique feature consists of a series of mud puddles that span the entire width of the road. There are only a few inches of navigable mud on the edges of the puddle to ride. The road is bordered by thick brush creating a high likelihood of snagging the handlebars and causing the rider to do a back plant into the water.
The trail begins another tough climb after the water course. By now the riders were hot and sweating despite temperatures in the low twenties. This makes for a hard transition to times of rest. As the body quiets down its temperature plummets. The breaks were relatively short. There would be no roaring campfire, just a stop to eat some food, then press on towards the inviting, warm waters that were waiting to reward the daring advenurers.
Low technology turned out to be boon for Michael. His retro toe clips did not ice up as did the cleated pedals. The others had to deal with pedal issues for much of the ride. The approved method to stop was to lean on a tree and not dab on the ground. Mt. bikes deal well with a variety of conditions. Snow isnt one of them. For those not sporting disk brakes, the notion of stopping had to be reworked. The brake levers were in name only. They did not serve to slow the bike.
As the descent began, there was some question of whether or not to do the chutes. Those in favor won the day. This route would take considerably longer, but would cover some of the sweetest single track known to mt. biking. Incredibly, someone had driven a vehicle through the snow as far as the chutes. The trail is badly washed out and is difficult to transit on a mountain bike. Finally past the chutes, the single track led the bikers through a magnificent winter landscape. The moon was intensely bright in the cold, cold air. The sky was festooned with frozen vapors that danced around the moon.
The final part of the ride is a tedious trek through dense, small trees on a steep hill. The path is stepped and rutted. It is mostly impossible to ride. Add snow. Yet Shawn was able clean most everything. He carried with him a secret, mystical item given to him by a sister of La Luna. It provided safe passage in the face of great danger.
One by one the riders picked their way down the steep mountain. They had at last arrived and could finally bathe in the sense of having been delivered from the teetering brink of high drama in one piece. The warm waters felt especially soothing on this frigid January night. This ride stands out as a most unique and memorable event. It was no coincidence that the spike on the weather map exactly matched the spike on the monthly chart of the Bikin Fools adventures.