As the renegades headed towards Knights valley, the sense of adventure lay pregnant behind the bubbly surface of the bikin’ fools banter. The full moon laid behind the horizon, waiting to illuminate the high times of bikin’ fun that happens after sunset. The crew for this evening’s assault on normalcy would be seven willing participants. Joining the regulars was Lindsey’s friend Jim. Brent made a rare appearance and Korte would be on hand to shred ahead of the elders.

The planned mission for the evening was to place a "Bike Route" sign on the shear face of the concrete, non climbable wall that repaired a slide area along route 128. This action would be the closing act of the effort to navigate from an area near Pine Flat to the bottom of the hill, using the power lines as the basic course line. Eric had flown over the area a week earlier and determined the ride to be doable, with one question; the area of steep, dense boondocks between two towers had no obvious road or trail connecting the high points of terrain. Eric had thought that it looked thrashable, but it remained a serious unknown.

The other unknown was the well-being of Dr. J. He had been reported to be flat on his back with the flu only two days earlier. Yet, when spotted at the hardware store on Wednesday, he had the "moon glow" and uttered enthusiastic words referring to the ‘mission’.

The initial car shuffle was executed and the seven eager bikers drove uphill to the starting point some one thousand vertical feet above the valley floor. Immediately there was a gate to cross. The large "No Trespassing" sign welcomed the crew to this remote and wild area. The initial

climb was moderate and easy. A quick dip gave enough speed to insert the first adrenaline into the system. The alchemy was beginning to happen. The sun was turning bright orange and approaching the horizon. The fools rode to an open area on the ridge that gave views to the east and west.

When the group arrived at the appointed spot, it was clear that Mike was in a world of hurt. We gleaned this notion from his pale color and the motionless horizontal position on the ground. It was early in the event. This situation had an ominous tone.

It was time to breakout the champagne and toast the new year. This ride was occurring just a few hours past the official Winter Solstice and marked the first ride of the next 133 years that would transpire before the earth and moon would again be this close to the sun.

"We toast our honored Lady of the Night, La Luna" Eric said, "The gracious spirit that has given us light, benediction, levity, and the opportunity to slip the bonds of normal consciousness to experience a realm well beyond the ordinary."

"To the Lady of the Night"

"Here, Here" Someone said and the seven bikin’ fools raised their glasses in a toast to this extra special time. Although the toast was to the moon, she had yet to make an appearance. The troupes felt that it was time to move along, to keep making progress towards the giant gap on the map, the L-Factor area. That area which could spell bushwack with a capital B.

In the distance the towers could be seen. There was a set of two towers then a long, long span of power line that sagged across a huge gap in the terrain. The ride continued uphill for another half hour. Much more vertical climbing had to be accomplished than appeared obvious on the topo. Finally, however the seven bikers arrived at the mystery spot. A thorough map session was held to determine the strategy for getting to the next jeep road. A road that existed across the great divide. The discussion was wild and energized. Just when the consensus was made to go down further along the existing route, Eric started to lobby for the direct, point to point course towards the towers looming high on the far hills.

Finally Eric carried the day and the bikers headed into the brush. The bush thickened, the trail narrowed and shortly quit altogether. It was steep downhill and the gnarl-brush was not too tall. Progress was easy for a while. Then things got bad. Bikes had to be held overhead while the intrepid "rider" crashed through the resistant, gnarly bush. Jim Korte was in the lead and managed to pick his way through minor, open spots. Progress continued while the power lines remained overhead. After only a half hour or so, the terrain leveled and it seemed to be equidistant between the two sets of towers on the tops of the gap. It was a miracle. Suddenly without warning the group stumbled upon the road. The big question mark of the ride became moot.

Although it seemed as though the towers on the far side of the gap should have been the high terrain, they weren’t. Once the high ground was made, another higher knoll came into sight. More climbing had to be accomplished before it was "all downhill." However, the bikes could now be used for their intended purpose; to be ridden. Several more map sessions were held. All was proceeding according to the plan. The next set of position identifiers came and went.

Brent – In Deep

Now, well into the evening the temperature was astoundingly mild. It was nearly ideal biking conditions. The brightest moon in 133 years stood overhead providing a great amount of light for navigation and for experiencing the special quality of being outside at night. The weather had been clear and warm for the entire week, unusual for late December. The ground was almost dry. There was no mud and no dust. Once again the bikin’ Gods had conspired to offer the fools another ideal, spectacular setting for this month’s contribution to moonlight madness.

Dr. J’s trend towards dying had mysteriously reversed. Now he was in good form, grinning and enjoying life. Jim the rookie, blended in like a veteran. He was obviously enjoying this departure from standardized life. This mountain bike experience seemed to fit him well. He displayed credible burlyness by pedaling his fifty pound ‘Y’ (why?) bike with apparent ease all evening. Brent cruised the hardtail as if he had been in training all along.

Several gates appeared and were climbed. On two different occasions, wrong choices were made, but quickly rectified. One required a painful, but short retreat back up a steep hill. The other ‘bad choice’ was made in an attempt to avoid the Basque sheepherder’s place. But the crew decided the proper route was past the trailer. The trailer, it turned out was not inhabited.

This special millennium event wouldn’t be complete without a bovine flanking maneuver. One could tell that the arbitrary millennium meant about as much to the bovines as it did to the bikin’ fools. The bovines ran with the bikers for a short period of time. When the bikers stopped for a map check, the cows stood idly by seemingly enjoying the company. In fact they were having such a good time, two bovines started screwing maneuvers.

Several more map checks came in quick succession as the bottom approached. Finally, it was deemed time to bail off the jeep road and boony thrash

Linz sawing logs

towards repair section at highway 128. After a short but relatively easy thrash though the woods, Eureka! The goal appeared as if by magic. Somehow the vineyards that Eric had seen from the airplane never materialized. The bikin’ fools must have skirted their edge. At one point a modern, recently graded supply road appeared. Followed in the opposite direction the road may have led to grape city; another infusion of boring, ecologically inappropriate monoculture.

Mike and Shawn prepared for the mission. Jim Korte was the first to rappel down the steep face of the artificial rock. Then Mike and Shawn set about to perform the task of placing the "Bike Route" sign on the wall. They tried for 45 minutes to get explosive nails to work. Several shots were fired while the two hung precariously fifty feet above the ground. Trying to maneuver in a climbing harness is exceptionally hard work. Ultimately the technology failed to deliver results and the mission was scrubbed. Mike and Shawn rappelled the rest of the way down, collected their gear and the rest was history.

The only thing left was the lengthy car shuffle. Both Mike and Lindsey’s car had to be retrieved. While five bodies rode in Jim’s van, Eric pedaled towards Calistoga, about a half hour after Jim Korte had disappeared. It was assumed that he had headed towards town also.

The riders convened at Mike’s house to download their experiences. In rapid succession the tales of the evening bounced back and forth. Again it was

agreed that the evening was another

escape from the confines of run-of-the-mill living. It seems amazing that most people in this society would choose to spend their time in front of a TV without as much as looking out the door to see the glorious scene created by an extra bright, clear solstice evening. As the evening finally drew to a close, the bottom bracket of memory in the bikin’ fools had gained another notable notch of excellent experience.

What are those guys doing up there?