The Bikin' Fools
St. Helen Shortcut
Jim K., Shawn, Mike, Eric, Austin and Belle undertook the task of the September Moonride. The classic St. Helena Downhill was selected as the route to moonlight madness for September. This was Belles second moonride. Her deft and skill on the 1st August Moonride endeared her to the bikin crew. Eric and Austin motored from M-town while Mike and Shawn appeared from the Calistoga side of the mountain. Jim Korte appeared from nowhere.
The moon was well into the sky as the enthusiastic group began the pedal up the dark wooded path that leads to the RLS memorial site. From there the six proceeded across Silver St., stealthily past the ranger resident and out towards Turks Head. The night was ideal. It was warm and only partly cloudy. The moonbeams were strong and vibrant.
The ride proceeded normally. A break was taken at the drop-in to the grassy knoll. This pause allowed the riders to bask in the beauty of the moon zone and allowed Belle to get a decent drink of water and munch on dog treats. Although she has become quick and here endurance has improved, she still isnt too hip on hydration and carbo loading. She recently learned that trail mix is better than nothing.
After the steep drop in, the crew proceeded along the death defying side hill. However, at a point that looks straight downhill towards the reservoir, the crew discussed the possibility of taking a different route. Instead of the dark woods, it was reasoned, the squad could take a more-or-less straight line to the road below. That was the good news. The not-so-good news came at the creek crossing.
The descent across the grassy hills is just steep enough to be able to ride. It is a slow ride as one tries to not go over the handlebars. At a couple of spots, one must traverse to dodge big rocks and small cliffs. Theses slopes are open and directly face the moon, yielding nearly perfect moonlight conditions.
The crew arrived at the bottom. The next task was to get across the streambed. It should have been easy, but unfortunately there was much growth and steep banks lining the drainage. Shawn and Jim ducked into the bushes proclaiming to have found a way. Austin and Eric waited and listened to the sounds of the two as they proceeded downhill. The sounds of bush whacking followed. A lot of noise seemed to yield little progress. Meanwhile Mike insisted that the trail was below. He headed off and disappeared into the woods at another point near the streambed. Austin and Eric decided they didnt like what they were hearing from Jim and Shawn and went in the direction that Mike had gone.
Shawn and Jim were the first to reach the road. Eric and Austin were able to find a reasonably easy crossing and joined the two. Mike could be heard, still in the woods somewhere below the rest. After a few orienting shouts the crew reassembled for the routine ride down the established ranch road. It took a relatively short time for the five riders and Belle to pedal to Haney Flats. A discussion ensued. Spillway or not? There was some interest in ending the venture, but also the argument was made for the spillway. After all, how many chances does one get to schuss down Lake Guisolofos overflow. The left turn was made and the wheels rolled down the cow pocked road to the lower areas in the foothills of Mt. St. Helena. After a short dash and a left turn that Shawn and Jim missed the dam came into view.
Austin was the only one of the three who hadnt dropped the twelve foot high quarter pipe. It had been a while for Mike and Eric. All three took note of elevated adrenalin activity as they stood at the top of the dam. One by one the three dropped over the lip and rocketed to glory. After the initial drop, the spillway again drops towards a giant rock pile fifty yards downstream. The green, slick, organic matter that carpeted the concrete made for sketchy riding a potential nightmare if one couldnt stop by the end of the concrete.
All went according to Moonlight Madness Serendipity. Shawn and Jim were waiting at the lower gate. Mike pedaled with vigor for the van while Eric, Austin , Shawn and Belle (now wasted) waited along Bennett for the retrieve and shuffle to the cars at RLS. Another quality outing was made available for the fools by the gracious Lady of the Night. Her lumens once again shed grace and glory upon a few hapless souls who were lucky enough to have this beautiful experience.