For several weeks Mike lobbied for the more extensive, semi epic Sugarloaf State Park run, starting from the neighborhood of St. Helena. Both Eric and Shawn had made a couple of lame attempts to consider another venue, namely the Boggs experience. The only possible argument would be the weather. As La Luna would have it, the wet, blustery skies parted and opened center stage for the luminescent Lady of the Night. Six core members reported for duty and were served well.
Jim's new ride
Jim Korte would play a key role in the car shuffle. His new truck, the size of a locomotive would be able to transport the entire show with real seats for everyone. This was a redemption ride for Jim, as he would have to atone for his sin of ditching a previous ride that occurred on some of tonights same territory. Lindsey was fresh off the airplane from Colorado. Michel was champing at the bit to cast aside the constraints of a normal life and pedal as if in fuego to the fuzzy edge of reality as we know it.
The ride started innocently enough on Langtry Rd, just up the hill from St. Helena. The road represented a significant distance toward the goal, however the easiest to ride and navigate. The road was steep. It required some gusto and zero technical skills. Lindsey would have an extra handicap. His aging drive train yielded only one gear that was effectively useable. The group ascended the paved section with the help of one driver who tried to help by providing light with his car. The moon was fully up and yielding plenty of light for this easy stuff, and the car lights actually made matters much worse, though the misguided thought was none-the-less appreciated.
La Luna illuminates the darkness
The ride proceeded rapidly to the next section. A potent downhill, still on pavement. At the ranch house, there was a lower drive that would pass about fifty feet from the house. However, there was a spontaneous bovine flanking event among the crew and the course selected passed virtually across the front porch of the house. A small, punky type dog went momentarily ballistic. The wad of cyclists passed through the yard and beyond the barn. The dog became quiet quickly. Perhaps a canine heart attack. A steep but significant climb took the crew to the top of the ridge. At this point the group tried mercilessly to drag Mike off course. Eric claiming some memory from a daylight passage years earlier, insisted on trying to steer the expedition into deep, dark disaster zones.
Mike pleaded with his most compelling voice; Dudes, theres another road one-hundred yards from here. His plea would go unheeded as the pack worked along the county line at the crest of the ridge dividing Napa and Sonoma Counties. The view was supreme and the light was generous. Eventually the bikers came to a spot that was supposed to be to the left of a peak. What ever. This spot also held the perfect fire pit with a generous supply of perfectly dried, aged oak. Without fire enhancing materials, the crew managed to get a hearty fire blazing within minutes.
Warmth in the remote night time setting
The fire burned hot and produced cooking coals in short order. The evening offering would have been a wash, but Michel saved the fools from total culinary embarrassment with Portabella mushroom au gratin. Otherwise, it was a heap of pork chops that Linz got on special at Cal Mart. It mattered not. The evening was awash in the beauty of the moonscape and attendant stunning views. The energy of the night was heartfelt and deep. Unlike the giddy and frivolous rides on the waxing side of the full moon, this ride seemed sincere, profound and full of life affirming energy. There was never a sense of being lost, just one of being slightly off course. Just like life. We knew the ride would continue towards the promised van. The evenings pyrotechnic offering disappointed no one. Despite a short fuse and low altitude explosion, the impressive temple ball burst into colors high above thousands of potential viewers in valleys below had they been looking our way.
Mike prepares to blow minds, again
The fire was thoroughly doused and the group prepared to move on. After climbing a short hill, Mike once again insisted that the proper road was 100 yards to our left! The choice was made to blaze downhill to the saddle between the peaks. Presto! As if clairvoyant, Mikes prediction of the road came true. The road proceeded to drop a lot of altitude. This was not what the crew was hoping for, since all that height had to be regained towards Bald Mountain.
At one juncture the group gathered as it does frequently to keep it all together. As the entourage began moving again, someone yelled SKUNK! It was too late for Eric. By the time he got the message he was staring directly at the hind quarters of the wood pussy. It did not hesitate to let Eric know he wasnt welcome there. Eric wouldnt be welcome anywhere for the rest of the ride. Frequent comments after this event included; Eric must be getting close. or Erics been here. or Hey Eric, would you mind riding downwind.
After a long and arduous climb the six bikin fools reached the summit of Bald Mountain. It was worth every ounce of energy to get there. The commanding location yields spectacular views in all directions. The sky remained cloudless and the soft light of the moon cast a mystical appearance on all of the landscape below the dazzled riders. This was the top of the ride. Only a couple of minor climbs remained on the descent to the park.
The shuttle awaits to take the lunatistas home
The downhill part of the ride flew past quickly. One section of grapefruit sized rocks made the passage challenging along with several water crossings. Although mostly rideable, everyone ended up with wet feet. It didnt matter at this point. All that was left was a quiet dash down the pavement to the van that Mike had shuffled earlier in the day. The end of the ride had a hint of melancholy. It meant that the fun was drawing to a close. The special gathering had again forded normality, faced some interesting challenges and grew into another unique and great success under the lumens of La Luna.