The Bikin' Fools
Theres got to be a trail!
"Theres got to be a trail over that ridge." Lindsey said with certainty.
"I dont know," Eric replied trying to fend off Lindseys questionable notion, "Its kind of brushy and bushy up there. We could find ourselves thrashing for hours."
Lindsey wasnt convinced. He looked fearlessly at the looming mountains. The two had traveled up to Bear Valley and then to the bottom of the sign post. It was early in the afternoon and time was not a limiting factor. There would be no car shuffle due to the generosity of Randy who delivered the duo to RLS. There was a sense of adventure and excitement in this ride. It started with Randys departure from the parking lot.
"Watch carefully to the left," Eric warned, " Cars sail over the hill and give you very little chance to get out of the parking lot." With that advise in hand, Randy fired up the ancient Chevy pick up, put the diesel in reverse, backed out of the muddy parking lot and positioned himself at the edge of the highway while waiting for the coast to clear. Just when he thought it was OK, a car crested the hill just as he began to move. He stopped and allowed the car to pass then again began to enter the highway. By this time traffic was approaching from the other direction. Randy had plenty of time assuming all went well. However the combination of an empty pick up, lots of diesel torque and mud slicked tires created only slight forward progress as the Chevy strained to gain steerage towards the southbound lane. The engine and tires were doing about thirty five miles per hour but the truck was competing with snails for speed. Finally the tires began to bite and Randy was able to smoke out of the parking lot and into the southbound lane but not before raising the ire of one hapless Cadillac driver who was last seen braking hard and straining to see through the screen of smoke.
The spring day was ideal for mountain bikin. The temperature was in the sixties, the sky offered a montage of delightful clouds and the wild flowers danced in the springtime breezes. Tiny scarlet pimpernels demanded attention and small blue flowers stole the senses to a realm of fantasy. They rode down the Girl Scout drop in. It had been a while since anyone had transited the area. Huge amounts of water from the big storm had washed out many areas. Several trees were down. Yet the passage was swift and uneventful. The ride up Van Ness creek was easy.
There was some discussion of traveling the new Cut Brush trail, however that would put the duo in the area of Creepy Valley and a long haul out to the nearest brew pub (required). At the Signpost Lindsey looked long and hard at the distant ridges. The L-Factor was in high gear. Finally he convinced Eric to take a new route. They continued up the valley towards the mystery trail. At the end of the open areas the two entered the woods and began a mild boony thrash. "I know theres a trail here." Eric said, "I was on it several years ago." Sure enough after several minutes of thrashing in the woods and through thick brush Eric found cut-brush and the trail. The spot was lovely beyond description and demanded an audience with the bikin' fools. It was an ideal spot to take a well deserved break. Sandwiches and one of the large bottles of beer underscored the heightened sense of the moment.
After soaking up the beauty of the spot, the two grunted up hill to the top of the ridge. It was at this point were the trail simply ended. It was possible to access an old, over grown logging road. However that would simply put them back on the Pocai trail. Lindsey wasnt going to be denied his moment of glory.
After searching the impenetrable brush Lindsey simply started downhill. The Oat Hill Mine Road was not far off, yet the terrain was exceptionally inhospitable. Progress slowed to, literally, a crawl. Now the effort was to attempt to get to the most open parts of the thicket. Linz was able to see an opening to the north. It took several minutes of struggling to get to the brush-free area. Once there the route opened up like the parting of the Red Sea. Suddenly the Oat was in view and the path to get there was obvious.
The day continued as one of the most prime of the season. The wild flowers were in full bloom, the sun was bright and the day was simply great. They traveled across the back part of the Oat to the Holmes place. The second planned stop occurred at the Sunset Section of the upper mine road. This west-facing part of the trail offers unparalleled views of the upper Napa Valley and points west. Sensory overload threatened to transport the bikers to Pluto.
The ride finally ended after a routine descent of the mine road. The trail leads directly to the Calistoga Brewery. There the two eased back into civilization with the aid of some nearly black looking, stout beer. The ride was a springtime gift from the universe aided by the glorious day and with help from Randy. Not having to perform a car shuffle at the end of the ride made for a relaxed finish to the day.