The Trial of the Century


Judge Davis presides over a Unanimous Jury

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The Lunatistas come out in the fading light of day

The May Moonride was a magnificent marauding of mountain bikin’ madness. Nine Lunatistas ventured into new territory, new levels of splendor and new levels of near disaster. The ride was the Judge Davis trail to a Cache Creek crossing then the Redbud Trail to other water crossings, all in the Cache Creek Wilderness Area.

Sebastian again made the marathon trek from Portland to add his personal touch of a near death experience to the effort. M.I.A. rider and Tour de France contender Ryan Gracy warmed up for the epic event by riding 18 tough, off road miles from Calistoga to Middletown. Shawn and Lindsey showed up hours early to fine tune the atmosphere for the rest of the riders. Sean (Large) took maternity leave to attend this questionable event. Michel motored hard from Berkeley to be on time, only to have to wait while Mike prepared the van for another cartage of bodies way beyond the CHP protocol. Eric and Austin waited in Middletown for the gang to assemble.

It was originally hoped that the ride would begin in the daylight. The first part of the ride contains a 400 foot vertical climb, then the route plummets for six miles and 1500 vertical feet to the floor of the Cache Creek basin deep in the wilderness area. However, the usual delays put the riders at the top of the terrain just as the sun set. The view from the top was spectacular beyond description. Hundreds of square miles of Northern California mountains could be seen in the fading pastel light of the warm, clear evening. Although a daylight descent would have been thrilling, the timing was perfect. The trail was in good shape and the Lunatistas quickly processed the downhill section. The trail followed the spine of the undulating ridge. It occasionally rose slightly then dropped towards again providing a rousing passage.

Lindsey again rode the Huffy to glory. This would be the third moonride on the underrated machine in which both rider and bike seemed to gain unprecedented speed and deft. At the halfway point on the descent, George Washington experienced a cerebral thrombosis, resulting in a flat tire. The problem was in the dollar bill that Linz had previously used to cover a hole in the sidewall of the rear tire. The bill had lasted a ride and a half prompting Linz to use a five dollar bill this time. It worked. The tire lasted the whole ride.

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George takes a hit

After the short and pleasant delay the riders again filed down the long Judge Davis trail. The vegetation began to change as the altitude lowered. The troupe entered woods and the jeep road yielded to a single track which switched back and forth on the steep shoulder of the hill that joined the creek drainage. The riders poured into the valley floor and proceeded to the previously scouted crossing area. The lunatistas stripped down to their shirts and ‘mooned’ their way across the shimmering and swift moving water of Cache Creek. The depth was about knee high and did not resist passage.

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Moonin' Mondudes cross the Great Water

Once established on the further shore, the group set about gathering wood for the evening’s dinner offering. There was great concern about the very dry conditions. The location selected for the conflagration was right next to the creek on a wide bar of rocks and sand. The wind cooperated by being virtually still, drifting just slightly towards the water. The wood was so dry that once ignited, it burst into a raging fire that danced in the moonlit sky. The bikers reveled in the moment, ate copious amounts of delicious food and communed with the spirit of the flame under the bright shining light of the full moon. Cache Creek sang softly in the background.

There was mild L-Factor as the squad entered into Wilson Valley. The trail was overgrown and hard to find. Areas of large bunch grass made for slow passage until enough game trails conspired to allow the riders to gain steerage towards the promised route. As the riders proceeded the way seemed sketchy. At one point Eric and Ryan ventured off from the main body of the squad looking for the way. Suddenly they could no longer hear the others. Did they go uphill? Where are they? Several minutes of whistles and hoots followed until the signals were finally returned. From that point the trail was established and would be easily followed for the rest of the ride.

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Ryan, the perfect body, before the wreck

After a minor creek crossing, the trail began a significant climb out of the Wilson Valley. As it neared the plateau over looking the river, the backside of the hill dropped precipitously towards the creek that had just been crossed. The group jetted across the plateau, made the turn towards the North Fork and proceeded to the high meadow. After a short break, the nine riders continued. Eric and Ryan were the last to leave. As they began to ride, Ryan drove into black hole and was sucked to the earth so fast that he never had a chance to react. The resulting stack was ugly. He avoided serious injury by taking most of the blow on his chin. Bloodied, dazed and seeing stars, Ryan was forced to do the G.I. Joe thing and tough out the rest of the ride while his body began to revolt.

It would be Sebastian’s turn to thrill the troupes with his rendition of dancing on the edge of disaster. When the group arrived at the second Cache Creek crossing, Eric made a dash across the water to get in a position to take photos of the lunatistas in hike-a-bike, water crossing mode. Unfortunately he took a marginally successful route that teetered on the edge of deep, swift moving water. Only Mike was clever enough to take a wider arc through less deep water, avoiding the anxious, tense moments that the others experienced. Austin was the first to shore making the passage with some difficulty but never in trouble. Eric struggle to keep his wallet above water, thinking it would only be knee deep. But at the other side a deep channel defied easy passage. Although Eric did keep the wallet mostly dry, it was not easy. Others followed with varying degrees of success. Linz and Shawn got tangled together in the fast current nearly taking each other out. Sean proceeded well until the last few feet when he made a spectacular dyno move to the shore. Michel looked nervous at the start for good reason. He would drift slightly further downstream into even deeper and faster water. His face showed no pleasure as he struggled to keep from getting washed into the turbulent rapids.

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              Linz totally unflappable while Michel gets washed away                                                          Sean dyno's out of the current

Everyone except Sebastian stood on the shore. He took an unusual length of time to get ready. Perhaps he wanted to be sure everyone was watching. Among others, he made the mistake of trying the passage without shoes. This caused very unsure footing. As he began his attempt, others on the shore shouted encouragement. He heard voices clearly telling him to “Go Downstream”. In fact the voices were trying to tell him to “do not Go Downstream.” He slowly made his way across the river. The water became deeper and he began to have trouble with his balance on the rocky river bottom. At one point his bike began to drag in the water. His footing became less steady. HE WENT DOWN! Suddenly big trouble loomed. The fast moving water threatened to carry him into the rapids just downstream. Austin and Mike immediately jumped into the swift river to help. They were able to grab Sebastian but the huge forces of the water threatened to pull the three into the current. Austin was able to grab onto vegetation with one hand and Mike’s jersey with the other. Mike held onto the bike while Sebastian gripped the seat with his fingernails. Moments of drama ensued while Sebastian struggled to get footing in the powerful water. Finally he was able to get traction, let go of the bike and struggled to the shore.

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Sebastian's life slips away

There was a sense of huge relief when Sebastian finally made landfall. The tense moments highlighted the fine line between serene pleasure in a phenomenal setting and the dark grip of death and mayhem that lurks just beyond adventure zone. It was an opportunity to celebrate being alive and taking stock of the treasure of this life. Sebastian would return to his wife and babies and the rest of the crew would be a little less complacent.

The riders again gathered for the final climb up the Redbud Trail. The single track is exceptionally smooth and accommodating. The climb yielded spectacular views and finally topped out. The downhill was swift and uneventful. The riders ended the glorious evening at the parking lot where Sean’s truck was parked for the car shuffle. While Mike and Sean retrieved the van, the others huddled in dazed pleasure except Ryan whose face was examined more closely. Nobody wanted to look before. Now that the crew was at a place where an ambulance could get to, it seemed OK to check the lad out. He had to ride the last part of the event in pain and seeing stars. He mentioned a headache that worried Eric. Concussions are no fun. His powerful, young body would recover.

The ride contained more joy than most experience in a lifetime. With the exception of Sebastian and Ryan’s dilemmas, the ride was a huge success. The weather was unusually warm, the moon was high and the riders tapped into the magic that exists when one is willing to go beyond the normal constraints of living and ride into the unknown. The verdict is in. The Jury finds the Bikin’ Fools to be utterly innocent and guilty only of sharing great wealth with each other.

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The Lunatistas cross over