The Bikin' Fools

where are we going?

It was an auspicious start to the month of February. It is the birthday month for Eric and this day was the new moon.

"Where are we going?"

"Dunno, how about going out the county line to Pine Flats"

"Sounds good."

"What about the car shuffle?"

"If we drop past Ingles Bluff, we could ride back to town."

There was some lack of determined purpose in the choice of this ride. So when Jim Korte showed up for the event further discussion followed. All three riders wanted to go on an epic event. Navigation Specialist Shawn Seidel seamlessly constructed an alternative that would provide a sensational day for the bikin' fools. The plan would require a car shuffle, but a minor one. It would encompass some of the best of the known territory and would include an exciting new option.

The three piled into Eric’s Toyota truck and drove to the alternate parking at RLS. On the south side of the park, they poached the access road and proceeded towards Table Rock. This would avoid the ‘hot’ area of the Livermore property. A recent bust had put the riders on notice that the main drag through Montesol was not a good idea. The Girl Scout loop was now in code yellow status pending further permission from the powers that control that access to the back country.

The weather was in the high-perfect range. Recent atmospheric funk had been blown out of the sky with cold, clear northerly winds. The air was chilly and the wind was brisk on the ridge above the Napa Valley. The visibility was CAVU (Clear Above Visibility Unlimited). The riders proceeded up the challenging climbs along the ridge then dropped into the very technically challenging area before the Wild Lilac Trail. The giant steps at the bottom provided a wild ride for Jim and Shawn. All made it to the bottom without dings or broken bikes.

Once on the Wild Lilac Trail, the vista opened significantly. The sparkling, clear air allowed unrestricted views all the way to the ocean. The trail was soft and partially rideable. Several sections of hike-a-bike put the riders at the top of the pass. The descent was quick and easy, part riding and part hiking. Both Jim and Shawn were able to ride the last death defying drop to Van Ness Creek where the jeep road departs for Bear Valley.

Shortly up the road, a fallen branch blocked the way. Shawn was in the lead and cautioned Jim and Eric to be careful crossing the obstacle. This didn’t make any sense. There was nothing apparently dangerous. But upon close inspection, the three riders viewed a scene that made the day. Tens of thousands of Lady Bugs festooned the branch. They covered the foliage in thick mats. They were engaged in an orgy of springtime fertility. They freely mated with others and hung out in a festival of life. It was a daunting, beautiful sight. The scene stood in stark contrast to the vile and life destroying actions of humankind. The message "Make Love Not War" was stunningly impressed upon the bikin' fools. These small creatures spoke great volumes of a higher existence.

The ride to Pocai camp was routine and easy. At the camp, Jim and Shawn ate lunch while Eric performed some minor trail maintenance. They proceeded after the short break to Cougar Pass and down to the Oat Hill Mine Road. The day continued to offer scintillating joy and benediction for nothing more than being present in the out-of-doors. The two and a half miles to the Holmes Place was a hard workout. There are a few places where the passages is swift and easy, but for the most part it requires hard work and close technical attention. At the Holmes Place the trio departed the mine road and proceeded on the Pickett Loop. At the top of the initial climb, a rider was seen ahead of us descending the treacherous, rutted downhill section.

At the Dutch Henry Junction Shawn’s plan began to pay huge dividends even though there was mention of taking the direct beer route to town. The three climbed the short hill to the top of the ridge. There they took the ridge option and proceeded along the flank of the hill until the road dropped precipitously towards the valley. At that point Shawn remembered that we had to stay on the crest of the ridge. Shortly the Indian Path was located. It was partially rideable and took the trio across the top of the hill until it intersected with the southern Dutch Henry connection.

At this point the three abandoned the bikes and hiked out to the face of the mountain. This is a very popular spot for Ravens. They can be seen on most days hovering and frolicking about the high rocks that jut off the end of the mountain. The rocks sit perch-like with perhaps, the most generous view available to the upper Napa Valley. Below the vineyards stood in fields of green as the winter grasses and mustard were basking in the bright winter sun. A stone structure indicated activity of a bygone era. Who made it? And for what reason? It would remain for now a mystery. Yet one had the sense that others had frequented this spot. It was very likely a popular place for many millennium. The Ravens seem to like it.

The drop to Dutch Henry contained some nervousness about encountering a possible home site that may have been built since the Glow Worm Ride many years ago. There was none. The ride down the pavement was a pure adrenaline rush. The smooth, clean pavement allowed warp speeds. The knobbies sang the Hallelujah chorus as the riders jetted downhill. Suddenly Shawn’s rear tire skidded sideways as he dodged around a very surprised motorist. Eric and Jim bailed off the road, through some brush and returned to the pavement without a hitch.

The ride ended at the Calistoga Inn. The electrolyte enhancement therapy put the icing on the day. Five hours in the boonies translated into a memorable event. New territory was accessed and old, beautiful experiences were revisited. The ride that started out in question; "Where are we going?" ended with the nice answer; "We went there, we went to state of Bikin’ Benediction, where life is all good."