Where’s the Party?


When only Shawn, Mike and Eric showed up for the moonride, it seemed like a pretty quiet, subdued evening was about to happen. Moments before the ride was to start a surprise guest arrived in the form of Mike Costanzo, owner of the new bike shop in town. Lucy stopped by briefly as a tease, but could not make the ride. The plan was another lake event. The summer heat and long days encouraged another water experience. The previous ride was such great fun and enjoyment that the Bikin’ Fools decided to return to Lake Sonoma for another swim. The tenderfoot, Mike Costanzo, would impress the troops not only with his deft and strength on the bike but would undertake a double swim.

129_2955.JPG (352595 bytes)

Rookie Mike Costanzo still early in the ride, so far so good

Due to the possibility of not finding an open campsite for dinner on the weekend, Dr. J. wisely reserved a spot at Black Mountain camping area. This would prevent a repeat of the previous ride when the Fool’s found an open site only to be invaded late in the meal by a group of grumpy campers laying claim to the spot. On this evening the riders would have no such worry. The group of four left Calistoga early and motored to the lake. After a short car shuffle, the group assembled at the trailhead. Immediately it was noted that a bulldozer had made an appearance on the trail. What was once a delightful, nearly perfect drop-in was turned to a wide, soft jeep road. Although the passage was OK downhill, it would be no fun on the uphill direction. The soft dirt would need an entire winter season to become firm again. The bulldozer track continued all the way to the bottom of the drop in. There was a concrete structure at the bottom indicating that a bridge was being built. Humm…

The big question was; how far did the dozer go? Would the bikers be subject to lousy, soft conditions for the whole ride? The answer came shortly after the next hill. The dozer tracks stopped and the trail returned a delightful single track, aged and firm. Now the riders could settle into the enjoyment of this beautiful arena. The trial climbs and drops though oaks and bay trees. The lake is always in sight. At the Island View scenic spot the riders took a required break to soak up the beauty, the spirit and the awe that is generated by the combination of these ingredients. The group didn’t tarry long as time was beginning to be a factor. This side of the lake faces north and isn’t prime for moonlight, hence the urge to get to the camp before complete darkness.

129_2957.JPG (508940 bytes)

Dr. J cruisin' the idyllic single track

The trail parallels the lake before turning into the hills to navigate around a side arm of the lake. There are several technical challenges as the trail snakes through tight, steep hillsides. For several miles the riders continued to process the nearly ideal setting. There was one question about the trail. During the winter a giant redwood had fallen across the trail at one of the sacred spots. On a previous day ride the bikers had to climb over the fallen giant. On this day however, the trail was open. The maintenance crews had managed to clear the huge tree from the path. It happens to be at a series of switchbacks that are fun to ride. At the bottom of the switchbacks is a stream crossing. It was here that Mike Costanzo would forever etch his memory into the minds of the Bikin’ Fools.

Shawn was the first to cross. He plowed through the foot-deep water without incident and without getting wet. Mike C. was next to cross and decided to walk the water hazard. While Mike C. and Dr. J. contemplated the twelve foot crossing, Eric blasted through to the other side. The option is to carefully tippy-toe across the large timber that dams the stream on the steep hillside. Mike C. carefully made his way across the log. Exactly in the middle the water trickles over the wood creating a green, slimy area that is extremely slippery. With Dr. J, Shawn and Eric looking on, Mike C. suddenly performed a perfect no-gainer, slipping off the log and dropping eight feet into the deep pool below. For a brief moment, six eyes stared intently at the heap in the water. But Mike C. rallied quickly. Miraculously he avoided any serious injury. To the great relief of the others he began to scramble up out of the pool. Unfortunately the first branch that he grabbed broke and he unceremoniously reentered the water backwards as if to test the waterproof qualities of his pack. Embarrassed but otherwise OK, Mike C. returned to the mission.

129_2959.JPG (325966 bytes)

Suddenly Mike C. wasn't in Kansas any more

Now well into the ride the light became soft. The sun neared the horizon as the group slowly made progress along the lake. At one point the Black Mountain Campsite came into view in the distance. Only a short distance remained until the four came to the intersection that dropped to the campsite. The sun had set but there remained enough light to gather wood. As the riders descended into the camping area, they began to look for #2, the spot reserved by Dr. J. for the evening. There was one open site, but the best site was occupied with a dozen young people who were in serious party mode.

“Hey, what’s the number of this sight?” Someone asked.

“Ahh, it’s number 2.” Was the reply.

“Bingo!, this is our sight Mike said.”

There was a moment of silence from the young people.

“Do you mind if we party down with you?” Shawn asked. “We’re not staying.”

“Sure!” Came the enthusiastic answer.

129_2967.JPG (244090 bytes)

Instant, insipiant party

The Bikin’ Fools set about to gather wood and created an intense fire that roared into the evening while the groups joined forces to celebrate the moment. The riders drank beer, cooked steak, fresh zucchini, and baked apples. The youthful campers cooked Ramon on the propane stove. For over an hour the party raged on. When it seemed as if no more fun could be had, La Luna made her majestic appearance illuminating the happy scene. The riders stayed briefly after her appearance then went to water’s edge and prepared for the crossing. Five inflatable air mattresses provided the floatation for a small mountain of bikes and gear. Shawn was sporting one swim fin and was able to propel the mass at a rate quicker than the rest could swim. The moonlight shimmered on the warm water as the Fool’s made their way across the lake and into the special zone where few enter.

129_2968.JPG (149388 bytes)

Lunatistas enter the water

On the other side the rafts were folded back up and stashed in the woods. Dr. J. would return the following day in the boat and retrieve the items. The climb towards the trail was exceptionally steep. The crumbly earth and dry grass made the passage difficult. However it wasn’t terrifically far to the trail. In just a few minutes the riders were under way on the single track towards Liberty Glen. The moon was fully up and into the night sky. The soft light gave ample lumens to navigate the south facing path. The trail climbed slightly at first, then steeply towards the campground where people dwelled inside their campers, insulated from the beauty that the fools were immersed in. As the altitude increased so did the expanding views of the area. The coastal hills were becoming shrouded in wispy veils of fog. The lake shimmered with the mystical light of the moon.

129_2971.JPG (47202 bytes)

Mike C. blessed by the gentle lumens of La Luna

Finally the group reached the pavement and rode a few hundred yards to Rockpile Road. All that was left was a scintillating dash down the steep highway to Mike’s waiting car. Shawn and Eric continued to the bottom of the dam while Mike C. and Dr. J. performed the car shuffle. The ride started as a quiet, subdued event, then blossomed into another rare and exceptional experience, replete with adventure, excitement and camaraderie.