The Bikin' Fools


The Wild, Wild Lilac

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Mike disappears on the Wild Lilac Trail


January 6th was the chosen day for the first ride of the new year, ’04. There was some debate and discussion about the route. Shawn suggested the Maacamas ridge to Middletown. No decision was made until a few minutes before the eight lunatistas departed Eric’s place in M-town. It would be a Wild Lilac to Mt. Mill House. In attendance was Sean, Shawn, Auriah, Lucy, Michel, Michael, Lindsey and Eric.

Two vehicles drove to the residence at Mountain Mill House and everyone plus Belle piled into Mike’s van for the drive to the start of the ride. At RLS the eager Lunatistas departed the ordinary confines of life in California and headed into the dark wilderness for another dose of Lunacy. Rain was in the forecast and the sky was overcast, yet the moon could be seen through the layer of clouds. There was enough light to see the trail, though Lindsey would dispute that.

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Belle Keeps the flock together

The trail starts easy then becomes steep. As the riders made the trek, the crew began to spread out according to enthusiasm and strength. Occasionally the group would stop and regroup. At the log it took Linz a while to show up. He stopped to adjust clothing to keep from overheating on the climb. Now the top was near and the group stopped once more. With all accounted for the enthusiasts began the multi-tiered descent towards the Wild Lilac turnoff. The first part of the descent contains a fake route that is easy to take. Most of the riders in the light challenged arena made the mistake. However the wrong way lasts only a few yards before it is obvious that this is not the path. The people familiar with the route quickly made the adjustment and continued on. Lindsey however was just far enough behind to not have the aid of others on the correct path.

The shrouded moon was now visible as the riders were out of the woods and on a south facing part of the terrain. The weather forecast called for rain starting around nine o’clock. The clouds were still high and didn’t seem threatening. The pack moved on. A set of rocks shaped like a nautilus adorns the flats between descents. Then the trail disappears briefly into more woods and comes out to another descent. There several of the bikers stopped to make sure the group was in tact. All had passed except Linz. Several minutes passed and still no sign of the lone biker. Finally Eric decided to retrace the trail to make sure Linz hadn’t experienced a flat or other misfortune. He had. Eric climbed up the hill past the Stonehenge display. Still no Linz. Finally a faint whistle penetrated the quiet night. The sound came from deep in the gnarled, tangled buck brush.

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Linz appears from deep in the buckbrush

It took another ten minutes once Linz had a fix on the direction. Finally he emerged from the bushes scratched, dazed and confused about the trail.

"All of a sudden it wasn’ there." He stated with amazement.

"We all missed it," Eric said, "You were the only one without a guide."

The group reassembled at the bottom of the final descent of the Table Rock trail and turned off on the Wild Lilac. A few faint drops of rain were felt. The light remained nice and the air was pleasantly warm. It was a nice environment and the mountain scenery was simply beautiful. There is no hint of civilization at this remote setting. It is far enough from the highway that no noise can be heard and deep enough behind the hills that no lights from any city are evident. The trail meanders through more thicket as it climbs slightly towards the pass dividing the Van Ness creek drainage from the Napa Valley drainage. Here the water divides. One drainage takes the long convoluted trip towards Middletown, then Lake Berryessa before heading into the central valley to eventually join the Sacramento river and flow to the San Francisco Bay. The other side of the divide flows into the Napa Valley, a short distance to Napa and the Bay.

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Mike navigates the dangerous Big Rock drop-in

Once established at the divide, the trail is mostly obvious and easy to follow though not easy to ride. Many technical challenges exist on the way down the hill. At the bottom the newly cleared path allows the more daring to try to clean the ledge of death and the slide for life. Everyone made it safely to Van Ness Creek and each chose their way across the water. Belle, who doesn’t really like water all that much, thought she could tip-toe through a shallow area of the stream. Its calm-ness belied the depth as she splashed to the other side.

The group rode to Tin Cup and took a leisurely break among the giant, old growth fir trees. The rain was light but steady. No one was in a huge hurry. The group remained for a period of time, talking and enjoying the special company. The ride to Mt. Mill House was brief and quick. Auriah lined up for the big kicker at the bottom but wisely decided to pass. The recent rains had rearranged the landing zone. On a motorcycle it would make little difference but the bicycle could have been a disaster.

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Spent riders await the car shuffle

A short car shuffle ended the event. It was an interesting ride. It was a beautiful night and it contained all of what the lunatistas have been privy to. There was L-Factor, there was beauty, there was friendship and there was some great riding.