Gettin’ Some Strange or The Helicopter Chase Incident

My riding crew and I do a weekly night ride. I don’t think I have any regular readers (because I’m a little too real for this Pollyanna Stepford world, maaan), but if I do, they already know about it. We’ve got quite a bit of trail to choose from—really good…no, great trail. But, you know that asshole with mad game who is already banging a stable of hot tail, but still just can’t help himself, even when a rutty, sloppy mess eyes him over the top of her glass while downing her 7th vodka cranberry of the night? Sometimes, as riders, we’re like that guy. We want to mix it up. Actually, deep down, we’re all like that guy, but most of us either have a ton of restraint, or zero options. I’m sure Brad Pitt sometims thinks, “Jesus, Angelina Jolie’s vagina again?” (and I’m sure there are times she rolls her eyes behind closed eyelids and thinks, “Woopie do. I’m getting fucked by Brad Pitt. Every woman’s dream…Wonder what my brother’s doing.”).

Brad and Angelina, both thinking “Whoah. Like to get a piece of that over there.”

We see examples of it all the time in the form of celebrity affairs. In actuality it’s usually a much more complicated situation, deeper than physical hotness, but usually the external reaction amongst the gossip media devouring masses is always something to the effect of, “He’s got (hot wife’s name) at home and he cheated on her with that?” Arnold’s maid being the current undefeated heavyweight “What the fuck?” champion. I mean, he’s an older Arnold, but he’s still Arnold.

But, no matter how great the t(r)ail we’ve got regular access to, as humans we’re compelled to mix it up, even if the forbidden alternative is well below the quality of the regular. Strange is strange, no matter how strange it looks. I’m not laying anything new on you here, or saying it’s good or bad, just sayin’. Actually, acting on this compulsion is pretty much always bad when it comes to people. But we’re talking trail here.

With this need for something new, one of the night ride crew vets took to Google maps and found some dirt that looked like it could provide something different. It was just fire road. No way it was going to be as fun and swoopy as the miles and miles of tight single track we usually choose from, but whatever. We’d never hit it before, so maybe it’d make for an interesting night. Turns out, it was really interesting. Yes, we stepped out on our steadies, solid 7s and 8s, with a 4, and it paid off. The trail brought something to the party that upped her beyond her physical make up, giving her the impact of a circa-2000 Carmen Electra whose vocabulary is limited to “Oh, god, you’re so good at that,” “harder,” “I want to do it if it’ll make you happy, baby” and “can I go out and get you anything?” No, it wasn’t so much what was on the ground that made her great, but something in the air around her.

Enough keyboard masturbation. Here’s the recap of that now famous September 29th, 2011 (last day of the baseball season) ride that I wrote the next morning (actually more keyboard masturbation). I’d take out names and trail names that give away the locations, but that would be pretty drama queeny of me. No one reads this anyway.

“The skies indeed were angry, friends. Angry at an innocent foursome who had wandered into lands in which they had no intent of harming, but in which they also had no business. An airborne creature with red eyes ablaze, roaring with threats of serious consequence if we ever returned to that place. But more on that in a moment.

We all arrived at CTG (still no second sighting of creepy truck guy) and geared up. Jeremy had been doing some earth gazing from satellites, and had a notion that we should try something different. Paul, Aqua and myself had a notion that we should follow him. We headed up the usual CTG route, following Golden Spike. But rather than heading up the familiar terrain to West Ridge, we stayed on Golden Spike and dove down over the rocky radness that had last seen us pushing our bikes in the other direction to avoid the few yards of poison oak that separated us and Redwood Road (if you weren’t on that ride, you won’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Even if you were, you may not know what the hell I’m talking about). It was good times.

We finished up our descent and, after brief discussion, crossed a bridge onto the pavement of the Redwood Gate staging area and continued onto Pinehurst Rd. As we passed the guard shed, Aqua was reminded of the time he tangled his bike in a metal gate at that very location, and gave us a nice recap of the adventure. I gave him a recap of when I witnessed (well, heard) Lee doing a similar stunt.

We continued up Pinehurst with the promise of previously unridden earth (albeit fireroad, but we were fine with that) and the lovely shores of San Leandro Reservoir dancing through our heads. Surely mermaids awaited our arrival.

We finally came up on the pearly gates that lead to our promised heaven. The gates actually weren’t so much pearly as chainlink, about scrotum-high and adorned with metal signs that said something to the affect of, “Dudes, just don’t, okay.” But seeing how Aqua was able to jump the gate one handed, we figured they couldn’t have been that serious in its warning. So we headed up the soft-with-dust fireroad toward our destination. Is that a lakeside Siren I hear?

Oh, there would be sirens, but not exactly the type that beckoned with song and heaving busoms.

It was a bit of a grunt at first, but the weather was perfect and everyone’s spirits were perfecter. After we reached the peak, we bombed down a very enjoyable and fast downhill section, slowed only by some lose topsoil here and there and a fawn that almost bore the brunt of Aqua’s downhill might. (I have to note, I have never seen so many deer on a ride. They were everywhere. Can we import some cougars?) After the grade leveled, we were at the shores of the beautiful…woah, what a fucking cesspool. Drink up east bay. If there were ever mermaids in the San Leandro Reservoir, crawdads and catfish made short work of their corpses long ago.

After a brief attempt to ride the shoreline (hindered by the minor detail that it was fucking impossible) we headed up a fireroad which looped back to our original road of entry. We humped it back up the road and then settled in for a safety break. I checked my cell phone for baseball scores while software met hardware (by the way, way to suckit Sox and Braves. Way to nut up Cards and Rays). While reporting the scores, a soft puttering sound broke the silence. That soft puttering soon became an extremely loud puttering sound, accompanied by a helicopter. Soon both were joined by a spotlight sweeping the ground for…oh shit…us. We were suddenly that guy on COPS, hopping backyard fences in a ghetto, unsuccessfully trying to outrun light. Their search was aided by the fact that a light was left ablaze on one of the bikes lying on the road. Paul yelled at me to turn out my light. Unfortunately it was Aqua’s light, which I couldn’t figure out how to dim. But I have my doubts that they would have come up empty in their search, regardless. We made comical attempts to scatter and hide under the cover of oak, but the jig was up. Soon we heard the helicopter version of police sirens as the lights on the bottom of the copter went blood red. Arrest mode. Next the stern voice of the airborne park ranger announced from above that, in no particular order, A) we were trespassing. B) That officers were enroute. C) We needed to evacuate the area immediately. D) Were subject to citation or arrest. E) We were very very bad boys. In other words, this exploratory ride had suddenly become the coolest…fucking…ride…ever. Night after night with no police activity came to a thrilling end. We were being chased out of an area by a freakin’ helicopter. Finally figuring out that the best course of action was to stop hiding like children and do exactly what the nice officer was telling us, we came out from under the trees, grabbed our steeds and headed back toward the gate, alternately bathed in spotlight (wonder if I could strap that light to my handlebar).

As we rode out, Ranger Lungs repeated the fact that we were trespassing and needed to get the hell out of there multiple times (okay, we get it. You told us like a hundred times. You’re waking the neighbors. Gawd!). I couldn’t stop laughing, Judah’s Priests’ “Breakin the Law” on my head’s iPod. Paul and I even turned on our lights. What was the point in going low-pro at that point? We were as high-pro as could be and there was no going back. No use in risking a fall during the times we weren’t in the spotlight. I thought, well, it’ll suck to get a ticket if the promised ground reinforcements were indeed waiting for us, but this was pretty cool. Finally we reached the gate (Aqua was behind us, a little bit slower to give up his hiding spot) and Ranger Yelly repeated the fact that we were trespassing, this time capping it with “DO NOT RETURN TO THIS AREA!” Fortunately no ground troops were there to continue Captain Bigvoice’s scolding. Paul, Jeremy and I hopped the fence that had warned us that potential trouble awaited us 45 minutes earlier. Paul briefly stopped to bury incriminating plant life, just in case, and we headed up Pinehurst. Corporal Loudmouth gave us one more reminder that we had been on private land and to not return (which was helpful because I hadn’t heard the last five times he told us that. I think someone likes hearing their voice echoing through the east bay hills a bit too much. Can’t say I blame him. He had nice pipes.), and then peeled off. We stopped in a turn out and expressed pleasure that we had taken the illicite route because of the excitement of the chase. Aqua caught up a few minutes later.

We caught East Ridge trail at the Pinehurst staging area, still gitty from our scrape with the State Park Airforce, and thankful that there was no financial consequence in the form of tickets.”

Chased by a helicopter. That was sweet.

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