Saturday, September 29, 2007


The Yerba Buena chapter of the AMCA hosted a rally in Groveland, CA, just outside of Yosemite National Park on Sep 23-26. The National Rallies for the AMCA are always held mid-week over three days, and I laid out the route for this one (it's fairly easy to find three days of spectacular roads in this area). Around 130 motorcycles attended, mostly Harleys and Indians, but there was a smattering of other machinery - a couple of BMWs, a couple of BSAs and Nortons, several Triumphs, and only one Velocette (my '33 mkIV KTT). Even though I had laid out the route and delivered the rider's meeting on Monday morning, I had to go home and work on my bike! Since my Velo Clubman had cast me off in August, I hadn't completed work on any of my other bikes, and I still haven't figured what caused the lockup on the VM. That left the ever-reliable Mule, but last time I tried to ride it, there was precious little compression. So, for the first time in 8 years, I took the head off to see what was wrong, and found plenty - most serious being a cracked and chipped exhaust valve. Luckily, I had bought a nos valve from ebay, so stuck it in the guide (loosey-goosey), ground the seat, and threw it all back together. A push up the road, and, as always, she fired up.
The rally site was the Yosemite Pines in Groveland, which was a perfect location - we had reserved the entire place, which had cabins, yurts (!), and rv spots. A LOT of the attendees from out of state (probably 80) had driven RV's with trailers containing the bikes - they came from all over the US; Iowa, Ohio, Texas, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, Arizona, etc, so the long-haul comfort is understandable. The trick seems to be to attend a string of these Road Runs, moving further westward with the season; our ride was connected with an unofficial rally in Bishop immediately afterwards, followed by another national run in Death Valley, and quite a few of the riders were going to make all 3 events.
Top pic is club VP Kurt Hansen on his Indian Chief; it was cold Monday morning, around 34 degrees, but warmed up quickly and all 3 days hovered in the 80's during the afternoon (although it was in the 30's over Tioga pass - 9943').
Pics 2 and 3 show the Yerba Buena hospitality tent, where we had complimentary coffee and pastries in the morning, and cold kegs of beer. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Najeras (Tony and Jet pictured, but Ricky helped too) made a breakfast of chorizo, eggs, and tortillas - yeah!
Pic 4 shows morning sunlight filtering through the haze of someone's exhaust; lovely. The two closest bikes are Tom and Jenny Parker's Indians, featured in my blog post on the pre-16 ride in Atascadero.

Pic 5 has a yurt and yurtster with his Indian - this fellow was from Ohio

Pic 6 is yours truly on The Mule, ready for action

Pic 7 is a 1913/14/15 Excelsior, the oldest bike on the rally. Click on the pic and note the nitrous bottle (!), which is currently empty as when last used, the extra power sheared off the clutch center nut. Perhaps they didn't have nitrous in 1915?

Pic 8 is Erhard and his faithful Zundapp outfit, complete with driven sidecar wheel and locking differential for really tough going. Ask and he'll tell you about every thread pitch and micro part he's made on the machine.

Pic 9 is a simple but attractive Harley 45" bobber. This machine is a much better representative of a period Bobber than the bikes currently emulating the look. Stripped-down for lighter weight and better performance (and you'll need it with that flathead engine).

Pic 10 - a gorgeous US-spec Triumph Bonneville, ca '61, love the orange paint

Pic 11 the multitudes assemble for my Rider's Meeting - not easy to be heard with so many people!

Pic 12 Custom tank art is big on the American machines, usually involving scantily-clad women, who are definitely not model-thin! Nice depiction of a D-Day P38 Lightning, with 'twin boom' fuselage. The riderette has her own twin booms!

Pic 13 Matt on his highly customized and self-fabricated BSA B44 - a click on the pic will show what he's done to the bike - brake airscoop, exhaust system, bikini fairing, seat, sidecovers, etc. It goes well too.

Pic 14 the inimitable Dr Wu, on his BMW cafe creation. 'Other Jeff' won an award for 'Best Non-American' machine at the banquet - congratulations.

Pic 15 is a standard WW2-era Betty Grable image, very discreet in these days of internet access. All pinup girls seem to be based on Betty Grable or Betty Page; what is it about Bettys?

Pic 16 that's Stanley Miller from Texas

Pic 17 the REAL riding women, hauling 600lbs of Yankee iron around the canyons and mountain passes; they are awesome (pardon the adolescent gushing, but these gals are far sexier than the painted pinups). About 10% of the riders were women, about half on British, half on American machines.

Pic 18 Local hotrod builder showed up for lunch on Weds.

Pic 19 Bring your dog too! Apparently the pup loves to ride; when it got hot, a little water on the head helped.

Pic 20 needs no explanation

Pic 21-23 Stopping for a break before descending on Wards Ferry Road; a one-lane canyon road with rocks on one side, a guardrail-free cliff on the other, so very little room for error. This is a road never forgotten! Everyone stopped to let their brakes cool off and and chat for a bit. The shot with the Indians gives a good impression of the terrain. Unfortunately, Mike Kane decided to go over the edge.... but he didn't get hurt!

Pic 24-25 Mikes' bike 40' down the cliff, and hauling it up to the top with the help of a towtruck and cable. More in another post. It was an amazing experience, and Mike definitely has a guardian angel.

Pic 26 The Badgers end the day in fine style, ready for the banquet
Pic 27 Banquet outdoors, waiting for the full moon to rise, the food catered by the Charlotte Hotel was terrific, and everybody got a prize

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