Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Good ideas attract people, and Pete Young's notion to follow the 'tourist route' (marked with '49 Mile Drive' signs) with a gang of Vintage motorcycles has grown larger every year.
The total number of motorcycles was over 205 - that's a lot of funky old bikes to filter through city traffic. Pete and Kim have enlisted the help of the Yerba Buena Antique M/C for catering and directing traffic, making for an extra-smooth ride this year
The route circles the perimeter of the City via the Embarcadero, Fisherman's Wharf, Presidio, Seacliff, and Ocean Beach, then plunges into the heart via Golden Gate Park, Twin Peaks, the Mission, and finally our start/finish point, the Bayview Boat Club (emphatically NOT the 'yacht club', as Bayview is hardly the sort of place one would park an expensive boat - all the brass would be gone in a matter of hours!).
Almost all of the motorcycles were pre-'75, as requested; the only interlopers this year seemed to be Harleys, and the common excuse was 'My Shovelhead (or insert vintage H-D motor here) isn't running'. C'mon, guys, if we can keep our fragile Sunbeams and Ariels going...
I rode my '25 Sunbeam Longstroke, which is actually the longest ride yet on this machine (about 60 miles total, including the cross-town ride to get to Bayview). The lubrication remains a bit of a mystery to me, and it isn't sorted out yet, but the bike ran very well, and winds out beautifully in the gears. It surprised a fellow from LA riding a mildly tuned Lambretta Li175, who couldn't keep up with the 80-year-old hotrod.... well what do you expect! It's the Cloris Leachman of motorcycles (no, I've never seen 'Dancing with the Stars').
More Kustoms were ridden this year, with a variety of power plants; this Triumph T100 bobber caught me eye. It has brakes too!
All bikes bright and beautiful, all bikes big and small, the Vintagent did love them all... this Cushman was pretty cool.
We stopped to gather at Fort Point underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, which has a secluded parking lot and supportive Park Service staff (some of them ride, and look forward to our visit). Nobody jumped off the bridge this year, so we had plenty of time to chat.
My Sunbeam leaking slowly next to Charlie Taylor's Matchless Model X, which is a really fine machine to ride. The variety of motorcycles present was impressive.
Of course, the term 'motorcycle' was pushing it occasionally. All rectangles are squares, and all two-wheelers with engines are motorcycles, even if they're Mustangs, or scooters.
Fort Point is an impressive old lump, which can't be seen from the bridge at all, but the understructure of the Bridge adds great character to the locale, as does the fog.
And yes, although it was sunny on the East side of town, it was pretty soupy on the Ocean side, which is where I live, so I was overdressed for the sun, but quite cozy in the fog.
Fashionistas were out in force this year. Winner of the Women's Best Dressed category.
Winner of the Men's Best Dressed - is this 1948 or 2008?
It must be 2008, as Mods and Rockers rode harmoniously down Haight Street, avoiding the panhandling homeless people and drug peddlers.
This was my personal favorite machine of the day, but I'm biased as I unearthed it from a long slumber. This BSA A7 had 3000 miles on the clock, and is completely original, although Gus says the old tires finally wore out. The engine is amazingly quiet, and it runs like a clock. Even the dealer's sticker is still on the toolbox (and it's a beauty; see below)
Twin Peaks has a fantastic view of downtown SF, especially on a totally clear Autumn day. The parking lot if always full of tourists and tour buses, who thread their way gingerly through our parked machines, wary of starting an avalanche.
Another totally original machine; a Harley 45cu" civilian model, complete with 'buddy' seat. Nice.
Oldest bike of the day was this 1913 Excelsior, which is featured on some of my Pre-16 Ride posts; it's been seriously upgraded and produces twice the original horsepower. He even keeps a small bottle of NO2 for a boost!
Three little Guzzis; actually I think there were several more. Italian lightweights are becoming more popular in the SF area, due to the MotoGiro. Now that there are TWO Giro inspired rides in CA, more 175cc MVs, Benellis, Guzzis, Ducatis, etc, seem to show up at every ride.
For once, Sunbeams outnumbered Velocettes on a ride. But you'd have to count a postwar S7 with the two Vintage machines...
Thanks again to Pete especially for organizing the fine weather!