Posted by: caryandjohn | October 9, 2010

Death Valley … AMCA Rally, 10/4-8/10

Cary and the AFM Novice class of 2010

Cary and the AFM Novice class of 2010

Kalle and I had plans to attend the Antique Motorcycle Club of America’s Death Valley Rally on Monday, but first Cary and I had Cary’s last AFM race of the season to attend at Thunderhill Park near Willows, California. Cary had a wonderful weekend racing, and set another personal best, getting a great start in the 250 Production race beating five other racers through turn One. We were up early on Saturday morning, and Cary practiced in the morning and then raced in the AFemme class for women racers Saturday afternoon … we were afraid that it was going to be terribly hot, but the weather turned out to be great … always a bad sign when you have a long motorcycle ride planned for the following days …

John's neat shop for old bikes and old bicycles ...

John's neat shop for old bikes and old bicycles ...

Cary and I finished up the racing before lunch, and after saying goodbye to all Cary’s fellow racers for the season (many wonderful new friends) we got back into the City in time for me to pack up for an early start to Death Valley on my 1973 Triumph Tiger. I had dropped it off at John Rios’s shop for a new rear tire and to have a stalling issue addressed … it turns out that I had a bad rectifier, which John said hardly ever goes bad in his experience … I winced inside when he said that, because it sounded a bit like tempting fate … we’d see. I planned on riding the Tiger to Death Valley and back, a ride of about 1300 miles …

My 1300 mile route to Death Valley and back ...

My 1300 mile route to Death Valley and back ...

Anyway, John did a great job getting the bike back to me in time for the ride … we didn’t have time to get a different model rectifier into the bike, but had to go with the same type that had just failed … it had worked before … what could possibly go wrong? John warned me not to use the headlight … who ever has to use the headlight? Ha. So, at 0’dark thirty on Monday morning I was off towards Taioga Pass through Yosemite Park.

I was going to try to get all the way to Furnace Creek in Death Valley on Monday, but to do that everything had to go perfectly … no bike trouble and no route trouble … the week before it had been 117 degrees at Furnace Creek. So I was shocked to see that Taioga Pass was “closed” when I got to the intersection of 120 and 108 … uh, oh! The weather was definatley deteriorating. I stayed on 108, meaning to get over the next pass to the north. The highway sign said Sonora Pass was “closed” too, but the Caltrans guy I talked to said he “hadn’t heard it was closed.” So, off I went 50 miles up the hill into the rain, putting on my rainsuit, only to be turned around at the top! Grrr. Back 50 miles and up and over Ebbets Pass which was open, but just barley. I crossed the summit with an inch of hail and snow on the road, with thunder, lightning and rain, when it wasn’t snowing.

Time to put on the raingear ...

Time to put on the raingear ...

Thankfully, as soon as I started to descend on the east side of the Sierra’s the sleet and snow turned to rain! I had been forced to ride in first and second gear for a couple of hours … and through the rain on 395 … I finally got to the east side of 120, my planned route, at 6 pm! Clearly, things were not going as planned … I rode through the rain and dark to Bishop, and got a room in the Motel 6. Thank goodness. Had to use my headlight, too.

East of Lone Pine on Rt 190 ...

East of Lone Pine on Rt 190 ...

Riding dual-sport with the 1973 Triumph Tiger ...

Riding dual-sport with the 1973 Triumph Tiger ...

The next morning I was on the road by 8:30 a.m., and there was rain to the north, and it was cloudy in Bishop, but the roads were clear and dry and there was blue sky to the south … joy.

The bike was purring like a kitten, the weather was great, and I rolled into Stovepipe Wells at noon … Kalle had trucked his 1948 Indian Cheif and had texted me that they were off to Scotty’s Castle at 9 a.m. … I figgured that I could catch them in Rhyolite or Beatty, so off I went in that direction …

Not finding the gang in Rhyolite ...

Not finding the gang in Rhyolite ...

The old bank ...

The old bank ...

The Porter Building, 1906 ... two years younger than the SFMC!

The Porter Building, 1906 ... two years younger than the SFMC!

The gang isn't at the Bottle House ...

The gang isn't at the Bottle House ...

Maybe they're at the Rhyolite Cemetery ...?

Maybe they're at the Rhyolite Cemetery ...?

I find a poem on one of the graves ...

I find a poem on one of the graves ...

But no antique motorcycle guys ...

But no antique motorcycle guys ...

Beginning to get discouraged, and thinking I’d outsmarted myself by not chasing them to Scotty’s Castle, I head into Beatty, Nevada, for gas … I had just decided to head off to Furnace Creek, where I could wait around ’till the end of the day for the gang to return, when I looked up and there was Kalle and three other Indian riders … Joy!

Off we went to lunch. Yum. Nice folks from Baja … a citizen saw the cool old bike and paid for our lunch … how cool is that?

Good eats ... three '48 and a '28 Indian ...

Good eats ... three '48 and a '28 Indian ...

Kalle's pic of his 1948 Indinan Cheif headlight on the road ...

Kalle's pic of his 1948 Indinan Cheif headlight on the road ...

Indians playing on the playa east of Scottie's ... photo by Kalle

Indians playing on the playa east of Scottie's ... photo by Kalle

We rode back to Beatty and then had a gravity race down into Furnace Creek …

Kalle on his '48 Chief at the entrance to Death Valley ...

Kalle on his '48 Chief at the entrance to Death Valley ...

Chasing the Indians into Death Valley ...

Chasing the Indians into Death Valley ...

Some beautiful desert roads ...

Some beautiful desert roads ...

A movie Indian ... it's short! We had a coasting race into DV ...

A movie Indian ... it's short! We had a coasting race into DV ...

We started running into other guys from the rally … Kalle and I had a coasting race with a nice family on the old Indian, above, which had been shortened 10″ from stock for a movie … the grandfather was mounted on that bike, along with his son on a BMW and the 15 year old grandson on his just finished Yamaha XS650 street-tracker …

Down into Death Valley ... photo by Kalle

Down into Death Valley ... photo by Kalle

A Kiwi board-track inspired Indian ...

A Kiwi board-track inspired Indian ...

A sweet bike, all aftermarket parts, I think ...

A sweet bike, all aftermarket parts, I think ...

An Indian Warrior, by Enfield, I think ...

An Indian Warrior, by Enfield, I think ...

The engine of the Indian Warrior ...

The engine of the Indian Warrior ...

We enjoyed adult beverages in the parking lot at the hotel, checked out the fourty or so bikes (that had all been trailered to the event; except mine! Ha.) and made new friends …

The next morning we were up early and off to Shoshone and Dante’s View …

My 1973 Triumph Tiger at the Devil's Golf Course ...

My 1973 Triumph Tiger at the Devil's Golf Course ...

Dennis Magri's 1936 Indian Cheif just back from Alaska!

Dennis Magri's 1936 Indian Cheif just back from Alaska!

The shift knob on Dennis's 1936 Indian Cheif ...

The shift knob on Dennis's 1936 Indian Cheif ...

A Harley-Davidson knuckle-head ... the only H-D at the rally ...

A Harley-Davidson knuckle-head ... the only H-D at the rally ...

Another pre-WWII Indian Cheif ...

Another pre-WWII Indian Cheif ...

A 1928 Indian Cheif ...

A 1928 Indian Cheif ...

A Norton 750 Fastback and a BSA ...

A Norton 750 Fastback and a BSA ...

The Vetter designed X-75 triple ...

The Vetter designed X-75 triple ...

The one Matchless at the rally ...

The one Matchless at the rally ...

We wound up having lunch in Shoshone, and Kalle got a lesson in keeping his points cams lubed and how to adjust his points from Jim .. a natural Indian mechanic who purchased his first Indian in 1974, when he must have been 12 … ha.

The view from Dante's View ... we coasted from here to Furnace Creek!

The view from Dante's View ... we coasted from here to Furnace Creek!

Kalle and mydself at Dante's View ...

Kalle and mydself at Dante's View ...

The coast down from Dante's View ... photo by Kalle

The coast down from Dante's View ... photo by Kalle

We had a fair amount of drama at the end of the rally … we had been told by the Ranger’s that coasting was illegal, and argued about that with them, an issue that was being continued from the year before … we’d had an issue with the Rangers about whether we’d all paid the entry fee, that involved a pat on a Ranger’s back, that resulted in the CHP investigating “an assault on a federal peace officer” … eight hours later … nothing came of it … certainly no arrest or citation … silly stuff … the hotel informed us that after 25 years we would not be welcomed back …

Anyway, we had a wonderful banquet, and I got the trophy for “Long-Distance Rider!” Sweet.

The sunset at the end of the rally ...

The sunset at the end of the rally ...

On Thursday I said goodbye to Kalle who was trucking his bike back to San Francisco for the SFMC meeting that evening … I was determined to get back, too … I made it all the way to Gillroy before dark, and after turning on my headlight, the Tiger made it fifteen minutes down the road before it quit … battery low! I turned off the headlight, got off of 101 south, and found a motel a couple of miles from Morgan Hill … defeated again.

The next morning, convinced I’d get back to San Francisco no problem, had coffee at Alice’s Restaurant in La Honda before heading home … on a whim, I decided to take Rt 1 back and took off for Half Moon Bay, where the bike quit running, even with the headlight off! Grrr. However, sweet, sweet bike that my Tiger is, it quit 100 yards from a Napa Auto Parts, where the nice men let me throw the battery on their charger for an hour, no charge! Yes!

The Tiger getting a charge at Half Moon Bay Napa Auto ... They rock!

The Tiger getting a charge at Half Moon Bay Napa Auto ... They rock!

After the battery got its charge the Tiger purred all the way home … the bike ran like a top for well over 1300 miles and is a joy to ride in the twisties … I love it …

I was missing Cary, and was happy to be home!


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