Posted by: caryandjohn | May 2, 2011

Easter Sunday Stolen VFR

The Easter Sunday Ride, on Mt. Tam behind the locked gate

The Easter Sunday Ride, on Mt. Tam behind the locked gate

We have been waking up at 4 a.m. to go on our Easter Sunday ride for quite a few years now … the goal is to get to the top of Mount Tamalpias, in Marin County, while it is still dark, so that we can watch the sunrise from the base of the old fire tower on the east peak …
I’ve seen some beautiful sunrises, on clear mornings, and sometimes above the marine layer of low clouds (aka San Francisco fog) that will blanket the Bay Area sometimes …
However, this year we got this e-mail from “Park Staff” less than a week before the Sunday ride:

This is regarding the Mount Tamalpais Easter morning ride which you are showing on your club calendar. Unfortunately due to budget cuts there is no one available this year to open the gate before normal park hours (7 AM). Even if there were, liability concerns require that any special use of the park go through a simple permit process (we have to treat everyone equally, and are responsible for any public safety issues in the park). Please let me know if you or anyone who might be organizing this event wishes to go this route. Otherwise please let people know that the gates will not be open early this year. CHP and the Marin Sheriff’s office are aware of this event and want to make sure that Panoramic Highway will not be blocked by a backup at the gate. I realize this event has a history, and we want to do what we can to work with you. Thank you in advance for your understanding,
Park Staff

P’S: If your group wants to enter the park before 7:00am, you will need a special event permit, we will need a copy of your organization’s insurance listing the State of California as additionally insured, and a monitor paid by your organization would be scheduled to open the gate. All day use fees must be paid by the group. You can pay those ahead of time, or the monitor can collect those on the day of the event from each user.

One of the jokes is that California generally “self insures” for liability issues, so it’s interesting that the “Park Staff” is trying to shift liability risk to cintizens … no wonder this civil servant chose to identify himself only as “Park Staff.”  Very impressive.
However, we’ve been through this drill before over the years, and simply chose not to belive bad news. Someone usually comes out from the Pan Toll ranger station and unlocks the gate … so, despite the rain, off most of us went, several of our newest members dressed up as the Easter Bunny to initiate them into SFMC membership … ha.
As the photo demonstrates, the locked gate was a non-issue. I’ll let folks decide for themselves wheather the rangers unlocked the gate, or the $7 padlock was unlocked … in any event, the gate was not an obsticle …
Cary and I looked at the weather report, and decided to stay at the clubhouse to start making breakfast for the fourty or so riders we expected to return to the clubhouse around 8 a.m. for breakfast …
We were distracted and left the key in Cary’s 1999 Honda VFR 800 … at some point, still well before sunrise, I noticed the bike was gone! Argh …
The "missing/stolen" flyer

The "missing/stolen" flyer

Cary loved that bike, but took the unhappy loss with a dregree of resignation that comes from city living … you can’t let your guard down for a minute, or the bad actors will take advantage of y0u … “Easy come, easy go …” said Cary philosophically, as we started searching the neighborhood on the chance that the bike had been pushed away and then abondoned nearby … no such luck, though …
We reported the bike stolen to the San Francisco Police Department, who were very helpful … we moped around and searhed around the city for three days before the police called at 11:30 p.m saying they had found the bike in West Portal, an upscale San Francisco neighborhood …
The bad actor had taken the time to remove the windscreen, and the custom pin-striping, and added some primer in an effort to alter the appearance of the bike … even going to the effort to try to change a 2 into an 8 on the license plate with a rusty nail and magic maker …  Cary and I rushed down to meet the police and put the bike on a trailer and get it home …
The VFR back home, showing the primer on the fairing and tail

The VFR back home, showing the primer on the fairing and tail

The VFR had gotten $150 dollars in parking tickets while it sat, aparentlhy abandoned by the thief. We took the bike down to Key Kraft on Church street to get a key to replace the one and only one that had been stolen with the bike. Turns out that the battery was dead, too, which was interesting because battery problems were not an issue before the bike was stolen, and we couldn’t think of why the battery would be dead … Cary speculated that when the VFR realised it had been stolen it caused its voltage regulator to fail, so that the theif would be forced to abandon it … ha.
Anyway, it appears that that is what happened … the battery stopped holding a chrage, and the bad actor couldn’t keep the bike running or restart it … an so abandoned it … Yay for us!
Cary was very happy to get the bike home, and is planning on spending a few bucks to get it appearing well loved again, because it is …


  1. the bad actor was a bad man. Grace abounds you when you are a good person. the bad actor wasn’t. so glad you got it back and made you happy again you guys. You all are the best!!! Thanks for the update. xxoxoxmom and Lori and G-man

  2. Hey guys……..just heard about your bike fiasco! I always read the blog and didn’t get to last week’s messages………..glad you found it though it had some damage. I guess it goes with the territory. Also, enjoyed seeing the pics of Cary racing……wish I could be there to see it live…..maybe one day. Finally, so glad to see Rita doing well. Send her my love. Take care John and Cary. We miss you and look forward to your visit to Morocco as soon as possible………love, Molly

  3. send us some more videos too…..the kids really love them

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