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2010 Moto Melee, Part 1

July 3, 2010

IMG_4087This year’s Moto Melee was the 13th annual excursion along the backroads of Alta California, for 3 days and about 800 miles.  I met up with the group in Red Bluff at the end of the first day, as I had finished the Alturas pre16 rally earlier on the same day.  (Alturas write up here and here.)

The 1913 Premier was no match for this rally, and the 16 Excelsior was a poor choice too.  (video by Craig H.) But I wanted to try to run the distance, in preparation for the Motorcycle Cannonball this fall.  A better choice would be something with more power and better handling, and a larger fuel tank;  maybe a Velocette single or a Norton twin, or an Indian Chief for the fans of American bikes.  But the X did the full route on Sunday and Monday, about 315 and 200 miles.  There were a few roadside maintenance sessions, but I was able to keep it rolling all the way home across the Golden Gate Bridge.


The first photo is a sign to speed up and get excited at the beginning of Hwy 36 from Red Bluff over to towards Ferndale and the Ocean.  One of the best motorbiking roads anywhere.  Best enjoyed on a bike that goes more than 45 miles between fillups…  🙂


After dinner in Red Bluff, the hotel parking lot was full of bikes, but no people.  I’m not much of a photographer, but the sight of all the bikes being lit by the dim hotel bulbs looked interesting.  Please excuse the dark photos, but I thought it would be fun to try something different.  Craig Howell suggested that all I needed was a better camera and some tutelage….  hmmm.



The outline of a Honda Superhawk.


Same bike, the next morning.


Dig the view of the Mobil Pegasus.



Somewhere in the Redwoods, along the Avenue of the Giants.  It was an optional portion of Sunday’s map, but I jumped at the chance to ride it again.  It has been a couple of years since I last rode there, and it is a great road.  Again, this is one of the roads that all motorcyclists need to experience.  Paul Zell said it well “Sunday on the Melee is the best riding day of the year”  He rides A LOT of miles each year, on great roads, and knows his stuff.  When Harley and Jeff laid out the route, they chose some good ones.  The string of of Hwy 36, Mattole, Ave of the Giants and finishing with Hwy 1 from Leggett into Ft Bragg is top notch.  These are the roads that bring visiting motorcyclists from all over the world to Alta California.


Norton at Night.   I know the photos in the dark suck, but it was fun to try.  😉


some shadows there



Steamboat Rock on the Lost Coast.  We rode along Mattole Road, dodging and hitting many many many potholes.  After leaving Ferndale, the road climbs up into the hills and though the forest before dropping down along the Lost Coast.  This is a very quiet part of the California coast, and we were lucky to have clear, warm weather and no fog.  But there isn’t much of a tax base up there, and the county doesn’t have much money for paving the roads.  Hence, the potholes and bumps were truly awful on a rigid bike.   I recommend that everybody should ride it at least once, the scenery is great.  But I don’t recommend it on a rigid bike with leaf spring front forks!  The other Melee riders were typically on 1960’s Triumph twins, and said that they did fine on the bumps, with their dadgum telescoping forks, bouncy bouncy swingarm rear suspensions and brakes on BOTH wheels.   So I recon that maybe it’s fine on one of them there ‘modern’ bikes.  But I did notice that some of the rascally Melee veterans avoided Mattole and went down Hwy 101 instead!  😉



Studebaker chase truck and some of the 2 cylinder bikes at night.  I love this truck.  The paint really spices it up.  I didn’t get the story on the cool Norton in the back, I think it broke down on day 1.



Matt’s Velocette Venom.  “Proper motorcycles, real riders.”



A slim Wards Riverside



Out here in Petrolia, the local folk have peculiar ways.  See the rear seat, tied in place with ropes?   Now this is a good vehicle for the local roads!   btw, Petrolia is the site of the first oil well in CA, in 1865. 



A truck from the Honeydew volunteer fire dept., complete with a semi-crazed man behind the wheel…  I think he was harmless, but us city folk can get spooked sometimes.  The truck is an ex US Army work truck, issued for the Vietnam war.  It looked tough as nails, and will probably last another 45 years.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2010 11:06 am

    i like the lil honda…with the lowed bars!


  2. July 6, 2010 1:20 am

    My good friend Ron Harvey (Southampton UK) had the good fortune of being invited to participate in the 2010 Moto Melee event. Well – can you imagine how rude it would have been to have refused!
    We both flew out from Heathrow on June 23 and got in to San Fran next day, in good time for the start on Sat am June 26.
    Rons brother-in-law Jon Munn arranged the bikes for us. Ron and I each had a Triumph to ride (a Bonneville and TR7 ) and Jon was riding his Norton 750 Commando. We had a whale of a time – despite our bikes suffering some ‘downtime’. Thank gawd for those chaser trucks and trailers! This event could not happen without these guys (and able bodied Margaret – Kenyons assistant in the Ford truck!).
    Obviously, a special mention must go to the many organisers of this brilliant event! Ron and I, despite our ‘high number’ of biking years have never had such an enjoyable biking trip! The roads were literally a bikers dream to ride – not to mention the beautiful terrain that we rode through and the near perfect weather (sometimes, just a bit too hot for us Brits!).
    We say to all of you guys (and gals!) who live in the pure bikers world of California: Please don’t take your State for granted and…. get out there at every opportunity!
    A million thanks to everyone for making us feel so welcome and we’ve certainly met some great characters on this trip.
    Best wishes and good luck to you all. Ride safe and be sure to arrive.
    Keith Munro. Bike-Quip.

  3. July 6, 2010 9:27 pm

    I love the picture of the Studebaker truck and bikes. But for the Fox logo on the duffel bag strapped to the Triumph, the photo looks like it might have been made forty+ years ago.

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