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2011 Kings and Fools Run

April 3, 2011



Written by Kim Young

Victor Boocock, whom rode across America on his own (pre-Cannonball) and Chris Carter of Motion Pro put this ride together:  The Steinbeck – Kings & Fools Run, a three day run of Pre-1930  motorbikes based in King City, CA.  The curious name was the result of Steinbeck’s local writing, King City, CA and April Fool’s Day.  It was an intimate group of about 15 bikes/riders, including a 1913 Thor, 3 teens Excelsiors, a 1914 Triumph, as well as teens and 20’s Harleys.  I was the interloper, on a 1930 Velocette.  After weeks of down pouring rain, the sun came out for this run. Not enough time has been spent riding through winter, so we were really looking forward to this event.  Pete brought along our Velo with sidecar for the kids to make it a family affair. 



Thursday was a short 45 mile shake down ride and it was a taste of what was to come.  I had one of those days where everything is in sync.  The bike felt like an extension of my body; it was warm; the scenery was that of pastoral America–rolling green hills, farm animals, spring flowers, the smell of earth; the roads were smooth and enjoyable; and my bike was running great (always a bonus).  I think I heard Julie Andrews singing, “the hills are alive” (from The Sound of Music), it was that picturesque.  The Pinnacles area had received much more than the average rainfall this year, and was now a resultant green all over.  Some roads had been under water the previous week, but all had been graded and dried out before we arrived.  No problems were had other than Rick McMaken had to back track a bit to get a running start up a steep incline, on the 1 speed bike he was riding, plus our 8 year old’s complaint of a sore bottom from riding pillion on a rigid.  After we returned to the hotel there was wine and beer on ice and the usual parking lot banter and wrenching. 



Lies and more lies


Friday’s ride was 135 miles and as lovely as Thursday.  We rode over steep hills and through valleys, along a river and through Peach Canyon.  There was a portable gas stop around mile 45 due to the limited size of the bikes gas tanks, with a pickup truck filled with jerry cans waiting for our arrival.  A great excuse to stand around the countryside and BS about the machinery and our ride.  About 90 miles in, we stopped for lunch.  The food was great, even a bit slow, but that was almost preferred because it provided time for everyone to visit and the comedy of riding old bikes to be verbally analyzed and roasted.  After lunch it was a bit slower for Pete and I, as his magneto was failing and he was running on only one cylinder of the 1916 Excelsior.  We puttered along until less than 3 miles from King City, his bike puttered out completely.  He was not alone that day though, Wes Allen had a flat front tire before lunch and Ray Abrams’ gas was leaking into his oil tank (fixed at lunch!).  Once again, the parking lot was full of our friends and cold beverages.  I returned before Pete so was able to help our kids finish their sponge cake that they had prepared for him.  He came in less than thrilled due to the magneto issues.  The cake looked great, he took a big bite and realized it was a cake made of kitchen sponges and frosting.  April fooled!!  It was stellar and the kids thought it was hilarious, then moved on to licking the frosting off of the sponges (yuck!). At least their tongues were clean?!  Pete moved on to a cold beverage and a lawn chair.  After a nap, was a banquet dinner at the restaurant across the way.  It was a really fun evening with good sustenance, friends, and motorcycle stories.  Of course we stayed up too late, were told by the hotel staff to pipe down (in a nice polite way of course) and deserved it.  All well worth it, until the alarm goes off for the next days ride. 


Saturday morning was cool and foggy, a shocking contrast to the previous two days.  We set off early toward Fort Hunter Liggett, rode up one steep hill into the fog until it was so thick we had to slow down to see the road and wipe clear our glasses or visors.  Once we started to descend the fog grew thinner and eventually the sun peered out sporadically.  A welcome coffee break in Lockwood, CA found us all thankful for a chance to warm up.   We finished up the day around noon, loaded up and said good bye.  I always enjoy these events, there is something endearing to me about the combination of the people, the bikes, and the riding that cannot be beat.


Kim on her KSSIMG_7314

Peach CanyonIMG_7273

gas stopIMG_7278



Fred Lange and his 15IMG_7277



Wes and his ThorIMG_7311


Rick’s 1915 HD




View from the sidecar.   Photo by the six year old.IMG_7324


Downtown Lockwood, CAIMG_7327

Mike’s XIMG_7241


A custom Indian made by Roy Burke.  Indian single crankcase, highly modified OHV head, barrel, new frame, Japanese suspension, bicycle front brake, etc.  And it goes fast!



British gearbox, belt drive sparkbox.  Some of the head work can be seen in this view.IMG_7227


Wes’ ExcelsiorIMG_7213


‘14 Triumph



Sponge cake



California state flower


5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2011 12:12 am

    looks like a nice ride…..nice countryside…can see spring is upon you over there….hope i can do some riding this year during winter….so many nice bikes too…

  2. Jim Abbott permalink
    April 4, 2011 3:03 pm

    Great article with great mix of snaps. 6 year old is getting better than me. Jim A.

    p.s. I know all about King City. It was the infamous speed trap on highway 99. No ifs, ands or buts, one mph over and you got a ticket. Even if you looked like you were going to go 1mph over, you got a ticket. Also they had full sized, full color plywood cutouts of an HP cruiser at each end of town. Don’t know if they still have those or not. J.

  3. Jim Petty #55 permalink
    April 4, 2011 4:06 pm

    Kim, Pete
    Thank you for sharing the story of the ride. Sometimes I just live too far east. You had a great group to hang out with – Mike, Fred, Rick, Wayne and Mike Madden ?

    • April 4, 2011 4:12 pm

      hi Jim. We had 5 Cannonballers on this run. You should come out, we do it a few times each summer. next one is Steven Wright’s ride in May…

  4. grant odonnell permalink
    April 6, 2011 11:35 am

    the chap outside the wayside needs a bit of welding doing he’s got a crack in it

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