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RIGID RIDE 2011 by Blaise Descollonges

August 9, 2011

For a few years now, I have heard stories about the Rigid Ride, but never thought to join as my rear shocks just would not meld with the intent of the gathering.

But at the same time, I have been dreaming of and working towards owning my own rigid Velocette for years.  What better way to get to know the community and the bikes then to get out there and see what its about.

Organizer, Pete Young, found just the right place to start this vintage ride.  The 1850’s gambling retreat, Casa de Tableta, now known as the Alpine Inn


The quite morning was broken from time to time, as the old bikes rolled in, each with its signature engine sound.  Before a bike came into view, someone would comment about what bike it was and who was riding it.  This was a group of old timers, who had and continue to live and breath vintage bikes.  It was clear that I was the young and inexperienced in the group and would not be teaching these guys anything new.  I enjoyed meeting riders, learning about these legendary bikes and mostly listening to their tales.  The morning meeting is always so contrasted to the end of the ride, in that the discussions are reserved and polite.



I found this Zenith fascinating, as I have never seen such a machine.DSC_0018

Pete’s wonderful MSSDSC_0031


Harley knucklehead, with horn (as required by law).



This Rudge was so clean and perfect that I would have believed it if I had been told it was bought new from the showroom that morning.  It is just incredible to see such well preserved machines that are actually getting out on the road.


As  the time to depart came, Pete ushered us all in for a riders meeting.  He calmly introduced us to his plans for the ride and off we all went to saddle up.  By the time a few bikes roared to life, I could not even hear if my bike was running.  This is a part of riding on such a ride that makes me laugh at myself, as my bike sounds more like a sewing machine and hardly makes any noise.

So there we went, twenty or so glorious antique machines thumping along, climbing Old La Honda Road.  During the ride, I took the time to follow just about every machine to hear their motors and get a feel for the bikes.  There is something so infectious about the sounds that they make and watching it change depending on what the bike is asked to do.  My favorite was Charlie’s Matchless, which sounded like it was so perfectly tuned and moving along without strain.





We headed to the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains, along Skyline to Alice’s for a brief drive-by.  Then down La Honda Road, into fog thick enough to qualify as rain, but not enough to bother about.  After a little while, I left the civilized pace of the ride, to get ahead for some roadside photos and soon discovered the lack of traction offered by the wet roads. 



Then  down to the General Store in San Gregorio, for a pit stop and a hot drink. 


And don’t forget about the fish fence:



The over my favorite road, Stage Road, and onto Pescadero.



Pescadero Creek Road:



Alpine Road:


I think Atticus (Pete’s 6 year old son) is asleep in the sidecar.

I take the on-road photos with a helmet camera, which uses a homemade handlebar trigger.  It has a really wide angle, which lets me see where I came from and where I am going at the same time…haha.


Finally, we made our way back to the Alpine Inn for some greasy burgers and cold beer.  Do you remember what I said about the contrasting atmosphere between the morning meeting and the post ride gathering?  Well, sure enough, our lunch was full of telling old tales and lies, with lots of laughs and friendship.

Pete put together a great little event and I was honored to ride along on my modern bike (1973).   I just worry about who will carry on the tradition of riding and wrenching on these wonderful machines in the future, as the young blood is definitely lacking in these gatherings.  I hope to help change that.


link to more photos.


PS, words and all photos are copyrighted by Blaise 2011.   –py

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    August 9, 2011 9:08 pm

    Great article Blaise! Photos are fabulous too! And you are right about not enough young people into these old machines…I expect to see you on a Velo one of these days.

    Kim Young

  2. Anonymous permalink
    August 12, 2011 11:40 am

    ramsey hairpin no kidding

  3. grant permalink
    August 12, 2011 11:43 am

    ramsey hairpin no kidding

  4. Anonymous permalink
    August 25, 2011 4:01 pm

    Would a ’53 Triumph 6T be considered a rigid frame, even though it has a sprung hub? This looks like a fun ride!

    Dean in Sacramento

    • August 25, 2011 6:13 pm

      Sure thing Dean. See you next time

    • John Erickson permalink
      September 24, 2012 4:04 pm

      Dean, I live in Carmichael and I am going to do the ride on Sunday. Will you be there?-John

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