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2011 Girder Fork Run. Ione, California

October 9, 2011

The first annual Girder Fork Run was this weekend up in the gold country of California.  We started in Ione, CA and rode around the various backroads near Sutter Creek, Drytown, Fiddletown, Volcano and Plymouth.  interesting names, yes, but the old names for the towns included BedBug, Freeze Out, Puckerville, Soldier’s Gulch, Poker Camp, etc.   Each town has a rich history dating back to 1948/49 when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill.  It is hard to imagine these little towns of 100, 200 or 500 people back in the late 19th century, when they held  up to 10,000 folks each. 

The Victorian architecture still stands in these towns, and they do a good job of keeping things up, as tourism is the main driver of their modern economy.   There is an event on the calendar every weekend; we like to think that our little motorbike event is the best one this weekend.  However, we did come across multiple town fairs, a festival of organ grinders without monkeys, a tour of pre WWII Dodge Brothers cars, a tour of 1950s-1970s MG sportcars, and even a group of 20 new Can Am Spyder three wheelers!  sorry, no photos of that last group.


rudgeWe had about a dozen girder fork bikes, plus several friends on newer machines.  The oldest bike was Kim’s 1930 Velo KSS, newest bikes were late 1930’s, but the mk8 KTT might have been post war…  Several Velos were there, KTT, KSSs both early and late, a late Rudge Ulster with a bronze head, a 600cc Levis single and an Indian Chief twin.



VeloceA freshly restored mkII KSS.  Mike, the owner was the first one to admit that some parts were incorrect, but nobody cared.  He was the fifth owner of the bike as a basket case, and was motivated enough to finish the bike and ride it!  Imagine that, 4 guys bought the pile of parts, looked it over and sold it on, one after another.  That’s not a bad thing, but with each owner, the pile of parts became slightly smaller as the wheel bearings fell out of the hubs, or the mudguards were damaged in storage, etc.  Congratulations Mike, and thanks for bringing another old bike back.DSC00090



Don D.’s big Levis, flanked by Velos.  Levis was another marque that didn’t make it back into production after WWII ended.  They made quality bikes during their time though, much like Rudge did and so many others.   This one earned a little trophy during lunch for the shiniest bike, but it was a toss up between it and the blue Ulster.IMG_9766


indian logoDespite my focus on Brit bikes, we are in America.  And of course an old Indian is always welcome on a road run, especially Jeff’s nice nice yellow one.



a leak or two.



Dodge_logoWe ran into a group of early Dodge Brothers cars in Sutter Creek.  Lots of them from the teens through the thirties.  Note the beveled glass on the wings.  The starter handle is missing, I wonder if he has fitted an electric self-starter?  The second car has the famous Dodge Ram on the radiator shell.




For a bit of October fun, we took the kids on a hike through the cemetery in Volcano.  There were many ornate gravestones, dating back to 1850.  For some reason there were a lot of them dated 1863.  I’m not sure if there was a hard winter that year, or maybe a flu?




Fall leaves turning colors.  On the main street in Volcano, population 103.  We stayed the night at the St. George Hotel.  What a great place.  We are already planning to have some more old bike tours to start and finish in Volcano in 2012 and 2013.  Watch this space.


13 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim Abbott permalink
    October 9, 2011 8:48 pm

    Pete: What a brace of beauties!! And I do mean the bikes!
    I used to go up to the gold country with friends in the late 60’s. Stayed in Volcano once or twice. The most interesting place was Sheep Ranch with a log hotel to rival Hearst Castle.
    There was a settlement by name of Chinese Camp which was occupied by two tongs. Things heated up and the two went to war. That might have been in 1863. But I don’t think so since they only had one gun between them and nobody was killed. I love that area.

    Cheers, Jim A., Tucson, AZ

  2. Anonymous permalink
    October 9, 2011 9:02 pm

    Ooh, this may be the motivation to make a push to get that 1943 Royal Enfield WDCO project I know about sitting in the back of someone’s garage…

  3. alan comfort permalink
    October 9, 2011 9:24 pm

    Sign me up for the 2012 run.
    Alan in Vancouver

    • October 11, 2011 9:56 am

      come on down Alan! We have great rides in N. California, March through early November. You and your Velocette are always welcome on our runs.

  4. Lee Samuelson permalink
    October 11, 2011 9:06 am

    ACH! that beautiful Dodge Roadster.
    Had a chance on a similar Plymouth coupe – in the bush – but the renter’s wife had it crushed.
    I like the same era Chrysler coupes better.
    BTW there’s an 1/2 finished Dodge coupe here at Reynolds Alberta Museum… front/rear split.
    My lust for Chryslers stops with the end of the “Big Bodies”. Need to put my cross-rams into the ’64-in-waiting.
    Lee In Alberta where it is crazy (harvest) season.
    Freezes at night too.

  5. October 11, 2011 9:54 am

    Georgina my great aunt lived in Volcano til 104. Married to professor. See Daffodill Hill (sp)? Thanks, Paul

  6. October 17, 2011 9:12 am

    Looks like lots of fun. Too bad you and the ride are so far from me here in Connecticut or I’d be tempted to ride along on the next one. I am fortunate enough to have a few choices when it comes to motorcycles with girder front ends.

    We just did our first “Motorcycle Kickstart Classic” ride from Wheels Through Time museum to Barber museum. What a blast.

  7. Anonymous permalink
    October 23, 2011 10:52 am

    My grandpa used to live in volcano and had his vintage motorcycle collection there. He also voluntered his time taking care of the grounds at the cemetery. The oct.’79 easyrider has a article about his invite belt drive run held in volcano with likes of Steve Huntzinger and Bud Ekins…here is a clip of the event…sorry about the quality… here is bud pulling in in front of the St. George

  8. Scott Parker permalink
    October 23, 2011 11:07 am

    My Grandpa had a big collection of early bikes when he lived in volcano in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He voluntered to be caretaker of the cemetery that is looking a little overgrown now. He had a belt drive invite run that was featured in the Oct. ’79 issue of easyrider, Bud Ekins and Steve Huntzinger were there among others. Here is the intro to the run… and here is Bud pulling in hot… about the quality of the vids. I really enjoy this site and thought I would add something. Thanks

    • October 23, 2011 3:39 pm

      The videos are great. thanks for sharing them. and let me know if you have any more from the old days. While Bud Ekins is gone now, Steve Huntzinger is still around, and sometimes comes on the Atascadero tour in May.

      • Scott Parker permalink
        October 23, 2011 5:10 pm

        I have lots of old slides of bikes my grandpa used to own and one video tape that has few parts to it. I also have some photos of Steve H. and Bud and some more guys doing field games on their belt drive bikes in Volcano. The only other part of the tape I put on you tube is my Grandpa showing the film crew his friend Burt Munro’s streamliner…thought you might like this–HRWdrbM again sorry about the quality, I filmed this while it was playing on the tv and my kids were getting ready for dinner


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