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2012 Indian Run at Spanko’s Rancheria

June 11, 2012

Hot, but not too hot. 


The weather is a poor topic of conversation, but this weekend was a great time to ride old bikes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  It was the 32nd Annual Indian Run, hosted this year by Mark M. and family at their place near Smartsville:   Spanko’s Rancheria.  We left the fog of San Francisco, crossed the Central Valley and climbed a bit up the hills to find 20+ acres of cut grass, campfires, and views of the littlest big mountain range.  Or was it the tallest shortest mountains?  Anyway, there are plenty of scrub oak trees to give some shade from the hot sun, and to hang the various swings, hammocks and hanging beds that are a signature feature of the place.  It is a family-friendly run, with a dozen little ‘uns running around or learning to drive golf carts in the rough.  No crashes or troubles this year, just one flat tire and a wire that popped off a set of points during the ride.


A pile of old Indian motocycles started arriving on Thursday, for rides on Friday and Saturday.  We went back to the Red Frog again this year, to enjoy the good food and great atmosphere while dining on a patio that hangs on the side of a cliff.  And we really enjoyed the super-duper  Pleasant Valley Road.  It has a covered bridge, miles of twisty turns and switchbacks, an old 1853 Wells, Fargo Bank, and very little traffic. 


Side note:  The search for great roads is an ongoing quest for many of us motorbike riders.  Finding great ones like Pleasant Valley Road or Ward’s Ferry Road can be hard sometimes.  I’ve found that many good roads lead from almost nowhere to a different almost nowhere.  But there has to be a reason to have built the road in the first place.  Many roads started as wagon trails 150+ years ago from one town or gold mine to another.  And the twisties that we love to ride on were a feature of the terrain:  hills and valleys lead to good roads, while the flatlands have straight and uneventful paths.  Rivers and cliffs give us sweeping bends and views for miles…   Eventually the roads became used enough to be put on a map.  But then the gold mine was later played out, and the townsfolk moved away.  So the road now exists, but the towns do not.  But just enough people still live in the vicinity for the road to be used, and it enjoys new asphalt ever decade or three by the local government, lest it go back to become a dirt trail.  Now the locale is populated just enough to pay for the roads, but not so populated to require grading of the hills and curves and building of four lane road sections.  The place also has few enough people to avoid the traffic of cars, delivery vans, etc.  It took a  peculiar combination of population, money, terrain and time to lead to the development of these types of roads.  Therefore we find them in some parts of Northern California, while they do not exist in such quantities in similar territory in places like Central Oregon.  The good news is that we do have these roads in sufficient numbers here in Norcal to support our habit of riding our trusty old motorbikes for a few thousand miles each year.  And there are similar roads if you look hard, maybe near your home.


Back to the Indian Run.  We had lots of riders from the various clubs:  AMCA, SFMC, Virtual Indian, etc.  And Gasoline Cowboys supplied neat shirts again this year.   We rode up to Nevada City to see the car show on Saturday, lunch at an old roadhouse off Hwy 49, then back to the ranch for field games, adult beverages, sunset watching, and the band played until the wee hours.  Come join us next year.

 band and indians

Band playing on the porch and some bikes


Ricky and Marcy

Ricky and Marcy


Indian bobber

Clint’s bobber.


don’t spill the cup of water


hap jones 33 ford





gasshole top view

This bike is filled with little details.  Every time I looked at it I saw another thing or two.


gasshole truck 

The Gasshole bike hauler.


Military chief 


Indian Chief


1926 Scout

1926 Indian Scout.



bike in the trees 

hot dog bite

The hot dog bite contest.   Simple concept:  tie a hot dog to a pole, dip in mustard, and convince everybody to ride by and try to bite off the biggest piece.  Fun for everybody. 





Morgan JAP

From the car show, a JAP powered Morgan three wheeler.


grandson's ride

Grandson’s first ride w/ grandpa.


soap box derby

Soap box derby car from the Nevada City race


door in nevada city

random door in Nevada City


Mark and Nova

Mark and Nova at the roadhouse.


1853 Wells Fargo

Kim’s pic of the 1853 bank on Pleasant Valley Road

9 Comments leave one →
  1. shaun permalink
    June 11, 2012 9:42 am

    Great pictures, Pete! Thanks for posting. Looks like an excellent event.

  2. Jim Abbott permalink
    June 11, 2012 9:47 am

    When I was about 5 yrs old I sat on the tank of an Indian and got my first ride on a motorcycle just like the youngster with his grandad. As you probably know, I never got over it. Jim A., Tucson, AZ

  3. Jim Abbott permalink
    June 11, 2012 10:18 am

    p.s. can a Velocette join in or is it only for Indians? Jim A., Tucson, AZ

    • June 11, 2012 10:40 am

      Kim rode her 1930 Velocette. And there were several modern dirt bike KTMs that came along too, and one or two HDs, Triumphs and a Norton Commando. Mostly Indians though.

      • Jim Abbott permalink
        June 12, 2012 9:44 am

        Well then, how do I get on the mailing list. I can’t really get into a one day ride (drive over, ride, drive back) but a three day ride sounds just perfect! Plus some of these guys look about the same age as me!!
        Jim A., Tucson, AZ

      • June 12, 2012 10:00 am

        I’ll send your email to the organizer. And I’ll be sure to post the ride flyer next year. It is always in June, next year is 6-9th.

  4. June 13, 2012 12:47 pm

    Hi from Italy, very nice pictures and bikes,
    Motociclette Americane Club
    AMCA Club in Italy

  5. Anonymous permalink
    June 27, 2012 6:26 am

    Nancy and Mark
    I had no idea what a big event this is. Nancy you are a saint for having all those people at your house. Beautiful pictures.

  6. June 27, 2012 7:15 pm

    Thanks Pete for the great photos and story. So much fun! Love you guys.

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