2013 Bud Ekins Memorial Tour, Part 2
So, you might wonder what a pre16 tour is like? It is a bit of this and that, as shown on our various articles. But really, it isn’t that different than any other old bike ride; call it a rally, or a road run, etc. But if we go looking for differences or similarities, one small thing is the ridden miles. Only about 130 per day or so. Less than some rallies due to the age of the bikes and the age of the riders. AMCA Road Runs often do 150 or more miles and the Velo club does 200 a day for a week. There is also the repeatability of the Usual Suspects. These tours attract essentially the same group of guys year after year. Unlike some of the bigger bike events that attract newcomers from all over, the pre16 crowd have typically owned their bikes for a long time and ridden with the same crowd. They put a lot miles on their bikes over the years and now know the ins and outs of the various machines. Compared to a toy run, you’d expect that there would be more breakdowns and entire convoy of trouble trucks. But a little s10 pickup is usually all there is, and it comes in empty just as often as it comes in loaded with a broken bike. There is always some parking lot wrenching going on, with one guy spinning the spanners while 6 guys drink beer and tell him what he’s doing wrong. So that is the same as the more modern bike rides I suppose. We do have more stops than on some road runs. Maybe 4 stops a day, depending on the whims of the riders as much as the map maker. The early machines don’t hold much fuel, and the riders also need to stretch their legs. That doesn’t count impromptu Safety Meetings that might held on the side of the road where there is a good view of the countryside. And I guess a point could be made about the dollar value of the early bikes versus the bikes on a poker run. But I’m not going to get into that. By now you already know that I don’t write about bikes in terms of dollars and cents.
One thing that is different is the RIDING ITSELF. The roads are chosen for the beauty, as any good road run would be. (I can’t imagine what it must be like to ride the Love Ride and some of the other things like that. 200+ bikes on a 6 lane freeway? No thanks, I’ll stick with the backroads…) We ride through the quiet countryside and enjoy the views of the wildlife, the mountains, the old oak trees and new vineyards. This year, the suicidal ground squirrels were a dime a dozen, and the county had a dozen less of them by Saturday afternoon. The vultures need to eat too. I came close to hitting a pair of peahens (females of the peacocks) running down the road in Peachy Canyon. That was interesting. The roads have twists and turns, canyons and ridges and sometimes a hot flat straight stretch across a plain. Uphills and downhills too, but these are thought through by the route master, as a steep uphill or switchback can be impossible on some early bikes with just one gearing ratio. Not as many restrictions exist for downhills though, as each rider knows how to use his valve lifter and meager brakes to their best effect. But again, this stuff is typical for a good AMCA type road run, or a VMCC ride, or All British ride or a multitude of one-make club rides. But we are going at a slower pace. Sure the ‘15 HDs are hopped up, and can do 75mph whenever needed, but most of the tour is done at much more sedate speeds. Buster on his belt drive Yale may average 25mph or 30mph depending on the terrain, as will I on the Veloce and Victor on his one speed ‘14 HD. The twin cylinder bikes do tend to keep a higher speed, but Wes is always going relatively slow on his ‘14 Excelsior twin. He could go a lot faster, but he choses not to.
Which brings me to the point. The pre16 tours are different because the riders are choosing to ride old, slow machines. They may ride them with gusto, but they are not passing anybody on a modern Ducati. Up the hills, down the hills, around the corners. It is all an adventure, and it can be an exciting one on a twisty road with blind corners while riding a bike with less than 20hp and very little brakes. Riding an old bike at 90% of its capabilities is just as fun as riding a modern bike at 90% of its capabilities. (even more fun when you consider fiddling with the knobs, levers and cranks and watching for potholes). The difference is that you can find a lot of roads to hit your 90% at say 45-50mph on an old bike, but the new bike needs a track like Laguna Seca and 145-150mph to really find its limits. But as the guys say, you can ‘run out of talent’ very easily if you aren’t careful…
48mph on the Veloce was breathtaking, and not terribly dangerous. But I had my eyes peeled looking for deer, cars, potholes, pavement ripples, brake lights, etc. More fun was trying to carry 30mph through a corner without decelerating, knowing that there was an uphill coming and I needed the momentum to get up it. Or watching a red tailed hawk soaring slowly just above me, searching for squished squirrels while I chuffed along in his territory.
OK, enough of the deep stuff. Back to the nuts and bolts reporting of the tour. We did get one injury, but it wasn’t so much that he ran out of talent. He just posted his foot crooked during a 1mph U turn and fell over. Let’s see, there were one or two bikes that got onto the trouble truck. My bike broke the needle on the carb slide on the last day. One bike ran out of gas, another had some trouble with his rear (and only) brake. One ‘14 HD had issues with the clutch in his rear hub. No major issues. But there were some major bikes on the tour this year. Two Crockers. A few 1914-15-17 Harleys. Henderson, Pope, Yale, Indian, Excelsior and my Veloce. All really great stuff. And one or two later bikes, one of them with a rider that is looking to get an early machine for next time. Which reminds me, I suppose one more difference about the pre16 tours is that the riders’ ages are higher than a Road Run or a Poker Run or BSA club event. Which is too bad. Everybody would love to see more riders and younger riders. Nobody knows how to make that happen, but we are open to ideas. Maybe if you read this, you’ll get motivated, then sell your newer bike and buy yourself an early machine? That’s how most guys got going on the old stuff.
At the Pozo Saloon. Richard, Norm and Fred each have a martini. Great guys, and each one of them could have a book written about him.
Money on the ceiling.
Two Crockers at the Loading Chute.
Urban and Mike talking Crocker
Hot rodders had their own tour and stopped by our hotel.
Fred’s blue bike