2011 National Road Run Day 3 Report posted Oct. 9, 2011 by Bill Huth

Click here for a map of the ride.

Day 3 started out early. I had the 4-6 AM security shift in the parking lot, so I got up at 3:45 AM. I went out to the parking lot and headed to the security headquarters, aka Loretta’s car. It didn’t look like there was anyone in the car. The hotel permanent tenant/crazy lady seemed to be up, and batting around or adjusting the drapes in her room, and she had the lights on. Then I heard, psst, we’re over here. Rich Ostrander and Greg Wood were set up in a couple folding chairs between the bikes. I informed them they were relieved of their duties. Rich headed into the hotel, Greg mentioned he overslept and was going to do some of the next shift with me. After about 15 minutes Greg said he was going to the car for a while.  I stayed out and walked around the lot a couple times. Crazy lady’s room looked quiet now, but one of the riders was going in and out of his room toward the pool area.  After a while, I decided to sit in the car also. Then, at 4:45 AM, all the lights go out in the hotel. They flickered back on about 30 seconds later, then went out for good. It’s now pitch black, no moonlight, just some starlight. Great. Now I can’t even wander around and look at the bikes.  Greg was now sawing logs in the driver’s seat of the car. I think he stretched his double shift as long as he could. Plus, I think he volunteered every day for the crappy, middle of the night shifts.  So I’m trying to be extra alert and leave Greg alone. Why is the hotel power out, and it looks like across the street and down the road  the power is still on?  Then I see some guy doing something to one of the bikes with a little flashlight. Hmmm.  I guess I need to investigate. As I walked by the crazy lady’s room, I saw a glow outside, like she was smoking a cigarette. It was too dark to really see, but it had to be her. She was in the doorway alcove area, which was extra dark. I kept going, and as I got closer to the guy with the flashlight, I thought I better say something from a distance. It was really dark and he had no idea I was out there, so I did not want to startle him. I said “crazy about the power going out, huh?” from about 15 feet away. He looked up at me and I recognized him as one of the guys from the ride. He was the guy I had seen about 15 minutes ago headed toward the pool area. He said he was doing laundry, and smelled gas when cutting in between some of the bikes, and was checking his stuff out to make sure the gas was shut off. Sounded legit, whew!  He was finishing up his check and headed back to his room. By 5:30, some guys had come out of their rooms. They woke up to darkness in their rooms, and were out checking on the bikes. They didn’t realize we were watching the bikes all night, and were happy to hear we had the security detail. Right before 6 AM, the traffic in the parking lot really picked up. People were getting in for a 6 o’clock shift, no doubt.  It still wasn’t light out, but there was some foot traffic in the halls of the hotel. Then I saw a couple guys with the head mounted flashlights we had included in the rider goody bags. Great idea!  I went and got mine. I only stayed in the parking lot for about 10 more minutes. People were up now, it was after 6. I decided I could get 30 minutes of sleep and make sure I got up at 7 to start getting ready for the ride.  Greg was still in the car. He seemed comfy, so I just left him to sleep for a little while longer. The flashlight was really useful in the hotel. There was absolutely no light in there.  I got up at 7, showered, and started going over the map for the day. The hardest part looked like getting through Santa Rosa on the surface streets to Old Redwood Highway. Jeff Beam gave me a call to make sure I was up, as the power had been out. I figured I should go spread out the maps in the hospitality room. When I got down to the room, I saw that due to the power being out, Vince and Mario had moved the hospitality stuff out to the parking lot. They were running the coffee pot off of Mario’s generator. Mario said, “we moved everything out here, and seconds after I fired the generator, the power came back on”. It was pretty convenient having the coffee in the parking lot, so I grabbed a cup. Paul Thomas picked up doughnuts, so it looked like I was set for breakfast.

My last riders meeting. What a relief. We’d laid the routes out roughly 9 months ago. But we let the fine tuning and details go to the last minute. In fact, the printing out of the maps was so late, we didn’t get them into the registration packets, and were handing them out each day to try to keep track of them. We used the Google turn by turn directions in conjunction with the maps. But the maps were too small to see the details of some of the streets. I think I made wrong turns/got lost each day. And here I am, conducting the rider’s meetings!   Today’s route looked real good. Some Russian River, Alexander Valley, cross back though Pope Valley (on the fringe from day 2) and head into Lake Berryessa for catered lunch. After lunch, through Capell Valley and into Napa, go through Napa, and then back up Old Sonoma highway to Santa Rosa. Looks good. I’d spent a lot of time at the Russian River as a kid, and felt pretty comfortable with the first leg of the ride. Like I said, the trick seemed like getting through Santa Rosa city streets at the beginning. Somehow, I ended up leading about 6 riders. It was all Yerba Buena guys. We were trying to make sure the other folks got going, so we were the last ones to leave.  I made it through Santa Rosa, got to Old Redwood Highway, and made the first error of the day. The first 0.6 miles of River Road are actually Mark West Springs Road. It doesn’t become River Road until the other side of the 101 freeway. Unfortunately, I kept going for about 15 minutes on Old Redwood Highway and didn’t figure this out until I saw the signs for Windsor. Drat. We missed a major turn. The only thing to do was double back. The Russian River segment was one of the major scenic loops, and I did not want to miss it. Once back on River Road, we made the turn North to Wohler Road/Westside Road. On the twisty part, we got behind somebody with an Arizona license plate. My immediate thoughts were this was some old lady tourist driver. Going too slow, and just would not pull over for a group of motorcycle riders. Finally, after about 20 minutes, HE pulled off. My apologies to the mature members of the fairer sex. It was some guy. Now I’m thinking. OK, I blew a turn, got us behind this slow poke. Everyone hates me. Why am I leading these guys!  As we are approaching Healdsburg, I can now see a group of riders ahead on the road. Good, we aren’t THAT far behind.   We caught up to them at a light. Well, almost caught up to them. There seems to be a truck between us. Oh, that is Dave in the chase truck. We are now BEHIND the chase truck. My self-confidence is a bit tattered now. We passed the truck, and at about the same time, the other group of riders, on British bikes, pulled over for a map check. So we weren’t last anymore. We made a stop right outside Healdsburg to check the turns to get us to Alexander Valley Road. Dave pulled up in the truck and we chatted for a minute. We were going to take off, and he was going to wait for the other group to catch up. We fired up the bikes and the British bike group went past us just before we pulled out. So we are behind them again. As we approach the light, I’m signaling left turn. They go straight. Self-doubt kicked in and I followed them despite being relatively sure we were to go left. I blew it again!  Should have gone left. Well, a U turn, a right, a left and another right equaled the original left turn. Back on course. The Alexander Valley was gorgeous, the roads were great, and we were out of civilization again, so the map part was easy now. Plus, we’d be headed into Calistoga, a central point from the day 2 ride, so we know what to expect there. There seemed to be plenty of road construction every day. Re-paving, striping, tree trimming. We’d come across several work parties each day. Today was no exception. While on a windy stretch of back road, a large illuminated sign was announcing road construction ahead. I slowed down, as there were quite a few blind turns here. Didn’t want to come around a turn to a flagman and get surprised. The surprising part was the number of signs announcing the road work, and the distance we kept going without seeing any road work. Finally, after about 10 minutes of announcements, we came across the point where the road went down to 1 lane for a short distance. There was really no traffic out here, so the guy just waived us through. That was strange. I’ve never seen such an early warning for such minimal activity. I think it took longer to set up the signs than to do whatever they were doing to the road. We were getting closer to Calistoga. I opened up the throttle a couple times to see how my Scout was doing. It seemed very happy, and really liked these roads. The whole group obliged and no matter what I did, I could see Jeff on his ’34 Chief in my rearview mirror. Then there was another announcement of road work just outside Calistoga. We pulled into the waiting line at just about the perfect time. It was 1 way traffic, but we waited less than a minute and got the go ahead. Mario and I made it through, but where were the other guys?  We pulled off to the side of the road after the one way control, and waited a minute. It was getting hot, so after a few more minutes, we pulled ahead into some shade and shut the bikes off. The one way traffic was still stopped going opposite. Somebody must have trouble, stalled and couldn’t re-start or something. There were 4 of them back there, and 2 of us waiting, so it made sense to stay put. While we were hanging out in the shade, Mario told me some of the info on his bike. He imported it back to the US in the 80’s from the Philippines. It is a Harley 45”, but bears the unusual engine stamp of WLJ. Most likely, it is one of a few export machines made to a specific contract. Mario said part of the legend is that the J means Jakarta, where the machines were originally imported into  Indonesia. He’s restored the bike, but it still has a tiny parade siren mounted to the crash bars, another relic of its former life. 10 minutes later the opposite direction traffic is still stopped. Hmm. Finally, everything starts moving again, and we see our guys come through. Nothing major, they had a stall and just missed their turn. The road work is what was preventing the flow and causing the delay. Calistoga was the gas stop. We had been warned that Berryessa was pretty desolate these days, and there was no gas. At the gas stop, most of us decided we had to ride the rest of the way in T-shirts. It was cool on Monday, moderate on Tuesday, but Wednesday was turning out to be hot. Approaching 100 degrees inland. I rolled my jacket up, undid the expanding portion of my gear bag and stuffed my jacket inside. This was a great chance for me to ask Brian Davis if he would like to take the lead for a while. He accepted. My bike decided to puke out a puddle of oil at the gas station. I am used to this. I topped off the primary the night before, which is an automatic over-filling. Sometime in its life, my primary case was damaged, and the fill plug was moved about a ½” higher than stock. This coupled with the fact that the Sport Scout primary has no true seal at the motor sprocket, means an automatic leak spot. When I fill it, it always does this auto-leveling trick (aka as it leaks) for the first couple rides. Going over the grade into Pope Valley, we saw one of the British bikes we had played tag with earlier stopped at the side of the road. She said the bike just stopped, and she was riding last in her group and the others hadn’t seen her pull off. She kicked the bike over, it didn’t seem seized or even tight. She asked for some help getting it on the side stand. I looked and for the life of me I couldn’t see any side stand. “Do you mean a rear stand?”  I asked while looking toward the back wheel. “No the side stand,” she said. “There is no rear stand.”  Finally, I spotted a small, black, pencil sized object. When I grabbed it with my toe, a side stand appeared, tucked so well under the bike that it was nearly invisible when up. The help was needed because we were at the edge of the road, and the bike had to go over center to swing the stand down. Then I asked the dumb questions about gas, is the ignition, on, etc. I tried to steady the bike by grabbing the bars so she could kick it over again. Every time I grabbed the bars, the electric horn would beep.  I’m not being any help here. I couldn’t figure out how I kept beeping the horn. “Is that the ignition switch?” I asked. “ No, that is the headlight switch,” she said. Finally I said,  “Let’s get the bike up the rest of the hill into the shade. I’ll push it.”  If you ever have to push a bike up a hill, this is the bike to push. It was a ’47 T-100 Triumph, I think. It is super lightweight, almost like a bicycle compared to my heavy, American stuff. The British bike group was back at this point, and was going to check it out. We also got word that the chase truck was at the bottom of the hill, picking someone up. So if they needed help, the truck should be on its way shortly. We headed into Deer Park, and there saw Rick Najera headed the other way on Martha. We stopped again, as we had lost Joe. Someone said his bike had stalled right as we took off from the British riders, and didn’t want to start again in the heat. We were about 40 minutes away from lunch now. We got the bikes going, and went into Berryessa through the back side. The road and terrain become somewhat desolate. The road is a little rough, but we set a steady pace on the bikes and kept going. It is always nice to see the blue waters of a lake on a hot day. My first thought was that I should have put my swim suit on underneath my jeans. Lunch seemed well on its way when we got there (imagine that!). Everyone was eating at the picnic tables, and there was no line for food. We fed all the rangers as a goodwill gesture. It was another fine meal and dessert by the crew at Everybody Eats. It was beautiful by the side of the lake, but we were the only ones out there besides the rangers and a couple people fishing from shore. In no time, people were starting to move out. We had got there late, so there wasn’t much hanging around after lunch. We did get word that Jerry Chin had a mishap, and Rick had swerved to avoid him, and Loretta got her foot caught in between. An ambulance was called, they were worried Loretta broke some toes. That explained why we saw Rick solo, headed back before lunch. On the way back from Berryessa, we mapped to go through Napa, and then a pretty long stretch up highway 12 back to Santa Rosa. We’d been following Brian, but stopped for gas in Napa. After the gas stop, I was promoted back to group lead, as only half of us stopped for gas. I actually led us through Napa without screwing up or causing us to backtrack. Highway 12 at 4 in the afternoon was a lot of stop lights for a while. It finally opened up and we were out 10 miles outside Santa Rosa. When we pulled into the parking lot at the Flamingo, it looked like a lot of folks were already back. I parked and went straight to the hospitality room. 3 beers left in the cooler!  We grabbed them and quenched our thirst. I really wanted to get into the pool. It was about 4:30, and the banquet was at 6:30ish. Since I was going to scram for work in the early hours the next morning, it would be best to load my bike while I was still hot and sweaty. I took my bike over to my pickup near the Flamingo main entrance. Then I saw IT. It was the world’s coolest ice chest pulling into the parking lot. A chopped and shortened ’33 Ford pickup, filled in the back with ice and beer. I better get my bike loaded and go check this out. I was still putting my bike in the back when Rick and Loretta pulled in. Loretta had 2 sprained toes, and they had to re-attach 1 toenail that got ripped out. She looked in good spirits though. I finished loading, went to my room, rinsed and changed into my swimsuit. The pool was great. I jumped in and it was refreshing and really helped me to cool down.  The club members were hanging out poolside. Some guys were talking about the SHORTCUT they took back from Berryessa. Aha!  That is why they are here, poolside and relaxed already. Loretta came out to the pool on crutches and got a round of applause.   Everyone kept saying, “have you seen the truck?  The one filled with beer?”  I figured I better check this out pronto, since the banquet hour is approaching. The parking lot was really full now, with the ’33 Ford as the centerpiece, bikes all around, and a model A roadster off to the side. I had another beer, since of course, beer is best when fresh.   In no time, somebody told me I better go and claim a seat in the banquet hall, it was almost full. The hotel food had been a bit dicey the last couple days. I only ate there once, and it took an hour and a half to get a salad, then the computers went down and we couldn’t get our check. The evening’s catering however, was great!  Lasagna and Chicken. Brian Stearns hand made all the trophies. They were sculpted from wood bases and bike parts and other artifacts. There were awards for Oldest Rider (                 ), Youngest Rider (Scotty Strebel, 34), Hard Luck Award (Jerry Chin), Farthest Trailered Bike (Elton Morris), Farthest Ridden Bike (Richard Watson), and the Bone Head Award (Mark Addis). It was embarrassing, but I told the judges I might be a contender for the bonehead award, having gotten lost every day of the ride. Luckily, they decided that YB Member Mark Addis was more deserving. He took a side trip and got a flat tire off the ride route, and had to be picked up. Mark was a great sport about it, although he did mention not wanting to bring the award to hang on his wall at work. It is mounted on a toilet seat…  The sponsors really deserve a lot of thanks too. Virtually everyone got a door prize at the banquet, and they also contributed CASH to keep the hospitality room going. I hope everyone had a great time. I enjoyed the rides and camaraderie.  It is always great to meet the people from other chapters who decide to spend some of their time with us in California.

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