Grumbler's note: It was during the 70s when Jack and I happened to own Triumph Bonnevilles. Mine was a '72 T120R while his was a '73 T140RV.
One of our weekend rides was up to Clear Lake.
Skyline Boulevard from Santa Cruz to "Four Corners" was packed with tourists.
The ride was hectic and we were glad to get off the drive, heading for
Redwood City down below and ease back on the freeway and continued on to
Most of the time we have the Skyline Boulevard for ourselves and with other
bikers who want to test our machines, skills and most of all "guts" against
each another. Of course the stop at four Corners to see the other's work of
art on their bikes was the highlight.
But not this time... We found ourselves sitting in Tom's pad having smokes,
drinking beer/wine, relaxing, enjoying each other's company and swapping
outrageous "stories" on a three day weekend holiday which we already used
up one day in Oakland.
Suddenly, we decided to get out of this damn intense heat and go on a camping
trip anywhere up north. Since it was Saturday afternoon we knew that finding
an available camp site was next to nil but anything is better than this hot
Using our Bonnys as tools of navigation we're dodging and weaving through-
out the traffic with ease. But there is so much one can do in traffic jams. As
we're "splitting lanes" some of the pissed off drivers, out of spite, suddenly
throw their doors open to vent out their volatile anger when they are
miserably stuck in traffic jams. I don't find this appealing, especially
trying to peel myself off of some Ford LTD driver's door.
I should "feel" for those who are confined in their four wheeled gas guzzler.
But I don't! They could have move up in the world of two wheels. The gas
crisis was in full force and threatening their way of life as they know it.
Seems that, it's "us" against "them" world. Thanks to the OPEC Nations and
the freeway planners, we as American tax payers are fighting amongst each
other on our nation's roadways. Sad, but true...
After leaving Oakland on a hot and muggy three day holiday weekend, battling
through the I-80 chaotic rat race then turning towards north on highway #29
heading towards Napa my stress factor "gauge" had reduced immensely.
Few miles later we stopped and at the first winery in Napa Valley.
The "Bonneville Boys," Greg, whom I'm packing, you, (packing our sleeping
bags and gear were on this run) Tom, his wife, Olin and a few others that I
can't remember their names caught up with us in Tom's VW Bus half an hour
later. Soon we found ourselves sipping on free wines in the winery's Tasting
Greg, a biker bro, had a 1950 500cc Triumph in the process of rebuilding and
custom work from the ground up. When he finished the project, the original
highly polished professionally painted stock black gas tank and frame reminds
me of a low slung hill climber with chrome galore. Show room quality to the
Max! He had put a lot of thought and time into that bike.
The road throughout Napa Valley was a slow an easy ride, no pressure and no
rush. Just laid back and watched the world slowly passed by. We must have
had hit every wineries in the valley and indulged ourselves with all their
hospitalities and free drinks. By the time we arrived at Clear Lake I was
swimming in a kaleidoscope world.
From Clear Lake till I came to my senses at a camp site at Whiskey Springs on
highway #20 between #101 and #1, I had lost a day. Heck! I woke up with a
splitting headache at the river bottom next to my Bonny beside creek few
yards off. The other campers were scattered near by. Seems that we've had
partied-hardied in those lost hours of mine. Sheeesh!
The "Hippies" had made breakfast and invited us over.
Bacon, eggs, hash browns, pancakes and piping hot coffee was served.
A lot better than our usual. I guess having four wheels has it's advantage,
as long it's a VW Bus or a van.
After breakfast we checked our rides and packed our gear. Some of the
weekend regulars stopped by, saying that we were real lucky that there
was no afternoon/evening storms at the mountains that weekend.
They said the river bottom is well known for flash floods whenever the storms
brew in the mountains. It'll be dry here but you can bet the floods come
down the creek and would have carried us, our camp and vehicles down the
valley several miles below.
"Lady Luck" is with us as I was thinking to myself.
We didn't have any plans when we pulled out from the camp site. Just head for
the Coast Highway and then south. That's the beauty of these runs. Some runs
are planned to the blue prints and other runs we just spit in our palms, slap
and follow. Hell! At least keep moving! It was getting hotter as the
morning sun was climbing higher in the blue-grey sky.
We sped along the winding forest road leaving the rest behind. With my levi
jacket off and having the wind blowing in my face slowly cleansed my
throbbing head from all the partying this weekend.
At times I forget that I was packing Greg. The only times I noticed that I
was packing him is when I tried to power out of the curves.
Hell! I weighed 235 LB and Greg probably weighed 175 LB.
We've had reached the maximum gross weight of my Bonny if not more.
We turned off on #1 heading south and pulled at a roadside "Mom and Pop"
gas/store. Did some sight seeing, bought some pop and waited for the rest of
the gang to show up. It was refreshingly cooler on the Coast Highway.
In fact, I had to put my jacket back on.
I noticed the rear tire was low and checked it out. Found a sliver of metal
or wasted nail impaled in the tire. Shit! Not a bike shop open for the
weekend and most M/C shops in the cities are closed on Mondays anyway.
I'm not a patch person, I like my inner tubes intact. But in this situation the
"patch" has to do.
We all know what it takes to yank the wheel off the swinging arm, pull the
tube out of it's rim/tire and put a cold patch on it... So, I'm not going to
get in the mechanics of it. HMMMM...
Soon, we're cruising down the road, the bike feels good between my legs
again. On this particular stretch it had long loping curves. Perfect for
keeping in high gear running at 70-75 mph without banking excessively.
We had better make the best of it cause in about 20-25 miles further down the
road will be nothing but "twisties," S-curves and short straights for about
100 miles then we'll crest the Golden gate Bridge.
Packing Greg or anyone else for that matter does take the fun out when we hit
those types of combinations. Although he does leans right and left with me
perfectly. Still, the combined weight has it's limits.
As we exited and cleared an apex of one of the curves which it led into a
long straight stretch. I thought Greg was repositioning himself cause the
rear end of the bike was wallowing a bit.
"BANG!" the bike was fish tailing and the rear tire was flipping from one
side of the rim to the other.
What the F---! We were still doing 70 mph and it just occurred to me that we
have a "major" flat. Every man for himself!
The rear end of the bike went down but I did managed to keep the front wheel
up, and followed the "dotted" line in the middle of the pavement.
The bike went down on it's right side, still sliding in the middle of the
road while Greg and I lifted our right legs up in the air and kind of sitting
on the bike's left bank. I felt Greg bailed out then I followed soon after.
The bike slided and bounced further down the middle of the lane in front me.
I slid on my left rear pocket where I put my wallet and with my gloved hands
dragging behind me till I slammed into the then resting bike.
I ended up in a sitting position while my legs were straddling over the
bike's seat and tank.
A couple of seconds later Greg slammed into me from behind and his legs
wrapped my waist.
We're sitting there like we're in a two-man toboggan.
From behind, tiny white feathered dust bunnies suspended in the air,
blanketed the road and passed ever so slowly by... Gee, I thought that was
odd. Come to find later out it was debris from Greg's "English Dockers" type
pants that wore through to the skin of his ass. His pants had a hole at the
size of a small dinner plate.
We quickly got up and asked each other if we were all right. Then Greg
walked to the side of the road while I proceeded kicking the tire like a
crazed maniac. Yelling all kinds of obscenities.
My sanity came back when you pulled up from behind and used your bike to
block any traffic that happened to come along. You checked if we're okay and
not bleeding profusely, or have head injuries, etc.
You flagged down the first south bound vehicle that happen to be a first
generation Ford Econoline van pick-up with two "Joe Regulars" guys in the
With your usual "tactful manners" you persuaded them to help you to move the
bike and it's debris off the road.
Remember, to these guys, their first impressions that we're the "Bad Ass"
bikers from the low budget biker movies that were sweeping the movie theaters.
Greg's hands, elbows and left side of his ass had road rash to the max. We
found some clean rags to wrap his hands and elbows up and he put other
clean ones inside of his pants to cover up the cheek wound. Needless to say
when he sat down he had to use his right side.
I was lucky. My wallet was in my left rear pocket,( being a southpaw) riding
gloves and my engineer boots took most of the "bump and grind" of the road.
Of course the leathered wallet and gloves were obliterated to burnt shriveled
pieces of masses. I highly recommend wearing full leathers and after this
stint I should have worn a helmet but I didn't.
The "Joe Regulars" offered to haul the bike and us in their van pick up to
Tom's pad since they are on their way home in San Francisco.
I don't remember Tom's pack being around afterwards but they were, I guess...
Must have been the shock.
Shortly after, Greg and I found ourselves leaning against the back of the cab
in the bed of the pickup heading south with the my Bonny between us.
You were following us for a while then got tired of that and passed the pick
up van so you can ride further up the road, pull over and have a smoke break
and watch us go by. A few minutes later you're behind us for some time then
repeat the whole process again.
It was long trip sitting in the bed of the pick up. Took rest of the afternoon
and evening to reach the Golden Gate. It wasn't the Joe Regulars fault.
It was the homeward bound holiday traffic in the afternoon slowed them
Greg wasn't complaining but I could tell he was in agony. He kept re-
positioning himself and couple of hours later he went to sleep on his good
side. I slept on and off all the way to G. Gate. When there was any sudden
movements in the ride I would wake up to see the world moving backwards
while my bike was pointed forward between me and Greg. It was just
It was dark when we arrived at San Francisco side of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Joe Regulars pulled over to tell us that they decided to take us to our
home in Santa Cruz. Gee! What a break.
It was almost midnight when we finally put my Bonny in our garage and we
invited the "Regs" in our humble abode and chatted with them for an hour or
two since we never had a chance to.
They had to leave to get home, sleep and get up in the morn to report for
work. We said our byes and thank them.
We gave the Joe Regs some more cash for gas and smokes for their run
Tired and sore, I went to bed wishing that I could cut work but dare not to
cause I need a full pay check to get my Bonny back on the road.
As I was drifting into sleep thanked "Lady Luck" for the second time today,
estimated the repairs in my head and asked myself where to for the next run?
Note: Greg sold his "500" Trump and used the cash it to get a 70 Bonneville.
He tried his damnedest on not sitting in the "Buddy Seat" again...