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Rio Vista Delta Ride 2018

ABOVE: The Rio Vista-Delta Ride 2018 started in the parking lot of the Municipal Pier in Rio Vista CA. People helped each other unload bikes, while others tinkered with their bikes trying to get them started. We left no one behind, and when everyone was ready, we went as a group.

BSAOCNC (the BSA Owners Club of Northern California) puts on great rides all year long. Every month, rain or shine, they go ridin’. There is a schedule of rides all year long that stays more or less the same every year. The Rio Vista-Delta Ride is the club’s February ride each year. It launches from the Municipal Pier parking lot, right off the bridge on Highway 12 coming into Rio Vista CA. This is river country, laced with streams and rivelettes and the mighty Sacramento River, which feeds into San Francisco Bay and is so big that it carries huge oceangoing container ships as far north as Sacramento. A system of levies channeled it and made possible all the farming, wineries, orchards, horse ranches and cute little towns at now line its banks. It’s gorgeous country for riding. I’ve been on this ride several times now, with and without the club. This year, it was pretty cold. In fact, as I drove the 2 hours from my house to Rio Vista, I drove past several almond orchards with ice cycles hanging off the trees. I added layers and had a great day, and what a day. The weather was perfect, my bike ran well enough on its maiden voyage (it didn’t break, and that’s always a plus), and the company was fantastic. A better bunch of folks to ride with would be hard to find. We started at 10:00 am and made our first stop around 11:30 at Husick’s BBQ in Clarksburg. It was mostly a coffee & rest room stop, then it was back on the road. We stopped again for lunch around 1:00 in Isleton.

We made our way north all along the west bank of the River all the way to West Sacramento, then crossed over and headed south again on the east bank. Along the way, we crossed waterways on two separate ferries. Loads of fun with 30-some old British bikes. They made us shut them off while the ferry was in motion, and I’m sure some of the guys were concerned that their bikes might not start again when the time came. For the most part though, things went pretty well in that department.

I was on the first ride on Yellow Bike in 10 years. I just got it running again after rescuing it from the guy who bought it from me in 2009. It ran a little rough in the midrange, but otherwise performed well, and started in one kick just about every time. What a day!

BELOW: The BSAOCNC has been putting on rides for a long time & they really have their act together. At the brief Ride Meeting, they passed out maps with the route highlighted & explained the finer points.

ABOVE & BELOW: The route we follow takes us on two ferry rides, this is the first. Looks like some of these helmets are as old as the bikes. If you’re going to ride, get a good helmet.

ABOVE: Yellow Bike on its shakedown cruise. I’d forgotten just how nice it was to ride. It’s light, tight, pulls strong, sounds fantastic, very comfortable. This comes from using lighter rear springs to accommodate my lighter weight to improve the ride. This was or first stop in Clarksburg.

BELOW: Inside Husick’s BBQ, I scarf down some of the best gumbo I’ve ever had, while others sip coffee & swap stories. A welcome break from the ride.

ABOVE: There’s always an eclectic mix of bikes on these rides, and they’re not all British. There were a couple of BMWs & (sacrilege) an early Honda 750 Four. There were also a few modern British bikes, but most were classic Brit iron.

BELOW: Perhaps the most interesting bike on this trip, this is a classic Indian Chief with a Vincent Rapide V-twin engine in it. Not the first one I’ve seen, but still quite rare. And this guy takes it out and rides it! Bravo!!

ABOVE: The next stop, around 1:00 pm was at Peter’s Steak House in the town of Isleton. Like so many small Delta towns, it’s loaded with retro charm.

BELOW: Our little group sits together for some lunch. I got the crawdad salad.

ABOVE: You’ve gotta admire folks who will jump on their 50-year old British bike and go on a 100-mile ride. We were lucky this time, no on broke down on the side of the road.

BELOW: This poor fellow couldn’t get his bike started after lunch however. The little 2-stroke BSA Bantam just wouldn’t fire. After a few hundred kicks and a block-or-so of pushing, he finally got going, with plenty of help from other club members. We leave no one behind.

ABOVE: At the end of the Rio Vista-DeltaRide 2018 and a near-perfect day (it was pretty cold, after all) we make it back to Rio Vista and the ritual of the loading of the bike begins. Again we help each other, make our goodbyes and head for home. I have a 2-hour drive ahead of me. But I feel pretty good about myself right now, and real good about my bike. I’ve got a little tuning to do, but otherwise, it did fantastic. The Yellow Bike makes me smile.

If you live in Northern California and you like British bikes, you can join the BSA Owners Club of Northern California (there’s also a Southern California chapter). Even if you don’t own a bike you can join, all that is required is a love and have an interest in Brit bikes. But obviously its much more fun if you have one. Some folks opt for a modern Triumph, usually a Bonneville. Either way, this is a great club full of good people who love to ride. Again, they sponsor a ride every month of the year, so get your bike dusted off and out of the garage, and let’s go ridin’. Contact them at their website: and join up. But, even if you don’t live in Cali, there are likely classic British motorcycle clubs near you. Google it, go down the list of every Brit bike brand name and put ‘owners club’ behind it and see what happens. Even if its not your brand (I’m a member of the BSA Owners Club, but I’ve never owned a BSA, I’m a Triumph guy), most will gladly invite you in and make you a part of their group. Get out there, meet some like-minded people, and start riding that old classic you have sitting in your garage. That’s what they were made for.