Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008 December 13 - Polar Bear Ride

2008 December 13 - Fourth Annual Polar Bear Ride

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Okay. Today is the NorCal VROC's Fourth Annual Polar Bear Ride {PBR}
We are meeting in Livermore at 11:00 AM for Brunch. Then a short ride in the coastal range near the infamous Altamont Hills.
Emil Villa's
A brief history of Emil Villa's Hickory Pit.
from: Oakland Tribune, Mar 13, 2004
"Started in 1928 in Oakland as the Hickory Pit, baker Emil Villa became owner in the 1940s. The chain expanded and was bought by Oakland's Clorox Co. in 1979, which sold it in 1986 to a group including David Preuss. Emil Villa's filed for bankruptcy in 1998 and then sold its eight Bay Area restaurants, with four including the Oakland one going to Hahn Global International. That firm is led by Alex Hahn, a grocer turned real estate developer and restaurant owner."

The ribs went down hill and the original "brown sauce" was lost by the Clorox Company. The first Emil Villa's Hickory Pit was on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland. {in the late 60's my younger brother had an apartment two blocks away while he was attending the California College of Arts and Crafts} That location was shut down and the Oakland location was moved to Rockridge Shopping Center by Clorox. There is little similarity between or among any of the BBQ joints with the name of Emil Villa any longer.

I remember the "good old days" {for me the 1950's, 60's and 70's}. I "found" the Oakland store and remember the ribs which they served over a hamburger bun covered with their brown sauce and served with french fries and a pickle spear. Their sauce was a brown gravy based sauce that had a delicious distinctive flavor that would enhance the ribs. I would also mop up the remaining sauce with the other half of the hamburger bun which was your "bread".

The Hayward store is one of the older EV's and I used to eat there as often as the Telegraph store. My golfing buddy, a CPA, was the accountant for Emil Villa during the 1970's. Emil sold I think 4 stores {maybe more} to Clorox for $7 million.

From EV's Livermore web site: {but the ribs and sauce are a far cry from when Emil owned the chain}
"the story of the “california” barbecue
california barbecue is the direct descendant of a traditional indian cooking system used by the kiowas, araphoes and ures. we are very fortunate today that an old kiowa sheepherder names tom walkingstorm shared the secret of his ancient indian barbecuing method with the founders of emil villa’s california barbecue restaurants.

the indians barbecued over open fires and swabbed their meats with a secret basting solution they called “lassyemma.” they dig a pit about thirty inches deep, near a cliff or in a cave where the fire would have protection from the wind, and where the meats would receive the maximum smoke. during the process, they would intermittently swab the meats with the lassyemma which gave the meats their distinctive flavor and retained the juices, preventing the meats from shrinking.

in 1928, we opened a small storefront on the old trolley line on telegraph avenue in downtown oakland to introduce california barbecue to the world. lassyemma, now known as by its trade name “pyrocure”, was applied with a patented spraying device. mr. Emil villa, already known around oakland for his fine pies, soon gained a reputation for the best barbecued ribs and meats as well.

today, emil villa’s california barbecue is famous throughout the world. at emil villa’s, we hope you will enjoy eating our fine fare as much as we enjoy cooking it for you."
But EV still serves a very fine breakfast.

Jim, Cat, Redbeard, VSP and K. C. waiting to order
Jim S. and Cat with their 4E inspired shirts and Cat's Jelly Belly jacket
Cranky has the ham and eggs and ordered the country potatoes "burned"
Redbeard and I have the waffle
Cat has the veggie omelet
K.C. and Jim S. have the pancakes with sausage
Redbeard tells a dirty joke and Cat blushesJim comparing his front end to K. C.'s MeanieRounding up and bundling up for the Ride
We hit the road shortly after Noon. The weather report called for a chance of showers, but the skies looked pretty good. We rode to the entrance of the Livermore Laboratory then turned onto Vasco Road to head toward Brentwood.

Today's Ride Route
If you click on the View Larger Map it will become an interactive Google Map and you can zoom in or even use Street View for a Virtual Ride.

View Larger Map

Vasco Road used to be a fun, twisty country road when Brentwood was a farm town of 2,000 people. But Brentwood now has a population of over 40,000 and Vasco has become a commuting highway. Quite a bit of traffic but it was moving faster than we were going in the cold and windy conditions.

We head over to Deer Valley Road and onto Balfour and need to take a pit stop at a local AM PM.

Undressing for the pit stop
. But Cranky can take a pit stop with his helmet on. :-)
Jim, Cat, Cranky and K.C.
K. C. , VSP, Jim and Cat
Getting ready to hit the road againWe then head over to the "haunted" Byron Hot Springs Resort. But the gate is locked so we can not go in.

Byron, California is also home to the somewhat well-known and historical Byron Hot Springs, a now-abandoned resort which was a retreat that attracted many movie stars and famous athletes in the early 1900's. The first hotel was built in 1889 and was a three-story wood building, with a few cottages scattered nearby, as well as a laundry, gas plant and ice plant, all of which were destroyed by fire on July 25, 1901. A second hotel, also three stories, but made of stucco was constructed 1901-1902, but it burned on July 18, 1912. The third and final hotel, a four-story brick structure was built in 1913 and still stands.

In 1938 the resort closed, due to a series of lawsuits, probably brought about by the Great Depression, but was leased by the government in 1941 and became a military interrogation camp housing both German and Japanese prisoners of war, known as Camp Tracy, until 1945, when orders were sent to dismantle it.

In 1946 the Byron Hot Springs property was put up for sale and purchased by the Greek Orthodox Church for a sum of $105,000. It served as the Monastery St. Paul for several years. It then changed hands several times both as a resort, country club and private residence. It is currently privately owned by a developer who hopes to begin restoring the resort in early 2009, but the property is now in a state of disrepair. Plans for the restoration of Byron Hot Springs are outlined at In 2005, a Victorian-era carriage house on the property was burned to the ground. The hotel itself sustained some fire damage, but still stands.

Undaunted we ride past the Byron Airport. {yes, Byron (pop. 916) has a General Aviation airport}

We then wind our way onto the old Altamont Pass Road which was part of the Lincoln Highway, US Highway 50.

Altamont Pass Road with wind mills

We end the Ride in chilly but dry weather at the Chevron Minimart just east of the Livermore Harley dealership.

Cranky taking our picture
Here is Cranky's pictureCranky taking my picture
Here is a photo taken by K. C. of five of the intrepid Polar Bear Riders

We really admire the riding that Cat and Jim S. have to do to ride with our little group. They made it from Oxnard to Salinas on Friday night and were the first to the Brunch place.
Oxnard to Livermore is but a short 357 miles along Hwy 101 according to Google Maps.

Anyway today's Riders
Jim S..................Fort McMurray, Alberta .............. Meanie
Cat......................Oxnard, CA.................................Nomad
Cranky...............San Jose, CA...............................Classic
Redbeard...........Fremont, CA...............................Classic
K. C. ..................Sunnyvale, CA............................Meanie
Don "VSP".........Stockton, CA..............................R850R


Sunday, October 19, 2008

2008 October 19 - Market Club Brunch and River Ride

2008 October 19 - Market Club Brunch and River Ride

Cranky also has a Blog of today at:

{Click on any picture to view it full sized.}

Today is a Sunday and we are to meet at the Market Club restaurant in Sacramento for a very late breakfast. After eating we are to ride South River Road down to Rio Vista. Last year we ran into the Bass Derby Parade in Rio Vista and could not get across town without help from a local resident. This year we are riding one week after the Bass Derby.

Cranky is the first to arrive after his 133 mile ride form San Jose. He found the Sacramento Produce Market easily enough, but had to ride around the circle to locate the Market Club.

Pdub is the last to arrive since he lives but 5 miles away.

Here are the daily lunch specials {note also that Spam and eggs are a breakfast special}

The six of us on five bikes get seated at our table. While waiting to order I bother some other patrons by photographing their food. :-)

Hamburger and onions over rice
Homemade corn beef hash and fried rice with eggs
Now it is time for us to order. David J, Cranky, Yvonne, Pdub, Phil T {hidden}
After ordering my corn beef hash and fried rice with two eggs over easy. I bother more patrons. :-)
A true Oriental, wienies and eggs with an old fashion waffle, while making a phone call
This is a half order of Hamburger Royale over rice with some pickled horse radishes

Our food arrives and both David J and Phil T have ordered a ham and cheese omelette with fried rice and toast instead of hash browns
Yvonne and Pdub have decided to share one order.
Pork cutlet with eggs and hash browns
Getting ready to eat
Now Cranky decides to have lunch, but his stomach is shrinking. Here are the before and after photos of Cranky's meal. :-)
Cranky's hamburger steak with fried onions, scrambled eggs and hash browns
This is what is left of Cranky's order after he has finished eating
AND the bill for the five orders with coffees came to $43.91. I collected $53 to include a decent tip.

This is what all the other plates looked like. :-)
Valdez has phoned Cranky as we finish eating. He has been on a PGR Mission and he and wife Patti and Greg will meet up with us a few miles into our Ride.

After about a half hours rest to digest the food we head over to the west side of the Sacramento River to start our Ride.

Here we are on South River Road

Just south of the village of Freeport Hwy 160 crosses over a bridge and merges with South River Road. This is where we meet up with Valdez and Greg.

One of the many marinas along the Sacramento River

A rest break in Clarksburg
Greg {on his first VROC Ride}, Patti and Valdez {bending over}
A couple of boats cruising down the river
We are riding a river levee road. The land on our right is at least ten feet LOWER than the river level
We move off the river roads and head over to Hwy 84 which runs from Rio Vista to West Sacramento. David J has to leave the ride when we reach Hwy 84 so he heads north as we continue south. But Hwy 84 eventually gets onto Ryer Island where we again are on a levee road. Hwy 84 has the McCoy river ferry to get us across the Sacramento River four miles north of Rio Vista.

Waiting for the ferry {photo by Cranky}

Here is Cranky getting ready to take a pic from the ferry
Riding the ferry {photo by Cranky}

We make it across Rio Vista rather easily this year since we missed the Bass Derby Parade.
Oct 2006 VROC Ride
We ride Montezuma Hills Road which takes us through a bunch of electric power generating wind mills.

Then we head back to Rio Vista for the end of the Ride. Valdez and crew have not eaten so they are having a late lunch in Rio Vista. Pdub wants a chocolate dipped frostie ice cream cone from Gemma T's Drive Inn.

The weather has been in the mid 70's and the winds calm. The ride pace has been moderate since the breakfast folks had full stomachs. :-)

Gassing up at a Chevron
Gemma T's where Cranky bids us all adieu
Two of my bikes are on this ride as Pdub has sold his Triumph and is borrowing my Legend until he buys his new bike. Actually he was using my 1999 BMW F650 dual sport. But I met Pdub last Sunday at the River's Edge Café in Isleton to swap bikes. Cranky picked up the F650 with his daughter on Monday. Cranky rode it back to San Jose, since his daughter although having an M1 {motorcycle endorsement} had not ridden much in the 3 or 4 years since she passed the MSF Course.
Valdez, Patti and Greg decide to try Maria's which is right next to Gemma T's.
Cerveza, chips and salsa
Verde {pork} enchiladas
Carne Asada tacos
Pdub and Phil T head back to Sacramento. Valdez and company are stopping at a couple of wineries on their way home to Sacramento. And I head east on Hwy 12 in very, very heavy trafic back to Stockton.

Todays Riders:
Don VSP I.
David J.
Phil T.
Bill Cranky S.
Pdub and Yvonne
Valdez and Patti

If you click on the View Larger Map it will become an interactive Google Map and you can zoom in or even use Street View for a Virtual Ride.

View Larger Map