Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008 December 13 - Polar Bear Ride

2008 December 13 - Fourth Annual Polar Bear Ride

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

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