Monday, November 17, 2008

Chasing Bullitt

We have some terrific countryside here in Northern California for most of our motorcycle runs– through Gold Country, Wine Country and so on.  The “FOG HOG” was very different as it really involved no “country” at all.  It was an organized motorcycle tour through the streets of San Francisco and it really worked great. 

Here’s why: 

Dudley Perkins Harley-Davidson® was the “Mother” dealership for this event and they did a fine job of getting everyone lined up.  Dudley is a grand old dealership that has been in San Francisco since 1914.

After Al “El Coyote” Munguia and I made a cold, full-leather, multi-layer, vigorous run on the hogs in from Sacramento, the Dudley folks fed us and the other participants free steaming coffee and fresh doughnuts on a clear brisk Sunday morning in San Francisco.  Al and I arrived early (wanted to be sure to get a commemorative “limited supply” pin) and took off with the first group.  By the time we started the run, the weather was just about perfect.  We were very comfortable shucking the top layer of leathers and wearing our HOG (Harley Owners Group) vests with sweatshirts underneath. 

A Fog Hogs Road Captain “Boston Eddie” led us.  The route was fairly complex with “many a winding turn” as the old song goes. You wouldn’t want to be fumbling with a map while negotiating the streets. As we quickly found, it was a very good idea to do this run chasing a local Road Captain who knew the way. Eddie and his posse did a great job of getting us smoothly through a ton of intersections. The run distance was fairly short at around 35 miles total, with brief stops along the way.  There were several notable parts:

Chasing Bullitt

First, the streets:  We spent a couple hours negotiating them.  As you may be aware, they wander all over the place with plenty of up-and-down hill runs.  There were some good opportunities to practice clutch and brake maneuvers associated with starting from a stop while facing uphill on a steep incline.

The trick is to be able to operate the brake and throttle with your right hand at the same time.  You can do it using your thumb and index finger to operate the throttle while your other fingers are working the brake.  As we negotiated a few hills I was reminded of Steve McQueen’s famous chase scenes in Bullitt.  I thought we might even round a corner and look up to see him double clutching in that ’69 Mustang!

During the run we actually did cruise Filbert Street and several others that were locations for what many regard as the greatest car chase scene in film history. 

Next, the noise:  Yup we made some.  And among the close buildings in the city, the pipes can sound very loud.  I am not suggesting this is a good thing but we set off many auto alarms that late Sunday morning. In fact I noticed one person in his window remotely turning off his car alarm as certain, unnamed riders sat at a red light and revved their engines attempting to get his alarm to go off… again. 

Then the sights:  One of the first areas we passed through was Twin Peaks.  This is a very sparsely settled pair of, you guessed it, peaks that has a commanding, unobstructed view of the entire city, the bridges and the bay. Al and I were unfamiliar with that spot and both later agreed it was very awesome. 

After leaving the peaks we passed through or by many notable San Francisco landmarks: Haight-Ashbury, the Presidio, Battery Park and Seal Rocks, the Cliff House and down the Great Highway to Lake Merced

The trip through the Presidio was very nice with beautiful landscaping everywhere and some very stately, well maintained old government buildings.  The architecture throughout the city also seems more massive and striking when viewed from a Hog rather than a car. For example, you notice a lot more of the intricate workmanship in the construction of many of the buildings. Also, if you focus long and hard enough at that very same workmanship, you get to run into something! 

Finally, the barbeque: At the boathouse at Harding Park. Two lines, your choice– one with some fine looking sausages, pasta salad and cole slaw.  The other had freshly prepared chicken and some very tasty white sauce over rice and a salad.  This was truly above average run fare. 

"Fog Hog" and the streets of San Francisco - a remarkable experience... a lesson in skilled riding while absorbing your immediate surroundings... an up close look at one of the most amazing cities in the world.  Not too shabby eh?  Let's take a break and have a stogie!


Anonymous said...

Are the Fog Hogs still around? I was a member briefly back in the late 90's and was looking to see if they were still around.


TomC said...

Paul, I am pretty they changed their name to "Golden Gate HOG" several years ago

They also dropped that great public run on the city streets. If you were a member in the late 90's you may have assisted with one of those - one of the great runs of all time thanks!

Anonymous said...

Fog Hogs, Marin Hog, and San Mateo Hog joined into one chapter called Golden Gate HOG after the Marin dealership and Peninsula Harley closed with orders from Milwaukee. Chapters must be sponsored by a dealer. The Perkins family was nice taking all of us in. The current chapter has members in Marin County all the way down the Peninsula, with even a couple of members in Gilroy, Lake Tahoe, and Oregon. -- Karen, LOH officer.