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30th Annual Best Ride By a Dam Site

11/4/2009 11:20:09 AM

30th Annual Best ride by a dam site: Article by Karl Valentine-Rothenberg TwistTheGrip.com

DamEach year right after Halloween a bunch of vintage and British motorcycle enthusiasts get together for what has been dubbed the Best Ride by a Dam Site, in the Angeles National Forest by Hansen Dam. For those of you who don't know the area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District, built Hansen Dam in LA's district of Pacoima in 1939 and 1940 forflood control. The project is located near the northern edge of the San Fernando Valley on Tujunga Wash, about one mile below the confluence of the Big Tujunga Wash and the Little Tujunga Wash, and about four miles southeast of the city of San Fernando, California. Today, Hansen Dam is a very popular place for pedestrians, runners, equestrians, and bicyclists—a sort of beach bike path for the families of the north San Fernando Valley. The dam's massive size is an indicator of the power of the broad Tujunga Wash as it descends from the steep San Gabriel Mountains into the San Fernando Valley. Most folks walk along the top of the dam, which offers cool breezes and panoramic views ofthe San Fernando Valley.

PeopleBut, I digress; The Best Ride by a Dam Site is an event that has been going on for the past 30 years. The last 20 of those years it’s been hosted by the Norton Owners Club of Southern California. This event typically draws vintage bike and British bike enthusiasts from all over California (and neighboring states) and even draws the occasional celebrity. This year was no different with more than 300 bikes and even more spectators it was a truly awesome event. Combine this with group rides around the dam and through the twisties of the Angeles National Forest and you have an event worthy of its moniker.

I rode to the event with my good friend Paul who was riding his Bonneville Black with me on my Rocket III. Both popular British bikes made by Triumph. We, along with a group of about 20 or so other riders went canyon hopping through a pre-arranged 90 mile loop along some pretty fun switch-backs. It was a beautiful sunny day, not too hot nor cold, clean roads and a bunch of tremendously experienced riders. Take note, this group of riders don’t follow any sort of organized formation. No hand signals, no warnings about debris in the road, no courtesy. And certainly no room for the feint-hearted newby. These guys ride fast and hard and aren’t at all shy about passing you. Even if it happens to be while rounding tight bend… with oncoming traffic… and other bikes only a few feet in front and behind… and close enough to touch! So if you plan on attending the event next year… you’ve been warned.

BikeThe day finished with an open bike show whose only criteria for entry was that whatever bike you enter, it must have made the full 90-mile loop. That was it. Some of my favorites were the 1920’s Pierce, the 1927 Triumph, the incredible Boss-Hoss (Note the NOS bottle), the Royal Enfield, and even a pretty cool bicycle (See the photos below and place them near this paragraph). The bike that took best in show was this Square—4 Ariel.

All in all, it was a beautiful day, I had a great ride, met some cool people and even met Jay Leno. What more does anyone need?




1927 Triumph




Royal Enfield


Coolest bicycle ever!



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