Two Tom's, Two Indian's, One Great Ride
By Tom Lovejoy
I had one week left of vacation this year in mid September. With lots of work needing to be done, around the house - not to mention. My 25 Scout which is still not done, I got the idea that I needed abit of an adventure. I have always thought it would be fun to just take off on one of the antiques. More than a day's ride and no club function, with lots of folks and a rescue truck. No, No, just me and maybe a trusted friend and our machines, out on the open road. Till now I had always backed out, thinking how expensive repairs can be, not to mention there are not all that many Indian dealers around anymore. Also our modern traffic is a big negative. None the less, I decided to try a run up to Yosemite National Park, I have done it many times on my modern Harley and never gave it a thought. But the thought of trying it on the old iron, really got me excited.
As the week approached for the big trip, I started thinking it would be nice to have someone else along. An E-mail our two later and Tom Hart had signed on. Tom was eager to go and his 39 Chief had just been serviced. Tom's one heck of a rider and has been all over the country on two wheelers. To my surprise though, he too had never done more than about 200 miles on the Indian in a day, so it was going to be an adventure for the both of us. I am very grateful to Tom for going, I was planning on cruising on the main highways. Tom quickly suggested and I am very grateful he did that we take the scenic highways wherever possible and that promptly added almost twice the distance to the trip. Yep we were in for an adventure.
We fired up the old Indians on Sunday morning and headed north. All the gear, tools and oil we could carry strapped on the machines and in the saddlebags. We cruised highways like the 23, 33 through Ojai, 150, 166, the 101 and route 1. Though we have both ridden these roads before the scenery is absolutely beautiful! We could not help but keep pulling over for more photos. We camped in the Big Sur area for our first night on the road. Monday found us roaring through Carmel, Monterey, Salinas into the San Francisco Bay area. We started East for Yosemite via highways 580, 205 and 120. We arrived near Buck Meadows just outside the park just as the last rays of light left the sky. We dined on Michelob Ultra beers and 2 packages of peanut butter crackers each and jerky for dessert. It does not get much better than that.
We cruised through Yosemite in awe of its fantastic sight's, everywhere you turn, just beautiful! We made Tioga Pass at 9,945ft at about 40 mph, no problem. I was sure proud of my Scout, it's always had altitude sickness :-) Down Tioga pass into Lee Vining, here we had our only close call. A deer crossed in front of us at speed, for a second it was a near thing. Tom's Chief actually slowed a bit as he slammed on the brakes; his brakes seem to work better than mine. As for me, I just screamed and hanged on + tried to maneuver. In a instant they were past us and all was well. We continued north now on 395 into Walker and then decided to head back for the coast. We took the Sonora Pass, a much bigger challenge than Tioga Pass, even though itís not quite as high at 9,628ft. As we started up the grade the sign said steep grade many turns and a grade of 26 percent!! I could not believe that and thought, thatís got to be a mistake.
We made it but I especially just made it, I was down in first gear and struggling. Even Tom's mighty Chief had to drop down to first a few times. On this pass many of the tight turns have no speed markings at all. The Sonora Pass was a real challenge! with beautiful scenery everywhere, but be cautious. It's a long drop off many of those turns. As we got to Sonora for dinner and a camping spot the Sun went down. Dinner at Denny's and we took off for a campground. We both got totally lost on the mountain roads in the dark, it was at this time we realized. Tom's lights were aimed at the stars and mine was aimed at the ground :-(. After several miles we both decided we had had enough driving blind and got a motel in Jamestown. Jamestown is a very neat old gold town, with much of historical interest. We took highway 49 to Mariposa and then 140 to Merced. Through Hollister via 59 and then 156 West back to Monterey and Highway 1.
Our last campsite found us near San Luis Obispo. We pulled back into Gardena on Thursday afternoon, weather beaten and dirty and great big grins on our faces. It had been a great trip and adventure for us both! The weather had been close to perfect almost the whole trip, only a little fog in the early going. Tom's mighty Chief ran almost perfect and used less than one quarter of one quart of oil the whole 1,500 mile trip!! My Sport Scout made the whole trip on its own power and ran very well most of the time. However it was the problem child on this trip and it gave me cause for concern several times. Each time though it was a very minor problem - once we figured out what it was. Mostly over oiling, I used a whopping 10 quarts!! and charging problems. In the whole five days on the road, I donít believe we were along side the road more than a hour and a half. With problems and those were fixed with hand wrenches and screwdrivers.
It was a great time both of us will never forget!! We canít wait to go again. It was a real thrill and we attracted crowds everywhere we went. People really got a kick out of the fact we were really traveling on the old machines. This was not that far a distance, but it was the farthest by far either of us had thus far ever tried on our Indians. For any of you out there thinking about trying a trip on your old machines, but worrying about the cost of repairs and all that could go wrong. My advice, as one who always talked him self out of it till now, Go for it! You know the old machines are great for a day ride or a few hours at a time. But add days and hundreds of miles and watch the excitement of the trip come alive! It was quite a thrill to run from Sun up till Sun down on the old Indians. By the time you get back you will feel like you could go any where on your old trusted steed of steel :-) Special thanks to Tom Hart for sharing the experience, if it would of been up to Tom. He would still be out there on his Chief, probably in Alaska by now :-) Get out there and tour with those glorious old machines from the past.
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