CityBike Editor’s Choice at the Hanford Swap Meet

Uneasy Rider: Miles Apart

Back in our February issue, we cracked wise in “News, Clues and Rumors” about how May was gonna be a hell of a month for motorcycling, what with the Quail and the ‘Stogie being 180 or so miles apart on May 5th, and the 50th annual Hanford happening about 200 miles from the Sac Mile on May 19th, never mind the CZ World Championships May 4th to 6th in Marysville, which is apparently about 50 miles north of The Sac, which I guess makes it The Bellybutton.

Doesn’t have the same ring to it as The Sac, does it?

By the way, if you’re one of the precious fuckers who got all sensitive about our abbreviation of race event names to cute, adorable nicks like “The ‘Stogie” and the “Sac Mile,” which it may shock you to learn we didn’t even make up, let me take a moment to allow you to imagine me speaking the name of these events slowly and formally, with appropriate pomp and circumstance. Conjure up, if you will, the most eloquent announcer’s voice you can imagine: Calistoga Half-Mile. Sacramento Mile.

Anyway, we offered a free CityBike t-shirt to anyone that rode to all these events. We haven’t heard from anyone yet, because despite accusations of “do you even ride, bro” being a popular topic on the internet, apparently a lot of riders don’t ride that much, bro.

We’ve been doing our own versions of these short-form cannonball runs, although journalistic requirements sometimes influence our vehicle choice. Fish rode to the Quail, and then to the ‘Stogie, oops, I mean the Calistoga Mile (pinky up, motherfuckers!), the latter leg of his journey at a sedate pace befitting his law-abiding AMA escort. I drove the CityBike van, Big Vancy, from Hanford to The Sac for the Mile, by way of Bakersfield, which was about as enjoyable as it sounds.

If you know where Hanford is, you know how idiotic this is. If you don’t, have a quick look at a map, and then sing along with me: “Editor Surj is stupid.”

I know, you don’t need a map for that.

For the last couple years, Marshall Baker, who runs Classic Cycle Events, the organization behind the Hanford and El Camino swap meets, has invited me to come hang at the Hanford and choose the winner of the CityBike Editor’s Choice trophy, an award he either made up just for fun, or because my thoughtful opinions on motorcycles are well-informed, respected and valued by the world—you choose.

Hanford ain’t much of a destination—probably a lot of Bay folk would term it a “flyover town,” and that’s hard to argue with, other than the whole flyover thing being pretentious, short-sighted, and tone deaf. It’s hot and everything closes at 5 PM—the first year I attended, I described the town of 56,000 as feeling dead, like some barren waypoint out of The Road. But there are bikes, killer ones, often a few from the Quail, and it’s a good time. Plus, I like picking a winner. Last year, I chose Rich Potter’s near-showroom but actually-ridden Nighthawk S, with color-matched factory luggage, partly because it was so cool how he rode in, perched his autograph-covered Arai on the seat and walked away to check out the show.

This year, I chose Jeff Tarver’s clean, appropriately green ’72 Kawasaki Bighorn-based build. The Hanford always hosts a lot of seriously sweet bikes, and this year was no different, but Jeff’s Kawi caught my eye as soon as it arrived, and he also picked up the Café Racers and Street Trackers trophy.

At the awards ceremony, when it was time to award the trophy to Jeff, I fired up the Benelli TNT135 that I’d brought with me, looped around the crowd, and screeched up alongside Marshall. I caught him off guard, but I don’t think my shenanigans exactly surprised him. After handling business, I roared (quietly) back around the crowd and up my previously-placed ramps into Big Vancy, like some strange circus act featuring a clown with no makeup.

I laughed all the way to Bakersfield, where I handed off the TNT to our contact at SSR, the US Benelli importer, who needed the bike back earlier than expected to prep it for the Smoky Mountain Crawl. I guess they got wind of how we ride minis and wanted to allow time to unfuck the bike, just in case.

I then turned around and drove most of the 80-something miles I’d just driven, plus another 213 miles, and arrived at Cal Expo just in time to see Bryan Smith not win the Sac Mile for the first time in seven years.

This story originally appeared in our July 2018 issue.