Sheetiron 300 Dualsport is one of country's most popular
July 30, 2013
By John Notch and Judy Holliday
Photos by Bungee Brent Photography
One of the best things about riding in the Oakland Motorcycle Club's Sheetiron 300 Dualsport event is hanging out with the other riders.
"I am utterly stoked about how many nice guys I met during the weekend," said Arthur Fonzarelli of San Francisco. "You've got a great culture there, and I felt extremely fortunate to be a part of it."
The 21st Sheetiron took place on May 18-19. This year's ride included 500 registered riders and 50 volunteers, sponsors and guests. It covered more than 300 miles from Stonyford, in beautiful Colusa County, to Fort Bragg and back to Stonyford the following day.
The 106-year-old club opens registration for the popular event on April 1 and closes that window about 48 hours later when the 500-rider limit is typically reached. Because of the work and resources required to adequately support an event of this size, those who register after the 500 rider limit is reached are reluctantly turned away and encouraged to try again the following year.
The club is proud of the efforts expended by its members and their families who have made it possible to produce this high-quality event.
"Here I am on the other side of my first Sheetiron," e-mailed Fonzarelli. "I want to take a moment to thank the hell out of you and the OMC for putting on such a fantastic event. You guys really do it up right, from easy check-in and bag check to your system for bag pick-up. The photography and end-of-event hot dog and chili are a nice touch, as well. The staffers were great, too."
While motorcycle enthusiasts ride throughout the year, the unique popularity of this OMC event is due to many factors, the most important probably being the diverse and challenging route options, designed and previewed by OMC members before every run. Routes range in difficulty, length and terrain, and they include a combination of on- and off-road choices, single-track trails, and easy and more difficult splits through the Mendocino National Forest.
In 2009, Valerie Elliot of Creve Coeur, Missouri, wrote, “Just wanted to send a big thank you for a great motorcycle ride this weekend. My dad and sister have been touting the Sheetiron for a few years now, and I finally rearranged my schedule so I could join them. I had a wonderful time. I was completely impressed by the route to Fort Bragg and back, as well as the more challenging harder splits. Everyone on our ride was full of smiles.”
For the riders, the weekend begins Friday afternoon, or as early as 5 a.m. Saturday, with check-in for themselves and their overnight bags for their stays in Fort Bragg. Riders submit their bikes for noise, spark arrester, and license plate inspection, and then begin their chosen route. The journey is an adventure; each rider arrives at the Fort Bragg destination by whatever route or combination of routes he or she chooses to follow. Riders regroup as they stop for food and gas along the way. Some will experience engine or mechanical trouble or other kinds of mishaps that require assistance.
Stonyford, a quaint ranching town of 150 people, comes alive for two events each year, the first of these being the Colusa County annual rodeo, and then the Sheetiron two weeks later. This tiny, congenial town was chosen because of the easy entry it provides to the East Park Reservoir and the Mendocino Forest. Camping is provided for free at the Stonyford Rodeo Grounds; sleeping arrangements in Fort Bragg are the responsibility of the participants at a hotel or campground of their choice. OMC members transport participant bags to Fort Bragg, unload them from the trucks, and return them to their respective owners when they arrive. If a bike is disabled or a rider is moderately injured, the club will sometimes transport both the rider and the bike back to Stonyford the following day.
On Day 2 (Sunday), once again personal bags are checked in for transport back to Stonyford and reloaded onto the trucks by OMC members, friends and family members. At the end of the day, riders are greeted by friendly faces, great sponsor-provided raffle prizes, individual photos that were taken in Fort Bragg at the end of Saturday’s ride, and free hot dogs, chili and cold drinks. Many leave that night; others choose to camp out, swap stories with other riders, relax, and leave the next morning.
The two-day ride is challenging and, for most participants, well worth the time and entry fee.
Bob Pushwa of San Leandro, a 12-time Sheetiron veteran, wrote, “Thank you, Oakland Motorcycle Club for another great Sheetiron 300. Great route, well organized, and much fun. Yeah, some dust, but the cold drinks, hot dogs and chili at the finish made for an excellent weekend.”
Each year, the details of the event are tweaked based on OMC and rider feedback to make every Sheetiron experience even better than the one before.
Valerie Elliot added, “Having put together a few events of my own, I recognize the enormous amount of behind the scenes work that must have been involved. Thanks to everyone at the Oakland Motorcycle Club for all your efforts!! Keep up the great work! Count on seeing me again!!”
El Dorado Hills resident and multi-year Sheetiron enthusiast, Kevin Friend, said, “I shook your hand on Sunday and said ‘Thank you,’ but that was not enough. Once again, thank you to ALL the OMC for a fantastic event. Everyone is so nice and helpful. It was amazing! It just seems to keep getting better every year, as you guys find new ways to improve on the process.”
Oakland Motorcycle Club members, families and friends look forward to hosting the 22nd Sheetiron in 2014. For diverse and skillful Sheetiron participants, this will be yet another opportunity to experience the challenging and beautiful Mendocino terrain, as well as OMC hospitality.
Per Friend: “From check-in to check-out, it was first class all the way! Thanks again for the easy-to-follow roll charts, overnight bag service, prizes, and even lunch at the end. Can’t wait until next year!!”
Founded in 1990 by the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, the goal of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame is to tell the stories and preserve the history of motorcycling. Located on the campus of the American Motorcyclist Association in Pickerington, Ohio, the Hall of Fame's three major exhibition halls feature the machines and memorabilia of those who have contributed notably to the sport. The Motorcycle Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to motorcycling, including those known for their contributions to road riding, off-road riding and all categories of racing, as well as those who have excelled in business, history, design and engineering. More information can be found at MotorcycleMuseum.org.