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Great Western Bike Rally, May, 1968


by David Steffen


The Great Western Bike Rally has been held every year since 1965. As best I can remember, the Modesto Roadmen attended three Great Western Bike Rallies; 1966, 1968, and 1969. I have no pictures from 1966, when it was held in Atascadero, California. In 1968 and 1969, it was held in Solvang, California. In 1968, I drove the 1950 Dodge Coronet (on permanent load from my Dad) from Berkeley, where I was attending college, to Modesto, and picked up some Modesto Roadmen and we drove to the rally.

From looking at the pictures, there were five to six Modesto Roadmen in attendance. It seems unlikely that we could have fit six riders and six bikes into that one little car; five would have been a stretch, but I will have to leave that mystery unsolved for now. The up-to-six riders included me (David Steffen), Tom Woods, Jeff Cowdrey, Fred Brockman, and two riders who I cannot identify.

My memory is that the Modesto Roadmen enjoyed these rallies very much indeed. What made them so fun was the sense of community. For that reason, although this website emphasizes pictures of Modesto Roadmen, I have included a lot more pictures of other attendees in this set to try to capture the mood.


Foreground: Tom on the left, Jeff on the right. Background: Fred, facing away from the camera in a red jacket, and to his left, one of the unknown riders.

The person on the right is someone I know only by his nickname "Oedipus." I met him when I toured Europe with the American Youth Hostel organization the previous summer. I have no idea who the guy on the left is. The club to which Oedipus belonged, "Southern California Rallye Team", rode to the rally from their home in Los Angeles, a distance of about 200 miles, all in one go.

A panorama attempting to capture as many of the attendees as I could. I count between 50 and 60 people in this picture and I am sure this is far from everyone. According to the history on the Great Western Bike Rally Website, there were 40 people who attended in 1965, so it seems attendance was already up.

The main activities at the rally were bike rides. This is one of the groups on one of the rides.

This is a random group of participants at a rest stop.

This is a random group of bicycles on the side of the road at that rest stop. The person standing among them is our very own Fred Brockman.

Yet another set of random participants at the rest stop.

Bike history was a part of this rally, and here is a brave penny-farthing rider illustrating that history.

A random person coming into a rest stop. I took is picture because of the kid on his back. Is it because this is unsafe and the guy is stupid? is it because this illustrates how family-oriented this even was? Sometimes, a picture is just a picture.

Jeff Cowdrey coming into a rest stop.

Fred Brockman coming into a rest stop.

This is a picture for the candidate sixth Roadman in attendance. Does anybody know who this is or if they are a Roadman?

I believe this is the same unidentified fifth Roadman who is shown in the first picture.

Here we are, packing up to leave. I think this is, from left to right, the fifth unidentified Roadman, the potential sixth unidentified Roadman, Tom, and Jeff.

Return to the List of Pictures.