Frank Simmons

Carl writes:

Frank Simmons, born in Davenport, CA in 1908; died April, 1986 (78 years old). Wife’s name Dorothy. A motorcyclist for over 60 years (we celebrated his 60 years of motorcycling at the Gardnerville dinner in 1984), Frank was a dedicated Harley rider. In his youth, Frank would attend local races and hillclimbs. While attending one hillclimb in the early ’30’s, Frank was approached by noted racer and motorcycle dealer, Dudley Perkins. Dud had noticed Frank was wearing a red sweater as asked Frank to stand partway up the hill as a marker where Dud would shift gears and throttle up the hill. Of course, Perkins made it to the top of the hill while many other competitors fell by the wayside. Later, Perkins found Frank and said, “Thank’s, kid.” A life-long memory for Frank and a story he always enjoyed telling.

Frank’s last bike (pictured in the SMBC website photo I took in 1985) [seen here along with a transcriptiopn of a 1985 newsletter] was a 1972 FLH (dresser, bagger) with over 200 thousand miles. Frank was a large man. In the heydays (“50’s”?) of the Death Valley Run (rally) Frank won the award for Heaviest Man. In addition to the Carson City Run (predecessor to the Gardnerville Ride), the Fall Ride to Death Valley was an annual pilgramicdge for the Breakfast Club (sometimes known as Frank’s Bunch). During one ride to DV, Frank and a few other riders decided to ride Titus Canyon… and they made it! Those were the days when you had one bike and you rode it everywhere. Frank’s last ride to Death Valley was 1984. His eyesight was poor and his kidneys were failing, but his joy in planning and making the ride were something you’d expect from someone much younger. Frank delighted in pulling up next to you with a big smile from his open face helmet and giving you a thumbs-up. That’s when you knew you’d arrived!

Over the course of 74 years, the Sunday breakfast ride has had a number of origins and destinations depending upon where Frank and other riders lived.. Pacifica and Santa Cruz among them. By the 1980’s, the Sunday breakfast ride started at the Donut Shop on Broadway in Burlingame (with a variety destinations throughout the Bay Area). Frank would get to the Donut Shop early and have his first breakfast (yes, a full breakfast!). If you wanted to have a pre-ride conversation or a cup of coffee (or a first breakfast), you got there early. At 7:05 the bikes were started and we were riding. If you arrived at 7:06, you rode alone. And so it remains today.

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