California OHV Program Under Threat!

The California OHV program is facing a major threat from Senate Bill 249. This cherished program, long seen as a model nationwide, is slated for renewal due to a sunset provision that was included in the previous program authorization. However as written, SB 249 overlooks the important role the OHV program plays within state parks while serving all Californians. The program not only provides quality, sustainable, family oriented recreation for citizens and visitors alike, but also emphasizes environmental sustainability and protection, as well as public safety and partnerships with federal government agencies that provide OHV opportunities.

If adopted as written, SB 249 would begin to dismantle decades of work and indeed mark the end of this nationally recognized and celebrated program.

AMA members and indeed all OHV recreationists must immediately contact their elected officials and remind them of the benefits the program provides to every citizen and visitor to California. It is important to remind them that the program uses no general fund monies and is in fact based on a user-pay, user-benefit style model.  Monies used to pay for the program include those taxes collected on fuel, State Vehicle Recreation Areas (SVRAs) entrance fees and vehicle registrations (green and red stickers).

Senate Bill 249 would result in a diversion of these funds for non-OHV related purposes and also proposes to reduce the number of OHV representation on the OHV Commission. Additionally it would severely limit opportunities for public involvement in the decision-making process in the future.

The public simply deserves better, and it is incumbent on the Legislature to deliver on the promises made during previous re-authorizations, that this and similar “user pay, user benefit” programs remain untouched. The OHV community has long paid their own way and will continue to do so as long as these monies are used for their intended purpose.

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A Ride Around the Yard

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New Years Day at Carnegie is a Tradition

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Fun Pics

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The commission approves the Environmental Impact Statement and New General Plan.

Now highly motivated political forces, including the Sierra Club and Friends of Tesla Park, are trying to prevent the opening of the Alameda/Tesla expansion of the Carnegie State Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Park. Friends of Tesla are spreading their lies on the internet, to the media and to influential politicians. It never stops. These are some of the same people who unsuccessfully filed suit a few years ago to shut down Carnegie. They failed but they never give up.  See

The instigators, Mark Connolly and his wife, Celeste Garamendi (Friends of Tesla);  have about a nine thousand acre cattle ranch next our OHV park. They raise cattle to sell as organically certified beef and most likely meet the requirements for certification. They probably adhere to all the rules and regulations related to cattle ranching; but does that mean they have less of an adverse effect on the environmental than the OHV park across their border?

I remember hearing that when Mark Connolly was inspecting the new property, back when the  rangers let cattle graze in the Alameda/Tesla expansion, Connolly complained because the park’s the cattle were “destroying the environment”.  Mark observed that they were tramping down all the grass and getting into the little pond. But then one of the rangers pointed out that Connolly’s cattle were doing the same thing just thirty feet away on his side of the fence. There was only one water hole for the cattle in the dry summer months. It was where they all congregated.The guy is such a hypocrite. And now when we are opening up the new property for off road recreation he and his wife are crying bloody murder.

It is semi-arid region and especially dry in the summer meaning that the cattle live in a fragile ecosystem. Hay and water have to be supplied depending on the season. After the cows have finished grazing and exposed the topsoil in the summer, the rains bring the soil down into the canyons eroding the hillsides. How is that different from what the rain does to our trails? It is a lot different because most of our trails are hard and do not wash out like exposed topsoil. They can be maintained because bikes stick to the trail and cattle don’t. Cattle amble along an endless staircase of single track along the contours of the hillsides. That too becomes eroded and devoid of native life.

Native plants and animals are not adapted for survival in conditions where cattle are raised. Cattle are large mammals with four stomachs and big appetites. They follow each other around and their hooves cut grooves in the soil. They also like to stand in the streams. It has been documented that manure contains pathogens that gets into the water supply.

“The harmful environmental effects of livestock production are becoming increasingly serious at all levels — local, regional, national and global — and urgently need to be addressed”, according to researchers from Stanford University, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other organizations.

The 2006 report Livestock’s Long Shadow, released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, states that “the livestock sector is a major stressor on many ecosystems and on the planet as a whole. Globally it is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases and one of the leading causal factors in the loss of biodiversity, while in developed and emerging countries it is perhaps the leading source of water pollution.” And here experts have concluded that soil erosion associated with overgrazing is an important issue in many dry regions of the United States and the world.

In essence, cattle destroy the very native flora and endangered species which Connolly and Garamendi claim they are trying to protect from off road recreation. The hills all around Carnegie suffer the destruction and desecration of cattle ranching. The Lawrence Livermore Weapons Lab across the street fares no better and was declared a super fund site. But ignoring the true perils to the environment, they filed suit against Carnegie which is the only place in the Bay Area where we can legally ride our bikes.

A huge buffer zone is incorporated into Carnegie where we can’t ride so as not to affect our neighbors’ property. This is not enough for them and they want to get rid of us entirely. When Connolly’s father was alive, he helped create Carnegie so that we had someplace legal to ride our bikes. Everywhere else has been developed and without our official off road parks we have no place to ride without driving a much longer distance.

Garamendi has been busy behind the scenes organizing the attempted takeover of our state park and other actions aimed at destroying off road recreation in California. Her methods were brought to light by looking at the public records.We did an Open Records Request a year or so ago directed at East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD) and found numerous communications between Celeste Garamendi and various park supervisors concerning her goal to have EBRPD take over the Alameda/Tesla expansion and run it for passive (non-motorized) activities. EBRPD still has our park in their master plan included in their map of future acquisitions.  Garamendi comes from a very influential family and most people think that she is using her political connections for her own devious purposes.

The Petitioners in the law suit are asking the court to stop our three thousand acre expansion from opening even after the Environmental Impact Statement (EIR) and New General Plan were unanimously approved by the OHV Commission. Our opponents contend that the commission just rubber stamped the EIR. But that is far from the truth.

According to the legislation that created the Commission;  “The nine Commissioners are appointed to staggered four-year terms”. They are appointed from a diverse set of political leaders from the Governor, to the Assembly, and the Senate.  “The Commission membership is intended to represent a broad range of groups including OHV recreation enthusiasts, biological or soil scientists, rural landowners, law enforcement, environmental protection organizations, and non-motorized recreation interests”.

The EIR for the Tesla/Alameda expansion plan includes a thousand acres which is slated to be shut down entirely to off road recreation and the other two thousand acres are planned for the creation of highly maintained trails routed to avoid sensitive areas. It is not my favorite option (obviously chosen to  placate our opponents) and I can’t understand what there is not to like if you against off road recreation at Carnegie. The plan does not look like a plan for an OHV park. It seems more concerned about pure conservation rather than off road recreation in an environmentally responsible manner.

Our opponents claim that we represent a threat to nature. This is more than the kettle calling the pot black. Connolly’s love of nature extends to selling tags to kill Elk for $10,500.00 a pop. He says that he does this to cull the herd because there is not enough for them to eat. I wonder why – maybe because his cattle have eaten up and tramped down everything else? He claims that the elk are afraid of humans but they wander around Carnegie and show only curiosity towards the public. We all know why they are afraid of Connolly and his minions and not us regular folk.

When Garamendi  was running for mayor of Tracy (she ran and lost twice) one resident in a letter to the Tracy Press said the following:

“I can’t believe that the Connollys are once again telling the residents of Tracy what is good for them. I must have missed the memo where God made them the king and queen who make the decisions for the poor peasants in Tracy…” and it goes on “Mark Connolly lives high on his hill, yet believes he knows what is best — for Mark Connolly and Celeste Garamendi, that is. He has brought lawsuits against anyone he can think of.  Les Serpa tries to build some beautiful homes in Tracy by offering to assist in building a long-needed swim center, and Connolly sues”.

This is the same rancher and his wife (from a wealthy political family) who attempted to close us down a few years ago by supporting the previous lawsuit against Carnegie. They failed but they will never quit until they get what they want (follow the money). Again it comes down to the interests of the wealthy against the public. It is the only public off road riding park within a reasonable distance from the Bay Area and we take our responsibility to protect our land very seriously. In fact elk and other wild life are prevalent inside our park. Maybe that is because they have no place else to go due to the degradation of the surroundings hillsides. Go figure…


We will not be Overcome

Posted in Carnegie | 4 Comments

Yamaha YZR3 a Modest little Road Bike That Looks Like a Million Bucks


The other day I saw the Yamaha R-3 Super Sport sitting on the showroom floor at Berkeley Honda, Yamaha. While I admired the bike because of its affordability (about $4,990.00), it was still a little too expensive for my limited budget. At that point Scott, the salesman, informed me that they had a used one for sale with only about 3,000 miles on it for under $4,000.00. I was intrigued and bought it that very day because I know that they would give me a good deal (they always have in the past) and I had fallen in love with the unassuming little bike with a super sport soul.

The R-3 is generally sold as a woman’s bike or a beginner’s bike because of its the modest sized engine (321cc) and low seat height (30.4 inches). It is a fully modern motorcycle with a liquid-cooled 2-cylinder power plant with double overhead cams, and 4 valves per cylinder. The R3  is  superbly smooth and handles like a dream. It is listed as a super sport bike and has a full fairing. It looks very fast but looks can be a bit deceiving with its small engine meaning that it runs our of steam at higher, nonlegal freeway speeds.

It is related to its big brother the R1 (980cc) with a list price of $16,990.00 but don’t confuse them because the R1 is a Moto GP inspired race bike, with 167 horsepower and with the accessory race ECU 172 horsepower. Its seat height is a towering 33.7 inches, and the four cylinder engine packs a real wallop especially in the upper rpms. It has completely adjustable suspension and a rock solid, light chassis and oversized brakes to match. It not only looks the part, but is a real race bike capable of putting the hurt on other big bore super sports anywhere, and especially on the track.


The R3 is a bit of a poser with 42 horsepower at 10,750 rpm, it is tuned more for ride-ability rather than for high end horsepower. None-the-less, it does most of its work in the mid-range and makes its best power on top.  But it does not have the high quality adjustable suspension, the exotic parts or super stable chassis of the R1. For all that, it is a fun bike even for an experienced rider like myself, although the non adjustable stock suspension is a bit soft.

The R-1 is a race bike that can be ridden on the street while the R-3 is a street bike that can be ridden on the track but only if you forget everything you know about racing. You don’t suddenly shut off the power and brake hard coming into corners because doing that will upset the chassis and slow you down. Using the engine to power out of the the corner will cause the bike to wallow. You have to maintain your corner speed. Again the trick is developing a rhythm and maintaining corner speed.

The thing to remember about this bike is that you have to get into a rhythm and sweep through the the turns. It is light and maneuverable but the non adjustable (except pre-load), and soft suspension  means you will have to pick your speed with with care and slow down if things get sketchy. The chassis can get lively speeding through uneven pavement and it will throw you off if you aren’t paying attention. It is a very fancy looking go anywhere bike with hidden potential if you know how to use it.

I am an off road rider who has owned two street bikes in the past forty years. They were both relatively small bore two strokes; a 1976 Yamaha RD-125 and a 1984 Yamaha RZ-350 (now classics). Those bikes were a blast to own and ride but tame compared to this new two cylinder four stroke with fuel injection, super-sport styling, forged aluminum pistons,  and cast aluminum wheels. It has all the modern amenities and it feels like a million bucks on the pavement.

The R-3 powers up to 70 miles an hour in fifth or six gear if you rev the engine, and it maintains freeway speed without having to take it above 7000 rpm. It is responsive at seventy miles and hour and picks up pretty quickly for passing on the freeway. You can duck down behind the fairing and get out of the wind. It is heavy enough (368 lbs) to not get blown around on the freeway and light enough to be very maneuverable on city streets.

The m0re I ride this bike the more I appreciate how cool the R-3 is for such a low cost, low maintenance machine. In dirt terms, it is comparable to the inexpensive Honda CRF 110F and CRF 15oF made for beginners with low horsepower, air cooled engines and a low seat height. They don’t have adjustable suspension either, but they are not in the same league off road as the R3 is on the road. The R-3 for all its shortcomings as a pavement blaster, is no play bike. It has real potential.


The R-3 makes me feel like a hero. If I pick my corners carefully, it can speed through them smoothly and predictably. The shape and feel of the chassis (you sit in it rather than on top) makes it easy and natural to hang off in turns. It won’t keep up with the bigger bikes but it is a great bike for just plain having fun on pavement.

Also it is a wonderful go anywhere bike that gets a lot of admiring looks from the uninitiated. It gets a average of 57 miles per gallon and if looks could kill, this bike would commit mass murder. In addition, the big tires makes it easy to keep up speed in the in corners. I haven’t touched down with the peg extensions yet, but the  large diameter tires are getting worn down almost to the edges as I take it out on the deserted, twisty roads in the hills. Big fun…

My husband, bless his soul, would have been happy that I did not get a more powerful and dangerous bike like the R-1. It is enough that I ride full fledged motocross bikes in the dirt without endangering my life on the street with over one hundred and sixty horsepower.



Posted in motorcycles | 3 Comments