Bikes on the Back 9

I have always enjoyed going to motorcycle shows that take place at a golf venue. The atmosphere is different, evoking a sense of elegance, upscale and affluence, real or imagined. Like the Quail Gathering on the West coast, or the Riding Into History event in St. Augustine, FL. Even the bikes seem to have an extra layer of shine and finish to them, as if to say “we deserve to be here.”

My hometown of Greenville, South Carolina is host to such an event. The Euro Auto Festival is held each October at the Preserve at Verdae Golf Club, a beautifully wooded golf venue. As the name implies, it is an event showcasing over one hundred beautiful European automobiles on the golf course (more in a later post), with a large contingent of motorcycles.

Euro is the name of the game here. All European motorcycles on the green from modern sport bikes (Ducati/Triumph), to a vintage scooter (Moto Guzzi), and the usual ’60’s and ’70’s Triumphs and BSA’s in between. A great showing of beauty on two wheels. Enjoy the show.

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A Vintage Bikes & Brunch in North Carolina

I don’t know who came up with it first, the car guys or the biker dudes. All I know is we heard of the car guys Cars & Coffee gatherings first, then, just recently, we came across the bikers Bikes & Breakfast get togethers. We don’t have any Bikes & Breakfast gatherings locally, so Roo and I decided to come up with our own private version in conjunction with this years Meltdown Vintage Motorcycle Show. We have dubbed it Bikes & Brunch.

We anticipate this show all year long. It’s such a grass roots, low key, run what ya brung, family oriented affair that makes you so happy to be there, not just for the bikes, but for the atmosphere as well. Young, middle aged, old timers, dogs, kids, riders, non-riders, they’re all here and loving it! And, of course, the most beautiful vintage motorcycles on display. This is no trailer queen Concours event. As mentioned earlier, these are run what ya brung machines.

The Meltdown starts at noon, in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Roo and I left home with enough time to have our Brunch, arriving at Pop’s Diner in Hendersonville around 11:00 AM. Vintage bikes were everywhere, making their way to the Meltdown venue at Appalachian Brewery, just two blocks away. It was awesome seeing and hearing these beautiful and historic machines on the road.

Yes, we drove our four wheeled sport bike (we had our reason).

After parking the Miata, we strolled down Vintage Motorcycle Alley, three blocks of nothing but vintage bikes lining both sides of the street and overflowing into the parking lots. Heaven! Enjoy the pictorial!

An enthusiastic crowd admires moto history

 

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We all know how much dogs enjoy motorcycles.

This just looks stinkin’ fast……

Leave it to Ford to bring a car (and a possum) to a bike show

Bring on the badges

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What a great vintage show. Even looking at the modern bikes that people rode in was fantastic. A live oldies band (complete with band members pompadour’s) was playing in the courtyard of Appalachian Brewery, along with food trucks serving up all kinds of delicious munchies. No sooner did we leave, we were already anticipating next years show! If you are in the Western North Carolina area the third weekend in April, check it out. If you love vintage moto’s, you won’t be disappointed.

Ancient Bikes In An Ancient City – A Concours d’Elegance Part 2

 A beautiful day in northeast Florida greeted us as we made our way to our favorite coffee house on the island; Amelia Island Coffee. Enjoying a cappuccino as we look out over the harbor, we are excited about spending the day at the Riding Into History Concours d’Elegance in St. Augustine.

History Lesson: St. Augustine, FL

St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European established settlement within the Continental U.S. With the established presence of Spanish explorers claiming Florida for Spain, St. Augustine was then founded in 1565. Over the centuries, St. Augustine saw as many as six different flags flying over Fort Matanzas: Spain, Britain, Spain again, United States, Confederate States of America (Civil War period), and finally and permanently, United States.

This weekend, many flags are flying over St. Augustine, but this time denoting the country of origin of the many beautiful vintage bikes on display at the World Golf Village and Hall of Fame.

This venue is absolutely beautiful. A large lake sits in the middle of the property with a concrete boardwalk around the perimeter. Upon this boardwalk are hundreds of vintage motorcycles lined up by class, year and marque. The walk around the lake is approximately one mile. That’s one mile of tightly packed vintage bikes! Awesome!

Vintage motorbikes line the entire perimeter of this lake

Arriving at the World Golf Village, we were astounded by the sheer number of motorcycles. It was mind bending. So, we started our perusement of the moto eye candy right in front of the Caddyshack  Grill (a great place for lunch-highly recommended) and started snapping away.

NORTON COMMANDO AD

SOME BADGES

 ROLL CAMERA!

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THE ITALIANS

 MORE BADGES!

By now we were hungry and thirsty, and still had only walked half the boardwalk! Lunch at the Caddyshack Grill was exceptional. Beautiful ambience: dark wood interior, golf theme decor, both current and historical, nicely done. Service was wonderful considering the number of bikers invading, the food was very good and the beer refreshing. It was a pretty warm day. Satiated and satisfied, we ventured outside for round two of Riding into History.

SCOOTERS & MINIBIKES 

(And yes. those minibikes are way cool!)

THE ROYAL TRIUMPH

RACER’S ROW- MV AUGUSTA

HONDA HAD A HUGE PRESENCE

You know there’s nothing new under the sun, right? I know that too. But, here I am one month after buying my NC700XD automatic/manual transmission bike, thinking I’m the cat’s meow with new tranny technology, when this comes into view:

NOTICE ANYTHING MISSING? RIGHT. NO CLUTCH LEVER.

I THOUGHT THIS WAS ONLY ON HONDA CARS OF THE ERA………….

THE ENTIRE BIKE- 1983 HONDA 750 FOUR AUTOMATIC

Nothing new under the sun.

GOT A FLAT TIRE? NO WORRIES. THROW ON THE SPARE!

Many years ago I was an avid bicyclist and decent club racer. I had an insatiable appetite for bicycles both modern and vintage, just as I do with motorcycles and automobiles today. Many motorcyclists are also bicyclists, and if that describes you, here is a section of interest:

VINTAGE BICYCLES

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If you live in the South, as we do, college football is king. Roo and I, and apparently the gentleman who owns this bike, are Florida Gator fans/alum. However, we don’t go to such extremes…………….. Go Gators!

FLORIDA GATOR BIKE

Now that’s a BMW I can live with! But, this Ducati in Gator colors would look great in the garage:

I GUESS YOU CAN TELL I LIKE TANK BADGES………….

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A BEAUTIFULLY RESTORED AND RARE EXCELSIOR HENDERSON

 THE PERFECT FLORIDA BIKE: AQUA BLUE AND A SEAHORSE. VERY COOL!

And so, after a few hours and having circled the perimeter (me twice, faster the second time around), it was time to head back to Amelia Island to meet up with a friend, a couple of beers, and dinner.

This was an exceptional show, held the third weekend each May. Do see it if you can. You won’t be disappointed.

ISLAND TIME

Enough About My Bike. Let’s Look At…………

2017 Motorcycle Meltdown

As much as I like modern motorbikes, especially with a modicum of useful technology, and Euro styling, modern retro and vintage bikes get my heart racing. These motorcycles, to me, are works of art. I look at these bikes with an aesthetic eye first before segwaying to their performance capabilities, if at all.

And so, after picking up my NC700XD a few  Saturday mornings ago, Roo and I dropped the top on the Miata and cruised up to Hendersonville, North Carolina for the 2017 Motorcycle Meltdown Vintage bike show. This is a grass roots, laid back bike show for vintage and cafe racer bikes, the real deals, from the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. A family oriented event, folks from all walks of life attend this show: Oldsters who rode & wrenched these machines “back in the day”, hipsters who are fascinated with these ancient machines and restore and build them today, women riders and enthusiasts, non-riders who just like old bikes, kids & dogs running about, and folks like me and Roo who appreciate the visual appeal and aesthetics of these motorbikes.

Here are a few slides of these wonderful works of art. Enjoy, and, if you fit the age demographic, maybe reminisce?

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Il Problema Italiano

 

moto guzzi logo

We got a problem. An Italian problem. Followers of this blog know we are lovers of Italian motorbikes, and our goal is to procure one, sooner rather than later. When we first started thinking about it, the decision making process was rather simple. Basically, it came down to two marques: Moto Guzzi and Ducati. Aprilia wasn’t even a consideration. Roo likes them somewhat, myself, not so much. Crossed off the list. Between the two “contenda’s”, I lean heavily towards Moto Guzzi. Don’t get me wrong. Ducati makes some beautiful motorbikes (Italian, remember?). But I am a sport touring rider, with emphasis on the touring side. I am definitely not a sportbiker, and that is what swings the pendulum away from Ducati for me.

In my heart, I want to be a “Guzzisti”. Moto Guzzi is Italian heritage. The oldest Italian company to continuously produce motorcycles, they turn out beautiful classic Italian machines:

Moto Guzzi Norge

moto guzzi norge

The Norge is Guzzi’s top of the line sport touring machine. She is a mile muncher like my ST, and, like the beaST, she is a heavy bike. I already have my bike in this class, and frankly, I am looking for something a bit smaller/lighter. The Norge is beautiful, and when the time comes for the ST to retire, the Norge will be up there on my list.

Moto Guzzi California

Moto guzi calif. 1400

If I was to go back to riding a large displacement cruiser, this would be it. Outfitted with Guzzi windscreen and hard cases, the California would make a great touring bike, minus the “sport.”

Moto Guzzi Griso

Moto guzzi griso

The Griso is a freaking animal! Just look at that! A straight line power cruiser/sportbike on steroids. Can you see the panther waiting to pounce on her prey in that photo? The Griso isn’t on my list, but I plan to rent one for a day “just because.”

Now we come to my favorite line in the Guzzi lineup: The V7 series. Classic Italian style in a beautiful, sexy package (again, Italian, remember?). Motorcycling in it’s most simple, purest form.

Moto Guzzi V7 Racer

guzzi v7 racer

 Ah, the V7 Racer. Guzzi’s answer to the cafe racer resurgence of late. A real head turner, I bet I would not want for attention riding this gorgeous motorbike. Given more scheckles in the pouch, I would have one of these in the garage.

Moto Guzzi V7 Classic

guzzi v7 classic

The Guzzi V7 Classic is the bike in the V7 lineup that most exemplifies Guzzi’s V7 heritage of the late 1960’s and early ’70’s. Beautiful retro classic styling with modern engine/electrical components. For Old World Guzzi style, this is the motorbike to have. It is way up on my Guzzi list, actually at number two. But my number one choice for entry into the “Guzzisti” fraternity is:

Moto Guzzi V7 Stone

guzzi v7 stone

This is the motorbike that will propel me into everything Guzzi. Beautiful matte black finish, two into two exhaust with that deep, mellow Guzzi rumble, cast wheels (no tube tires), 750cc engine, and, as with all Guzzi motorbikes, shaft drive. Outfitted with a Guzzi windscreen and hard cases emblazoned with the beautiful Guzzi red oval badge on each one, she makes a  great medium duty touring machine. And with those cylinder heads banging out at 90 degrees, there will be no mistaking her for anything other than a Guzzi.

However, we have a problem with Moto Guzzi. it’s not “Il Problema Italiano”, but it is a problem. Moto Guzzi’s dealer network plain out sucks. The nearest dealer to us is 150 miles away. That’s a long way to schlep a bike when it eventually needs dealer attention, as all bikes eventually do. But that’s not the big decision problem. Il Problema Italiano is:

ducati logo

These guys. Ducati is the problem. These guys turn out some beautiful motorcycles, though in the past, they have created some ugly “Duc’s.” Ducati has a long racing history, and their motorbikes reflect that racing heritage. Hence, it has always been my contention that Ducati turned out impractical motorbikes for me and my style of riding. The closest they come to a bike I would ride is the Monster. Beautiful, but the ergonomics just don’t work for me.

Ducati Monster

ducati monster

Then they went and did it. Ducati turned my fairly easy decision making process upside down with the introduction of this:

Ducati Scrambler

ducati scrambler

What? You don’t like the ugly Duc? How about this one?

The Real Ducati Scrambler

ducati scrambler 2015

Wow! Three iterations of the Scrambler are offered by Ducati, the one shown above being my preferred model. Adding a Ducati flyscreen and soft luggage would make this bike only a light duty tourer. Seating is upright, with plenty of room for my five foot seven inch frame. The engine is 803cc, chain final drive, cast wheels (a must). Also available in Ducati Red.

The other way Ducati has made my decision process less simple is that they have an extensive dealer network, with one right in my hometown, thank you very much. You can see how this creates IL Problema Italiano. I still lean towards Moto Guzzi, but now, the process is not so simple.

My favorite line in the movie “The Godfather”, is where Peter Clemenza says to Rocco who has just killed Paulie in the car: “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” So, in paraphrase, do I “Leave the Duc, take the Guzzi.” or “Leave the Guzzi, take the Duc.”?

Si tratta di una scelta difficile (this is a difficult choice).