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.

These Guys Have Brass Ones!

THE WALL OF DEATH

I have read about it. I have seen photos of it. I have seen you tube videos of it. But I have never seen it live. Until now. Inside this rickety, wooden structure, men on vintage motorcycles flip the bird to bodily injury and death as they race their motorbikes on vertical wooden planks, inches from the crowd of spectators.

PRE-EVENT WARMUPS

The Wall of Death has been around at motorcycle rallies since the early 20th century. Not much has changed: man, motorcycle, speed, wood and centrifugal force. Get one of the components wrong and you’re toast.

The spectators climb the stairs into the “dome” and circle the outer perimeter of the wall. I was right up against the wall, right where the motorcycles would be inches from my face.

Looking down at the moto gladiators and their machines

The bottom row of planks are banked in order to get the motorbike up onto the vertical planks. When the bike has attained sufficient speed and centrifugal force takes over, the rider nudges the bike onto the vertical planks!

Wally, a native South Carolinian, is the oldest Wall of Death participant in the U.S. at 68 years old!

 How about two at a time? Like a bicycle pursuit race, they start at opposite ends of the “wall” and pass each other! Sick, huh?

Even a go cart has a go at it. Up the banking ……..

……… and onto the wall!

The whole structure rocked back and forth as the vehicles circled the wall. It was kind of unnerving, but exciting as well.

What a great experience, up close and personal. The bikes and riders were literally inches from us as they climbed to the very top of the wall! If you ever get the chance to see this, do it. It’s nothing short of fantastic!

 

It’s Been a Vintage Kind of Year!

It has indeed! We started our vintage bike rally “groupie” travels in April, with a run up to Hendersonville, North Carolina, for the Motorcycle Meltdown Vintage & Cafe Racer bike show. This is our favorite, down home, grass-roots vintage show. Next, we headed to the Sunshine State in May, to the World Golf Village and the most excellent 2017 Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance in Saint Augustine, Florida. Finally, just last month, we wound up in the small, rural South Carolina town of Chesnee for the Antique Bikes on Main Vintage Show and Wall of Death!

There were lots of restored and unrestored bikes on display. There seems to be a small movement in both bike and car restoration towards leaving vehicles in their original condition, or “as is”, doing just enough work to get them in running and driveable condition. Seeing some of these bikes in worn condition was pretty fascinating.

A few photos from Main St.

Even a separate section for vintage race bikes!

This is a nice, small town, vintage show that just a few years ago was a show out for one percenter groups (or wannabes). Now, riders and non-riders, cruisers to sport bikes to scooters, kids and dogs, all come to enjoy old bikes, food, vendors, and amusement rides. A nice family show that is close to home.

Next Post: The Wall of Death!

Ancient Bikes in an Ancient City – A Concours d’Elegance Part 1

RIDING INTO HISTORY

St. Augustine, Florida

Roo and I have been wanting to go to this Concours for a few years now, and this year we made it a priority. It did not disappoint. Every vintage marque was here: Harley, Honda, Vincent, Velocette, Merkle, BSA, Ariel, Moto Guzzi, and so many more. Our heads were spinning with all the eye candy surrounding us at such a beautiful venue, The World Golf Village & Hall of Fame in America’s oldest city, St. Augustine, Florida.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Our home base for the long weekend is not St. Augustine, but Amelia Island, about a one hour drive north of St. Aug and a stones throw to the Georgia state line. Roo & I have been visiting here for going on seventeen years, and are close to deciding if this is where we will spend our “retirement” years.

The city of Fernandina Beach is on the north end of Amelia, and is a beautiful, quaint and very historic walkable city. Fernandina has been a former pirate stronghold (a real one!), was the only Florida city where a major Revolutionary War battle was fought (the battle for East Florida), and boasts the first Cross-Florida rail line built to Cedar Key in the 1880’s. Amelia Island, compared to the rest of coastal Florida, is quiet and laid back. Island Time is the rule here, and Amelia definitely has a Key West vibe to it.

The Beaches

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The Boats

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The City

 

The Architecture

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“Don’t mess with me bike, matey”

An evening of chillin’ out at a local hangout with live music and cold beer, has us feeling mellow and slipping into Island Time. Tomorrow we head to St. Augustine to spend the day among legendary motorcycle marques and the legends of golf.

Next post: Riding Into History