This is my favorite time of year. It’s warm during the day, but cools off a touch in the evenings. The sun stays out late, and so do we. For motorcycle riding, it’s the best.
It was this time of year back in 2007 when I bought my first powered two-wheeler: a beat up 1979 Vespa P200E. There are many wonderful vintage Vespas out there, but this was not one of them. It was covered in stickers, had multiple dents across both engine cowls, and did this terrifying clunk when downshifting from 4th gear to 3rd. I didn’t care though. She was mine. I spent that autumn getting to know that goofy old scooter and by then the hook was set. I was a lifelong bike nut.
That first autumn as a rider always comes to mind when the midwestern summer starts winding down. Each sunny day starts to feel precious. Each weekend welcomes any excuse to get out and ride. For me, it feels more like the beginning of my riding year than the middle. It’s where my riding started, and that rhythm has held year after year. In fact, as I look back at other bike purchases throughout the years, most of them came in autumn. It really is a great time to grab a new bike.
More recently, I’ve come to love riding in autumn because of a couple key events. The first is the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, which just might have been my favorite event last year. This year we’re at it again, with an official Motoworks Chicago fundraising team. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do! You don’t have to make a donation to participate in the ride, although obviously we’re in it to help raise the funds to help find a cure for prostate cancer. If you have a prostate, or love someone who does, the minimum online contribution is just $2. Registered riders can also get a 10% discount on any helmets we have in-stock in the store. The ride itself is September 27, and leaves from the All Rise Brewery (Cobra Lounge) at 9:00 AM. Be there and be dapper!
The second event that’s come to define my autumns isn’t a local one, but it’s worth the trip. Of course I’m referring to the Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival in Birmingham, AL. Aside from a weekend of great AHRMA racing action, Barber has become the can’t-miss festival for anyone who loves bikes and everything that comes with them. If vintage isn’t your thing, don’t let the event title fool you. You’ll see every type of bike imaginable at Barber, both old and new. There’s vintage motocross, a massive swap meet, and a yearly get together for The Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club. While I’d expect to see perennial favorites like the Wall of Death and the Ace Cafe Corner return this year, the most compelling reason to attend Barber this year in particular is that there will be a gathering of Britten bikes that is unlikely to be repeated any time soon. This will likely be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to not simply see so many of these priceless bikes in one place, but I do believe some of them will get out on the track for some exercise.
Just like last year, the Motoworks crew will be there, pitting with our Chicago pals from ChiVinMoto. Please come by the paddock, grab a Gatorade and say hello.
These two events aside, I just love this time of year. It’s like a half-way point and new chapter all in one for the riding season. It’s a second chance to get out and ride if, like me, you’ve been busy all summer and haven’t put down as many miles as you’d like. Most of all, for anyone perhaps sitting on the fence right now on grabbing a new bike. Now’s the time. There’s so much season left. Pull the trigger. Take the plunge. Enjoy the ride. Start autumn off right.