This year, due to some terrific timing with the Renfair, I was able to go up to the American Motorcycle Association Vintage Motorcycle Days at Mid-Ohio Racetrack in Lexington, OH (#AMAVMD). It was about a 5.5-6 hour drive up (and back) from Louisville. We headed out early (about 7:45 or so) and arrived around 1:30 at the camp ground. The AMA had Louisville Vintage Motor Works set up in the far back corner of the campgrounds, based on the legendary (if not before, they are now) parties we throw each night on site. From the Beer-Can Slalom to burnouts, it is a great time after hours. But I am getting ahead of myself. I have attached a map of the site so that the scale can be seen on how big this place is, and the need for access to a pit bike. Also, please note, I am attaching the photos after the write up in a gallery.
Now, the drive up was pretty uneventful, save for the construction south of Columbus. That cost us about 30 minutes or so. We made one stop north of Cincinnati for some snacks and to stretch and check the ties on the trailer. Our goal was to try and get to the site before 1pm, but didn’t count on the damn traffic.
I thought I was prepared for what was gonna happen, but no amount of stories or anecdotes or descriptions of scale or anything else could prepare someone for their first #AMAVMD. I knew I wanted to watch some racing and check out the swap meet. What I didn’t realize I would get to see was the Wall of Death or ride a new KTM Adventure 1190 or see D-Wight in a wrestling onesie…
The first day, I hopped a ride to the swap meet, after being told I needed to get a cheap, but running, pit bike. This place was huge, and would have taken an hour to go there and back. So I found a small, running, cheap pit bike that would get me through the weekend. It was a little 49cc engine on a small chopper-style frame. I would have taken it back to the swap and sell it on Sunday, but the rain was hampering and there were not enough to worry about. That’s OK, I will get it cleaned up and sell it here. Have had a few people interested already. Besides, I didn’t spend any more than I took with me, so even if I keep it, it will be a wash.
So now that I had transportation sorted, I spent the afternoon bouncing from booth to booth looking at stuff, or watching the racers practicing on the road course or the dirt riders get muddy in the motor-cross course. There was even a “hare-scramble” course set up back behind the camp grounds. But one of the coolest things was watching the Wall of Death. I have video and will get it uploaded as soon as I can. But these guys rode motorcycles and even a go-kart on a vertical wall in circles. Physics is phun!
Friday night started with a good round of Beer-Can Slalom. As the day wound down, and the drinking wound up, the empty cans were set up on the camp road (mud path) and people started running them like a slalom course. This was a trip, along with our announcer, “the Captain” (complete with a boat captain’s hat). At one point, little Mr Bitch-fit of a security guard came through and kicked over each can until they were off the course. That’s OK, however, because after he left, we reset it. We actually didn’t have any further problems. I think mainly because the AMA was OK with what we were doing back there. Which is why they put us back there in the first place. The evening continued on until we got to the burnout phase. Somewhere upwards of 30 people brought their bikes down and participated in burning rubber on the wood planks we acquired, until someone finally split one of the pieces. One pushed his bike so hard he blew the baffling out of his muffler.
Morning rolls around to headaches, hangovers and hunger. Well, a couple aspirin and water kept me from having any headache or hangover. Others were not so lucky. I ran over to the KTM booth and signed up for a demo ride at 4pm that day on a KTM Adventure 1190. It is the largest, most powerful motorcycle I have been on. To kill time, I hit the swap meet and watched some races. At 3 I went back to camp to get ready to head to the KTM booth for the demo ride. I needed to get my helmet, gloves, boots, jacket and pants. Now, considering I was nearly sitting on the ground on my little pit bike, I looked like the poster child for overkill with all that gear on something that would not even skin my bare knee if I fell. That’s OK, I had a mission. I got some laughs, smiles, thumbs up and more as I rode through the whole site to get back to KTM.
I was quite nervous when I pulled up to the huge trailer with all the different models KTM offers because there is not an automatic (DCT) among them and I have not been on a manual bike since my MSF course in April. I was slated to ride the big adventure styled bike. KTM 1190 Adventure. This thing was huge, and a few inches taller than my own NC700X, which made standing flat-footed impossible. It was also about 70 pounds heavier than my NC. But, I got on, got it started and got it in gear for the ride. It did help running the little chopper around, as while it only had one gear, it still had a clutch. I took off with the rest of the guys on the ride and held my own for the first 20 minutes or so. The thing was a beast. It had more power than I have ever sat on. 50 in 3rd gear was easy, and I ended up there because I forgot I had to shift… No harm, no foul, not even a redline. While I could reach 70 in 4th, I decided to see how 5th and 6th behaved, and man were they smooth. As we were headed back, we hit a stop sign and had to let some cagers run by. The lead took off and I was still in 4th. So I stalled out… I quickly got back into neutral and got her started and then off we went, only a few seconds behind. Even though this thing was not a street bike, it ate up the twisties, and with the seating very familiar (nice and upright) I felt at home while I was moving. We get back into the park, idling in first at 15 mph, and head back to the trailer. It was a very fun, but very short, test ride. I should have gone and signed up for more first thing in the AM. My only complaint is on the KTM, it runs hot at the shins. It is almost like leaning up on the engine itself. While that may be OK in the colder weather, it was uncomfortable even in only 80 degree weather. Overall, however, it was a great ride on a very nice motorcycle.
Saturday night kicked off much like Friday, sans bitchy security guard. I guess he was told to stay away from us or we would make him disappear in burnout smoke. We started off with the drinking and then as the course was set up, Beer-Can Slalom was in full gear, so to speak. It started off kinda slow, until a couple events closed at the other end of the park. Then, there was no road to even pass. The riders who wanted new tires showed up to finish out their old one, which ended up in a spectacular blowout of smoke, noise and green slime. All the while custom t-shirts were again being sold with the best in show being “Boobies and Ranch.” Music, dancing, drinking, and a cash bar (with proceeds going to the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Museum) with left over alcohol and a keg of PBR was pushing out the fun all night. As the party started slowing down, and people meandered back to their camps, all was again quiet.
Sunday, however, we were awoken to rain. It wasn’t terrible, but enough to make our give a shit run away. The grounds were subdued with people packing up, or waiting on rain to go away to pack up. The swap was pretty much over, and the field and paths were again a muddy, squishy mess. We got packed up, bikes on the trailer and out out the gates at about 11:30 AM. Not terrible. It took us until 5:30 to get home, after a stop off at a Cracker Barrel. And those who know, there is no way to get out for there fast… It was still good, however. When we pulled into my house, I got my stuff out of the truck and unpacked and in the wash. Then it was my turn, in which shortly after I fell into a nice nap, followed by going to bed.
For next year, however, I will be taking my own bike. I will take those who offered up on their willingness to take my gear up (cooler and bags) and I think it will be a lot easier to get around. Also, I would have loved to get on the track for the demo laps. It looked like so much fun. I am going to have to see how I can get it worked out so I can get back there next year. It was a great time! Many thanks to all who made it happen! Mike, Josh, Jo, Josh, Chad, D-wight, Jess, Rob, Nick and all the rest of LouVin! And special love to #Butchwiggersracing and #AMAVMD!
The photos below are just a sampling of what went on. Some things, I warn you, cannot be unseen! I do have some videos, they will be posted once I can get them converted.