Last week I headed north after work (at 3PM) to the Mid-Ohio raceway in Lexington, OH for the 2016 AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days. This marks my 2nd trip to this event, and one that will stay on my yearly calendar for a long time to come. I was supposed to go up Thurday night, however things came up that were not expected.
The whole week, and all Friday, I was watching the weather, and keeping my fingers crossed for the rain to skip over and miss me for the ride up. Early in the afternoon, there was a downpour, however once I left, I only encountered some sprinkles just outside of Jefferson county. From there on, it was dry roads, and overcast skies (which is ok for me.)
There will be photos at the bottom of the story.
I was nearly half way between Louisville and Cincinnati when I came up on the first of many stops/slow downs. There was a wreck a good 5 to 7 miles ahead, and we had come to a dead stop. As in people getting out of their cars and walking their pets, stop. A trucker who I was next to leaned out, said the emergency lane was clear all the way up and I might as well go for it. So I did. Ended up getting plenty of jealous stares as I gingerly made my way up the emergency lane. When I got to the accident scene, it was mostly cleared up, and only a few cops and wreckers around. One of the cops glanced at me, furled his eyebrows, and then waved me through. I waved to him and sped off with no traffic in front of me for a few miles – it was GREAT!
Due to this, I hit Cincinnati right at 5PM, on a Friday. Traffic slowed down through Cincy and didnt let up until I was past Kings Island. Then, a few miles from there, construction delays. South of Columbus, more construction delays, and heavy traffic through town. Once I was north east of Columbus, however, it was easy sailing down the expressway. The total trip took me from 3:00 PM until 8:30 PM with 2 stops for gas (the second being a top-off) after just over 315 miles. Not bad, considering the delays.
I want to pause the story here to express just how much I hate taking highways on the motorcycle. They are boring, full of idiots not paying attention – at least we are all going the same direction, and with the average speeds being in the lower 80’s, it just eats gas like it is never ending. I rode 630 miles on the expressway this weekend – more than tripling the total expressway miles I have put on since I got the bike.
So, I got to the site with plenty of daylight left to set up my camp, which consisted of a cot with a tent built onto it and my chair. Very simple setup. Took all of 5 minutes. I was lucky to have a friend of mine from LouVin have extra room in his vehicle to bring the cot and chair – they would not have fit on my bike. Another friend said I could throw it under his pavilion tent, which worked out really nicely to keep the dew off so I didnt have to put up the rain fly. I got settled, grabbed my bourbon and went to the party.
Louisville Vintage Motor Works has become a staple, almost an event of their own, at AMAVMD. We get put in the corner of the campground, well away from the family camp ground and we have a party. From beer can slalom to board burnouts with anything that can spin a tire. We have the Captain MC’ing the whole event and even a go-ahead from AMA to continue well past normal waking hours. This happens each night and by Sunday morning, there are a few who are crawling around on their hands and knees “looking for their souls.”
On Saturday, I wanted to do 3 things. Scheduling was going to be tight, but workable. First, I wanted to sign up and take a few laps on the race track. Anyone with a 250cc or greater motorcycle was welcome to pay $10 and register to ride the track. That happened at 11:15 AM. At 2:30 I was scheduled to ride a demo on a 2016 KTM Super Duke 1290 R. At 3:30 I signed up for a sanctioned ride with AMA that went around the area for about 50 miles and ended up in Ashland County fair grounds to watch dirt track racing and have a free meal of BBQ, Chips, beans, potato salad and different pies. It ended up be less of a tight schedule than I was initially worried about. I did have time to wander some of the different areas and see some great bikes.
We started lining up for the track ride about 10:30 or so. There were at least a hundred, if not way more, people signed up and ready to ride. We also had a large women’s motorcycle group ride in and participate as well. A couple of the officials were making bets this was the most amount of people on the track at once. I would have taken that bet, too. It was a blast! 30 minutes of talking to bikers and their unique rides followed by a few laps around a historic race track. And my first ever time on a race track. It was a blast, but with as many people as were out there, we kind of went accordion style when it came to speed. Once that was over, I went and grabbed some food, which consisted of an Italian sausage with onions and peppers with a nice micro brew to wash it down.
I walked around the area where a lot of old bikes were lined up to be judged in the show. Another one of my friends had their bike in the show, and it actually took “Best in Show.” That would be the old beauty at the start of this paragraph. There were tons of awesome old bikes on display, and more than a few on sale. Glad I didn’t have a way to get anything home or I would have spent money I really didn’t have. That’s OK. One year I may rent a truck and trailer and come home with something else as well, just not this year.
At 2:20 I raced over to the KTM area to get ready for my demo ride. Now, it is important to say, I ride a 700cc automatic bike. I dont have to worry about working a clutch and gear lever, just paddles for shifting. I was getting ready to ride one of the biggest and baddest bikes on the entire ground. 1290 cc, 0ver 180 HP. It has 6 gears, but I never had to shift past 3rd, even at 85+ miles an hour. The seating position was semi-upright, but comfortable. I was not scrunched on the bike to get my feet on the pegs and be able to operate the shift lever or rear brake. The clutch was very responsive, and not overly stiff. Last year I rode the 1290 Adventure from KTM. It was set up differently and very tall. The Super Duke had a nice seat height which allowed me, for the first time, to stand parked and have both feet flat on the road at the same time. And man did it scream! It was not only quick, but fast. I could definitely see myself getting into trouble. However, I could also definitely see myself buying that bike as well. We got back from the ride just in time for me to get some water and head over for the ride to the flat track.
There ended up being about 30 of us riding for dinner and racing at Ashland. We headed out of Mid-Ohio and rode through the countryside on the smallest roads we could find. It was a nice evening, mid 70s (hell, I dont think it hit 80 all day) with a nice breeze. We got to Ashland, had special parking and a pavilion for the food and free entry to the races. The food was good, we all got plenty to eat, and the races were a blast to watch. I had never seen flat track racing, but it is a large oval dirt track that is completely flat. No banking in the corners or anything. The bikes line up and take off full bore on the straight away and then drift the corners, then full throttle on the back straight and again drifting. The first few heats, the bikes didn’t even have brakes. It was a great night watching the bikes race around the track. I headed out before dark so I could get into the park without trying to feel my way through.
On Sunday, I got up, got things packed up, with the chair and cot at my friend’s truck, and headed out at about 9:30 AM. I stopped for gas once on the way home, and was lucky enough not to have run into any construction or other delays. I was home and unpacked by 1:30 PM and that was with me stopping for lunch on the way. Total mileage for the weekend was 730 +/- miles. Already I am looking at what to do for next year.
Thanks to the AMA for hosting another fantastic weekend, and to LouVin for making the after-hours so much fun as well! Proud to be a member of both organizations.