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Words and photos by Andrew Kohn
Simply put, day two of the Barber Vintage Festival was great. Not a cloud was in the sky, a nice breeze kept things comfortable, and the crowd, though very large, was manageable. As promised in yesterday's update, my first stop was to see the vintage Trials riding.
I've been riding for a long time and I've seen Trials on TV, but I've never seen them in person. Though I wasn't sure what to expect, the event turned out to be very entertaining. Nestled in the woods that surround the track, the Trials event challenged riders with tight turns, steep hills, slippery leaves, and obstacles. The great part about Trials is that the speeds are so slow, that the chance of injury is small. Competitors ranged from 16 to 65 and they all put on a great display of skill on their classic Trials and Enduro machines. Good stuff!
After spending a couple of hours in the nice shady woods, I headed back out to the hot and sunny track to watch former MotoGP rider, and two time World Superbike champion, Colin Edwards take a couple of fast exhibition laps. Edwards was this year's Grand Marshal and he rode a vintage Yamaha TZ race bike around the track at a pretty spirited pace. After Edwards was finished showing his riding skills, six, century-old motorcycles completed a couple of laps of the track. The contrast in speeds between Edwards' laps and those of the century bikes was telling. We've come a long way in 100+ years.
I then swung by the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club and Antique Motorcycle Club of America shows. As always, there were lots of amazing motorcycles to ogle. Plenty of these bikes spurred fond memories of motorcycles past and all were in amazing shape. I especially enjoyed the early BMWs and Hondas, but they were all quite enjoyable.
From there, I was off to the Fan Zone to browse the vendors for a bit. The crowd was large and there were lines for food and some of the attractions, such as the Wall of Death. I'm not a big crowd person, so I decided to go for less crowded environs and headed back to the paddock.
Comprising of four tiers, the paddock at Barber is an impressive sight. Hundreds of vintage bikes of all shapes and sizes were there. The teams are all comprised of family and friends, so the atmosphere is very friendly. You can watch folks prepare (and repair) their racing bikes from all different eras and it's easy to engage with the members of the various teams. You'll see setups that range from a van with a tent out back on the grass to full-blown custom motor coaches with huge support trailers. Regardless of the size of the effort, all of these teams display a shared passion for preserving classic racing motorcycles and telling their history. And by the way, the people watching is great!
Intertwined through everything I've previously mentioned was constant racing action. There were bikes on the track from early morning until late afternoon, with just a one hour break for lunch. The racing was tight and entertaining. If anything, I enjoyed this racing more than I enjoy many of the professional road racing series. The close competition, combined with the excellent camaraderie, make it a superb event.
Overall, this year's Barber Vintage Festival continued to impress. The quantity and quality of motorcycles was astounding, the people friendly, and the list of motorcycling activities long and diverse. This event is one for your bucket list. Ride, drive, or fly, but get to Barber!