Friday, December 02, 2005

Road Trip: Barber Motorsport Museum

The Friday after Thanksgiving, I rode with my buddies Larry Ferrell and Birney Montcalm over to Birmingham, Alabama to see the Barber Motorsport Museum. LOTS of great old bikes! The day started with a spirited ride over Cheaha Mountain into the Talladega area. Lots of twisty mountain roads. Birney is a very competitive driver and rider, and pushed his Lumina way harder than most people could without losing it. I rode with Larry, who is also a competitive driver, but in his Miata it was like being glued to the road - we had no problem keeping up with Birney. Eventually we arrived at the museum, and lemme tell you it was amazing. You know those model racks that boys have in their bedrooms that display 25 or so Hotwheels cars? The walls of this place were like that, but with real bikes. 5 floors of them. And the central elevator shaft is surrounded by four vertical racks of bikes, 15 bikes high!

There was the first bike I ever rode, the venerable Honda 50 (over 27 million sold at $250 MSRP, that's one for every other family in the USA in the 60s!). My gradeschool buddy Wesley Kilgore had one, or at least access to one - we were in about 7th grade I think.

There was the first bike I rode with a clutch, the Triumph 200 Tiger Cub. This was when I had started hanging with Mike & Don Rhodes, whose Dad owned the local Honda shop. They always had bikes around, plus a couple nice bikes of their own (Honda 350 and 450 Scramblers). One night we snuck the Cub onto the local dirt racetrack and buzzed it around. There were pits dug in the hill near my house, to excavate clay for the local brickyard. This left us a set of hills, canyons, bumps and jumps that everyone in town came to for motor abuse. We called it Thrill Hill, and pretty much everything in town with a motor had been run through it, from golf carts to full-size late-60s station wagons. The Cub got plenty of air time there.

And even the bike my Dad used to ride, the Indian Scout. He had a bad wreck on it, which is why he didn't want me riding any damn motorcycle. (yeah, he didn't exactly get his way on that one)

But the bike I really wanted, what we ALL wanted, was the radical new superbike that changed everything - the Honda CB750. 4 cylinders of power that would eat up any bike ever built. The coolest sound we'd ever heard. A beautiful teal & gold color scheme. Too bad it cost a jaw-dropping $1,400.

All in all, a wonderful day I'd recommend to anyone who loves wheels.

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