The Call of the Wheels: Motorcycle and Classic Car Events

The Call of the Wheels: Motorcycle and Classic Car Events
by Greg Gerdel
 
As the seasons roll around to summer and fall, all sorts of wheels roll into and around Vermont for meets, rides and rallies – Mini Coopers, Harleys, BMWs, street rod classics, vintage and antiques, Airstream trailers, and British sports cars – to name a few of the regulars. Participants in these events are drawn to Vermont’s winding blacktop, pastoral scenery, historic villages, byways and streetscapes.   Spectators have the pleasure of finding all these elements, together with the thrill and fun of the call of the wheels!

While some events are entirely for fun, others, like the Mothers for Daughters Weekend Motorcycle Event (May 13-15, 2011 at Mount Snow) for breast and ovarian cancer research, support a cause (www.mothers-for-daughters.com).

Also supporting a cause in southern Vermont, enjoy the 25th Anniversary Manchester Antique and Classic Car Show, June 11 & 12, 2011, at Dorr Farm. This well-established event features 50 car classes and attracts nearly 800 vehicles each year. This year, the theme is “Sleek & Chic,” featuring Corvettes and Mercedes. In addition to the field exhibits, most vehicles join the parade through historic Manchester. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Good News Garage, a non-profit that refurbishes donated cars to provide transportation for low-income families (www.manchestercarshow.com)

The most down-to-earth variation on the wheels theme is found at the Antique Tractor Day at Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock on August 7, 2011, featuring restored tractors from the 1930s to the 1960s. A midday tractor parade is a rare opportunity to see these powerful machines running, along with an informative narration about history and significant details of each machine. Tractor-drawn wagon rides are available throughout the day (www.billingsfarm.org).

The granddaddy of the many vintage car shows in Vermont is the 54th Stowe Antique and Classic Car Meet, held at Nichols Field just south of Stowe Village, from August 12-14, 2011. In addition to the more than 800 antique vehicles exhibited at the meet is a large automotive flea market filling over 400 exhibit spaces, and a car corral with "for sale" antique cars. Saturday's events include a fashion contest of period attire, a collector car parade through Stowe, and the annual street dance. Sunday features technical judging of qualified vehicles and the awards ceremony finale in the afternoon. Proceeds from this show provide funds for six $1,000 scholarships awarded annually to qualified students enrolled in the automotive technology course at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center, Vermont (www.vtauto.org).

The British Invasion, an unapologetic lifestyle event, reportedly started over a pint of ale in Stowe in 1990. Now, the four-day event from September 16-18, 2011 includes “all things British,” with a primary focus on classic British motorcars. Events include driving tours through Stowe, a judged competition, costumed owners, and elegant picnics. It is the largest British car show in New England with a dazzling collection of classic British Motorcars such as Bentleys, Morgans, MGs, stately Rolls Royces, sleek Aston Martins, Jaguars and Rovers in 40 classes of competition, including a People’s Choice. From high brow to low slung, the gamut of British auto history is well represented here. Stowe’s rolling hills, spectacular fall foliage, and winding roads are a consistent enticement for the British car enthusiast (www.britishinvasion.com).

The 45th Annual Bennington Car Show & Swap Meet runs that same weekend, September 16-18, 2011, featuring just about everything on wheels: vintage & antique cars, trucks, tractors, street rods, motorcycles, classics, originals, Woodies, British, Mustangs, Thunderbirds, and more! All assembled in 39 classifications with trophies, a swap meet, a small motors display, a tractor pull, and even a flea market (www.benningtoncarshow.com).

 
Two-Wheelers, Too

All varieties, makes, models and vintages of the motorcycle, including trikes and the extra wheel on mounted sidecars, come to Vermont’s beckoning network of two-lane blacktop. From the gap roads through the mountains to the gently winding river valley byways, conveniently punctuated by scenic villages and small towns, Vermont gets into a rider’s wanderlust in a compelling way. Explore the Green Mountains solo or join the camaraderie of group rides and rallies.

The Vermont Thunder Ride, part of the national Rolling Thunder Ride event, is held annually on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend (this year May 29, 2011) to honor veterans, soldiers missing in action, and prisoners of war.  The ride assembles at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the Sharon Welcome Center on I -89 N, and has a stop in Richmond along the way to the destination of Enosburg Falls where the American Legion hosts a lunch for participants. This ride is approximately 125 miles of some of the finest motorcycling roads; donations are accepted with all proceeds going to help Veterans and their families (www.vt-thunder.org).

The success of the British Invasion motor car rally has spawned the Great British Motorbike Adventure in Stowe each June. It’s an opportunity to see the beautiful and storied British bikes that were mainstays of motorcycling in the century past:  BSA, Royal Enfield, Norton and the ancestors of the singular remaining British marquee, Triumph. And to enjoy riding the bucolic roads of Stowe, with lodging and dining packages available (www.englandinn.com).

The popularity and widespread reputation of the Harley Davidson deserves its own show, which in Vermont happens each first Saturday in August, this year August 6, 2011, at the Wilkins Harley Davidson Bike Show in Barre. A celebration of all makes and models, including the Harley, this show attracts hundreds of spectators and participants from Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire. Come back in the fall for their Annual Mystery Foliage Ride, the first Saturday in October, this year on October 1, 2011, for a three-hour “mystery” route! With about 20 riders with all makes and models, and a catered lunch after, this event is a sure way to cruise for views of Vermont's fall foliage (www.wilkinsharley.com).

The United Motorcyclist of Vermont Annual Toy Run, held in mid August, is the largest benefit ride in the state. Riders from throughout the region converge at the state Capital in Montpelier, bringing toys and gifts to benefit the Shriners Hospital for Children. Fun for all to watch, as some riders may have a giant teddy bear as their riding companion! (www.unitedmotorcyclists.org).

The Kingdom Thunder Rally at the Cedarwood Resort at Jay Peak plans its second edition for August 26-28, 2011.  Seventy-six bikes with 110 riders cruised in the 2010 Kingdom Thunder guided tour from Jay through Newport, Island Pond, Burke and the Willoughby Gap. Other riders opted to ride on a self-guided tour laid out by event organizers. In all, the rally drew 250 participants from New England, New York, New Jersey and Virginia for riding, an outdoor concert, and fundraising for the Health Changes Initiative, a healthy lifestyles program in northern Vermont (www.kingdomthunder.org).

Catch the Killington Classic Motorcycle Touring Rally, a Vermont Chamber of Commerce Top Ten Event, from September 8-11, 2011. The annual fall event is a success for all involved, bringing several hundred riders and watchers for the weekend of parades, tours, demos, social events and camaraderie. Says one parade spectator, Melanie from Buffalo: “Hundreds of bikes, all in a parade; how cool is that?” (www.killingtonclassic.com).

Please check ahead with each event about the individual ticket prices and fees for all car shows and motorcycle rallies. Find a comprehensive list of Vermont's motorcycle events at www.motorcycle-vermont.com/events

Greg Gerdel is a recovering British bike addict who has recently focused his road lust on bikes with pedals; but the sound of a well-tuned motorcycle stirs a certain longing, especially on uphills.