Cherry O Wins October 2008 People's Choice Award at the Barber Vintage Festival

Barber Motorsports Park is located in Birmingham Alabama, approximately eight miles South and East of Birmingham proper. Once you exit Rt. 20, follow Bankhead Highway south to Rex Lane Road, turn right, and the Park entrance will quickly appear on your right. Even the access road in is made up of twisties and sweepers and bodes well for what lies ahead. Eventually you come to a "T" intersecting with Barber's main perimeter road. Uniformed Park personnel man all critical ingress and egress points while offering courteous answers to questions and concise directions to the appropriate parking or onsite camping areas.

By design there is a stop sign at the "T". The museum sits majestically atop a hill directly in front of you. It's the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Barber. Barber Motorsports Park is surrounded by heavily wooded pine treed hills set next to meticulously manicured lush green lawns. The track is located in a natural bowl of sorts and wends its way through some forested sections too. The circular perimeter road is located above and surrounds the track. Trolleys operate and travel in a clockwise direction around the track at regular intervals. You can travel to any desired vantage point of the track or simply disembark anywhere that suits you. Everything is accessible.

The track was designed in the old English tradition of no grandstands. Spectators spread out their blankets and enjoy picnic lunches while watching the races. The setting is intimate and gives Barber an isolated feel, away from the rest of the world, a vintage motorcycle enthusiast’s dream come true.

The museum presentation of its collection is beyond description - it’s simply mind boggling. The static displays have you shifting mental gears at every turn. As Tony (my good friend, wrench and fellow photographer) and I, wandered through the exhibits, the glass walls were a constant reminder of the museum's unique and well-considered orientation. The museum's North side faces the track and timing tower, providing a spectacular view of the races! We left there duly impressed and determined to return. We set our goal for showing our bikes in Motorcycle Classics Bike Show East scheduled for October 2008.

While unloading our bikes upon our return to Illinois, I grabbed my camera and popped off a few quick shots of the V7 Sport to send to Motorcycle Classics. Their magazine and bike show’s best epitomize the "vintage" motorcycle scene. We complied a CD of both bikes and sent them onto Richard Backus, editor-in-chief at Motorcycle Classics. When I followed up with Richard by phone, he enthusiastically and passionately shared his time and his philosophy behind Motorcycle Classics magazine. Our discussion left me more inspired than ever!

The 2008 Motorcycle Classics bike show at Barber was a great experience!  There is something for every sort of motorcycle enthusiast and gearhead alike, with many families in attendance. I always get a kick out of how kids love Cherry “O“! We didn’t bring the bikes so much to show them competitively, but to share them with other riders, particularly Moto Guzzi riders.

We entered our bikes in the Motorcycle Classics Bike Show East. The show was great fun thanks to Richard Backus and his friendly and knowledgeable staff. We were both delighted and surprised that our V7 Sport, Cherry "O" Baby wound up winning the People’s Choice award. We consider the award a warm acknowledgement from fellow riders. The day, the show, and friends we met along the way will always be "a crystal clear blue sky day" memory for me.

On Sunday we loaded the bikes into the van and beat feet for Helen Georgia. We decided to keep the good vibes going and reward ourselves with a couple of days of mountain riding. Tony and I were still blown away by the previous days experience. We had to decompress. We are both country boys at heart and have lived in and love the mountains.

Once we hit the road, the months of pressure leading up to the show faded away. In a few short hours we were in Helen, Georgia. I lived in Atlanta Georgia for about eight years, and hope one day, to return there. While there, I frequented the Helen area as an avid hiker, climber, and cyclist, bicyclist that is, on a regular basis. The surrounding environs provide some of the finest smooth surfaced asphalt ribbons anywhere. There are enough ascents, descents, off camber curves, panoramic mountain overlooks, and piney smells to satisfy the most jaded riders.

Early Monday morning, as we checked tire pressures and fueled up the bikes, I couldn’t wait to finally see how they would perform. We rode north out of town and headed for the nearest mountain pass. As we turned on to the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway, I looked out and over the bars to the clear roadway ahead, listening to the Italian exhaust notes rising song and remembered when I had asked Rick at MG Cycle to describe the V7’s ride.  He had simply said, “It’s God’s motorcycle”.

For the next two days, we put our machines through their paces. We traveled over mountain passes, through dark cool valleys, stopping at little mountain towns just to take it all in. As we gained confidence, our speed and lean angles increased. I am sure we were both smiling the entire time. There were no anxious moments, no required repairs, just the "rhapsody of man and machine"!

The V7 Sport is a bike that comes to life at 4500RPM, delivering peak power to it’s 7500RPM redline. The ride is confidence-inspiring and comfortable. It is the most enjoyable stock motorcycle I have ever ridden and all the more so for having ridden it there. Anyone planning a visit to the Helen area, especially motorcyclists, can expect to find smooth well-maintained roads, beautiful mountain scenery, and that southern hospitality is alive and well. Helen is nestled in the north Georgia mountains, 90 miles north of Atlanta.

After returning from our first day's ride, we met Jay Fink, Assistant Public Works Director. Jay walked over to check out the bikes and visit after completing a water main repair. Helen is fortunate to have such a great goodwill ambassador. Jay even shared some of his favorite mountain roads with us, which we savored the next day. We stayed at the Best Western and recommend it to anyone planning a trip there.

The Barber Vintage Festival is a one-of-a-kind event. You can think of it as our Goodwood Festival of Speed. It should be considered a top-tier destination for anyone wanting to experience "Vintage" motorcycle shows, the extensive museum collection, or the exciting AHRMA races, the last races of the AHRMA calendar.

We can't wait to return there this year!



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