As I sit in my new living room in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, I can’t help but miss the motorcyclists and friends from Chicago Vintage Motorcyclists that helped me make my riding life in Chicago utterly fantastic. One week in, and with the weather closing in, I expect that my garage will be much quieter than it would 3oo miles to the West-Southwest. Those Wednesday Night Garage Nights were so much fun — I wish I had attended more. Still, the rides to Southwestern Wisconsin, around town, Rockerbox, Mods and Rockers, Acetoberfest and others, it made the roads around Chicago more than bearable.
Chicago has very little going for it, motorcycle-wise. No topography. Few good roads. REALLY lousy drivers. 6 decent curves in the whole town, maybe. Still, a late afternoon ride with a bunch of friends in old BSAs, Triumphs, Hondas, a Vincent or two and a smattering of BMWs makes a cruise around the city like a nice weekend ride on the Isle of Man.
Enthusiasm counts. The ChiVinMoto group exudes enthusiasm and love of the “perfect machine”. It’s a truly American group, with no hierarchy, no “right” bike to have, and absolutely no class structure. Income, education, race, occupation or age have no bearing once you throw a leg over the bike. It’s about the ride, the machine and the comraderie. Liberty, Egalitie´, Fraternity. More American than any group I’ve ever been a member of.
Things I’ll miss most are the “Tiddler” ride for small displacement bikes held once or twice a year. The great vintage bikes from Laverdas, Vincents and BSAs to great early Japanese bikes and BMWs airheads. Rockerbox in Milwaukee. Acetoberfest at Chad’s garage — Ace Motorcycle and Scooter Co. And especially Mods vs. Rockers Chicago. If you’ve never been to MvR, you haven’t made enough riding friends.
I remember riding back from a Slimy Crud Run a few years’ back, freezing my butt off and riding with a group that were better riders than I, and knew the roads of Southwest Wisconsin far, far better. We rode as the sun went down, the cold sucking the heat from our bodies. At each stop or intersection when it was time to make a turn, the leaders would stop and wait to make sure the backmarkers made it back to more navigable territory. I remember when I finally got home I took a hot shower until I ran out of hot water. My legs were still cool to the touch hours later. Bliss.
See you all soon. Keep shifting with your right foot and stay in the saddle. You’re all wonderful people.