RHINEBECK GRAND NATIONAL SUPER MEET, RHINEBECK, NY by Chris Logsdon
I first heard of The Rhinebeck Grand National Super Meet on a cold February day from a silver-haired New Yorker in a west side deli, “…Great bike show, small town just north of Hyde Park. You gotta go,” he said. Four months later I would experience it for myself on the back of my Triumph Legend. After three hours of riding picturesque Route 9 in Upstate New York, I turned into the open fields of the Dutchess County Fairgrounds where the weekend-long meet has taken place each year since 2007.
Among the hundreds of antique motorcycle parts vendors, motorcycles and collectibles for sale, previous years highlights included the Antique Motorcycle Timeline which displayed extremely rare motorcycles from the turn of the century all the way to up 1972, The Wall of Death Motorcycle Show, The Evel Knievel Traveling Exhibit, as well as The Antique Machinery, Tractor and Truck show.
Riding up from Brooklyn early Saturday morning, I’m joined today by my good friend, BBQ nut and gear head, Dan Lyle of The Shop Brooklyn. He’s on the hunt for both parts and general inspiration behind his next build: a Harley Flathead hill climber or The Street Climber as he’ll call it. Taking our time we bounce from table to table, tent to tent.
When you ask questions here you get stories. Great stories. One that sticks is told by a man named Sprockett who unearthed a 1947 Indian Chief with a ’36 motor from a dilapidated barn near the historic race track of Saratoga Springs, NY – my hometown. A city known for its premier thoroughbred facility, Saratoga Springs apparently also hosted motorcycle races in 1914 & ’15.
We spend the next 3 hours in the afternoon sun reveling over the hundreds of motorcycles lining each pathway. History thickens the air as every country that has ever manufactured a motorcycle is represented. Drop tags hanging from handlebars remind you of the cost of entry, while handwritten makeshift cardboard signs plead desperately for an offer to be made. I get the impression most vendors here – settled in their rickety lawn chairs, exposed bare feet, cold beer in hand – could care less whether they make a sale or not. On a warm sunny day like today I can’t blame them.
Upon exiting the main entrance, the other half of the show begins. Fleets of motorcycles line the large grassy fields surrounding the fairground. Complete strangers bond over one another’s motorcycle as we struggle to track down our own. Swap meets such as this continually remind us that although riding a motorcycle is a solitary act, riding a motorcycle is what brings us together.
CANADIAN VINTAGE MOTORCYCLE GROUP NATIONAL RALLY IN PARIS, ONTARIO by Allan Glanfield
This year marks the forty-second year of the Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group’s National Rally. First appearing in 1969, the event has had a nomadic existence, moving from place to place, until finding the town of Paris, Ontario where it has remained for the past 23 years. Starting with 37 members, the group has grown exponentially, bringing over 650 registrants and 2500 each day in 2012 and from the looks of it, even more this year. This year’s event is a clear indication that the motorcycle world has increased its population.
We rolled in Friday evening– spirits high from a great ride and quickly set up camp so that we can head out to get a sneak peek at everyone’s goods before the crowds arrive in the morning. Afterwards, we walk over to the neighboring property where we’re entertained by some competitive young racers buzzing around a 1/8-mile flat track. The night continues on as we discuss motorcycles and feast over junk food, cigars and tall cans.
Waking up the next morning isn’t an issue as the temperature had dropped significantly overnight, making it easy to jump out of bed and get a hot cup of coffee. You can hear the faint sound of old engines warming up throughout the grounds and more from day visitors rolling into the parking lot beyond the main hall. The day starts off with the early birds trying to get the best deals they can find and continues on with every walk of life coming in to snatch up parts or trying to buy bikes that aren’t for sale (Eric Stafford’s Sportster).
Riding season up north isn’t nearly long enough, yet it still maintains a large community of motorcycle enthusiasts. Unfortunately, Canada lacks the variety of swap meets and events that you often find in the U.S. If you’re looking to buy a used bike, pick up some missing parts, or just admire the vintage masterpieces, the trip to Paris is a must for anyone in the Toronto area. If you miss it, you’ll have to wait until next year!