Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Years Day and the Olde Bike Club

Above: Sidecar Cafe on Whitten Road in Mempho

The “New Year’s Day Ride” has become common but not unimportant to motorcycle enthusiasts everywhere. This blog and a thousand other outlets will herald the ride as a hopeful indication of good roads and quality mileage in the coming year. My own annual observance has found me in the company of some fine folk in the past. From a couple of close friends dicing the back roads of West Tennessee to the attendees at one of the larger cruiser crowd’s “Blue Ball Runs”. And, on a couple of occasions, I have ridden solo - myself with my thoughts in contemplation of things to come and the balm of the road.
Above: Parking out back...

Above:And, on the other side. Note the striking black RS...

Above: A new/old  classic...

Weather is a factor. Those in kinder climates may only face the question of rain while some in harsher conditions may not be able to overcome the logistics of getting a bike out after a six foot snowfall. There is a piece by Peter Egan wherein he mentions his garage door freezing shut for the duration of winter and, I remember riding one year in a freezing mist when ice formed on my face shield. The distance traveled is proportional to the conditions but, we try.

New Years Day, 2011 I’m on my way to Memphis to intercept the starting point of a polar bear run hosted by the Olde Bike Club of Memphis.  My distance from Memphis makes it prohibitive to attend many of the club’s events midweek (having previously attended only one breakfast ride – my introduction to the club) but I like to, on occasion, make myself a nuisance to unsuspecting groups of riders and this day is prime for party-crashing. Really, the club is an informal, unpretentious group of enthusiasts with a love for classic bikes. There are no dues or officers and you won’t find much on the web about them but, they are a great group and very welcoming of anyone with similar interests. A simple email list keeps them connected.

The temp was mid-30’s with a predicted high of 43º when I headed out. I plugged in the venerable Widder vest, the one with a controller the size of a chemistry textbook and the appearance of a piece of Flash Gordon memorabilia. It does the job in that, while not always keeping one toasty warm, it will ward off death by exposure – maybe. I got there late and after the main group had left, of course, finding some other late arrivals waiting on a couple even later than they. One gentleman was on a really clean 77 RS, another on a late model oihhead, and another on a KLR. I had previously concluded that one is not necessarily required to actually ride an old bike to identify with this club but can pass muster if one owns or, has an appreciation for said “old bikes”. The last of the stragglers showed up on beemers and we were off to intercept the larger group along the route by virtue of one of the gentlemen in possession of a map and a keen familiarity with Memphis driving habits. This is good because I know Memphis like I know women.

We arrived at an intersection along the route prepared to stop and wait on the main group when they came rolling through. A gentleman riding sweep with attached sidecar motioned us in front of him. We finished the route along some great twisty roads lined with some of the finest homes I've ever seen. Seems incredible that some of these roads would be in such close juxtaposition to the hustle of Memphis but that is one of the advantages to hooking up on a ride of this type. Those in the know can turn you on to something you might not have found on your own.
Above: Interior shot...

The ride concluded at the Sidecar Café on Whitten Road. This was my first experience with the establishment and it was all good. A parking lot full of bikes, well appointed bar, big-screen TVs, plenty of tables, good food; and nice-looking, efficient barmaids made for a great experience. I’m still not too familiar with the members so, spotting a table with three faces I thought I remembered from the breakfast ride, I horned in and introduced myself. I wasn’t about to do the seventy miles to Memphis, the ride, and home in the cold without someone able to testify I was there. They (apologizing - it will be sometime before I can remember all those names) again, were great, gracious people and we shared some stories and laughs for a while before I had to start back. They encouraged me to think about making the moonshine lunch run in April. While familiar with the run, I had never attended and committed to doing it this year. 
Above: Luck dinner special - Ham, greens, black-eyed peas, and Jalapeno cornbread. Starting the year out right!

Above: Some ADV inmates and occasional Olde Bike Club affiliates. Great folks. Author on far right.

Arriving home thoroughly chilled but satisfied from the ride I found Debbie (long suffering wife) in the process of preparing a pasta dish accompanied by a bottle of Merlot. She is good like that but - she wasn’t about to indulge me in watching the Three Stooges marathon on AMC, at least not in the same room with her. Maybe I could go to the garage, turn on the TV, plug in the Widder…


  1. Dear Jonesy;

    Happy New Year!

    There is no greater way to usher in the new year than a ride on a motorcycle with a few dozen friends. I couldn't help but notice the beautiful red K75 in the second picture, with a blue "K" model sticking out of the corner. (You may not have heard, but I favor the K75.)

    While the temperature was perfect for me (50º) here in Pennsylvania, it did not arrive in time to melt the ice in my driveway, and I ended up taking the cage to our club's first of the year luncheon. It was still better than staying at home, waiting for Spring.

    Once again, I look forward to reading your adventures in the year ahead.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  2. Happy New Year to you, Jack. Thanks for the comments and I hope the weather clears for you soon.