As an inveterate car and bike geek, maybe the single most difficult thing for me when I moved from Los Angeles to the East Coast was getting used to the lack of easy-access to weird and wonderful car-culture. I mean, it’s here, but you have to work way harder to find it.
On any weekend in LA, you can drive around and see 1960’s Ferraris parallel-parked with the meter running down in Hollywood, Porsche Carerra GT’s whipping along PCH, Vincent Black Knights and Bimota VeeDue’s ticking as they cool at the Rock Store. If you don’t see anything cool on the road, you can just swing by The Garage Company, with its showroom full of well-used classics and a back lot full of works-in-progress, the walls covered with endless shelves full of random bike parts, vintage helmets and racing posters.
The Wednesday-night Ducati bike night in Venice was full of characters of all ages and styles. They had diverse jobs, strafed the canyons on weekends, and loved to talk about their bikes: modding bikes, riding bikes… Basically anything about bikes. We had 996’s, Monsters of all years, the occasional Aprilia RSV, a Kawasaki Z1000 [later traded for a Speed Triple], an old 860GT painted all tricolore-y, and a Honda Magna ridden by a guy whose Monster 800 was waiting for a new crank.
I went to a few bike nights in Central Jersey when I got back to the East Coast, looking for the same sort of vibe, the same sort of enthusiasm, a sense of history, but was sorely disappointed. While burnouts, wheelies and chrome spikes screwed into perfectly nice sportbike fairings are amusing distractions, that sort of laughing-at-you thing gets old pretty fast.
I filed conversations like, “Yeah, we just got back from a group ride for my buddy’s funeral. Good guy, but maybe he shouldn’ta run from the cops on that stolen R1.” And, “Yeah, the cops threw down a spike-strip, but I wheeled over it” away for later retelling to my friends. I worked with a guy who rode his nearly brakeless, battered R6 in flip-flops, claiming that wearing protective gear made you more likely to crash: “If you think you might crash, you will crash,” sort of an inversion of my “hope for the best, plan for the worst” philosophy. I met a bunch of nice guys at those bike-nights, but none I wanted to ride with.
Then I nearly got clipped by some TapOut tank-top, shorts, and cross-trainer wearing meathead blasting through the parking lot and I started thinking, “Maybe this isn’t my scene.”
Which was followed quickly by, “Where hell is my scene, anyway?”
Brooklyn, it turns out.
I managed to trip over the New York Vintage Motorcycle Show a few years back and have made it a must-do event. It recharges my batteries and reminds me that there are young people who ride who don’t love plastic-bodied Japanese missiles, who ride even though they don’t have a ton of money, just because it’s cool to ride anything.
They run this thing rain or shine: it poured last year, but the turnout wasn’t much different than the previous year. It happens at the end of August and it’s highly recommended. There’s music, performance art, and a roast pig. Moto-gear and tchotchke vendors. Lots of tattoos, skinny jeans, moto tee shirts, and beards.