Day 22: Friday 5th October : First day at the Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival

With the first of 3 days at the Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival ahead of us, we decided on a slightly later start and agreed to meet at 8:30am for breakfast and to make plans. Dean and I were there, but there was no sign of Aaron. Thinking that he was probably up and networking (he barely sleeps), we weren’t concerned and sat in the lobby chatting. At 9:30am, the hotel PA system announced they were going to be conducting a fire-alarm test just as I messaged Aaron to find out where he was. His reply was “Oh xxxx!, LOL, Just woke up!” – he’d overslept and the hotel PA had woken him up! Clearly knowing that he hadn’t got to organize a route for us to ride that day had allowed him to relax and catch up on some much-needed sleep.

With Aaron opting to go and get a haircut, Dean and I jumped in an Uber and headed to the circuit. Once there we took the shuttle that runs round the perimeter road to the “Fan Zone” where we bought a lemonade (it was already very hot!) and a t-shirt before watching the “Globe of Death” riders from the Urias family do their thing. This is a 16-ft steel mesh globe into which the riders, mounted on endure-style bikes enter and ride around the inside. It’s very impressive, especially when all 3 riders, plus the girl with the microphone are in the cage at the same time, the riders whizzing around the inside high-5’ing her! After the show we met up with Aaron and wandered round, looking at the various stalls. We took advantage of a first-aid stall that had sun-cream, but Dean sprayed some into his eyes so we next had to look for some water to wash it back out!

After that excitement we walked over to the Swap Meet area, where classic bike enthusiasts sell of old bikes or parts for old bikes. It looks a little like a large scrap yard, with gazebos providing shade under which these guys place their rusty parts hoping that someone might need or want them. There are also old classic bikes dotted about, including a very tidy looking 1975 Kawasaki Z1B in the same colour scheme as my new z900RS. By now it was very, very, hot, so we caught the shuttle round to the Ace Corner – a part of the circuit where the Ace Café (of London fame, but represented here by its Orlando operation) had setup. Aaron should have been on the list to get in for free (plus 3), but the girl on the gate couldn’t find his name. That didn’t stop her giving us 4 wristbands, though, reasoning we were honest sounding folk. Inside, Aaron met up with the guys running the show, who he knows well as he works closely with them in Orlando and they apologized, saying his name was first on the list! Here we sat and had a wrap for lunch and watched some of the action on the track. The programme didn’t list the practice or race timings, so it was impossible to know what was going on, but we soon spotted the BMW-supported rider Nate Kern, wrestling his RNineT round the track.

Around 4pm Aaron left to collect Mira from the airport and Dean and I moved down to the main Ace Café area where we saw Nate arrive directly from the track after his practice session ended. Still in his leathers he stood for while in the baking heat being interviewed, explaining how the BMW, with it’s inline crankshaft which rocks to the right, makes right hand bends easier but left-hand ones more tricky. Very interesting, for a petrol-head like me!

Once the interviews were over the band started playing, a mixture of Blues and Country & Western, and Dean and I grabbed a couple of beers and relaxed. We were unsure where Aaron and Mira would head to the track to join us, but when we got a message saying they weren’t we left ourselves in order to get out of the heat and back to the hotel. Dean was feeling unwell, the effects of the sun and having his eyes sprayed with sun-cream taking their toll. I met up with Aaron and Mira and we headed back out in an Uber to Fancy’s on 5th, a busy bar-restaurant in town, where we met up with a number of the BMW guys working the festival. Dinner was a noisy affair, but the burger I had was good and the beer excellent.

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