Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Gettin' Our Kicks: Chapter 35 – Day 34 and 35 Starkville to Birmingham, AL

July 8 - 9, 2015

July 8th

The ride to Birmingham was pretty uneventful and easy, still hot and humid, not too bad. Maybe we are getting acclimated?

We had an appointment at the Big #1 Motorsport shop in Birmingham to have Judith’s rear tire renewed. We arrived there about 12:30 and all was good. The tire I ordered was there and they were ready to put it on right away.

The inside was much nicer than the outside appearance

We were a little hungry and there was a Waffle House a short walk away, so while the tire work was going on we had lunch. This was a pretty old Waffle House, so it had extra character. Shortly before we finished eating there was a shift change. Now, I have never seen a shift change at a WH and it was pretty interesting. Lot’s of talking and stories being told by the off-going shift and the on-coming shift… lot’s of good WH talk stuff.

We sat at the counter, because that’s where all the action is happening – watching the cooking and listening to the back and forth between the Grill Operator (fry cook) and the Sales Person (waitress) and the dish washer.

Sitting at the counter one stool over was a gentleman that, well I think he was a gangster. He was on his cell phone the entire time he was eating and the side of the conversation I heard was colorful to say the least - lot's of "MoF'r" and "Ya know what I'm say'n?"

So, back to Big #1 and picking up Judith’s bike. They were finished before we finished our lunch. We took a look around the show room, which was kind of cool. They have been a BMW dealer for two months, but had a reasonable inventory of BMW bikes. More interesting was the fact that they have been a Polaris dealer for many years. Polaris is a name lots of people do not know, but they are a very large and successful water-sports and motorsports company. They have been in the personal water craft, quad and dual quad business for years and even longer in the snowmobile business. A few years ago they became involved in the motorcycle side with the Victory motorcycle and about two or three years ago revived the famous old American Indian brand. They had a good inventory of Indians, which I was happy to see because I have not seen one in the flesh.

Indian Scout

Indian Chief

And you can get a Papoose as well

No shortage of Indian Accessories

You can pull your Polaris personal water craft with your Polaris Quad

Off we went to our hotel that was right down the road from Barber Motorsports. 

This 1965 Triumph Bonneville was in the lobby of the hotel

Only problem was that there is very little in the area, so we had to take a ride up the Interstate a few miles to get some fortifications. We found a Walmart and this was, yet again, the source for dinner.

July 9th

Barber Motorsports Museum opens at 10:00. We were there at 10:10. Being a weekday there was not a crowd, so it was easy going.

Barber Motorsports Museum is a modern purpose built facility with three odd guys on unicycles in front

Not sure I fully understand these guys

For those of you who are not familiar with the Barber Motorsports Museum, please let me fill you in by simply stealing from our good friend – Wikipedia:

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

George Barber had a serious interest in vintage motorcycles and recognized that there was no museum that reflects the history of motorcycles around the world. He wanted to preserve motorcycle history in the United States in a way that represents an international aspect and to supply an example of motorcycles that until then could only have been seen in books and magazines. The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum began in 1988 as Barber's private collection. However, in 1994 it officially opened to the public in Birmingham, Alabama. The Museum was relocated to the Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama in 2003.

The museum has over 1450 vintage and modern motorcycles and racing cars. It is considered the largest motorcycle museum in the world, as well as the largest collection of Lotus race cars. The motorcycle collection includes bikes dating from 1904 to present production. About half of the 1200 motorcycles on display at any given time, from 16 countries that represent over 140 different marques from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden.

This place is mind blowing if you are interested in motorcycles and /or sports cars. It’s huge and the displays are very effectively laid out. There are six floors built around a central massive elevator with a circular walkway. Each floor is wide open in reality, but you get a feeling that you are strolling through a park and turning a corner to discover something new. There are towers of motorcycles stacked from the first floor to the fifth floor. Each of the displays allows you to come right up to the bike (better not touch however) to have a close inspection. The bikes are grouped in a logical manner, but then they often use contrast and comparison in a subtle way – older and newer, brand-to-brand, color-to-color and so forth. It is an amazing place, with over 600 motorcycles on display, plus many racing cars. And, there are several hundred more motorcycles and cars in the collection not on display

I took more than 450 pictures and need to sort and edit them. I will post them later, but here is a small sampling.

I had told Judith that the place is big, but I don't think she was ready for how big

Looking down from the fourth floor

A motorcycle tree
What would a proper motorcycle museum be without a Wizzer
This could be ordered from the Sears Catalog back around 1915

Detail of the beautiful paint work

A rare French motorcycle

George Barber started out originally collecting Lotus Racing cars

The Lotus collection is extensive

After our 6 ½ hours walkabout at Barber we needed to get fortifications, so that meant another ride into Birmingham. We found a very California like mall with a chic shops and a Whole Foods. Take home from Whole Paycheck was our dining for the evening

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