BMW R18 at the Barber Vintage Festival Motorcycle Event

Open Roads, City Traffic & Construction

Without a doubt, I met some fantastic people at this year’s Barber Vintage Festival at the legendary Barber Motor Sports Park. As I cruised these beautiful open roads on state highway 74/64 going through beautiful Ocoee canyon, I witnessed all the leaves turning as the wind starts to cool down here in the south.

From the highways I make a quick pit stop in Chattanooga, TN where I am sadly reminded of city traffic. No worries though – it only takes a quick minute or two to pass through it as I make my way towards I59. It’s a straight shot down south for a solid hour and a half to get to Alabama. Minus the bumpy highway, as it appears that they’ve been working on this highway now for years – it’s still a quiet ride.

Motorcycle Rider wearing helmet, kevlar, and riding boots

Wear Your Gear!

Did I mention the road construction? Well, wear your gear folks! As I was going the speed limit I met with a good baseball size rock that hit me on the left side of my chest. If it weren’t for my leather vest and kevlar-lined Go Fast Don’t Die jacket, I have no doubt that rock would’ve left me more than a little bruised. It’s all part of the adventure, of course, and as I mentioned, wear your gear folks. I also wore my full-face Ghost Bandit by Simpson Helmets.

BMW Motorrad USA and R18 Classic

It’s a quick 250-mile trip (500-mile roundtrip) to get to Barber. At this point I was eager to reach my destination. After so many years of coming to this event, I am always excited to see what new and cool vintage motorcycles will be on sale. This time, however, I came down to not only represent Rider Justice but also as a BMW Partner and finally brought down my R18 Classic. Since BMW Motorrad USA was a big sponsor of this year’s show, you know I had to come down and give it my all to the best of my best abilities.

BMW Motorad Soso cycles

Take Chances, Make New Friends

I had the chance to meet a group of awesome folks at the camping site. They were kind enough to bring me into their group and huddle close to their propane firepit. We chatted for hours until I realized it was close to 1 am. But those conversations I had with stranger/friends will always hold a place in my memory banks.

The moral of the story is that’s exactly what this whole motorcycle experience is all about, really. It’s not always about how fast or how far you want to go but more about who you met riding in your adventure.

Barber Museum Alabama

No-Go But that’s OK

This time around as much as I wanted to visit the museum, I ran out of time. With all the things going on, I simply could not make it into the, arguably, most awesome collection of motorcycles and automobiles. Needless to say, next year I’ll probably spend all my time at the museum to keep it fair after this year’s go-round.

Make it Count, Come to Barber

Since the very first year I came to the Barber Vintage Festival, I knew it was a special one. I will always try to make it to this event. It’s one of those gatherings where there aren’t any cliques or people too-cool-for-school. Everyone here is genuinely friendly and engaging. They want to know your story and what brought you here.

Do yourself a favor and start making plans to come to it next year, but do it quickly because I hear the hotels get booked up quickly during this time. Or better yet, come camp out with me and meet the friendliest strangers around. You can’t go wrong, either way, you will have a grand experience. Do make time for the museum though, I can’t stress enough that you need at least a full day of exploring all the levels of the amazing collection that Mr. Barber has in his museum. Heck, if you want to tag along with me just let me know and we will make a kick-ass trip out of it, but until then – catch you on the road somewhere.

Enrique Parrilla

Enrique Parrilla

Enrique is a creative originally born and raised in the Mile High City of Denver, CO but in 2021 he skipped town to the rolling hills of North Carolina for a quieter kind of life. He specializes in visual storytelling and finding a voice for a narrative. With over 15 years experience in the industry, he brings professionalism along with experience to every project.
Find him on Instagram or see his work here.