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Pilgrimage to Barber; Texans brings rain to drought-ravaged Alabama

pacman

Die with memories, not dreams.
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I returned yesterday from a trip to Huntsville, Alabama. My son has been very much into aviation, engineering, and space travel for awhile now, so we thought it might do him some good to spend a long weekend at Space Camp. Turns out we were right, his mind is totally blown from everything he learned during his short (3 day) stay. I hope he stays with his dreams and does exactly what he wants to do.

This trip to space-enthusiast Mecca was not only for the boys' benefit, I had a little something special in store for myself as well.

While he was busy getting his mind blown, I was busy getting mine blown by the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. I was lucky enough to be able to take my motorcycle along for this trip, and I decided to ride down Saturday morning to BMP from Huntsville. Of course, things would never quite work out this easy for me. There had to some sort of kink thrown in to make things interesting. This time it was the weather. I had been watching the northern Alabama weather for a couple weeks prior to the trip, and was looking forward to experiencing some of the dry weather they've been having for the last several weeks. I was tired of the Texas rain.

But dry weather was not to be. As soon as I left Burleson and headed east, the rain clouds began to follow. They followed me all the way to Huntsville. And stayed. When I arrived, the weather was marginal at best.

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The roads were wet, but at least the rain had abated for a bit. But it was not to last. The next morning, Saturday, it was coming down in a slow drizzle and stayed that way all day long.

Getting saddled up for the wet ride to Barber.

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The roads in northern Alabama are gorgeous, but they looked and felt very slick after weeks of no rain. On the trip back to the hotel from Barber I think the oil slick had finally rinsed off. The roads were still wet, but grip had increased noticeably.

Terrible shot of the bridge over the White River. While we're on the subject of the pictures, I apologize for the poor quality. I left my digital at home. :doh: What you see in this ride report are the product of disposable cameras.

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The first little town on my route to BMP was called Arab. Great name for a little southern town. I didn't get off the bike, but I shot a couple pics anyway.

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Looked like a nice enough town, and I didn't see a single insurgent or suicide bomber. The Arabian BBQ stand was very tempting, but it was a little early for lunch, and I had places to be.

A little further down the road I spotted a historic marker. I'm always talking about how I should stop and read these things, but I never do. So I did.

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A little closer please...

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I know, it's still hard to read. Sorry about that. It basically says there was a wagon train raid at this spot on May 1, 1863. A group of Confederate solders, under the command of General N.B. Forrestt, captured the supply wagons of Union raiders who were under the command of a Col. Straight.

A little further down Alabama 231, I came to Ashville. This looked like a nice place to stop and stretch my legs a bit. Ashville, the county seat of St. Clair Co., has a neat little courthouse surrounded by a nice town square. I strolled around for a few minutes, chuckling at all the stares I was getting from the locals. The answer to their question is yes, that guy is crazy. :lol2:

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I road from Ashville straight to BMP. The rain was still coming down and I was ready to get there.

Next up: The bikes. :trust:
 

pacman

Die with memories, not dreams.
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OK, on to the good stuff. I arrived at BMP dripping wet, but I was nice and dry under the rain gear. As I approached the front door, an older gentleman got to the front door just ahead of me and held it open as I entered. "Welcome to the museum", he said as I went in. "Thanks! It's a pleasure to be here." He told me to enjoy my stay, and strolled off through the entryway. As I approached the front desk, the gentleman called to the girls at the front desk, "Good morning, girls". "Good morning, Mr. Barber", they called back. Holy cow! My doorman was none other than Mr. George Barber Motorsports Park himself! How cool is that!

I bought my entry ticket and was courteously directed to the gear room. A perfect touch for a motorcycle museum: A place where you can de-gear and stow all your stuff. Great idea. :clap: After getting everything stowed, I practically sprinted to the museum floor. A security guard (the place was crawling with them) advised that I start on the 5th floor and work my way down, so that's what I did.

I tried to restrict my picture taking to only that which caught my eye. Disposable cameras are kinda pricey, and film was a little limited. You can imaging how hard this was...

This is the first bike I saw. I can't for the life of me remember what it is. Can anyone jog my memory? Forkless front end and a host of crazy engineering features.
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I came across the Kawasakis very quickly. A beautiful Z-1 in 1970's brown. A Cannondale MXer stands in the background.
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Nearby to the Z-1, was Z-1-zilla. No you're not seeing double. Don't adjust your screen. I saw this bike in a bike mag a couple years ago. I never dreamed I'd see it in person.
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Kawasaki 2 stroke triple racer, sans fairing.
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And of course, the Eddie Lawson Replica...
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...and it's modern interpretation.
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A.J.S. begging to be run flat out down the salt.
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Triumph X-75 Hurricane
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Honda Flat-tracker. Aside from just being a cool bike, I shot this one because I like the shape of the header. I have a bit of a header fetish, you see. I love a nicely curved set of pipes. So on that note, here's a few of my favorites.....
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Old school header goodness.
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The most beautiful header in all of motorcycledom, the 1975 Honda CB400F. Hang it on the wall and call it art.
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Pretty in black...
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...prettier in chrome.
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I spy a turbo.
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More old school header goodness.
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I shot many other headers, but they didn't turn out. :sigh:

Motorcycle Christmas tree
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Look closely and you can see the massive stacks of display cases that flank the elevator.
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And the stacks against the wall of the basement. There were 2 cases like this. Only this one turned out.
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Looking into the motorcycle restoration shop. One of the many shops on the restricted 1st floor.
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Race cars on the 1st floor.
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How 'bout a Vincent? Mr. Barber has three. This Black Shadow, a Series-C Rapide and a Series-C Comet. Again, it pains me that these pics are so terrible. This Vincent was so gorgeous in person, the pictures are shamefully inadequate.
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MV Agusta Tamburini
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A Buell trifecta. With all the recent news about Buell, these bikes are a little more interesting to me now.
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Hercules Wankel. Looks like it has a washing machine motor.
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One of my favorite bikes from the 80's. Honda VF1000R. I believe this is an '86 model.
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Grandfather of KLR? Harley MT350E in British military form (what other form is there?)
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I also got to watch the SCCA cars run. The back wall of the museum is floor to ceiling windows that look out on the track. The view is spectacular.
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That's about all. Everything else that I shot looked terrible. I was glad I came away with at least a few decent pictures.

I've got a few pics from the Space and Rocket center I'll post up next. That stuff is pretty neat too, I guess. ;)

My ride back to Huntsville was wet, (or course) but uneventful. I slabbed it back as I was ready to get out of the wet stuff. I spent a quiet evening in the hotel watching movies and drinking beer. All in all, not a bad way to wrap an awesome day.

For some background information on the museum itself check out this article.

Watch for some more pics from the space center...
 
Joined
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Carrollton, TX
Wonderful report. Can't wait to see the pics from the Space and Rocket Center. Spent a week there back in High School one summer and have wanted to go back for a visit.

Seems I'll need to visit another museum in addition next time I'm in that part of the world!

And at least you dragged the rain out of Texas for a bit for those of us who stayed here! :sun:
 
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Seabrook, TX
Amazing place that museum. I spent hours in there and would go again next time I'm in the neighborhood. I think I took over 300 images and that didn't even begin to scratch the surface of everything that is there.

Dave
 

pacman

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Awesome. I never knew Cannondale had taken a stab at motorcycles!
They were a flash in the MX pan. I believe they sold the manufacturing rights to an overseas company who is still producing them.
 

pacman

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I guess it's about time I posted those Space Camp pics I promised.

A Shuttle mock up that's quite convincing. The shuttle was actually built by NASA in the mid 70's for ground crew training. It was then purchased by a Japanese theme park and painted to look even more realistic. The park closed a few years later and the mock up was returned to NASA and put on permanent display. The external tank is the genuine article. It was used to fuel the boosters during rocket engine ground tests in the 70's.

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My son Tristan standing in front of a dismantled Saturn V. The Space and Rocket Center is currently constructing a permanent home for this rocket nearby on the campus.

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The fully assembled Saturn V. It's visible for miles around. It's really hard to appreciate how big this machine is. When I was at Kennedy Space Center about 5 years ago, it was still ranked as the most complex machine ever built, with more parts than any other machine.

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A rare sight indeed, a SR-71 Blackbird. That's what I thought at first, too, but this aircraft is even rarer: This is the SR-71's big brother, the A-12. Faster than the -71 at mach 3.35 (vs a measly 3.2 for the -71, although this is still officially "classified") the A-12 is sleeker and more sinister looking than it's 2 seater -71 variant. Only 15 were built, of which 9 remain, all in museums throughout the country. Most amazing of all is that this aircraft, which still hold the "official" speed record, was conceived in the 1950's and was first flown in 1962!. Another interesting bit of A-12 trivia: Apparently 2 A-12's were lost in flight and neither crash scene was ever found. The aircraft were believed to have gone down on public land, but no wreckage was ever located. [edit: Still trying to verify this statement. I've read conflicting articles that say both crash scenes were located.]

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Here's a shot of an A-12 and an SR-71 taken from the web. The A-12 is in the foreground. Which one do you like better?

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More to come!
 
Joined
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Azle, TX
They were a flash in the MX pan. I believe they sold the manufacturing rights to an overseas company who is still producing them.
A little more than a flash in the pan. They were very advanced motorcycles, unfortunately, as with any first effort that incorporates technology that had not been in use in off-road bikes to that point, they were riddled with little issues that ultimately killed the brand. Cannondale as a whole was sold to Pegasus Partners and ATK bought the remaining stock of Cannondale motorcycles, manufacturing equipment, production rights, and parts from Pegasus to support Cannondale owners and to begin a new line of ATK bikes here in the U.S. Supposedly, the water pump issues, crank issues, and quirky fuel injection have all been fixed. They sure ain't cheap, though.
www.atkusa.com

EDIT: I almost forgot about the killer quads that Cannondale made that were and are a part of the ATK buyout deal.
 

pacman

Die with memories, not dreams.
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Perhaps I need to invite Tristan (and maybe even Wayne) out to a highpower rocket launch: example here

more photos here
Chuck, he would love that. If there ever is a time when you think he could go, let me know.
 

mlinkibikr

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Thanks for including a picture of the CB400F. Man I wish I had one of those - what a beauty! I still remember an article in Cycle where they did a little work on one and dubbed it the "Gentleman's Express".

How did you get over to Alabama? Interstate or secondary roads?

Dave.
 

pacman

Die with memories, not dreams.
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Thanks for including a picture of the CB400F. Man I wish I had one of those - what a beauty!
:thumb:

I still remember an article in Cycle where they did a little work on one and dubbed it the "Gentleman's Express".

How did you get over to Alabama? Interstate or secondary roads?

Dave.
I slabbed it. Interstate all the way. I was in my inlaw's pickup with the ZRX in the back. My son isn't quite ready for riding for 2 days on the back.
 

mlinkibikr

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I'm heading to Tennessee from Houston in September, probably going to combine some backroads with the slab. Just curious. I hope to time it so that I get to tour the museum and take a look at the track. If I can get to B'Ham at the end of the day then I can tour first thing in the morning and then be on my way.

Thanks for the write-up - great trip.

Dave.
 
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