Monday, August 24, 2009


And here is what happens after four days of schmoozing around Pebble Beach during Motor Week; two new Bugattis drove past me during the wee dawn hours; I couldn't be bothered to twist my neck for a gander. Just another pair of megabucks four wheel toys, in an actual sea of new Ferraris, Spykers, Teslas, Lamborghinis, etc, etc. Plus all the older cars driving around, gradually becoming a blur of polished, colorful excess.

Still, my highlight of the week had arrived at last - motorcycles being ridden onto the golf course at Pebble Beach Lodge. The enormity of the moment is hard to convey - motorcycles aren't even allowed past the guard boxes at Pebble normally, and even on the morning of the Concours I asked a sentry if bikes would be allowed on 17-Mile Drive, and was told no! It turned out she was wrong, but that's the mindset among the staff.

Notes on How to Do Pebble; 1. Arrive Really Early. That's the secret - get there as early as you can if you have any intention of a clear view or photograph of the two-wheelers present. Unlike the Quail, there seems to be no limit on ticket sales for Pebble, and the punters arrived in a steady stream until about 1pm, when the flow in stopped, and the egress began in earnest. Non-PB residents must park in nearby Pacific Grove and take a shuttle to the Concours; as luck would have it, the shuttles deposited their cargo almost directly before the MidAmerica tent. The flow of humanity taking a gander at the 80 bikes was impressive. And let's face it - most 'car guys' are simply gearheads, and motorcycles fascinate them too. But perhaps less so their wives - it's a terrible cliché, but I heard a familiar refrain all weekend; 'they're too dangerous', says wife to ready-to-part-with-cash husband. Another deal scotched.

Sales were difficult inside the Online Auction tent, and while dozens of potential buyers gave serious thought to buying a bike, in most cases it was simply impossible to tip them over the abyss into Need. Perhaps a few drinks with friends inside the tent would have loosened their wallets; I heard no discussion about 'affordability' among the Car People, but the Motorcyclists certainly thought about prices. It's all a learning experience for MidAmerica; hopefully they'll do it again next year, but better.

The Lawn Display in the early, grey hours of morning was calm, and I managed a few good shots of some very special cars and bikes. And didn't the motorcycles look good on the grass? The judging team comprised several 'Car Guys' who happen to love bikes, plus Don Danmeier, founder of the All-British Ride and Clubman's Show, who happens to Know bikes, if you catch my drift. And I will probably scotch my chances of wearing the Blue Judge's Blazer by stating flat out, "there is a world of difference between love for, and expertise in, Motorcycling. And it only really matters when you're judging a Concours, or buying a very expensive bike". Ed Gilberson, chief judge at Pebble, told me a few weeks prior that he wanted to keep his judging staff 'in house' - ie, his usual team for judging the cars, selected for those who owned or had owned motorcycles.

In the end, some beautiful bikes won prizes along with the most beautiful autos on the planet, nobody got hurt, hordes of Bikers didn't descend to rape and pillage, and the whole scene seemed entirely in, why in the world did it take Pebble so long?

And, if you tried to ride your bike down 17-Mile Drive on Monday morning, you would have been turned away.

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