Where The Skies Are So Blue

Steve Lita American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

RIDE TO WORK by Steve Lita, Editor

I wonder if there’s time to put together a last minute trip

As I once again grappled with writer’s block trying to come up with a topic for this column I figured I’d take a break from staring at a blank word doc on my computer monitor and turn on the television for a little diversion. Flicking through the channels, I came upon a compelling film on the SHOWTIME network. A documentary about the famous Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd was airing, called If I Leave Here Tomorrow. I think I only missed the first couple of minutes, but I was glued to the couch until the very end. These guys, and girls, played their instruments, and lived life, hard! I highly recommend the film.

Starting from humble beginnings, the group played small-time venues, just barely getting by. The bandmates got their big break when they were asked to open for The Who, and found themselves in front of 18,000 screaming fans the next night. From there on out the venues got bigger and bigger and the times got wilder and wilder until one final fateful flight took three of the band members from this world. What does this have to do with motorcycles you ask? Well, for one, the plane in which the musicians met their fate was reportedly due for a tune-up, and one of the engines was sputtering. It’s hard to believe that the pilots would think “we can make one more flight with that engine running poorly.” So this speaks directly to the motorcyclists out there who think “I can get one more trip out of that bald tire.” Don’t do it. It’s not worth the risk.

Secondly, numerous times throughout the show the popular Skynyrd tune Sweet Home Alabama is repeated. I’m sure you know it. It’s catchy. Ironic that a band originally from Jacksonville, Florida would make it big with a tune about Alabama. Never-the-less, every time I hear that song it reminds me of riding down the highway bound for the annual pilgrimage of old motorcycles to Barber Motorsports Park and the Barber Vintage Fest. The state of Alabama has adopted the Sweet Home reference and uses it on highway signs at the state’s borders. I don’t know the exact routes or highway marker numbers, but I’m sure I’ve seen the signs. Can you imagine how many times a day some truck driver, minivan-driving soccer mom, or motorcycle rider has belted out the riff “Sweet Home…Alabama, Lord I’m Coming Home To You” as they approach the Alabama state line and see one of those signs?

Well, watching that show, and hearing that tune, and remembering all the good times I’ve had in Birmingham, Alabama, got me to thinking. I wonder if there’s time to put together a last minute trip to the Barber Vintage Fest? I had to skip last year due to some other undoubtedly not as fun or important event or obligation.

This year’s Barber Vintage Fest happens on October 4-6, and American Iron Magazine even has a hand in one of the races this year. See our Harley vs Indian Handshifter Race announcement on page 22. Along with the AHRMA roadrace, massive swap meet, fan zone, and demo rides, there will be a Bonhams bike auction, fan parade laps, AMCA member dinner ride, and a Picker of the Year award being presented at 1pm on Friday in swap meet area Lot E. Wayne Carini is giving a seminar I’d like to sit in on, and there’s a Century Parade Saturday afternoon. And those are but a few of the activities. Cap it all off with a church service Sunday morning held in an inflatable church. It looks like a gigantic bouncy house. When’s the last time you attended a service in one of those?

Like Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Barber Vintage Fest keeps getting bigger and bigger, and wilder and wilder. It’s calling me back once again, I can hear it. Just like hearing Sweet Home Alabama as I’m crossing the border into that state. And it’s all because I saw a rockumentary on SHOWTIME.

Welcome, Marjorie
I’m so glad to introduce a new guest columnist in this issue. Marjorie Kleiman is no stranger to most readers. Buzz mentioned her in his column about women in the motorcycle profession in issue 374. And I had the pleasure of working with her when she edited our powersports industry business magazine some 15 years ago when I was just starting out in this biz. Marjorie has always been the consummate journalism professional, so I learned a lot from her in those early days. “Shadow,” as she is known, shares how she first got into motorcycling in this month’s Heart of the Highway guest column on page 16.