The Congregation is a vintage motorcycle show that took place in Charlotte, NC on 5/27/17. Being that this was the first year and less than 200 miles away, I had to get there and check it out. On top of that, I hadn’t been to charlotte yet. I prepped my bike and packed up the night before with my friend, (John)Tolliver, who I met since moving to Johnson City last year. After and a few oil changes, some sprays of chain lube, and tire pressure checks, we were ready to hit the pavement.
We were joined/followed by Tolliver’s wife(and a lot of snacks), and a newly acquainted friend, Cody. Before I go into detail of the ride, I will say that there’s a few main things that you can count on almost every time during a motorcycle trip. No matter how long or short, there’s going to be highs, lows, and probably a breakdown of some sort.
We started out fairly smooth the first 50 miles or so, until we had our first stop for gas. Cody’s bike was backfiring and chugging down the highway the last few miles before we stopped, and even stalled out at the stop light getting off the exit ramp. It was nothing to really panic over, seeing that it’s a 40 year old motorcycle. Shortly after starting our second tier of the ride, Cody’s bike seemed to be hurting even more as he raced ahead to get off at the next exit, 25 miles later. Spending about an hour and half after going over the possible smaller issues first, he had one last attempt of adjusting the timing(points ignition system). It took some delicate tweaking a few times, but he got it fired back up and running a lot better.
100 miles and two breakdowns in, we all thought our trouble were behind us, until I looked down and realized my front break line was cut by my newly installed tire, spewing brake fluid all over. I don’t run a front fender, so my new bigger off road style tire is a little closer to my brake cable, and took advantage of it. I previously zip tied my speedometer cable, but I reluctantly did the same for the brake cable. Luckily my back brakes were still in tact, so I was still able to continued with a few minor changes. It just involves a little more planning ahead when it comes to slowing down and stopping. Little did we know, this was all the least of our issues to come.
Mishap number 3 for Cody was a minor one, fortunately. While at a pit stop for gas, he seemed to overfill his gas tank and was burning off the top around the parking lot when his chain decided to pop off his sprocket. It only took a few minutes to slap back on, and we were on our way, again.
With less than 40 miles to go, I lost Cody in my side mirror, signaled to Tolliver, and we turned around to find him off to the side of the road about a 1/2 mile back. The first thing he said to me was “she’s dead now”. That’s never usually a sign of good things to follow. After he did some explaining what happened, and the thought process wheels started to turn, it could have been a lot worse. His tail light wiring from his toggle switch had the worse day over everyone when it borderline caught fire and fried all the way back down his frame, past his battery cables. Long story short, it was four nails to seal up the coffin, closing his day of riding fun.
This left us with only one real option, to leave his bike in a parking lot of a business down the road, or hidden of the side of the road for the next 24 hours. The people at the business were reluctant at first with helping us out, but eventually the manager came out and felt sympathetic, and cody’s pain since he too has ridden a Harley in the past. After a few instructions, he let us keep it in the parking lot over night so we can pick it up the next day.
Thankfully, we had a car in our fleet, so Cody hopped in and enjoyed the rest of the way in the luxury of A/C.
We arrived at the show’s venue, Camp North, just as things were starting and entry was open. I quickly gained perspective on how big this was, and how many people were involved. For the first year of the event, it was a instant knockout. The bikes that were part of the show were phenomenal, one after another, and even a lot of the bikes that people rode in on were just as great to look at and drool over. No matter what style of motorcycles you are in to, you would have found at least a few things you like. Overall, the atmosphere was excellent, the people were friendly, the vendors were awesome, and the fun never stopped. Can’t wait for next year!