Bikes representing a long span of time and an impressively large number of manufacturers were displayed on the grounds of the El Zarabah Shrine Auditorium at an event staged by the Arizona Antique & Classic Motorcycle Enthusiasts, a dedicated group of around 12 to 15 people who organize the show for bikes built between 1883 and 1980.
The Shriners welcome the enthusiasts and their show and hundreds of riders each year. Like those Shriners microcars you see in parades, motorcycles are part of the Shriners’ culture, with members practicing and performing intricate maneuvers on their Harleys during parades and other public events.
Yes, there were Harleys at the show, but only a few. One of the most impressive things about the show was the variety of bikes. Not only were there bikes by Harley-Davidson, but by Indian, Triumph, Vincent, BSA, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, BMW, Moto Guzzi, Bultaco, Whizzer and Cushman. And also by Ariel, Pope, Simplex, Royal Enfield, Ossa, NSU and Rene Gillet of Paris.
Among those displaying their motorcycles was Jeff Holmes, who admitted he’s among those who learned the hard way that “it’s not if, it’s when” you’re going to take a tumble off your motorcycle. Holmes and his 13-year-old daughter, Madison, had three bikes and a sidecar among the 70 or so vintage machines arrayed for judging.
“I have 20-plus motorcycles,” Holmes said as he was counting to himself.
“Twenty-eight,” he finally concluded.
“I used to have 29.”
It was in 2014 that Holmes broke seemingly every major bone in his body and destroyed that other vintage bike.
But despite three hospital stays, months of rehab to learn how to walk again, and despite no longer being able to ride — “I can’t feel my left foot to shift gears or articulate my right foot to activate the brakes,” he said — Holmes’ passion for old vehicles is undaunted (he also has two classic cars and an old pickup truck).
After Holmes’ accident, his wife halted not only Holmes’ riding but that of their children, so now Holmes, his daughter and young son show their bikes and sidecar at vintage events such as this one, which is staged each spring on the grounds of the El Zaribah Shrine Auditorium by the Arizona Antique & Classic Motorcycle Enthusiasts, a dedicated group of around 12 to 15 people who organize the event open to bikes built between 1883 and 1980.
The 1980 cutoff relates to the introduction of more modern technology to motorcycles, said enthusiasts’ president Karen Rogers.
Or as Holmes explained for his passion for old motorcycles, “They had a way back then of building them so they looked like art. They just looked cool.”
Photos by Larry Edsall