A Gathering Within A Time Warp
Article By: Jimmy Frizzell
Photos By: Mad Stork Ken
Originally Published In The February 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Lets be perfectly clear about this, I may quite possibly be stabbing myself in the face as I write this because the honest journalistic approach I’m supposed to use to craft a verbal explanation of the Strange Days experience could quite possibly be the catalyst that poisons a great event. So, if you were ever contemplating about taking the ride out to the northern tip of the Garden State, do me a favor and stay home. Please, don’t take time to thank me on this solemn warning, because it’s completely an act of selfishness. Strange Days is possibly one of my favorite events and I don’t need anyone showing up and ruining it for me. I can’t put it any simpler, the chemistry, the numbers, and the vibes are exactly aligned to where you would want an event to be and, well, I don’t need you to f#@k that up. This year’s event was slated to be another great year and if you were wise enough to ignore the hallow ravings of the over paid meteorologists then you too most likely braved the wet roads in search of the damp mountainsides of Vernon, New Jersey.
I loaded up the camping gear on bike that morning, slapped my oldest son on the back and hit the road just a little past whenever. At eleven a motorcycle event most likely isn’t the average mother’s most desirable destination for her bundle of innocence to end up, but she didn’t know so we’ll just assume that entire issue, for the most part, was off the table. Strange Days, in all honesty, is only over the mountain from my house so convenience is a hidden virtue, and in hindsight that fact most likely helped make the wet roads look not as wet as they may have been. Memphis and I hit the roads in the opposite direction to give him a little adventure in the back seat. We stopped at the local corporate caffeine dispensary and we gingerly headed down the road as my first born learned to take a turn holding two cups of scalding hot liquid dangerously close to my waste. The event was blanketed by a thick cloud hiding any signs of adventure that lay deep inside it’s plume. But, as we climbed the hap hazard dirt path leading to the field, the chrome started to shine through the haze, the muffled sounds in the moisture got clearer and half the coffee was blistering my skin..
Strange Days is a gathering within a time warp, there are no bad vibes and if you didn’t know what year it was, you probably wouldn’t be able to hone in on an era by the thousands of pictures that always pollute the internet. It’s virtually impossible to take a bad picture with a rolling landscape and two wheeled eye candy as far as a dreamer could see. As soon as we parked the bike my mini human took the reigns of my buddy Jay’s mini bike. And with the assistance of practically everyone that passed his stalled cycle he quickly learned the dance of a clutch and throttle for the first time and began his endless lapping of the main field. The buzzing of the two- stroke allowed for a constant homing beacon orbiting my location as I began to stroll around and examine the event.
He lives for this event and it’s quickly becoming our own tradition. The drag ready 61 sporty “Vomit Comet” sat on display begging to be won at Saturday night’s raffle. Rows of classic iron sat perched on kickstands scattered across the field. Girders and mile high exhausts roamed the grass as a crowd gathered around the arch to witness the wedding of Mike and Sarah. Smiles could be seen through out the entire event because at Strange Days everyone is family and with no possible way to see it all you know right from the beginning you’ll be back next year. The low-lying cloud hugged the mountainside plateau putting that much more distance between Strange Days and the rest of the world. And even with the occasional wet breeze tents continued to carpet the hillside forming small encampments like mushrooms on a cow pasture. In the valley as the mud slowly surfaced bikes, both dirt and street attempted to catch air on makeshift ramps in the endless tradition of two wheeled mischief and as always, the bands played nonstop…rain or shine.
Indians, Evos, Panheads, Flatheads, old, new, traditional and the bizarre are always the norm as a constant circulation of people change the atmosphere and keep the experience from dulling. Strange Days isn’t polluted with vendors and has no need to inundate you with entertainment. The stage is a back drop of live music and the bikes are truly the reason everyone has come. History and custom culture are at your finger tips and there isn’t an air of competition or attitude of deserved entitlement anywhere to be found, it’s just a gathering of common interest and knowledge. The weather may have been the reason Strange Days seemed smaller than last year and honestly, I don’t have numbers to back that up so I could be completely wrong all together, but the clouds made sure that everyone there, truly wanted to be there.
Rumor has it that once you rode off the mountain the roads had dried up and you could take a moment to experience some of the best riding the state has to offer but I wouldn’t know because I just huddled with the masses and took in as much as I could. As the sun went down there was a brief burst of rain and the worst of it caused everyone to collect under complete stranger’s tents and tarps and echoes of laughter and conversation filled the air. But rain can’t keep a good party down and after all, that is what Strange Days truly is. This years Strange Days, in my eyes and the opinions of everyone I come across was and always is a complete success. It’s far enough off the radar to still have that homegrown grass roots feel but the ever-growing buzz is more than well deserved. It’s what the east coast needs and I hope it’s here to stay. If you’re looking to do something a little different and needing to free your motorcycle mind then mark Strange days on your calendar. You won’t be disappointed. I look forward to taking Memphis every year for as long as I can and that’s something that will always be in my heart. So, like I said Strange Days sucks you wouldn’t like it and the commute blows so please don’t bother. Just let the hundreds of others suffer through it and take pity on our souls. I’ll see you next year…