Strange Days is an annual vintage motorcycle gathering that takes place in the hills of Vernon, New Jersey. This was the fifth year of the show, and it had the biggest turnout yet. A lot of people lend a hand to make it happen, but the guys in charge are Ken Buongiorno and Chris Dripchak. Strange Days will always hold a special place in my heart. A couple of years ago, I met Cal and Ben, of Retrofit, at a bike night and they told me about the event. I was just getting into choppers after being a Honda CB guy and I ended up finishing Version 1 of my ironhead the day before the event.
It was pretty amazing rolling into this giant field, which sits below the Appalachian Trail, and being surrounded by hundreds of like-minded people on vintage bikes. I met so many people that night who to this day are my good friends. Since then, I look forward to Strange Days every year. I also always seem to finish the latest version of my bike just in time.
Friday night there’s a party at the Vernon Inn, a local bar. A tight-knit crowd camps out at the venue that night, but that number seems to grow every year. Some people keep it mellow, but a select few party until the sun comes up. A few hours later on Saturday morning is when Strange Days goes full swing. Hundreds of people show up on any kind of bike and park right out in the middle of the field. Then they set up their tent on the field edges by the tree line. In the center of it all is a large stage where live music takes place day and night. There are also vendor tents, food trucks, and people with parts for swapping out on blankets everywhere you look.
From 10am until the sun comes up the next day, it’s time to party and “expand your motorcycle mind.” Things get wild one way or another and there’s always a few people testing the few “rules” that are in place (no hot doggin’!), but it’s all in good fun. There’s free beer out of the trunk of an old car while it lasts, and a bunch of weird bikes that come out of the woodwork to check out. There’s always an incredible sunset over the valley which is closely followed by a huge bonfire that goes all night. You’ll find people from all walks of life shootin’ the shit.
One of the cool parts about Strange Days, that has happened every year except year one, is that someone goes home with a freshly built vintage motorcycle by winning a raffle that costs $10 to enter. Every year the bike gets better, and they’re always unique. Past bikes were a ’74 Honda CB750, a ’72 Yamaha XS650, and a ’71 Sportster. This year was no different and a lucky guy went home with a one-of-a-kind shovelhead that was meant for riding. This year the build was by Rush Cycles, with help from the guys over at Retrofit. If you aren’t the lucky winner of the bike, there’s also a free raffle that includes lots of awesome product from the sponsors that help make this event possible.
There are a ton of people to thank between all of the sponsors, volunteers, friends and family. Special thanks to ChopCult for being a sponsor year after year and covering the event. There aren’t too many East Coast events, so it’s great to see one come back every year that has no motive except getting a bunch of people together and having a good time.
To keep up on local events, news of the next Strange Days and tons of vintage photos from the glory years check out www.strangedaysevent.blogspot.com and https://www.instagram.com/strangedaysnj/.