Hey, Pittsburgh! Your annual vintage and custom motorcycle show returned this year on Saturday, September 25 at the national historic landmark of Carrie Blast Furnaces. Glory Daze was back in a big way with a new lineup of custom bikes from builders throughout the country, many of which returned to the Steel City from the last round in 2019 with new creations. After the whirlwind of 2020, this year was off to another uncertain start with a pandemic hangover causing supply and labor problems, a new virus variant, and the unpredictable worry of more occupancy restrictions.
For the past few years, Triumph Motorcycles has organized a tour around the country to promote their new lineup. Pittsburgh has been one of the stops, and this year we were lucky enough to swing by the party at Ace Hotel in East Liberty on November 20 to check things out.
In September of 2018, I had worked out what it would take to start an annual custom and vintage motorcycle show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After running around the city trying to find a venue, I landed on the only option that would work—Carrie Blast Furnaces. The national historic landmark was originally built in 1907 and is known primarily for its pre-World War II iron-making technology. Towering ninety-two feet over the nearby Monongahela River, the location was perfect for a motorcycle show. It was gritty, rough, and had a lot of character. The history of the site paired up well with vintage bikes and the theme I was going for. Plus, it was the only spot I found that had enough parking and indoor space to easily fit over 100 bikes. It took quite a lot of work by the folks at Rivers of Steel to get the site to pass occupancy inspection, but after the permit was granted in late April of 2019, the show was officially set for Saturday, September 21.
Fuel Cleveland returned again this year at a new venue, The Madison, on Payne Avenue. The invitational custom motorcycle show is presented by Lowbrow Customs, The Gasbox, and Forever the Chaos Life. The weekend kicked off with a wild pre-party at Saucy Brew Works. Saturday's show got rolling around noon but was instantly packed with bikes from the start, filling the surrounding streets and parking areas.
Steel City Mods vs Rockers is now in its ninth year and set up in new digs! The event moved to Zone 28 in Harmarville to better accommodate the masses. The night before the event, a group ride was held on the historic Route 66 highway. The ride was led by Ton Up Pittsburgh’s Tom Fury and boasted over forty riders.
There’s some pretty cool shit happening in neighboring city, Wheeling, West Virginia. Along with a handful of great spots to eat, there’s a growing creative community. Earlier this year, Alexa and I were part of a motorsports art show called Cold Start. The event took place at Clientele Art Studio on January 19 and featured work from Pittsburgh Moto, photography from Drift Pizza Media, a chopper built by Tony Provenzano, and a drift car by Nick Perricellia.
Every August near Toronto, Ohio, a large group of diehard British motorcycle owners get together for three days of fun at Cable’s Creek Campgrounds. The Ohio Valley BSA Owners Club Annual Rally is an AMA-sanctioned event that is as much about community and family as it is about the bikes. Preserving these old British machines may be the foundation, but what truly keeps attendees coming back are the friendships developed from this passion. Just a quick walk around the campground and you will feel this sense of camaraderie.
The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, now in its 36th year, is all by itself an incredible event. You get to see automobiles of a certain age running wide open on actual city streets inside of Schenley Park during the heat of a Pittsburgh July. This aspect of the event is likely exhaustively covered elsewhere, and with this being Pittsburgh Moto, we’re going to discuss the subjectively cooler portion of the show known as the Motorbikes at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.
The Bonneville lineup continues to grow. To introduce their new Bobber Black and Speedmaster models, our friends from Triumph Motorcycles organized the Back in Black tour. This V.I.P. party took place across the United States in different cities to offer an exclusive look at the new additions.
As we neared the end of a summer full of weekday bike nights and gatherings, there was one last event to end the season off right—The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. This isn’t your ordinary ride. The event takes place across all countries to help raise funds and spread awareness for prostate cancer and men’s mental health.
The Steel City Mods & Rockers event takes place in Millvale, PA along Grant Avenue in early September. Roads from North Avenue to Hays Street are shut down, allowing us to party in the street. This year’s show on September 2 was the 8th annual occurrence but the first year that it was organized by the Ton-Up Pittsburgh and Steel City Rocker clubs.