Chopperfest ’14

Article And Photos By: Darren McKeag

Originally Published In The April 2015 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

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It had been a long trip, flying to and from Japan for Mooneyes. But my sights were set on landing back in LA, not only for more amazing motorbikes and warmer weather, but because a very special someone was flying to LA to meet up with me. These incentives alone couldn’t make the plane fly fast enough. Exhausted from the trip, I quickly made work out of getting a rental car and finding a hotel to stay in. My first mission of the next day was to pick up that special girl from the airport and to catch up on the last ten days. If you’re not familiar with the Los Angeles airport, just GOOGLE “one million people in half a square mile” and you’ll get the idea. Making my way through the luggage terminals, my mind was racing, looking for this beautiful face I hadn’t seen for days. I was literally lost in a sea of people, as if there were no land in sight. Then, in a moment, as if Moses himself had parted the people, there she stood. It was as if a motorbike headlight had gleamed a shining light down on her and her beauty. In a ball of excitement, she jumped into my arms and gave me the biggest hug I’ve ever felt.

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No, but really, lets talk about motorbikes, because honestly, when it comes down to it, that’s why we are all reading this. But for the sake of this story and probably many more stories to come, let’s refer to “girl” or “her” as Missy, just for good measure. Motorbikes are the reason we all made our way to Ventura, California this particular weekend. Home of the 11th Annual David Mann Chopperfest. In my opinion, one of the best motorbike shows of the year and yes, the California sunshine has a lot to do with that opinion. Chopperfest hosts some of the best motorbike builders in the world, along with artists and vendors that truly compliment this wonderful industry. This year was my second invite to Chopperfest and the invite was a bit more special, in the fact that the Mann Family had asked me to recreate David’s painting “Sunset Strip”. My style, in any medium, on the palette of my choice. I couldn’t believe this request was real. Since I was a child, I had stared at David’s work hanging in my Dad’s garage and in the garage of one of his buddies. It was art that I would look at and reference my entire life and now I was asked to do a painting for a motorbike show, in his name. I was more than excited, I was honored.

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Missy and I had made our way up the PCH the day before, enjoying some good food and sunshine. As the sun set over the Pacific, we made our way to the hotel to check in. Friday evening was pretty low key, dinner and some R&R time. Saturday morning brought the beautiful sunrise up over the mountains. As mid day arrived, its warmth was in full swing. What better way to spend the day, than on Ventura pier and the beach? The two of us enjoyed one of our most relaxing days, soaking up those warm golden rays and resting up for the evening to come. Once we got back to our room, we freshened up and made our way over to the pre-party that was being held at The Tavern. Upon arriving, it was very evident that there was something motorbike related going on in town. We managed to catch up with many friends, some of which had just flown in from the Mooneyes show as well. After socializing for a few hours and listening to some live music, Missy and I made our way back to the hotel.

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Sunday morning’s events came early. This was the day of the show and we needed to be there at a good time, in order to set up the art booth. We caught up with Bobby, from Indian Larry, who was gracious enough to get my artwork to and from Ventura safely. Thanks brother so very much, words can’t explain how thankful I am, and what you mean to me. Once Missy and I got my artwork set up, it wasn’t long before the people started rolling in. Before you knew it, the fairgrounds were packed. This years Chopperfest was packed full of people. Everywhere you looked, you could see family and friends visiting, over one common bond that brings us all together. A lifestyle of two-wheeled proportions that takes you down that endless highway, with the wind in your face. What seems like slow motion time, as the motorbike’s motors hum in tune and your entire thoughts funnel down to one, that endless point on the road as you pop up over the next hill.

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Once again, Chopperfest was a success, both for me as an artist, for many bike builders and for friends, hoping to catch up with friends, if even for one brief moment. By all means, if you get the chance to attend next year’s event, mark your calendar and take the time. The show is one of the best and the people that host it are very welcoming. I hope this story finds you all well and I can’t wait to see you all at the next motorbike event.

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