Article And Photos By: Darren McKeag
Originally Published In The October 2013 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
As the sun came up over the horizon, another beautiful day of riding was upon us. Today’s course was going to take us northeast a few hours to the 34th Annual J&P Open House in Anamosa, IA. The night before was a late one, as I had just finished up converting my rear belt drive to a chain drive — a much needed transition for my twinnie and her big motor. If you are involved in motorbikes in the slightest, you are familiar with J&P Cycles and what they do. Most likely the world’s largest supplier of motorbike parts and accessories, J&P started out very, very small in 1975 by John Parham. By 1979, the company that we know today was founded and set in motion in Anamosa where their main offices and warehouse are today. They also have a massive retail store, Destination Daytona, located in Ormond Beach, Florida that is open year round, and a retail store set up in Sturgis that operates A during that rally. John Parham was also a big factor in the opening of the National Motorcycle Museum, which is also in the Anamosa area and just down Highway 151, south of J&P Cycles. If you’re ever within an hour or two of this museum, it is worth your time to stop. It is absolutely one of the greatest single collections of motorbikes in the world, not to mention motorbike memorabilia and events.
As I made my way east out of Grinnell, my first stop was to get Scotty and his lovely lady, Alissa. Scotty is an artist at my shop and has been bitten by the motorbike bug. After meeting them, we headed to Cedar Rapids and hooked up with my good brother Carney and his amazing girl, Ashley. We ripped around in Cedar Rapids for a bit before jumping onto 151 and blasting northeast towards Anamosa at very fun speeds. It didn’t take us long to get there and we managed to get through a few storm clouds that dropped some heavy drops on us. Upon arriving at J&P, we weaseled our way to some very good parking next to the repair shop (thank you Patrick), and made our way over to the yellow tents to meet up with Angela Kearney to pick up our VIP passes for the day. Now, for those of you that don’t know Patrick or Angela, let me tell you, these are two amazing people. I have known Patrick for some time now, and I always enjoy hanging out with him at all the events. He’s a very busy man, organizing most, if not all of J&P’s events, in addition to hosting J&PTV. He’s a solid dude, always willing to help out. Angela was kind enough to get us all VIP passes, tell us where everything was and point us in the right direction. Many thanks to you Angela for all your help as well. Making our way around the event grounds, it was very obvious that things are a buzz in this great industry and new ideas are constantly being developed. Most, if not all of the big suppliers were there, including S&S, PM Machine and Baker, to name a few. There was some really great stunt riding going on as well by 1 Wheel Revolution. They had the crowd on the edge of their seats with their nail biting tricks — very entertaining. As we made our way around the event grounds, we managed to end up by the promotional tent that was to host two of the characters from some motorbike club show, Sons of Something… hell I don’t know, I don’t have a TV! Anyway, there was quite a buzz in the area. So, being the sporting type that I am, I told Carney and Scotty that we should have a beer for every Sons of Something shirt we see. Well, needless to say, we were in debt on that bet within 15 minutes. However, true to our being real men, we stuck to the deal and by the end of the night, you guessed it, we were smashed. I know, I know, hard to believe, right?
As the afternoon got older, we decided we had better make our way back to Cedar Rapids. We chose a different, but very scenic route through some rolling hills and stopped in the very beautiful Mt. Vernon, Iowa to enjoy a few ice cold adult beverages. Now, here’s something you should know about this route back to Cedar Rapids. It just so happens that it rolls right past one of my closest brothers, Big Don. We had been in touch with him all day, as he was just finishing up playing with adult choo-choo trains and wanted to hook up with us on his motorbike. So, we stopped in at his place of residence. We managed to park and get ourselves into Big Don’s garage when Mother Nature took a huge piss on us. Not to worry, the garage was full of, yes you guessed it, ice cold adult beverages! Big Don was a very good host that day. As the sun started to set and an amazing spread of sushi and beers had been consumed, we climbed back on our motorbikes to head over to Carney’s house to retire our two-wheels for some vintage four wheels. Scotty and Alissa decided they needed to head home and not wanting the evening to end, the rest of us decided we should see how fast we could get to Carney’s house. Sitting at a stoplight, motors revving, I look to Big Don at my left, with my squinted racing eyes, and he had his phone out taking a pic. I’m thinking, Pfffh, I got this! Looking to my right, with evil racing eyes, I see Carney, all hunched forward, ready to unleash his motorbike at the hint of green. I push in my clutch as soon as the cross light turns yellow. I shift into first, heart racing, the light turns green. Varoooooom! Off we go across the street with nothing but two lanes all the way to Carney’s. As we blast through the intersection, it’s Carney and I, tire to tire. Reaching for second, in all the excitement, I miss the gear and Carney and Big Don blast by me. Not wanting to be left behind, I find my f**king gear, and I catch up, only to see Carney lose his hat and Big Don back out because he’s wondering where I’m at. Come to find out, as Carney was picking his hat up off the street, 5-0 decided they needed to stick their nose in our business and see what all the noise was. Luckily we were all a block ahead of them!
Once at Carney’s, we piled into the vanski and made our way over to our good friend Ryan’s house. He had just purchased a Panhead chop earlier that day and we needed to check it out. Ryan is a damn solid brother and knows his way around the garage and metal fabricating. Arriving at his garage, we discovered that the Panhead he had purchased was the project that was started by my best friend Hank who passed away a few years back (R.I.P. Brother). As the evening went on and Carney got naked, we decided we needed to see what this Panhead was made of. As Ryan gave me the honors, I gave the girl a few primer kicks, a couple squirts, some choke and POW, she was hot. Let me tell you what, this was one tight Pan. As I looked at Ryan, he said, “Go ahead.” So I pulled it up against the wall and let it rip. I couldn’t think of a better way to end a great motorbike day than doing a burnout on Hank’s Panhead. I hope you were watching brother, I love you. Summary of the day: if you ever find yourself in the northeast part of Iowa, do yourself a favor and stop into J&P Cycles, the National Motorcycle Museum and if you have a little extra time, visit Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There’s some damn good motorbike people there who will show you a good time and some of the best hospitality you’ll ever experience!