Article And Photos By: Darren McKeag
Originally Published In The February 2015 Issue Of Cycle Source
Looking out my window, I find myself 41,000 feet in the air, doing about 500 mph somewhere over the Sea of Japan, approaching Tokyo. To my right is brother Paul, all 6’ 6” of him crammed into a coach seat, constantly looking for the little break in the aisle to stretch his legs out, and have some room to breathe. We have spent the last three days touring the Los Angeles, California motorbike scene and hung out with friends in the industry. We spent the evenings in some dingy ass, cockroach infested, hole in the wall Motel that had microwaves outside on each floor for all of your late night reheating needs. My only salvation at that point was the idea of fresh sushi and taking pictures of Paul looking like Godzilla, on the streets of Yokohama and Tokyo.
I’ve had roughly 12 hours to reflect back on my trip to Las Vegas BikeFest. It was one of my most epic road trips. It included my close brother Ducci, camping in the mountains and motorbike riding in national parks along the way. At one point, there may have been a nude albino Sasquatch siting, at roughly 12,000 feet in Estes Park. The trip would take us some 3,800 miles round trip and included some of the most epic riding and stories that only brotherhood and books are based on.
BikeFest in Vegas is a damn good show for me and my art. The number of people that attend this show, grows more and more each year and the wonderful folks that put on the event are the nicest you’ll ever meet in the industry. Each year they allow me and other close artist friends (in the industry) to display our art at the Cashman Center (which is home base for Las Vegas BikeFest). We set up in and around all of the motorbike vendors and of course the “Artistry in Iron” bike builds. This is truly a great event that brings some, if not all of the best people in the industry, to one location. Ducci and I headed out West on a Sunday morning, from Grinnell, Iowa. We had damn good weather while traveling, and found ourselves in the mountains of Colorado, just outside of Grand Junction, the first night. We had arrived at a campground late that night, and ended up scouring through the trees, by flashlight, looking for campfire wood to enjoy a fire and some cold drinks. As I made my way around the campground, looking for firewood, I couldn’t help but notice Ducci on his phone, not paying attention. Never wanting to miss out on a funny moment, I thought it appropriate to scare the shit out of him with the sounds and movements of one black or brown bear. You know, whichever might find its way into that particular area. As good bear scaring tactics would have it, I managed to take a big stick, charge through the bushes and jab him in the back. Not being a religious man, Ducci’s response was “Jesus H Christ” so loud, that the girls running the campground yelled across the stream, asking if he was ok. They weren’t really concerned about me, as I rolled on the ground, laughing my ass off. As you can imagine, the rest of the trip, both out and back, was filled with just as much excitement.
As the sun came up over the mountains the next day, we made our way to Zion National park for the next night. We left ourselves plenty of time to ride the park, camp, cook out and have an easy finish stretch into Vegas, where we would spend the next 3 days. We looked forward to greeting many of our closest friends who would be rolling in for the festivities. We scored a great room, at the always enjoyable “Golden Nugget”, got settled in and hopped on the bikes for a fast 40 mile ride out to the legendary Pioneer Saloon. If you’ve never been there, take the time to check it out. It’s haunted, rustic and has some serious history, good food and ice cold beverages. Ducci’s headlight decided it didn’t want to work for the dark ride back to the hotel, but we managed to sneak him past all the super troopers on I-15. We made our way back and headed over to the one and only Hogs and Heifers Saloon, home the best parties you’ll ever attend while at Vegas BikeFest.
I personally think this year’s show was the best, not only for me and my art, but looking out over the crowd and the overall showcase of bikes at the Artistry in Iron show. This year’s show would debut some of the most beautiful bikes I’ve ever seen there and the wonderful people that build them. The Cycle Source staff, what few of us that were there, stayed very busy all week, running around and making sure our events were happening. Many thanks to all of you that helped us out; you know who you are and we couldn’t have managed without you. The Cycle Source Run Down The Strip ride had more riders than I’ve seen in the past, which helped make for a great bike show and party that night at Hogs. Thank you to all who participated. You can about imagine how hectic a week at Las Vegas Bike week can be. We all worked very hard during the day, partied all night and repeated it, over and over. As exhausting as this can be, we decided to treat ourselves to a rooftop pool party at the Nugget. We had private cabanas, drinks of all flavors, pizza and of course the best motorbike family a guy could ask for. We literally took over the pool and caused a ruckus. One of my most favorite days ever with my motorbike family. If you get the chance next year, be sure to put Vegas Bike Week on your schedule, it’s a damn good event, put on by amazing people. Until then, see you on the road, FTW. Much love “D