Article And Photos Photos By: Darren McKeag
Originally Published In The June 2013 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
If you’ve spent any time in the Gulf Coast area of the United States, you’ll know that there are many miles of beautiful coastal highways to ride your motorbike. So, you can only imagine what my response was when my brother Roadside Marty invited me down for Mardi Gras and a chance to do something on my birthday that I’ve never done: ride motorbikes. Well, that and indulge in many beverages and be a part of the largest Mardi Gras parade I’ve ever seen. As you all probably know by now, Roadside is my 2nd in command and we spend a lot of time together, riding, traveling the country, doing things only our cell phone picture libraries can truly reveal. Home for Roadside is in the Gulf Coast area of Florida, Pensacola to be specific. Pensacola happens to be a great location, not only for Mardi Gras, but for great riding and great food.
Now, for those of you who aren’t up to par on the history of Mardi Gras, it was founded in Mobile, Article And Photos Photos By: Darren McKeag I Alabama in the early 1700s. It just so happens that the massive parties and festivities migrated their way to the east in Pensacola, and the west in New Orleans. If you’ve been to any of these cities, you’ll know how influenced they are by French architecture. Once I arrived in Pensacola, it didn’t take long for our schedule of events to fill up. I arrived mid day Friday, and by Friday evening, I was witness to the largest parade of pirate ships, full of the most intoxicated, bead throwing women I had ever seen. I assured Roadside I would remain as calm as possible, but by the end of Friday evening, I was literally shoving people out of the way (children included) in an attempt to inventory the largest collection of Mardi Gras beads known to man.
That night would prove to be a late one, as we ran in to many of Roadside’s friends and the fact that I wouldn’t quit drinking–weird, right? Before I even considered calling it a night, Roadside revealed my birthday gift to me. Now, before you all get pissed and think that he gave me his 1993 FXRP, well he did, but just for the weekend. Roadside told me that we were going to be in the Mardi Gras parade Saturday. This would prove to be one of the greatest Saturdays of my life, except for that one Saturday in Moscow with that girl … okay, never mind. Waking up Saturday morning arrived very quickly for some odd reason. We found ourselves in downtown Pensacola and ready for our parade duties with one of my favorite people and one of Roadside’s best buddies, Fat Back. He happens to be a very iconic figure, not only in the Pensacola area, but at Mardi Gras as well. The really cool thing about Fat Back, is that he turns into “Pantyman” during Mardi Gras; a true superhero who throws out panties to all of the needy, under privileged street ladies. The Mardi Gras parade was huge, consisting of somewhere around 237 floats, 6000 participants, and at least some 200,000 spectators, and yes, we were right in the middle of it all. Our float was about 4th to last in the lineup. The parade started at 2pm and our float didn’t start moving until 6pm, so you can imagine what kind of shape we were in by the time we rolled out. Roadside will tell you he did all the work on the float, but it’s not true, it was me. What an amazing experience being in the parade was.
With Saturday behind us, we rolled out early Sunday morning, my birthday, to meet up with our good friends Josh and Becky for breakfast at one of the many Waffle Houses in the P-cola area. We made our way down to Pensacola Beach for the day to enjoy round 3 of what Pensacola had to offer for Mardi Gras. Just when I thought I had seen it all, there was still more festivities to enjoy yet again. I truly thought I knew how to party, but these folks from Pensacola showed me how to do it right. Once again, a great day was had on the beach, with great friends, spirits and motorbikes.
Now, for those of you that know Mardi Gras, you know that the last Tuesday is called “Fat Tuesday.” So, Roadside and I decided to roll to Mobile, Alabama for this notorious day. However, the weather would not be as glorious as the previous days. So we made the decision to use four wheels. It would prove to be a wise choice, as the weather let loose on us all day, but nothing that would slow us down though. We put ourselves right in the middle of Fat Tuesday and made the best of it. By the end of the day, I had a hell of a buzz and the largest collection of Moon Pies I had ever seen. Roadside’s dad, Pops, was in for a great treat, as Moon Pies happen to be his favorite. Roadside and I then ventured north a bit to enjoy a wonderful evening meal with his mother. What a great lady she is, and an amazing host. She was very quick to show me all the pics of Roadside when he was young and innocent. A great evening was had; I thanked her and told her I was sorry for the years she had to put up with Roadside’s shit!
As I prepared for my early flight Wednesday morning, Roadside and I had a few hours to reflect on the weekend and its great memories that were given to us. My lifetime will not allow me the time to express how blessed I am to have such amazing brothers like Roadside. Not only do I visit him often, but he has made his home and any one of his beautiful motorbikes available to me while I’m there. I am truly blessed and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will ride anywhere with you, at anytime. Love you!