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#83 Jake Smallwood

Addison, IL

1945 Harley-Davidson WL

Hello, My name is Jake Smallwood. I’m a 21 year old from the Chicagoland area and I live a motorcycle life! I’ll be participating in the 2021 Chase on a 1945 Harley-Davidson Flathead thanks to the awesome Chris Tribbey! However my love and involvement for motorcycles has been alive long before I won this opportunity.  It would be fair to say that motorcycles let alone antique ones were a part of my destiny before I was even a thought. With my mom and dad both being very deep into the motorcycle culture, I practically grew up at such events as the IMS show, Wauseon, Davenport and the many more “watering holes” for motorcycle connoisseurs. As imagined this really planted a strong root in my head for the two wheel life. However, more than anything I’d say it was the long nights and early mornings working in the garage with my dad that really birthed my love for the antique motorcycles. Even if the term “Wrench, Ride, Repeat” seemed to be the slogan I just couldn’t escape. It seemed that as much time was spent enjoying the freedom of the open road, just as much time was spent in the garage or on the side of the road reworking the machines and macgyvering them to keep on kicking. And guess what? They always did keep kicking. I think this is where the deepest interest was held, riding an antique motorcycle was not something to just hop on and ride whenever you wanted, it was truly a hobby and you had to form a connection with your machine. Hearing the difference between loose and tight pushrods, or wearing rocker arms etc. With these beautiful machines you truly got what you gave and to me that is a great sense of accomplishment while also being a great lesson that most modern motorcycles don’t teach. I have the honor today of owning a self built custom 1956 panhead chopper/bobber with the same motor that my dad used to haul me around in a sidecar on HIS panhead…Now don’t think I was just gifted this, OH NO my pops really made me earn my stake with miles…and miles of riding the 45 flatty that we had built together. In the beginning I will be honest I often found myself getting distracted with things such as sports and friends, and it wasn’t until I rode that flathead the first time on my own through the black hills of South Dakota that I understood the privilege I was given. With my dad being the self taught evil genius he was with anything from a logan lathe to a welder to even the milling machine it was clear that if I put the work in, I could make any idea come to life. To understand this, if you’ve ever seen “world’s fastest Indian” yeah, my dad was kind of like Burt working in the over packed garage that seemed to have some crazy kind of controlled chaos. But I loved it. This was our man cave, while it may not have had any sports teams on the wall or any built in bars, we did have a small T.V with some black and white and old western movies along with enough parts tools and machinery to build anything (with determination of course). My bike now, the 56 Panhead, is the prodigal child of said garage; 90% of that bike was found crawling around in the rafters, searching through forgotten box’s and even rewelding frames together. Really building that connection I was speaking of earlier. Now being a member of the AMCA I’ve been able to experience that this connection was something felt outside of just our messy garage, and that in fact it was a way of life for seemingly anyone who liked two wheels and a tank shift. Every trip and road run, another opportunity to learn new ideas and gather new experiences. And I certainly look forward to everything and everyone I will come across on this trip, adding it to the story of my motorcycle life.