When producers from the long-running ABC television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” called us in early October and asked us to work some mechanical magic into a pair of three-decades-old derelict bikes, our crew jumped at the opportunity.
A couple of our top techs rounded up a van and trailer and drove the 90-minutes from J&P Cycles’ headquarters in Anamosa to West Union, Iowa, to meet up with the ABC crew and surprise Audrey Gibbs and her six children.
The back story is this: Seven months after her husband died, Audrey Gibbs suffered a brain aneurism that left her legally blind and raising six children on a rundown farm. Her doctors don’t know if she will completely lose her sight, and there’s the possibility that her aneurism will take her life.
With little time to grieve, Audrey quickly switched gears from working as a cosmetologist to taking classes in massage therapy, figuring that she could still work if she does lose her sight. Her family’s only other real source of income is money she receives from a few local farmers who lease a portion of her farmland.
The farmhouse itself was desperately in need of repairs that could best be completed by the folks at “Extreme Makeover.” The home had no working toilet, the ceiling in one part of the house was in danger of caving in and the design of the two-story main house certainly wouldn’t work if Audrey were to completely lose her eyesight.
When we arrived at the farm, we were led out to a barn that contained two Kawasaki motorcycles. They stood in a corner on a dirt floor, leaking mystery liquids and looking pretty sad. Neither the 1981 KZ750, nor the 1980 KZ650 were in running condition and, in fact, parts for both bikes were strewn about in the dirt.
With four days to make the repairs, the crew here at J&P decided to load up both bikes on the trailer —along with the grimy gear on the floor — and make the hour and a half run back to our headquarters. Upon arrival in Anamosa, a half-dozen J&P technicians rolled up their sleeves and dug into the greasy mess.
They found a screwdriver in a gas tank, carburetors in terrible shape, cracks in most all of the hoses, leaking master cylinders, and mystery motorcycle parts in need of placement. Long days and nights were spent on the two bikes, and even rocker Bret Michaels made a trip to our facilities to help us with the finishing touches.
The show airs on ABC at 7 p.m. (CT) this Friday, Jan. 6. Following the show, visit us on our Extreme Makeover: Home Edition page for behind-the-scenes footage of our crew scrambling to complete two bikes in only four days.