Bike Night begins in Tama

Jeff Kopsa (left) and Derek Doran (right) walk up West 3rd Street in Tama on Wednesday, June 24 as the first Bike Night event is underway. Doran, bar manager at The Pump, is one of the event organizers. Photo by Darvin Graham

“You don’t have to have a bike to have a good time,” encouraged Derek Doran, bar manager at The Pump bar and grill and one of the organizers of the recently established Tama Bike Night events.

Over 120 motorcycles descended upon 3rd Street in Tama on June 24th for The Pump’s first, in what they hope will be a weekly gathering during the summer months. Burgers and brats were grilled and sold to patrons who filled up W 3rd Street to enjoy bikes, beers, and live entertainment courtesy of house band Billy Goat Scruff. During their June 1st meeting the Tama City Council approved the 200 block of W 3rd Street to be closed on Wednesdays through September to allow for bike parking, outdoor seating, and space for live music to set up.

While it’s unclear if a regular bike night had ever been established in Tama, Doran remembers Bev and the late Alan Timm who owned and operated the Town Pump setting up charity bike runs and always offering a welcoming place for bikers to stop by.

For Doran, Bike Nights at The Pump connect past to present in some important ways. He recalls growing up around biker culture as his dad, the late Duane “Dude” Doran, was a motorcycle enthusiast who enjoyed working on his own bike and socializing with folks at events similar to the one held last Wednesday. Since his father’s passing last September, Derek has inherited his dad’s bike, a 1999 dark blue and purple custom Harley Davidson, and is discovering for himself the joy of riding and owning a motorcycle.

“My dad was always a biker and I’ve liked that bike since I was kid,” remembered Doran. “Now that I’m getting used to it, I find it very relaxing. You can just get on and ride.”

For The Pump, the Wednesday Bike Nights are a way to help drive traffic as their business continues to recover following the COVID-19 shutdown this spring.

Looking back just a couple months Doran thinks about how daunting the future looked then but how supportive their customers were despite the setback.

“At the beginning it was kind of scary. It was hard to keep things going when you can’t bring in money. But people have been open with us to come down when they can. It was good to see after everything that’s happened that people want to be around other folks.”

The Pump was one among hundreds of Iowa businesses granted relief funding through the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s COVID-19 Relief Program. They hope relief funds along with increased revenue from events like their Bike Nights can help steady the ship as they go forward.

The decision to organize a regular Bike Night in Tama came about after Bea’s Place in Baxter, a popular biker destination, originally announced they would forgo their Bike Night events in 2020. Plans got underway for The Pump to step in as a new venue in the region that could host a Wednesday Bike Night. The bar in Baxter later announced they would change course and go ahead with their events for 2020, but Doran and the organizers at The Pump wagered there would be enough of an appetite for bikers to stop by both places in the same evening. The turnout from the debut event last Wednesday was encouraging and they reported seeing visitors from as far out as Cedar Falls and the Cedar Rapids area.

For the time being The Pump will continue with their weekly Bike Night events on Wednesdays, providing food for sale, outdoor seating, and live music from 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Doran encourages bikers and non-bikers alike to stop out on Wednesday evenings, even if it’s just for a song or two.

“Can’t go wrong with live music, good food, and great people,” Doran says with a smile.