Chopper Charlie: Unhitched

The Path Less Traveled Is Less Traveled For A Reason, It Isn’t Easy

Article By: Chopper Charlie Weisel

Photos By: Kayla Koeune

For weeks I’d been beating my head against the wall trying to find a way to approach this topic. From the first day I began to share my stories in this magazine I have tried to encourage motorcycle travel, exploring the unknown and reaching beyond your comfort zone. These are my passions in life and I truly enjoy sharing them with you. I know what I am going to say here is a touchy subject but this is the best way I could come up with to portray my thoughts in a nonabrasive way. Give it a read, maybe it will open your eyes to a perspective you hadn’t thought of before or, at the very least, get you thinking about how you go about your next road trip.

Perspective #1 – The temperature was perfect that Saturday morning as I loaded my bike into the back of the trailer. What a beautiful day it would be for a ride I thought. After ensuring the trailer was well hitched, I said my good byes and hit the road. Winding my way through the neighborhood I watched as good husbands dragged their lawn mowers from their freshly cleaned garages and started their weekends worth of chores. Children kicked soccer balls at each other and housewives shopped online for new linens. How mundane I thought, that’s not for me. Hitting the open road in my Ford F100 with my chopper in tow was more my style. 1000 miles from here to LA and I would be unloading my most prized possession and carving corners along the Pacific Coast Highway. I couldn’t get there fast enough. All along the way I passed other bikers, many of them pulled over standing next to their machines with smiles on their faces, bugs in their teeth and majestic backdrops for the perfect photo. I couldn’t help but wonder where they were going. As I passed I thought- it sure looks nice out there, oh well, in 800 more miles I’ll be doing the same. Not much further on I stopped for fuel and to check the tire pressure. At nearly the same time the riders I passed earlier pulled in. I sauntered over casually, admittedly a bit envious of them being on bikes. I asked where they were going. They said they were headed to the west coast to ride the Pacific Coast Highway. They were taking the long way through a few national parks and exploring some back roads. Damn, that sounded like a nice way to do it, must take a while though and I could never take that much time. After talking to them though it turned out that their trip was only a couple of days longer than mine and seemingly much more enjoyable. Well, it was time to hit the road again and just get there. We said our goodbyes and hit the road. As I watched them pull away from me I began to wonder what that trip would be like…….

Perspective #2 – The temperature was perfect that Saturday morning as I strapped my gear to the back of the bike. What a wonderful day of riding it was going to be. After ensuring that my bungee cords and straps were well secured, I said my goodbyes and hit the road. Winding my way through the neighborhood I watched good husbands stare with envy in their eyes as they dragged their lawnmowers from their freshly cleaned garages and started the weekends worth of chores. Children kicking soccer balls at each other stopped what they were doing to marvel at “Mr. Biker Man” riding by, dreaming of doing the same when they get older. Housewives shopping online for new linens stopped to look out the window as the sound of a motorcycle rolled past. How mundane I thought, that’s not for me. Hitting the open road with only the essentials strapped to my bike was more my style. 1000 miles from here to LA and I would be carving corners along the Pacific Coast Highway, what a great trip this was going to be. All along the way I exchanged smiles and waves with other bikers. Many of them pulled over for a photo op next to their machines with smiles on their face, bugs in their teeth and majestic backdrops to perfect the photo. Where are they going? I wondered. It sure is nice out here. Not much further up the road I stopped for fuel at nearly the same time as the riders I had passed earlier. As I was carefully pumping fuel the guys came over to say hello and ask where I was going.

I explained that I was heading to the west coast to ride the pacific coast highway. Surprisingly enough they were going in the same direction but on a route I hadn’t thought of taking. After accepting an invitation to join them, we all climbed aboard our rigs and pointed ourselves into the sun. I never intended to ride with anyone to California, but it was sure nice to have some company and a tour guide; they remain good friends to this day. I can’t tell you how often interactions like have taken place, but they are some of the most memorable times from the road. One trip, two very different experiences. Which option is best for you is for you to decide. Obviously both options are vastly different. In option #1 you are simply driving with the anticipation of doing what you love and in option #2 you are doing what you love the moment you leave your driveway. Option #2 is also where rocking chair stories are formed, relationships are found and character is built. I’m not saying this isn’t possible in a car but I think the opportunities may not be as frequent. In option 2 you are much more connected with the environment, not simply watching it go by as if you were watching it on a TV screen. Sure, driving a car or truck might be the safer option, in regards to weather and time, but where is the adventure in that? Where is the challenge? Experiencing opportunities that show what you are made of when things go awry has gone by the wayside. When the weather doesn’t cooperate how will you handle it? How will you handle a breakdown of either the mechanical or emotional type? These are the things that will teach you, about you. The beauty of motorcycle travel can only be found on a motorcycle, not within the confines of windows and a steel shell. The path less traveled is less traveled for a reason, because it isn’t easy. But, challenges such as these are what build character and shape who we become. If you read this and option #1 sounds like you then I challenge and encourage you to give option #2 a try. I challenge you to build a story from behind the handlebars, not a windshield. Connect with riders all over the country at rest areas, gas stations, pubs and delie. Reach beyond your comfort zone and just ride. Soak it in for a minute or two, reread this if you need to, then unhitch the trailer and create your own rocking chair stories.

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