Chopper Charlie: With The Blink Of An Eye

Winter Is Coming

Article And Photos By: Charlie Weisel

Originally Published In The January 2017 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

With the blink of an eye, summer has turned to fall, and fall to winter. Leaves have turned from a bright green to yellows to oranges and finally to brown as they suffer and die amidst the icy grip of Old Man Winter. Late sunsets have been cloaked by early arriving dark skies and the chill in the air bites to the bone. This is “pull the choke”, hard starts and an extra sweater season. T-shirts are a thing of the past, carefully tucked away until Mother Nature kicks Old Man Winter out of bed. To some, winter means parking the bike and repairing the damage W done during the summer months. To me, winter is a fresh landscape and a chance to have the roads to myself. The weekend warriors have parked their bikes, plugged in the battery tenders and taken to the slopes for some winter activities. The cold road is mine and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. The fact of the matter is though; I am not completely alone in this. There are a handful of diehards around these parts that are willing to join me on whatever ridiculous ride idea I may have. Those of us who don’t believe that just because the mercury drops that our kickstands should to.

One of these guys in particular, goes mostly by the name of Aaron, though we have called him by many other names as well. Aaron never says no. It could literally be a blizzard out and if you suggested going riding he would ask what time we were leaving. Just last week he was spotted riding his jockey shift and raked Twin Cam chopper to Arapaho-Basin for opening day with his skis strapped to his bike. He once road to Alaska and back from Virginia on one of the ugliest Goldwings ever built, the “Weird Wing”, as he calls it. I’ve seen him ride a 1980’s scooter, complete with pop-up headlight, when he had a broken arm and couldn’t ride anything else. Basically, Aaron is pretty much a badass. The best part about it though, is that I don’t think he even realizes it, he’s the kind of guy that does something so ridiculous, yet awesome at the same time, that you just have to laugh. Because of this, we get along great. I once got him to go choppering up a jeep trail with me without any question at all. We once went skiing down an icy mountain dirt road…on our motorcycles. We went “spring” moto camping one time and woke to 15 degree temps. Nothing but smiles and laughter out of that guy during all these adventures. These are the sorts of adventures that really bring friends together, and they all happened in the winter. Maybe I should back up and explain how I met this guy in the first place.

I forget what year it was exactly, maybe 4 or 5 years ago, but I suppose it isn’t that important, I was out for one my typical Saturday rides. Starting from my driveway in Boulder, CO I have a loop I ride fairly often that takes me North to Lyons, west to Allenspark and South along the famous Peak-To-Peak Highway. Along this incredibly scenic, high altitude stretch of twisty tarmac, near Ward, is a bar called the Millsite Inn. Complete with copper counters, a wood burning fireplace and crusty old mountain men, this place is the quintessential Rocky Mountain tavern. Bellying up to the bar, like I did so often back in those days, I began an idle conversation with the guy next to me, that guy happened to be Aaron. I forget who walked in first, must’ve been me because he inquired about the IBA Saddle Sore 1000 license plate frame on my bike and asked if I had actually completed one. When I said yes, I had in fact completed multiple, he seemed surprised. I suppose you don’t see a lot of Iron Butt riders on a bike like mine. Regardless, we hit it off and enjoyed swapping stories of travel, big mile days and all sorts of motorcycle related shenanigans. It turned out we had a lot in common, just about the same amount of crazy when came to riding and a never say no attitude. These are surprisingly hard qualities to find in someone. At about the point we had found the bottom of our beers, it was time for me to get rolling.

You see, I had some hardcore biker shit to do, we were having a block party back in my neighborhood. I went ahead and invited Aaron along, not sure if he’d be able to handle the craziness, he did fine. But, not before a hairraising ride home first though. What I hadn’t done was ask Aaron what kind of bike he rode, not that it matters, but somehow that never came up during our conversation. That being said, you can imagine my surprise when I saw him hop aboard his giant blacked out Goldwing. Good lord, I thought, really? I never would have pegged this guy as a Goldwing rider, but off we went. Feeling a little froggy and wanting to see what this guy was made of, I opened up the throttle and went floor board scraping my way through every switchback between Ward and Boulder. That Goldwing shining its headlight into my shaky rear view mirror the whole time, I couldn’t break loose of this guy. Rolling into my Cul-de-sac, both grinning from ear to ear, I knew we would become great friends. I could go on for days telling stories of the precarious situations we have gotten ourselves into since that day, but I’ll stop here for now. Whenever the temperatures plummet and the snow starts to fly I look back on memories like these and look forward to creating more. No more complaining about winter for me. From here on out it is cold weather, frozen snot kind of story making…at least until it warms up again. The kind of stories that make you shiver just hearing them. I suppose, at this point in my life I’ve got plenty of cold weather stories already, but there is always room for more. Let’s not sit around and complain about the weather this winter, let’s continue to make year ‘round memories. Call your best buddy, grab an extra sweater and go do what most people won’t.

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