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Article By: Charlie Weisel
Orignally Published In The July 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
I have always been a bit goal oriented when it comes to riding motorcycles, in a way that’s a tad pointless in fact. I am definitely a mile tracker, destination counter and one who likes to check milestones off my list. As some of you may remember, I choppered to the northernmost point of the east coast Highway 1 a few years back, so of course that meant I needed to reach the southernmost as well. This would also act as a double hitter as the southernmost point of Highway 1 is also as far south as you can get in the United States. For a goal-oriented guy such as myself, this was perfect. I could check two items off my ridiculous list in one shot. Add this to fact that I got to spend a day riding across a series of fantastic bridges, another favorite activity of mine, and there was nothing to not love about this ride. The morning started not unlike many others except for the fact that I was not alone. Beanr’e and I had decided the night before to meet in Homestead, split a hotel room and make our way south together. And that we did, well, not until after Beanr’e crashed his motorcycle in the hotel parking lot.
Ok, ok, I’m being a bit dramatic, but I just couldn’t leave that part out…Sorry Beanr’e. After that though, we were on our way. In classic form I found myself incredibly overdressed for the arrival of warm weather, I had not, until this point, felt warm temperatures for nearly five months, being that I reside in Colorado, so my typical riding gear was proving to be a bit much. Aside from this though I couldn’t help but marvel at the incredible beauty that is the Florida Keys. Nearly every stretch of road is lined with beach front property, the Seven Mile Bridge is an absolute engineering marvel and the feeling of literally riding a motorcycle straight out across the ocean is hard to beat. Beanr’e and I made a handful of stops to chat with old friends of his, grab lunch and of course, take the quintessential “90 miles from Cuba” photo. After the classic tourist photo was taken, Beanr’e and I parted ways. He was beach bound and I was campsite bound, we would not see each other again on this trip but I am sure we will lay down miles together in the future.
I pulled into Boyd’s Campground in Key West with the intention of spending a quiet night alone under the stars, maybe even get some writing done, but what happened next would change all that and is a testament to just how small our planet really is. As I stood there near the campground lobby, marveling at the sheer quantity and size of the RV’s stuffed into this so-called camping oasis, a man walked over. Strangers wandering over to comment and ask questions about my motorcycle is nothing new but when they say that they recognize the patch on my back I tend to pause and take notice. In all honesty I thought he was full of crap for a second until he asked if I knew a guy named Kruze. Kruze lives in Milwaukee and we share the same patch. I looked at him with a curious eye, glanced at that the van he had walked out from behind and noticed the Wisconsin plates. I asked how he knew Kruze, he replied “from the Shed”. If you live in Milwaukee and ride motorcycles, there is still a decent chance you don’t know The Shed. I began to ask about other people he might know to verify he wasn’t name dropping people he barely knew, his story checked out and I was left baffled as to the chances of meeting someone like him in a place like this, I probably should have bought a lottery ticket. Tim, that was his name, offered me a place to sleep in his campsite and even went as far as to make us a fantastic dinner of fresh steak and shrimp, a perfect way to spend an evening on the island. As I set my head on my rolled up sweat shirt and shut my eyes to get some sleep, I thought that although my stay in Key West was brief, this experience would stay with me for a lifetime.
Alas, the sun was up, and it was time to roll. My journey to the Southernmost tip of the United States was coming to close and my 2,500-mile trek home was beginning. My route would take me through the Everglades and Alligator Alley north to St. Petersburg. My good friend, Fletch would offer me a place to sleep on his boat in Demen Marina in the heart of downtown. The road home was filled with twists and turns, long stretches of straight and narrow, rain, heat and cold, but not a mile of disappointment. These rides, the long ones, are where the mind is afforded the time to clarify what is important to us, the time to reveal what we truly want from life and the things that are holding us back. For me, this ride, unlike others in the past, was intended for just that purpose. My career has turned into a soul sucking march into a perpetually exhausting state of gloom and a change is on the horizon, a change must take place. This 5,200-mile ride south and back did what I asked of it, it opened my eyes, wider then they have ever been, that far too many of us live our lives chasing the almighty dollar while running away from what actually makes us happy. Working day in and day out at menial jobs that suck our life force away from us, offer nothing back to society and provide nothing more than a few bucks to line our pockets. There is more to life, I promise you there is. Maybe this a mid-life crisis, maybe it’s burnout, I don’t know. But whatever is, the voices are loud enough that I can’t help but notice. As always, I encourage you to get out and explore our great country and world on two wheels, the time is now, start that motor. For more photos from this trip and previous trips, be sure to follow me on Instagram @ charlietravelingchopper.