Chopper Charlie: Live Small, Do Big Things

Article And Photos By: Charlie Weisel

Originally Published In The March 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

The almighty dollar… I’ve been chasing the living hell out of it lately. In some ways this is good: it’s smart to plan for your future and set yourself up for a life that isn’t financially stressful. However, it can also be detrimental if you take it to the extreme. Balance must be found. I woke up this morning and had one of those clarifying moments when you realize that your life’s goals were being clouded by things of relative unimportance. Maybe I should explain how this all began. About six months ago I started a new venture and began investing in real estate. Everything was going great until a 3.3-acre property was dangled in front of my face. I wanted it! And suddenly I was willing to put my real estate goals, and therefore my long-term travel goals, on hold in order to drop a small fortune on a property for Kayla and me. We were both dazzled by the multiple shop spaces it provided, mountain view’s and the quiet street. The yard was perfectly landscaped, and everything was clean. There appeared to be almost no downside and the price reflected it. We actually went so far as to put an offer in; and were told that it was accepted and that the owners would be signing off on the deal. And then…. in literally the last hour, a more seductive offer fell into their lap. Just like that, it was over. Rage consumed me. It had been a week-long, stress-filled roller coaster ride that ultimately had resulted in nothing. I tossed and turned all night, debating on whether to submit a new offer, at a higher price to try to beat my competition. How bad did we want the place? How far were we willing to go? There were so many questions going through my mind. It wasn’t until morning, as I woke up groggy and a bit grumpy, that the light bulb turned on in my head. What was I thinking? Did we really need all of that?

The real answer was No! We absolutely did not. My goal has been to create enough income that would allow us to travel whenever we wanted, responsibly, and with no expectation that we could mooch off friends or rely on a Go Fund Me page to let other hard-working people pay for a permanent vacation. With that goal in mind I had to take a hard look at what was really important. This came with a slap in the face reminder to stay on track and to not get sucked into the All-American dream trap. I’ve preached it a million times, and just this morning, I had to preach it to myself. Material things don’t define you or empower you. Life experiences, education and an open mind are what set unique individuals apart from the herd. Not to minimize it, but anyone can wake up every day, punch the time clock and collect a check. And in fact, to a certain degree, this is absolutely necessary unless you were fortunate enough to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth and to have a trust fund waiting for you. Of course, this is not the case for most of us. I wonder if a time clock punching life like that is really fulfilling anyone? Of course, for some I suppose it does, but I’m not always convinced that they are the majority. This all comes back around to the age-old question of whether success is measured in dollars. I’m guessing if you are a reader of this magazine then you might not think it is. I definitely don’t.

I know a person must maintain some sort of financial responsibility, so they don’t become a drain on society. So how do we go about supporting our dreams while paying the bills? Ah, yes, that’s the question everyone wants the answer to. I certainly don’t claim to have the magic pill, but I can pass on what has worked for me. People ask me on a regular basis how Kayla and I are able to travel so much. Primarily, we have made traveling a priority. If this is what you want, my advice is to live a minimalist life and start taking a real look at what and how you actually spend your money. Granted, we don’t have kids so that certainly makes it easier, but more than anything we actively try to only spend money on things that are travel related. In addition to that, we are both self-employed. This provides a little more freedom to schedule our time off but also poses the risk of doing damage to our businesses when gone, there’s no way around that, but I think the risk is worth it. The long and short of it is that if motorcycle travel is your passion, and you want to do as much of it as possible, then start making the moves: start making it your priority. Instead of buying a fancy new car or motorcycle every year, spend that money on a trip to South America. Buy the middle of the road TV and spend the money you saved on a long weekend road trip. Do you really need ten pairs of shoes? Probably not. The money you spent on five of those pairs could have covered the fuel cost of a 5,000- mile ride. That $200 you spent at the bar last night could have paid for a four-day motocamping trip with your pals. You get my point??? We almost always spend money more carelessly than we realize. But if you pay attention and realize it, then you can change it. And after you make that change, it will be you telling people about how to make multiple longdistance moto trips a year possible.

In addition, and to help things along, keep in mind that motorcycle travel is relatively inexpensive, especially if you are willing to camp. The fuel economy on most of our bikes is fantastic; campgrounds are cheap and sometimes even free. Food on the road shouldn’t cost you anymore than it would at home, but the experiences you will have are priceless. I think it is time to start realizing our own American Dream and to stop buying into the traditional expectations society places on us. If you ride motorcycles, then I assume you already agree with this, at least to some degree, because we are not a lifestyle that tends to adhere to social norms. My wife made a comment tonight that I believe sums up everything I’m trying to say into a nice little package, it should probably be on a mug or a T-shirt, or at the very least a bumper sticker. She said, based on what I told her I was writing about, “live small and do big things.” She’s a smart woman, and that’s a quote to live by.

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