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Article And Photos By: Charlie Weisel
Originally Published In The September 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
If you go out to your workbench and rifle through that stack of old Cycle Source magazines, or maybe your bathroom, the location is really not the point; you will find an article I wrote encouraging readers to contact me about being a tour guide. Specifically, I was asking readers to reach out and show me a good ride in their part of the world. I made a point of stating that the specific location was not important and that the idea was to connect with readers and lay eyes on what they see during a normal everyday ride. A handful of you reached out, over both Facebook and Instagram, and offered just that. I was pleasantly surprised by the response and hope it continues. For one of you, in particular, everything worked out, and my plan came to fruition.
He goes by the name of Everett; you’ll see him coming a mile away, not only because of the traffic cone orange helmet adorning his Cabeza, but more specifically because of his contagious smile and welcoming demeanor. Everett is one of those guys that is easy to talk to and makes you feel completely comfortable right out of the gate. Everett reached out to me relatively soon after the article hit the streets and was persistent in his wanting to meet, keeping me updated on a regular basis as plans came together. Persistence is good for me as I tend to be a bit forgetful these days. In my classic form, I was reluctant to fully commit until just a few days before I would need to leave to meet him and his friends, Chuck and Shannon. As is typical with most of my travels, they tend to be very last minute and hinge almost entirely on whether or not my work schedule allows my vacancy. As it turned out, the stars aligned and the moons gravitational pull adjusted my schedule just perfectly to sneak out for an east coast jaunt.
The downside to my hasty departure was that it only left me two days to navigate my chopper 1400 miles across the blistering heat of the Great Plains and on to Kentucky to reach our agreed upon rendezvous location of Holly Bay Campground. Knowing the Kansas crossing would be approaching triple-digit mind-bending heat, along with its typical howling crosswinds, I chose a 4 am start time to get as far East as I could before my tires began melting to the pavement. I also adopted the “I’m not messing around” mindset and started my east coast journey with a vengeance. Stopping only when my fuel tank required a drink and holding my speedometer at well past the 12 o’clock position, I managed to reach the Illinois/Indiana state line, 1020 miles, a respectable 16 hours later… despite the irritating and time killing I-70 closure through Kansas City. Having had enough punishment for one day I pulled into a Super 8 that night, my head buzzing like a swarm of bees and my pits stinking to the high heavens, showered and fell straight to sleep knowing I could relax and meander my way the remaining 400 miles along sweeping backroads the following day.
As my wheels rolled east, the road began to twist, dive and climb in a way that reminded me of a Six Flags roller coaster. The closer I got to the campground the more the road dazzled my senses, the heat began to dissipate, and the sun shone down through the scattered rain clouds leaving the wet road steaming in that ancient fantasy land sort of way. I always feel a bit like a Viking warrior in those situations, its a shame I’m only 5’9” and 140lbs…
I rounded the final corner into the Holly Bay campsite and was instructed by the entrance booth attendant that my friends were waiting for me at campsite F3, apparently she was told to keep her eyes peeled for a scraggly looking dude on an excessively long motorcycle. Across the speed bumps, I lumbered until I found a little wood sign adorned with the characters F and 3. Behind the sign stood three more characters patiently awaiting my arrival. The greatest part about this meeting was that even though none of us had ever met it still felt very natural and conversation immediately began to flow easily, maybe not so much for Chuck as he seemed a little slower to accept the idea of a random new guy joining them on there yearly ride, but he warmed up soon enough. Fortunately, Chucks wife, Shannon, had enough words for all of us and kept the conversation going on his behalf. In all seriousness though, all three of them made me feel perfectly at ease. We spent the evening telling stories, watching the storms roll in and out until it was finally time for some shut-eye in anticipation of the following morning’s ride.
From this point we spent the next three days getting to know each other on the backroads of North Carolina and Virginia and, for me, this was the highlight of the trip. We started out with no plan, which is the best plan of all if you were wondering, and decided to choose roads purely on the direction the sign stated, north. Unbeknownst to me the first road we turned up would take us directly to what is called the “Rattler,” it is basically another version of the “Tail of the Dragon.” One of those roads with a sign stating that there are a bazillion curves over the next whole lot of miles and a crowd of nervous looking bikers getting pictures underneath it. The sign was not lying. It was literally so twisty in areas that I started to get motion sick, but then again, I get motion sick from almost everything. North Carolina and Virginia both, as a whole, are filled with roads like this. Curves in all the right places, glassy smooth and lined in dense forest make this area a motorcyclists paradise. Sadly though, our tour together would come to an end as my itchy foot syndrome began to flare up and my last minute decision to ride through Michigans upper peninsula began to take shape. And so with a reluctant goodbye, we set off in opposite directions, me for north and them for home.
Looking back on all this now, it fills me to the brim with an immense amount of gratitude that Everett reached out as he did. For a guy like me, just your average Joe sitting behind his I-Pad in his tool laden truck trying desperately to write these articles between relentless work phone calls and projects, it means a lot. Between my travels, I work, more then I care to admit. And the fact that anyone reads these stories blows my mind sometimes, and the fact that many of you have begun to reach out just elates me. Everett, Chuck, and Shannon are a true testament to what the motorcycle community is about. Seemingly devoid of ego and showmanship they just wanted to ride and explore the great earth we live on, these are my kind of people. The kind of people that make up the Cycle Source family and the kind of people I hope to continue to reach out and show me around a bit. On that note, if you have already contacted me, I have saved your information and will get ahold of you as soon as a window opens. Interested in being a part of this? Contact me via Facebook as Charlie Weisel or on Instagram as @charlietravelingchopper. Until then, happy riding! P.S. I’ve started shooting my photos with film, and well, let’s just say that one of the rolls I shot didn’t turn out. Not sure if it was user error or mechanical failure on the part of the camera but there you go, sorry for the lack of photos on this one folks!