On Friday, May 7th, we packed our gear and let out on the road to Trenton, NC from Locust Grove, GA. We had been chomping at the bit after the winter lull. Spring has finally arrived! The world feels alive again! With every breath of the wind, new life comes into our bones and we shed the cumbersome weight that the winter adds to already tired bones. We have been riding places for several months, in the cold, and while we aren’t afraid of getting down on it in the frozen tundra, it’s also the worst and I would skip the entire season forever.
We were able to take some backroads and go around the city of Atlanta. I always enjoy riding into the Carolina’s. Its one of those trips where I feel like the view gets better and better as I go. It’s always been crazy to me when I push even a little bit east, how the landscape changes. Its still the south and looks similar, but nothing is the same.
I feel like everything from the grass, to the trees, to the air is all different. It is very congested where we live. I feel like we are overflowing with people and the traffic is a parking lot more times than not, and it is getting to be more and more developed every day. I feel like its suffocating sometimes, but I love being around our family, so it will be a few years before we change our environment. As we moved east, it felt easier to breathe again. It felt like we were leaving behind the heavy burden of too many people in one spot.
On our way there, we had a good time. We were slow rolling through the states, in the newfound warmth, music screaming in our ears, and the landscape shifting around us. I use a full-face helmet when we make longer runs than a few hours because it saves my eyes from strain from the wind. I have been using a 13-dollar novelty German helmet for every ride, for the past ten years, so I learned that with a full face, I can have a conversation with my partner in crime while we ride. To circumvent this problem, I invested in a Sena Bluetooth headset, and I was blown away with how well it worked. I was talking with my bride like it was a cellphone call at 90 miles an hour. It’s a big deal to me to be able to talk to my wife while were moving. Anyone who knows us, knows that we can’t stop talking - mostly because we don’t know how - but more than anything, we like each other. Nicole is the best conversationalist that I have ever met. We have been together for six years now, and after the kids go to bed, we very often sit on the couch with no other distractions and talk to each other for hours. I could not have picked a better friend if I had made her myself.
It was an easy 7-hour ride to the Backroad BBQ Run and things were going great until we saw this nasty line of storms staring us down. I thought for a good 40 minutes that we were going to skirt it, but as it usually goes, the road finally turned us directly into the center of it. Now, up to this point, the weather had been great! It had been windy but warm and what I imagine the beginning of spring, or whatever this time of year is, is supposed to feel like. We turned into the center of this squall line and I promise you, the temperature dropped 30 degrees. Rain began to come down in sheets and the wind was whistling. As I looked around, trying to find a place to keep my bride from the wet and cold, it became apparent that there was nowhere to go but through. We were surrounded by empty nothing in every direction, so it was either sit still and get wet, or press on and punch a hole in this bad boy. I barreled into this storm trying to cover as much ground as I could, rain dumping on us and freezing, and then Nicole buzzes into my headset and said that she just got a call from our friend Lauren, (because apparently the headsets we bought do that) saying that they just ran through some hail, coming from another direction - Minutes later, we started getting hailed on. There was nowhere to go but through, nowhere to escape, so we pressed on. I was really pleased with the full faced helmets at this moment. I tried to sit up as straight as I could to save Nicole from getting hit by a few icy bolts while we moved– I’m pretty sure that its written into our marriage contract that I have to.
We finally made it through the storm but unfortunately, we were both soaked to our underwear and freezing, so we had to find a place to stop. We stopped off at the nearest, most welcoming place, which turned out to be an Arby’s, eclipsed by a heavenly light.
We stopped, changed our clothes, ate the greatest-most heartwarming sandwich that was ever made, and then took off back down the road. God bless you, Arby’s, you’re a national treasure that I have not appreciated enough. We made it about another 45 minutes down the road and then we hit rain AGAIN! Like the true genius that I am, I only brought the one pair of pants that I was wearing to this thing. The rain stopped and the wind dried us out for the most part, and then we made it to a gas station about 30 minutes out. As a rule, this is where I buy beer. I wasn’t certain if there would be another place and I was cold and wet enough that I had no intention of leaving again once we had arrived. I had 36 beers and a few assorted other beverages sitting in my lap and stuffed in assorted pockets, and we were cruising on easy street from there.
Riding into the Backroad BBQ run was open fields of farmland for miles. There did turn out to be a place to buy beer close to the event, but it was in the opposite direction from where we came. We rolled into the Backroad BBQ run and I could already tell this was going to be a good time. A food truck right out front where I like it, built bikes and cool vans as far as I could see, and minibikes tearing across the open fields. I pulled up around the corner with my stone-cold fox of a wife and barrel of booze, and almost dumped my bike in some beach sand, like a jackass. Mostly because I wasn’t paying attention, but we saved it and all was well. We jumped off the bike, wet and freezing, but we were in good spirits as is our way, so we went to go buy our way in.
After paying for our spot, we stood next to our bike, killing a few beers to try to warm up and numb us to the fact that the sun was going down, and it was working. Cool how that happens, thanks beer. There were 1000 PBR’s donated and in a body cooler at the front, free to all comers. It took until late afternoon of the next day before that troth of happiness was emptied. It was a sight for sore eyes and surprisingly, cold beer is also warming to cold bones. It’s a win any way you slice it.
I was looking around at all the bikes around me and it was an incredible variety. Some bikes were flawless, down to the smallest detail, and some were held together with jb weld, bad decisions, and faith - every single one was a work of art. So much time, and thought, and work, had obviously been poured into these machines.
We loaded back up and left out to find a place to make home. We found a good spot not far down the line and set up camp. Our friend Lauren was gracious enough to carry our tent and a few blankets and stuff for us, and we are very thankful. I could have carried it, but it would have been an extra hassle that I was thankful that I didn’t have to deal with.
In hindsight, I feel like we rolled into things immediately. Saying hello to people and making new friends. I can’t emphasize this enough about the people that were out there – they were wide open, unbridled, and kind. There was beach sand in a lot of places and dudes were screaming down the line with abandon. I’ve never seen so many dudes dump their bikes, laugh about it, and keep on rolling. The more time that I spend around the chopper community, the more that it’s confirmed to me that this is the type of person that I like. It feels genuine and the way it was supposed to be all along. Everyone was welcoming and good conversation; being good to each other and having a good time. Nicole and I got heavy into it, meandering around, meeting people, and really tied one on. When things started to turn into a blur, we decided to call it a night.
To our great dismay, it turned out to be 45 degrees that night and we brought 3, not real great, blankets. We wore every article of clothing that we had and snuggled up and tried to fall asleep, but it just didn’t line up. We shivered and tossed and turned but there wasn’t any escaping it. Sometimes you gamble and lose and that’s just all there is to it.
We woke up the next morning draggggging, man. The most restless night of sleep coupled with going a little too hard in the paint, had me smoked at 33 years of age. I got up and put my pants on, grabbed my chair, lit a cigarette, and plopped down in front of our tent. Having myself a little wakeup time, taking in the sights of a beautiful morning. People were rolling around on their bikes at 8am when I was sitting there, heading to the food truck or the body cooler of beer up front, I imagine.
To my great surprise, we were camping out next to the nicest dudes on the camp ground. They were already cracking beers and cooking hash browns, and eggs, and bacon. They shouted out to Nicole and I, asked if we were hungry and hooked. It. Up. Super nice dudes with cool motorcycles and the best foods of choice. That’s the kind of hospitality I want to bring to the table in the future.
We had also got to meet Panhead Jim the night before, and he was great conversation, Just a really cool guy. He is also an incredible, real o’neal, journalist and photographer. If you aren’t familiar with his work, go and checkout his page on Instagram @panhead_jim. The guy is an artist to say the least. We linked back up with him the next day and we got to talk with him a few times throughout the day.
We immediately rolled out to the general store with our friends Zak and Lauren to get a resupply on a few beerskies and other supplies. Nicole and I also used this opportunity to load up on some more blankets. We bought 5 badass blankets from the dollar store and we were right as rain. We headed back and parked our stuff and struck out again saying hey to people. We got to say hey to the Custom Destruction crew again and they were, yet again, extremely welcoming. I bought a beautiful work of art from Wes, owner of Custom Destruction. It was an incredible blue metal flake helmet that I had been eyeing for a cool minute. Some dudes are into shoes, some are into watches, and I’ve never really cared about either, but it turns out that I dig helmets and Custom Destruction has the best. We got to meet a few more really cool guys with them and hung out a bit before parting ways.
From the time that I woke up, I was struggling to fire off a conversation. I am a conversationalist, born with the gift of gab. I truly enjoy talking to other people and learning about their lives and about what they love and enjoy. I was out of gas from the night before and it crippled me, making it hard to put together ideas and questions to ask people. It didn’t get better as the day went on, but it did however give me the ability to listen better - to pay better attention to what was going on around me and to really take in the sights. Listening is something that I have to actively force myself to do sometimes, or I can dominate the conversation, which should be a two way exchange. No matter how tired I was, it was still one of the best times that I have had.
There was a ride that everyone went on together, around noon, but Nicole and I hung back. We knew we were going to get a good look at the countryside on the way home and we just wanted to hang out and walk around.
The battle for Chopper King started at 3pm and it was a battle with 18 contenders. Four events were slotted, and it was a feat of finesse, control, aesthetics, and strength. I haven't seen anyone else give away what the actual events were, and I don't want to be the one to broadcast it, but come next year and see for yourself. I will say that the final event was arm wrestling, on a regulation arm wrestling table and it was pristine.
The winner of the Chopper King competition won an awesome handmade trophy, a Helmet collaboration by Custom Destruction and Dave’s Paintwerks, and a spread of other cool stuff. I got pretty lazy about taking pictures at this event, and I don’t want to insert anyone else’s photos without their permission, so go have a look for a great chronicling of the experience at their website backroadbbqrun.com or on their Instagram @backroad_bbq_run. The coffee cup in the picture was not a part of the winnings.
The raffle was filled with a killer spread. They were rolling through it but there was so much stuff it still took an hour and some change to get through. It was fun to see a community coming together with so much cool stuff to raffle off. There were two front ends, shirts, hats, prints by Anthony Hicks, custom tanks, handle bars, pins, candles by gnarly wix and wax, and the list goes on. It was incredible.
The raffle ended and Nicole and I were done sir, done. We hung out a little longer, had a few drinks and tried to get back in it, but we were in bed by 9:30. The stars didn’t align for getting down this go around and that’s just the way it was. I piled all of our many blankets on, stripped down to my boxers, and sweat my ass off all night, because I have a tendency to overdo it in everything that I do. I have a “kill a fly with a sledgehammer” mentality. I’m not mad at that ten hours of sleep before our 7 hour ride home though. Nicole and I have the ability where we can fall asleep in a hurricane. Dudes were doing burnouts and full bore screaming across the open fields, long into the night. If you don’t have this ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, it would be better to set your tent a little further out.
We woke up, tore our site down, and said our goodbyes. We caravanned home with Lauren and it was an enjoyable ride all the way home. You get a lot of time for introspection on longer runs, especially when you’re by yourself. When you’re looking at a straight run of road that’s seemingly endless, it puts you into a mental state where you start to think about your life. People that you’ve wronged, things that you could have done better, the directions that you want to take your life, love lost and love won, and that badass food that you wanted to eat. (that last one is where my mind is usually at). I honestly believe the experience to be spiritual. I truly believe that these moments lead to a better version of yourself.
While we weren't able to formally meet Luke and Ronni, who put on this event, we would love to drink a few beers with yall later on this year. They obviously put so much work into putting this together and it was evident. This was an event for the ages, and we met so many great people! We will be back next year and be better prepared to get down on it. This is what community looks like. This is what riding motorcycles is supposed to be about.
Thanks for reading, be excellent to each other and party on!