Twin Rivers Chopper Campout is an event so magical, even the dirt has a sparkle.
Tucked away just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in a small North Carolina town called Crumpler, a gaggle of folks get together to throw down in the woods for a weekend. Hosted for its third successful run by Zak Gibbons, a couple of hundred curious individuals from near and far flooded the primitive campsite with choppers, vans, and good times. Luckily a buzz had hit the town alerting the only close gas station to be fully stocked with extra brews, as people began filing in on Thursday ready to hang out riverside and breathe in that sweet mountain breeze.
Smacked with a good bit of rain the week prior, the downpours made for a remarkable difference in this year’s campsite entrance. What was normally just a sketchy path along the river, lined with baseball-sized gravel and jutting out tree roots, now lay a ruthless natural selection: a foot of gushing brown water completely covering said “path.” Yet lo and behold, many squinted one eyed, lifted their feet, and prayed their Panhead was lucky enough to keep those points dry. Campsites filling with more choppers, the rain kept at a slow and steady sprinkle as Thursday evening turned into Friday morning.
The smells of a hot breakfast were in the air, pulling at the sleepy-eyed biscuit-lovers who emerged out of tents to see who might’ve showed up overnight. The sun came out for brief moments as more bikes crammed themselves into any available spots and made friendly with new neighbors. The campsite trail that was once soft dirt and gravel was now a squishy mud pit, though not an unhappy face could be found as both feet and tires slid by to see what neat builds had blazed on through.
The Black Dog Tattoo Trailer had set up and was busy slinging ink into some perfect lil’ jammers. Down the way, Massey Bick had laid out a table of parts, collectibles, and what a lot of people banked on taking home: a 1947 Knucklehead chopper to be raffled off on Saturday. With at least a 1/300 chance, who could pass up a $100 Knucklehead? Folks sauntered around taking peeks at other builds all day, wondering where wires were hid and what the hell is on the end of that jockey shifter?
Daytime beers trudged on and turned into nighttime beers as hundreds of people joined together in the drizzling woods with campfires crackling about, each cluster playing tunes that pleasantly echoed through the Appalachian air as Friday was gone. Waking up in the woods always comes earlier than nature intended as settling mountain fog is met by hot exhaust clouds; if you were sleepin’, ya ain’t now. Boots on and hunched over dying campfire coals, it was Saturday morning. Each body reaches for a vice, whether it be campstove coffee, a fish whistle, or another pull on the lightning, they’ll all do just fine. Sun shining high, a few floaties and swim trunks hit the river on the backside of a boulder, finally wading in cool, crisp water.
Many who saw rain on arrival jumped, at a sunny opportunity to explore the hilly switchbacks on two wheels. Gassed up at Pine Valley Grocery, a few groups headed south towards the Blue Ridge Parkway, only to be met with the chilling sting of rain. Kit Doughty of Florida was a true badass, a case of beer gripped beneath each of her arms, dressed in all white, and fully enjoying the ride. With scattered storms about, all riders came back to camp covered in evidence of what happened; clothes soaked through and, with no front fender, splattered with mud.
Back at the river, the party was just getting started. Music from a rock crevice known as the “Rave Cave” blared on, taking requests at two songs per set of tasty tits dumped out for display. Nearby, some buddies began creating an art exhibit of towering empty beer cans on a gal’s red Sporty. Long awaited, the winner of the bangin’ Knucklehead was announced, and Will Smart of Albury, NSW was the lucky winner.
Before the raffle, folks over at Outlaw’s BBQ served up some fire chicken thighs, giving everyone a fuller belly than they had all weekend, just in time for the rain to let up on the start of the big raffle. Donations made by businesses like Custom Destruction, Smutt Butt Magazine, Lowbrow Customs, and many more make the raffle impossible to miss. Plus the chicks who won prizes flaunted their boobs, guaranteeing a good show. Prizes were distributed until the last koozies, stickers, and custom leather Bad Fun Company keychains had been claimed.
Saturday night is all about community, as friends new and old wander through the campsites making their rounds before the approaching morning and departure. Coolers lightened as beers were shared over conversation heard amongst the light popping of campfire flames. Talk turned to tinkering on scooters over winter, new rides and events and memories of legendary parties. Memories created between the people of these events are what makes the chopper rides even more worth the heavy miles.
Sunday morning came crashing in with the sound of early morning motors kicking over and peeling out. With miles of blacktop to burn, some riders were on the road before 6am. Tents came down, bags got packed up, and just like the dissipating foggy blur, the crowd was gone.
See y’all next time!
- Emma Law
Story and Photos by Emma Law