For the last three years, Zak Gibbons has been putting on a wild chopper bash in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains called the Twin Rivers Chopper Campout. Centered in the small town of Crumpler, NC, the event puts you a stone’s throw from some of the best riding on the East Coast with a weekend spent camping along the South Fork of the New River. For me, this event is pretty near perfect as it combines what we are all looking for in a weekend: good times, great people, riding motorcycles and zero BS.
I rolled into the Twin Rivers Family Campground late Friday morning and as a three-year veteran of the event, I was not surprised to see that the “hell road” was still just as treacherous as in previous years. The thing is, this campground is literally right on the water, so when the river floods its banks, the road to the primitive camping section gets washed out first. Don’t get me wrong, the campground has done a great job in keeping the road passable, but it is still a rocky single track with a cliff wall on one side and the river on the other. Plus, there are a few turns and some slopes thrown in just to keep you on your brakes…
Once past the hell road, the campground opens up slightly allowing room for tents to be pitched down about a mile stretch of the river. By the time I got my tent set up, folks were already wading out into the cool mountain water to hang out on the many large rocks that poke up through the river, but my only thoughts was on finding something to eat as I made a beeline for the food truck. Once I had downed a good-sized burger, I headed around the campground to see who had already arrived and to grab a few photos of folks as they made their way in.
As the sun started to go down and the campground began to fill with motorcycles, you could see a line of campfires stretching down the banks of the river as everyone was getting their campsites set up. I’m not sure whether it was the free beer or the eclectic mix of music coming from the DJ booth, but either way folks made their way down to the bonfire where there was some pretty horrendous dancing, dice games, burnouts and people just having fun watching all the commotion. The party most likely would have continued on until sun-up the next morning, but around 3am the generator ran out of gas and the music came to an abrupt end. Probably just as well since everyone needs at least a couple hours of sleep.
Saturday morning started too early for most, but the food truck was there serving hot coffee with biscuits and gravy to help soak up the residual alcohol from the previous night’s debauchery. Once everyone came around, Jodi Goodwill gathered a group of riders for the inaugural Twin Rivers Skate Jam. His wife Cary Dukes lead the way out of camp in their ’59 El Camino, with me riding in the back shooting photos. The ride out to the skate park through the mountains was beautiful and that old Chevy handled the turns like it was on rails. The skate park was empty when we arrived, so we had the run of the place for the afternoon.
The trip back from the skate park started out great, but then the sky opened up and we were assaulted by rain. I was hunched up against the cab of the El Camino trying to stay dry and still shoot photos while everyone else pretty much just got soaked to the bone. Thankfully there were hot showers and dry clothes waiting for us back at the campground and just as you would expect, the rain trailed off right when we pulled into camp.
I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon catching up with old friends and getting ready for that night’s raffle. This year, the raffle wasn’t just your typical collection of shirts, hats and stickers, but one with some serious motorcycle parts, artwork, custom helmets and the like. In order to make sure that the prizes got awarded to folks who could actually use them, separate containers were put out for each of the larger prizes to allow people to put tickets directly towards those items. This year’s top prizes included artwork from Lee Bullock, Devil Chicken Designs and Anthony Hicks, helmets from Rusty Nash and Custom Destruction as well as custom rabbit ear bars from Mama Tried Customs, a springer front end built by Michael Swihart and the grand prize which was a Sportster weld-on hardtail from Lowbrow Customs. With prizes like that, things got real quite when the raffle numbers started getting called and we can’t thank the sponsors enough for supporting this event!
After the raffle finished off, the music cranked back up and it was time to see how quick the rest of the free booze could be handed out. Again, the only thing that stopped the party was a gas starved generator that coughed its last time around 3:30am, sending folks back to their campsites where campfires continued to burn until the sun started creeping up on Sunday morning.
Before the sun was even up on Sunday, people were heading out of camp like they were abandoning a sinking ship. Tents still soaked with dew were rolled up and strapped onto sissybars, fires were kicked out and empty beer cans were mounded into small piles as the reality of going back to work on Monday took hold of the entire campground. I think some of the first on the road rolled out around 6am, making their way down the hell road when it was still dark. I took a more leisurely pace and rolled out around 10am and was greeted by a mostly empty campground as I made my way back towards the highway.
Once again, I have to hand to Zak who pulled off another great event. He promotes a laid-back atmosphere that encourages everyone to have a good time without any attitudes. I think what brings people back year after year is that Twin Rivers Chopper Campout is just a great time with your friends, albeit it is more like being with a couple hundred of your best friends, but you get the point. Plans are already underway for next year’s event, so give @twinriverschoppercampout a follow so you can keep up with all the latest developments.
Words and Photos by Panhead Jim