It was nearly ten or eleven years ago, the details are vague but unimportant, that the idea of a no frills, vendor-free, ego-free and chopper focused party in the woods began to percolate in the ever-creative minds of Long John and Pinky of Sacred Skin Tattoos in Payson, Arizona.
You see, they had just come off of an extended road trip, hitting all the major events with their mobile tattoo shop, and found themselves, as many of us are, disappointed by what they experienced. One show after another seemed to focus more on selling shitty sleeveless t-shirts, overpriced turkey legs, and neon lights for your bagger. Basically, a cash grab for money hungry event planners. If that’s your thing, then stop reading now and go join a HOG Chapter. They have since come off the road, not wanting to partake in the aforementioned cash grab, to focus on their brick and mortar tattoo shop in cozy downtown Payson, and begin hosting what would be one of the first grassroots chopper parties to hit the American West.
Choppertown Camparound is exactly as advertised, with just enough conveniences to keep you relatively comfortable. Basically a Porta Potty and a food truck, everything else is on you to figure out. The last few years, as well as this year, the party will be held in Tonto Village, Arizona, on National Forest land, the location changes every few years as the warm welcome runs its course. Close enough to stumble to and from a bar, or crawl depending on your tolerance levels, for a cold adult beverage or burger, the site provides a “quiet” place to tell lies around a campfire, set up a tent and rally the hill climb on your dilapidated chopper if you dare. Which order you do this in is entirely up to you. The hill climb is steep, sketchy and unsanctioned as it should be and it typically all starts after a thorough sousing and egging on by a few of your closest friends. Bikes are broken and egos are bruised but well worth the entertainment value for the rest of us. Choppertown isn’t only about the debauchery though, it is about far more than that. It is about sticking to the roots and heritage of the chopper culture. Choppertowns slogan after all is “Ride a Chopper, Sleep in the Dirt '', and at no other event is this more true. Sleep face down in the dirt or sleep in a tent, we really don’t care. You’re an adult, figure it out for yourself.
A wild party in the woods is great, and in fact there are plenty of them, so what really sets this one apart from the rest? And why choose this event or any other? This is why. I can tell you from personal experience that the people you will meet in this tucked away part of the country are some of the finest, most honest and down-to-earth group of folk you will ever meet, and many will become long time friends - hell, you may even find love. I met my wife at Choppertown going on eight years ago now, true story. Many of my closest friends have come about because of this event. Because of this I go every year, wouldn’t miss it for the world. Sure, I’ve met great people elsewhere, but this place seems to be the epicenter of chopper goodness and you can feel it in the air the moment you shut off your crusty old chop. Rolling in not knowing a soul? No problem, you’ll be surrounded by friends soon enough. Parts falling off the rolling garbage dump of yours? Who cares, someone will loan a tool and some helping hands. Looking to get hitched? Show up with a twinkle in your eye and you’re bound to find that unlucky counterpart...worked for me!
I really don’t know what else to say to convince you to show up to this thing. I’ve told you about the tomfoolery, the grassroots aspect of the event, the quality of the people and even how you can finally cancel that Tinder account. Whether you show up and choose to make your life way better than it is now is really up to you, I'm not your parent, I can’t force you to make good decisions, but you should know that missing it could lead to a vicious downward spiral into loneliness and depression...just sayin’.
Now that I’ve convinced you to improve your life, and you’re willing to finally throw away those self-help tapes, I should give you the details of how to arrive at Choppertown enlightenment. First step is to fire up that rusty bucket of bolts you call a motorcycle and ride it to Tonto Village, Arizona and arrive on May 7th. The event is officially May 7th-9th so really show up whenever you want. Step 2 is...well, there really is no step 2, just refer back to step 1 and be there. This is a BYOB party, come prepared. Bring a tent or don’t bring a tent, your lodging situation is up to you. Leave the attitude at home, you’re not as cool as you think you are. That should about cover it so I look forward to seeing all the usual suspects as well as a bunch of new faces! Ride safe and I’ll see y’all in Tonto Village!
Till next time,
Follow https://www.facebook.com/choppertowncamparound and @longjon for updates.
Follow Charlie on Instagram and check out Roads Are For Journeys.