Mike Weimers

Mike Weimers

By Jeff Myron

Mike started everything young. He grew up in Moline, IL, the home of John Deere tractor. “The laws then allowed me to ride on the street downtown on my small Kawasaki, I was t 9 or 10 years old.” His family bought a farm in Mississippi and the fledgling rider would fill his tank with gas and get lost in the woods. “I always found my way out, as I’m here today” he said with a chuckle. By the age of twelve he was paper boy, saved his money and bought a Sears Allstate for $100. “I put straight pipes on it and would ride around. A few times I had to hurry home as the police would come. I would cut up through the yard to the back of the house, park the bike and go into the house. As my father heard the sirens, he would look at me and say, “you’ve been out riding again.”

“When I was 18, I got a 4-cylinder Honda 750. I worked on it, enhanced it with drag pipes and a Harley front end. I built it from a 750cc to an 1100cc. Painted it to match my van. My first wife got it in the divorce.”

By the time Mike bought that bike, he already owned his first restaurant. At 17 he owned and operated the Campus Coachery Restaurant in Mississippi, just north of where Elvis Presley was born. “It was country food, I had a salad bar and hand cut my own steaks. Some of the seafood recipes I use today, came from back then. The lady that owned the restaurant had leased it to someone who trashed it, so she wanted someone to come in and open it up. I knew her through my sister and brother in law. I went in there and cleaned it up. The people who left it, left six months earlier, they left food in the cooler, it took me a while to clean it up. I didn’t know anything about dealing with the health department, I was 17. I called the guy at the health department and said, ‘can you come up here and talk to me.’ He came, showed me what stuff to clean, what I needed to look at and things I needed to do. I ran it for close to a year but then I wanted to go to college and the lady wanted something for her son to do, so it worked out.”

His motorized recreational hobby progressed to a Harley Davidson, a VW 3-wheeler and a YZ250 for the farm and trails. While in college, he started working part time, nights at a Waffle House. “I was there for two or three weeks and they offered me a management position. This was like 1980, they offered me $25,000 a year. I cut down and was just doing sporadic classes. Right before my 20th birthday, they moved me to Tuscaloosa, I became a district manager. That’s why you see all the Alabama stuff on my board. Bear Bryant used to come in, he would come eat with me. All my owners at the Waffle House were Alabama Grads. They’d pick Bear up and take him to Crimson Tide games in their plane sometimes. He was very faithful coming in, I’d see Bear most Sunday mornings eating breakfast. I call myself the Forest Gump of the restaurant business.”

Mike met his wife Joan in Montgomery Alabama, he hired her best friend as a server while they were going to college. For the first 10 years he maintained a stable of 5 or 6 dirt bikes. “By 10 and 11 all my kids rode dirt bikes. But then, at an auction in Georgia, I saw a Yamaha 650, I turned to Joan and said, ‘can I buy it??’ She said ‘yes’ and it all came back to me, two weeks later, I bought a new V-Star.”

“I was at the dealership in South Carolina where they did the maintenance on my bike and while in the showroom, I was directed to the new Gold Wing. My buddy, the dealer, said ‘did you bring your helmets?’ Not on that trip, but the next day, we went back with the head gear and did a test ride. Understand, at that point, Joan was a 20-minute rider. We did the test ride and as we pulled into the dealership, she said ‘we’re buying this.’ The next day, Sunday, we did a 4-hour ride. Yippee!”

The couple and the Gold Wing saw 44 states, Canada, three times as well as Nova Scotia. Their longest single trip was 11,000 miles. Their quickest trip was 2300 miles in 36 hours. “Joan considered it her bike and I was just the chauffer.” No wonder they’ve been married for 34 years.

Mike currently owns a BMW GS 650 and a Harley Davidson Road King. “I Had a GS 1200 for many years, I regret selling it. That was 3 or 4 years ago. That’s when I went to the 650. When questioned about his preferred rides, he answered “Where don’t I like to ride? That’s the question. I ride anywhere there’s road, or not a road, on dirt, across cow pastures. With that GS, if I could figure out gravity, I’d ride up a tree. And I think I have once or twice.”

“I shy away from big cities, but again, I’ve rode through Manhattan and DC, I lived in Atlanta. There are certain cities I don’t like to ride through, but I will to get where I’m going. One of the most fun rides is Route 66, I’ve rode as much as I could across the United States. It was fun, but it was a little depressing with what you see out there. The motels that were built in the ‘40s and ‘50s that are now crumbling around you.”

“I collected toys in all my restaurants and loaded all the toys on the trailer and went to Toys for Tot’s ride, dressed up as Santa Claus. As I drove through Atlanta, people took videos that wound up all over YouTube. That night, I picked up my car, I was having some radio work done at a shop and this guy comes in talking about “this red motorcycle with a guy dressed up as Santa Claus, with a 6ft Shrek tied on the back. I was totally masked, I had a full beard on underneath, it was really comical being in a place where people were talking about it. I told the guy who owns the shop that it was me.”

“I’m a bicyclist too, I’m one of these guys that rides 100 miles on a bike. My thing is anything on two wheels. I ruptured a disk in my neck, seven years ago, so my iron butt has turned to lazy butt, the 75-80 mph for 14 hours, I can’t do anymore. I trailered a bike for the first time in decades to Duluth Minnesota to go do a charity up there. Then Rode Canada, rode Minnesota, then stopped along the way, took my GS, it was the first time the GS was on a motorcycle trailer. I had to go buy a motorcycle trailer because I didn’t used to own one.”

“All my kids ride, Michael, Nikki rides dirt bikes, my grandson Tyler rode 830 miles with me at 4 years old. When he was 8 we got in 1600 miles. We went through central Illinois just taking quick stops for gas, when we got back to Atlanta he said, ‘no papa, keep going, keep going.’”