Last May, former WWE wrestler and El Cajon resident Chuck Palumbo teamed up with The Horse Backstreet Choppers magazine for an eight-day cross-country charity ride from San Diego to Rockingham, North Carolina. Palumbo spent ten weeks building the chopper he would ride across the country at his CP Kustoms shop in La Mesa. A week before his departure, Vet Fest drew about 500 people out to a rented warehouse at Jackson and Navajo in San Carlos for the unveiling of the bike, an opportunity to buy $25 raffle tickets to win the bike, and a show by Palumbo’s classic-rock cover band Three Spoke Wheel.
The ride was inspired by Palumbo’s younger brother Chris, a helicopter pilot who was gunned down in Iraq and awarded a Silver Star upon his return to the U.S.
Palumbo rode 500 miles a day, stopping in Cottonwood, Arizona, to sell raffle tickets at the two-day Smoke Out West rally. Three Spoke Wheel joined him a few days later in Nashville to play a benefit show. “Every stop along the way we picked up a new rider,” Palumbo says. He left San Diego with four riders. A week later he rolled up to the Smoke Out East rally in Rockingham with a gang of 69 riders.
A railroad worker from West Virginia won Palumbo’s custom chopper. He had bought one raffle ticket. “It was a pretty rewarding moment after all the work I put into [the bike] and then riding across the country on it,” says Palumbo. “The guy who won the bike deserved it. He was a blue-collar guy. It worked out well.”
A documentary of the trip will be released this summer. Every 60 Miles, titled after the frequency that Palumbo had to refuel his small chopper tank, will feature an original soundtrack by Palumbo and his guitar teacher Greg Vaughan (Danyavaad). “When you’re riding a bike without rear suspension, you need to stop every 60 miles anyways.”
Palumbo is gearing up to make the long ride again this summer. His shop won’t be giving away a bike this year, but he will be selling merchandise along the way and donating the proceeds to Fueled by the Fallen, a charity for veterans. Three Spoke Wheel will be following in a van and playing shows along the way.
Palumbo’s send-off party is June 12 at the Greek Sombrero on Highway 94 in Jamul.