HOPE — To say Charlie Weidman sees life as an adventure would be an understatement.

Never one to let the moss grow under his feet, when he is not busy doing a multitude of other things, he races scooters across the country. That is correct. Scooters.

He is an adventurer at heart. Even on two wheels.

Weidman, 55, was born and raised in Miami, Fla.; however, he spent summers at his family’s camp in on Hobbs Pond from the age of nine.

In 1995, tired of the superficiality of Miami, he moved into the camp in Hope with his wife, Theresa Withee.

He is the captain of Engine 4 of the Hope Fire Department, as well as a volunteer fire fighter on the South Thomaston Fire Department, and an emergency medical technician.

Additionally, always up for an adventure, this winter, Weidman hopes to be a firefighter in Antarctica.

Weidman owns and operates Charlie’s Marine Services. Located in Rockland, his business is a AAA, of sorts, for boats. He tows boats that have broken down, or pulls them from the rocks if they happen to run aground.

In December of 2017, Weidman, while on a family trip, met a cousin who took part in the Scooter Cannonball run.

The Scooter Cannonball is described as a test for the rider and machine. The race is held every two years, and takes riders across what could be considered the best motorcycle roads on the North American continent.

The Cannonball is a time, distance, and regularity rally the organization explains on its website. Points are awarded to riders based on miles they have completed, and their ability to maintain a standard pace.

The first Cannonball set out in 2004 from Virgina Beach, Va., and wrapped in Los Angeles, Calif. Each year the race is held, the direction of travel is changed.

It was during that 2017 trip with his family, that Weidman’s involvement in the 2018 Cannonball began to take shape. However, without a scooter of his own, he was unable to participate.

He said that was when his cousin offered him the use of one of his scooters, a Vespa, for the race.

With only 10 hours of ride time, Weidman set out on his first Scooter Cannonball in March of 2018 for the eighth running of the race.

Charlie Weidman and the Vespa he used for the 2018 Scooter Canonball. Facebook/Charles Weidman

The ride brought scooter racers from Morro Bay, Calif. to Virginia Beach, Va. over a 10-day span of winding roads.

On day eight, disaster struck for Weidman in the form of a dead engine. Leaving him to finish 16th among 30 riders that year.

Not to be deterred, and in preparation for the 2020 race, he purchased a Yamaha SMax scooter and set to work making adjustments.

One of the adjustments he made was to build a rack for extra storage that sits more directly over the top of the rear tire. Weidman said typically riders do an extension rack to the rear of the scooter, but that in doing so, it puts all of the weight on the back, and away from the front tire.

“Makes your steering squirrely,” he said.

“In 2018 I had a front tire break loose on a curve,” he said.

He added this time, he was not relying on factory options.

He also made the rack hinge, allowing for use of the storage beneath the seat as well. An added perk to the modification was that it would give him something to lean against as he rode.

After he created the new rack, he initially had planned to have a secondary gas tank created and plumbed into the scooter. Weidman had done this in 2018 so he would have to stop less frequently for gas during the race.

Unfortunately, the tank plan had to be scrapped, so instead, he mounted a two and a half gallon gas can in the foot space of the scooter.

Charlie Weidman during his 2021 Scooter Cannonball run. Facebook/Charles Weidman

“I could have done better had I had more time to prepare,” he said.

He added that while stopping at the race checkpoints is a must, taking time to stop for refueling was a drag. Every second a racer takes to stop on the road, adds to their overall time, and counts against them.

Another takeaway from 2018 for Weidman was preparedness for mechanical issues. After the engine failure in 2018, Weidman knew he needed to be ready with a backup. Otherwise, he could risk being stranded.

“If I blew up in the middle of nowhere, I’d have no way of getting anywhere,” he said.

The plan was to have a friend follow him with his clothes, spare parts, including two tires mounted on a spare set of rims. The friend would also carry other necessities he may need along the way.

The goal was for him to travel lightly with just the clothes he would need for that day, a small tool set for minor roadside repairs, and snacks.

The 2020 Cannonball was planned to take off from Bar Harbor, and finish in Eureka, Calif. over the 10-day span. When the dates were released, Weidman knew he would not be able to compete with the other riders as the race was slated for July, which happens to be the busy season for his business.

Then, the pandemic hit, and the race was pushed to 2021.

Weidman made the decision to head out, on his own, in May.

One of the many unpaved roads along the route of the 2021 Scooter Cannonball race. Facebook/Charles Weidman

That decision also worked to the benefit of the race’s organizers, who used his early ride to help make adjustments to a new app, and potentially, the course, or checkpoints, before more than 100 scooter racers embarked on the cross-country trek.

Weidman raced against two ghost riders, meaning he would still be timed, and scored on his run.

His segment times were compared to the estimated arrival times that Google Maps, and Garmin, gave for the same stretches of travel.

The early run also benefited the riders for the race. Weidman documented each day of the journey on a forum board for registered riders. His updates gave others the heads-up on potential road types and hazards that could pop up over the race route.

An example of that was a clay road he had to traverse in Wyoming.

“Clay makes for a great road,” he said.

He said that when it is dry, it is hard, and smooth to travel over. When a clay road is wet, however, it is completely different.

“It’s similar to driving on icy roads, or an oil covered road,” he said.

Once the rain started that day, it was hard to get going and keep going, he said.

Charlie Weidman’s downed scooter on a clay road during his 2021 Scooter Cannonball run. Facebook/Charles Weidman

Although one weather condition Weidman had to contend with during his ride, namely, snow, would be something the July racers would not need to worry about.

There was one road he encountered that progressed from an inch of snow, to a foot of snow, in the span of 200 yards.

“I was stuck,” Weidman said.

He said he could not go forward, or backwards. The only direction he found he was able to travel in in that situation was over the cliff face.

“And that was not an option,” he said.

On May 24, Weidman arrived in Eureka, Calif., as he had completed the roughly 4,500-mile trek.

The end of 2021 Scooter Cannonball in Eureka, Calif. Facebook/Charles Weidman

“I’ve never run a marathon, but I venture that it would be akin to that. Just that feeling of accomplishment,” he said.

“The ah-ha, you didn’t beat me type of thing,” he said.

He added there was sadness that it was over.

“It’s been your life for 10 days, and all of a sudden, it’s done,” he said.

Because he completed it solo, Weidman also did not have the ritual of the finish, or the after-party.

“There’s nothing to share with anyone that had any concept of anything,” he said.

Weidman said he hopes to be able to do it with other racers next time, but will not know until the route and dates are announced.

“I’ve talked to the organizers a lot because some of the checkpoints were gone,” he said.

“In talking with them, I suspect I’m not going to ever really be able to do it with everyone again just because it’s my [work] season,” he said.

With that suspicion, Weidman said he told organizers to allow him to be the beta tester for them, and help with future routes that may need adjustment before racers head out each Cannonball.

When it comes to offering advice to those who may look to take part in the cross-country race, he said there is a lot of facets to it.

“You sort of need to be a jack-of-all-trades,” he said.

A rider needs to be able to do most, if not all, of the work on their scooter, should something happen on the road. Including changing a set of tires, as the life of a scooter tire is shorter than the length of the race.

“You have to start with a set of tires, and somewhere in the middle, you have to swap them out,” Weidman said.

Given that when racers come into a checkpoint, it is typically around 3 p.m., or even 4 p.m., adding the need to leave first thing in the morning to make the next day’s checkpoints, taking a scooter to the shop for work is out of the question.

Another thing a rider will need to do, given the length of the race, is change the oil in the scooter.

“You’re supposed to change your oil every 1,500 miles, and making that long of a trek, you’ll be hitting that mileage,” he said.

“You’ll need to fix things that rattle loose,” he added.

Weidman said navigational aptitude also is a must for the race.

“If you just rely on a GPS, it will get you there, but it may not be in your best interest to get where you’re going,” he said.

One example was when Weidman’s GPS gave him a route that would have taken him across a highway, with an 80 mph speed limit.

“I can’t do those speeds,” he said.

For him, navigating roads more similar to Rt. 1, or Rt. 17, are better in the long run. Despite the slower speed limit, the roads actually can be faster for a scooter rider.

“Another aspect is, you’ve just gotta embrace the suck,” he said.

The difference between making a cross-country trek in an automobile, versus a scooter, is the climate. On a scooter, Weidman pointed out that it is not a climate-controlled experience. On a scooter, a rider has to face the elements.

“Some mornings I started out when it was 26 degrees, and traveling 60 or 70 mph. Then it was raining, and then snowing,” he said.

Elevation changes factor in, and often the days began cold, but ended hot.

“When I started here in Maine, it was 35 degrees, but by the end of the day, it was 79,” Weidman said.

He said a rider needs to weigh-in on if they want to stop to take off layers of clothes, or put back on layers of clothes and lose minutes in the process. He added that it can take 10 minutes to make a stop to take off, or put on layers.

When a rider factors in stopping for fuel, an average of five minutes minimum, on average five times a day, and then clothing changes, Weidman said a rider can easily lose almost an hour of time.

In a race where time is valuable, and can impact a riders score, every second counts.

“The more you’re willing to give up the better you’re gonna do,” he said.

Weidman said he did the race dehydrated to cut down on the amount of times he had to stop.

“Do I recommend it? Absolutely not,” he said.

However, it is no surprise despite the challenging conditions, Weidman plans again to do the race. He already has begun to craft plans and ideas that will help make him better prepared for the next Cannonball.