After rekindling her love for motorcycles in the summer of 2011, Chelle Brisco knew she wanted to do something special with her next bike.
The second of three generations of female veterans, Brisco wanted a bike that sent a message—one that captured her passion. Thanks to the work of Edgewater’s Premier Collision Center, the 56-year-old and her ride are getting attention even before she fires up the engine.
Brisco’s new “trike” motorcycle features an all-encompassing American flag design that flows throughout the machine with two famous aircrafts and a tribute to Brisco’s family. She has a longstanding connection to the military, but it wasn’t until connecting with an Edgewater business that the veteran realized her “dream ride.”
Brisco didn’t ride a motorcycle for 30 years because she served as an aircraft avionics mechanic from 1978 to 2007 in the U.S. Air Force. The Arlington, VA, resident retired and decided she wanted to get back on a motorcycle, which she did in July 2011.
After that, Brisco said she rode more than 4,000 miles in only four months, including a trip to South Dakota.
“All I wanted to do was ride,” Brisco said.
After joining the Virginia Patriot Guard Riders and traveling alongside various military-supporting events like “Hogs for Heroes,” Brisco knew what she wanted.
“I was reconnected with my military roots. I saw show bikes and knew I wanted something like that,” Brisco said.
While attending a motorcycle event at the , Brisco connected with Edgewater’s Brian Brashears, owner of Premier Collision Center, and that’s how Brisco’s “Free Spirit WIMSA Trike” came into existence.
Brisco purchased a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, ordered a “trike kit,” a series of parts that turn the bike into a three-wheeled machine, and then handed it over to Brashears to make her dream ride come to life.
“I was floored and honored to do [the bike],” Brashears said. “Military and veterans are something that is very special to us.”
After Brashears and his men completed the fabrication work and finished the 150-hour paint job, Brisco watched as her dream bike was rolled out of the garage last Tuesday in Edgewater.
A flowing American flag design covered the entire bike. The gas tank features two tributes to A-10 Warthogs (the first plane Brisco ever worked on) and a C-141 dropping paratroopers. On it are tributes to prisoners of war along with other patriotic flags as well.
Tim Lewis was the artist behind the bike’s paint job and said the final product was well worth the lack of sleep.
“The pride doesn’t come until you see everything put together. We had about 16 different pieces to paint,” Lewis said. “I lost a lot of sleep, but it’s definitely worth it.”
For Brisco, the most powerful part of the design came at the back of the bike. Taking up almost the entire cargo panel stands an air-brushed portrait of Brisco with her mother and daughter, both military veterans.
“It took me about three full days of work to finish it,” Lewis said, who painted the image by hand.
Painted in black and white with a 1950s kind of style, the portrait brought visible emotion to Brisco’s face.
“It looks like a snapshot,” she said. “It’s really powerful.”
Brisco’s mother, Betty Walraven, and her daughter, LaDonna Wieland, were both in the Army.
“[The bike] is connected to women of service like myself and my family,” Brisco said. “Women are often not recognized when people think of veterans.”
For Brashears and his men at Premier Collision Center, working and painting the “trike” is the exact type of work they hope to have consistently in the future.
“Our first bike was the most extravagant one, but I’ll never forget it,” Brashears said. “That’s the type of work we’re trying to make this place about.”
After posing with her new motorcycle, Brisco hugged and thanked the staff at Premier Collision Center, and said she was confident her new ride would make a statement no matter where she goes. She’s hoping it might help her personal life too.
“Maybe I’ll find a boyfriend. Who knows?”