"When the odds seem to be against you, it is easier to give up than to battle through adversity. When life has dealt you a horrible blow, it's easier to just feel sorry for yourself than to carry on." Francis Wilson doesn't think that way. Through his life Francis has faced adversity, and overcome it. More importantly, he wants to show others, through himself and through his work, that nothing is impossible as long as you believe in yourself.
Francis started riding at the age of 13. He got involved in motocross and soon found it to be his one great passion. Francis excelled at riding and enjoyed the freedom and the adrenaline rush that it gave him. Unfortunately, his motocross days were cut short when he was only 17, when he fell while riding and broke his back. All seemed lost, as the doctors told him that due to the type of injury which he had sustained, it was possible that he would never walk again. It took two surgeries to repair the damage. One of those procedures was a grueling nine hours, and so difficult that it was videotaped as an educational guide. Francis spent a week in ICU, and months in the hospital. When he was sent home he was in a full body cast for three months, and the doctors told him he would have a scar running from the base of his neck all the way down to his tailbone.
That's the end of the story, right? For most of us, it might have been. But that was not the case with Francis. His father had taught him to never give up and keep a good work ethic, even if the odds were against you. In fact, shortly after returning home from the hospital, while still stuck in his body cast, Francis was on the ground working under his car.
Fixing things had always been a hobby for Francis. No one taught him what to do; he learned it himself. Whether it was doing handy-work around the house, working on cars, motorcycles, or lawnmowers, you name it, Francis taught himself how to fix it. Working with his hands is what helped him through the tough times, and he still does it do this day.
Another great passion of his became bodybuilding. Through the pain he began to build his body like he would build a motorcycle. He did it step by step, through hard work and determination. It didn't matter to Francis how painful it was. As he puts it, "You are going to feel the pain anyway. You can either feel the pain while doing something, or feel the pain just sitting around in bed." He knew that he was going to have a hard time working out, but he taught himself to be patient and to work through any problems.
While training, Francis spent some time at the famous Venice Beach, the Mecca of bodybuilding. It was there that Francis met a fellow bodybuilder named Victor, who went through the same kind of accident as Francis and had the same difficult time afterwards. Victor, unfortunately, was paralyzed by his ordeal. That didn't stop Victor from becoming a bodybuilder, though. Seeing this made the hard-working and determined Francis an even harder worker. Seeing that Victor never complained made Francis realize that he himself had nothing to complain about. It also made him realize that his accident could have put him in a wheelchair forever. Francis was never going to make an excuse or complain again. More importantly, he was going to live life to the fullest.
Wanting to instill his work ethic and desire for health in other people, Francis became a personal trainer. In a lot of ways, he sees himself as more of a counselor helping people through their problems. It is his goal to make sure everyone is healthy. If he can become a bodybuilder after having a severely broken back, then anyone can get off their ass and get some exercise.
It was while before Francis got on a bike again, and when he did, the bike he rode was a BMX. Still, the love of riding motorcycles was calling to him, and he was not going to let a little thing like a broken back prevent him from riding again. But this time he decided that he was going to stay off the motocross bikes and build something special.
With the same work ethic and detail for precision that he had brought to bodybuilding, Francis began to design his own bike. An AutoCAD designer by trade (another thing that he taught himself), Francis used his engineering skills to design a frame. He took the design to his friends at Aces Chopper Works to build the frame. He also had his good friends at Blak Flag supply him with the air cleaner.
After that Francis got to work. Being a hands-on type of guy, he wanted to make all of the parts that he could. He knew that if he made them they would be done right. After working eight to five and doing his personal training gig until ten, Francis worked on his bike at his TCB Chopperz shop, AKA his garage, until two in the morning. Once again, that work ethic and determination shined through. Of course, that's not to say that his working every waking hour of every day was OK with his fiance Maritza. In fact, Francis says that it almost caused them to break up a few times, but everything is all right now.
After working nine months, Francis completed his late-night project and he couldn't be happier. As you can see from the frame of the bike, Francis wanted to sit pretty low. The overall design of the bike has a look that is unique, and that is the way that he wanted it. Still, he didn't want something just for show. He wanted a bike that he could use. Francis realizes that his bike is going to get some dents and dings, but that is fine with him. He wants people to realize that his bike has had a lot of experiences and is a hard worker like himself.
It came as a surprise to Francis that Street Chopper would want to photograph his bike. For all of his accomplishments, Francis is a humble man. He never built the bike to gain fame; he built it to ride and to show that he could do it. The bike is a testament to his determination. Still, he can't help that people enjoy looking at it. And when they do come to look, he tells them simply that anyone can do anything and that he and his bike are proof of that.
Francis does some work for some friends on occasion, building parts when necessary. Now that the big project is over he enjoys the free time, and so does Maritza. They are still engaged and hope to tie the knot soon. Francis' next project is for Maritza. She is not a rider-yet. But when she becomes one she will be riding alongside on a bobber that Francis plans on building from the ground-up, just like the Softail that he loves.
The next time you look for an excuse to stop doing something, or when the odds seem to be stacked so high against you that you just want to quit, think about Francis Wilson. He understood that a broken back was not the end, but just the beginning. He knows that if you believe in yourself you can do anything.
|PHONE:||(818) 402 7511|
|YEAR/MAKE/MODEL:||2005/ SPECIAL CONSTRUCTION/SOFTAIL|
|BUILD TIME:||9 MONTHS|
|AIR CLEANER:||BLAK FLAG|
|TRANSMISSION:||TRIKSHIFT/RSD/ 6 SPEED|
|STRETCH:||7 UP/4 OUT|
|FRONT:||MEAN STREET LOWER LEGS/ AIR RIDE BY TCB CHOPPERZ|
|WHEELS, TIRES, & BRAKES|
|FINISH / PAINT|
|POWDER COATING:||JP DEBURING|
|REAR FENDER:||TCB CHOPPERZ|
|FENDER STRUTS:||TCB CHOPPERZ|
|GAS TANK:||TCB CHOPPERZ|
|OIL TANK:||TCB CHOPPERZ|
|HAND CONTROLS:||PERFORMANCE MACHINE|
|FOOT CONTROLS:||TCB CHOPPERZ|