Long-term friendships responsible for awesome wedding gift

By on November 1, 2017

Wedding Day (left to right) Blake Martin, Adam Rohrbach, Colton Keller, Trent Martin and Jesse and Bridget Eshleman.

When Lititz resident Jesse Eshelman went to the Lititz Lions Car Cruise in mid-August, he had no idea he’d be bringing home a surprise wedding gift — a 1981 vintage Honda “Café Racer.”

So much better than a toaster.

Eshelman married Bridget Haller on August 26, and the customized motorcycle was a gift from Haller’s friends.

Bridget, Colton Keller, Blake Martin, Trent Martin, and Adam Rohrbach have been close friends since kindergarten. They remained friends through high school and college, and when Bridget introduced Jesse to the guys, he became one of the group, too.

“Our parents are friends, too,” Keller, 22, said. “All of us grew up in Lititz and went to Lititz Area Mennonite School, so between school and church, we did everything together.

“Today, we still have similar interests, same sense of humor — all that fun stuff,” Keller added.

When Bridget and Jesse announced they were getting married, the guys wanted to give the couple a special gift. Keller credits Blake Martin with the idea of turning an old motorcycle into a customized vintage bike for a sweet surprise.

“We knew that Jesse wanted a motorcycle, but when they got engaged, obviously, he had other priorities, and little time and money to put toward it,” Keller said.

Blake found an old cycle that wasn’t too costly and asked the other guys to help upgrade the bike.

“We wanted to take it to the next step and customize it the way he would like it,” Keller said. “We got to know Jesse pretty well, so we felt we knew what he would like when it came to customizing, and we knew it was something he really wanted.”

The Café Racer, before (top) and after.

Turning the bike into a specialized “Café Racer,” a term used for bikes of the 70s and 80s, seemed to fit the bill.

Refitting and customizing an older cycle was a first-time project for the guys, but Keller said they pulled it off pretty well.

“We all have a little bit of motorhead in us and we like to tinker with cars and bikes,” Keller said. “But we’ve never done anything to this extent.”

Working around their schedules, mostly evenings and weekends, it took the guys about four months to finish the bike – just in time for the Car Cruise.

“It was kind of a fun project and it was a bonding time for us,” Keller said. “The fact that we worked on it together for Jesse made it more special, too.”

The guys painted, did body work, added some mechanical work to upgrade the motor, and put on custom handle bars and a retro, vintage bike seat.

The also removed the old paint and gave it a clear coat.

“That was a trend for the old-school bikes,” Keller said. “We tried to keep it fairly simple, just like they would have been back in the day.”

The bride-to-be, Bridget, knew about the secret wedding gift.

“It wasn’t the most practical of wedding gifts, but she was okay with it,” Keller said.

Bridget acknowledges that the one-seat cycle was more a gift for Jesse than for her, but she was all for it.

“Jesse had always talked about how he was looking for a motorcycle, so I wasn’t going to say ‘no’ to that,” Bridget said. “I was very impressed with what they did.”

(Left to right) Jesse Eshleman (husband of Bridget Haller), Colton Keller, Blake Martin, Trent Martin, and Adam Rohrbach.

She was especially touched by all the work her friends put into the gift for her new husband.

Keller had planned on entering a car in the Lititz show, but instead, used his entry ticket for the motorcycle.

The big “reveal” at the car show went smoothly, Keller said.

The gang had made plans to walk the grounds together, checking out the cars and motorcycles, until they reached the vintage “gift” cycle.

“I asked him to look at the (ID) tag to see who the owner was, and Jesse’s name was listed as the owner,” Keller said. “He was blown away; he had no idea.

“He talked 40 minutes, non-stop; he couldn’t believe it,” Keller added.

It’s a day Jesse will never forget.

“I was pretty much stunned,” Eshelman said. “It was a pretty incredible gift.”

Even hanging out together for months before the wedding, the guys all kept the secret well, Eshelman said, adding that he had no idea they were working on a great wedding present.

“Bridget appreciates it, too, even though it was more directed toward me,” Eshelman said.

Basking in their success, the group has no plans for future surprises, at least until one of them gets engaged, Keller said.

“But it was fun,” Keller said. “I can see us doing something like that in the future.”

Marylouise Sholly is a freelance feature writer for the Lititz Record-Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at weezsholly@verizon.net.

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