The third Sunday of every month is reserved for the Mac-Pac Riders Breakfast. The Mac-Pac is a group of Euro-Tech riders (99% BMW) that let me join before they could close the membership loopholes. (New qualifications require potential members to weigh less than their bikes.) On this day, riders from across eastern Pennsylvania saddle up at the crack of dawn and ride to the Pottstown Family Diner, on Rt. 100 about a quarter mile north of where it is crossed by Rt. 422. Depending upon the time of year and the temperature, between 15 and 70 riders will assemble for breakfast.
The proprietor has assigned the group a back room for this ritual. This is because we desire and merit privacy for the occasion, and because giant squid feed with more decorum. There are two waitresses assigned to us on a regular basis. One is usually being punished or penalized for something. The other is Denise, who is one of a kind and destined to become my next wife. This conclusion is drawn on obvious affection demonstrated by the fact that my breakfast is served quickly and on a plate, while everybody else must fight on the floor for theirs. (I will kill the first person who tells her that I am in long-term relationship with a loving woman who worships the quicksand I walk on.)
"The Mac-Pac is assigned a private room at the diner
as giant squid feed with more decorum."
(Click To Enlarge)
I had been losing my battle with arthritis and riding less as a consequence. The low seat on my bike, coupled with pegs mounted just under my testicles, adds to the pleasure of the ride. This seat was first devised by the Benedictine order in the 12th century to entertain heretics, then perfected by the North Korean Secret Police in 1948 as a means to elicit the truth from prisoners. Actually, this seating position is perfect if you are a German male, 5’11”, who weighs 145 pounds, has steel blue eyes, and a huge dick.
I do not meet the weight requirements.
I am so fat that my ass hangs down over each side of the back wheel and rubs the tire. The effect is like putting an entire league of baseball cards into the spokes of a bicycle wheel. The resulting noise is louder than Vance and Hines straight pipes. Still, I have not had much success advancing the theory that fat asses save lives.
At any rate, I have missed a couple of breakfasts simply because I am so stiff in the morning, that mounting the damn bike is a challenge. It can take me a few tries to get my left leg up to the peg at all. Getting the right one up there on the fly, at least for the first time, is a bitch. I have taken to rolling the machine down to the street, and taking off from there as I can give myself a hundred yards to get situated. There is no problem once my right leg gets stretched enough.
This is so much fun that I can generally talk myself out of it.
The third Sunday of last August was the twentieth and I prayed for rain the night before. I really wanted to ride but knew I’d feel lousy in the morning. If it rained, I could take the truck and sit at the table with a bag over my head. I checked my e-mail at 11:45pm and found a note from two guys, who thought they’d ride into breakfast with me. Joe Sestrich and Andy Terrill, both peg draggers, announced they’d meet me in my driveway -- at 7am.
This did not seem subject to negotiation.
I thought of the naked woman sleeping upstairs, and how the barking dogs would influence her early the next day. I sent off a response telling the guys to meet me at the corner gas station at 7am, but not to wait for me if I wasn’t there.
"I thought of the naked woman sleeping upstairs..."
Photo courtesy of Leslie Marsh
Dawn found me moving through the house at the speed of continental drift. At 6:54am, I managed to get my respective limbs on the bike and rolled into the gas station. The boys showed up a minute or two later. They were genuinely surprised to see me as neither had checked their e-mail before leaving.
“Gee,” said Joe. “We figured we’d get the dogs barking and have Leslie come to the window naked.”
It never ceases to amaze me as just how many of my friends know how things work in my house. Two seconds later, we headed to Route 100. The temperature was barely 60º and I was glad I had the liner in my Joe Rocket mesh jacket. It would be 87º in two hours, and the sweat would be pooling in my helmet. But it was outright chilly now.
More than 40 riders had already assembled at the diner, when we roared into the parking lot. I had timed the last traffic light perfectly and managed to stay rolling while the other guys had come to a full stop. As a result, I snapped past them and led our little group into the mass of bikes and riders. I would have gotten off the bike with a swagger, except it takes me 15 minutes to lower my quivering mass to the ground, and then I walk with a cane.
Arriving riders check out the bikes before the menu
at a Mac-Pac 3rd Sunday Breakfast
(Click To Enlarge)
The lot was filled with the usual assortment of vintage Beemers, plus a full range of “R” and “K” bikes from the last 20 years. (Only a Beemer can be 20 years old and not be considered “vintage” nor old.) Other machines included Ducati’s, a Harley, A Gold Wing, and a hand-built, hand-painted, hand-blessed-by-the Pope MV Augusta (from the discount rack). It was a flawless day and each of these machines looked as if they’d rolled straight from the showroom floor. There was even a bicycle. Joe Dille pedaled in from someplace, probably having knocked off 25 miles before breakfast.
The back lot of the Pottstown Family Diner starts to fill up
around 7:3o am for the Mac-Pac 3rd Sunday Breakfasts
(Click To Enlarge)
Showing up at a Mac-Pac breakfast is like attending a reunion at a reform school from which no one ever graduated. The smiles are genuine but there is a air of expectation. The stories slowly make the rounds and it is discovered that someone has ridden in from Hudson’s Bay, in 11 hours and 6 minutes. He has a baby wolverine chewing through his top case. Another rider is passing around a GPS, where the high-speed is recorded in six digits. The guys are all planning rides and I am gratified to pass among them.
The bikes are Euro-Tech with 99 percent BMW, though all are somewhat exotic
(Click To Enlarge)
Breakfast was shoveled out onto the floor, and the alpha males began rooting through the deepest piles of it. One was challenged for a glob of bacon dripping with eggs, and got knocked on his ass. The woman who won piled it into her helmet and carried it outside to eat in relative peace. My own meal came on a separate tray, with silverware wrapped in a linen napkin. A newcomer reached for it, and Denise bared her teeth. I have come to like this attention, as it befits my station and aggravates my riding partner, Dick “Stone Mason” Bregstein.
From left: Joe Sestrich, Charles Hehl, and Jim Robinson
watch in amazement as I dismount from my bike
(Click To Enlarge)
Speaking of Bregstein, he sat at an adjoining table, demonstrating how he can now stick his left arm straight up in the air, twirl it around, and wiggle his fingertips. The is the result of weeks of rehabilitation following his epic crash. His performance drew applause, until Chris Jaccarino asked him if he was doing that with his arm when the bike went down. Bregstein said he thought rehab might do me good too -- and then he mentioned the Betty Ford Clinic.
I sat smug in the warmth of my friends, knowing that they would never ambush me, when Denise approached with a huge wedge of cheese cake, ablaze with birthday candles. Everyone was singing, including six retired strippers (from the Coolidge administration) that Bregstein hustled in from the adjoining room. The retired exotic dancers were so old, they referred to Bregstein as “sonny.” My birthday is in March. I resolved to kill both Bregstein and Jaccarino, whenever they have their backs to me.
Confident that the best part of the day was over, I started to head out when Chris Jaccarino engaged me in conversation.
“You’re not going home now, are you? It’s a nice day. You should ride someplace. Where are you thinking of going?”
I started to say “the Betty Ford clinic,” but what came out astounded even me.
“The steam train museum at Strasburg,” I lied. “I was planning on a little 30-mile run to let the wind blow through my jacket. Strictly the highway just to get the feel of the bike again. Not the kind of ride that would appeal to you.”
“That sounds nice. We’ll ride with you.”
My knees were screaming and his response sounded like a kick in the balls. Chris has a hot new squeeze, Melinda, whose got a smile like a flash on a camera and a new Gold Wing, that he has named “The Yamato,” after a slightly smaller battleship. He was joined by Ken Bruce and Matt Piechota, who all thought this would be fun. My 28-mile ride had just jumped to 102 miles.
Chris Jaccarino named his Gold Wing after the "Yamoto,"
a battleship slightly smaller than his bike
The run up to the train museum was a pisser as neither Melinda nor Matt had ever seen a running steam locomotive before. Traffic was light and the run was quick, but not overly so. I was about to head back, when it was suggested that we all take a run down to Maryland’s eastern shore for a bit of chowder and some boat business that Ken had to attend to. I tried to beg off but it was explained to me that it was only another 38 miles.
Ken led us through some beautiful back-country farm roads, where the friendly Amish welcomed us by throwing clods and road apples. They seemed to know him.
Ken Bruce, our upstanding leader... The day was blistering hot and Ken rode the
mile from the marina to the restaurant without his ballistics.
Photo courtesy of Chris Jaccarino
Every ride through this part of the country is special. The heady scent of mown hay, drying tobacco, or even manure in the fields serves to etch another scene in your mind. Even the heated air smelled of August, and changed subtly as we passed over shaded streams and through cool glades. Each turn in the road held a surprise. One driveway had an old Beemer with a sidecar parked in the center of it, and many were filled with Amish wagons gathered for the Sunday service. There was always something in the road too. Slight pressure to one side of the bars or the other swerved you around flattened horse muffins or piles of gravel without as much as a thought.
We crossed into Maryland and little by little, the air became flavored with a hint of salt. The trees gave way to big water and Chesapeake bay unfolded before us. The bay was like a movie without sound. There was a stiff chop on the surface and fishing boats bobbing at anchor; yet the sound of this movement was lost before it could compete with my bike’s engine.
Fireballs and I pause at the waters edge... I am advised that two
more feet to the rear and I am on my own.
Photo Courtesy of Chris Jaccarino
(Click To Enlarge At Your Own Risk)
We rode to the water’s edge, and had lunch in a cool, dark gin mill called the Nauti-Goose. This is another of the touristy crab-shacks of North East (like the dismal Woody’s) that promises more that it can deliver. But what it delivered was fine for me at the time. I thought we might dine outside, where the baked skin of young women the color of summer might delight the eye, but I was happy to cool off inside.
Matt Piechota took the tail gun Charley position, to alert the
others if I fell of my bike or became otherwise "confused."
Photo Courtesy of Chris Jaccarino
Getting back on the bike was a bit of a problem. My hip had stiffened to the point where I couldn’t move it. Jaccarino ran my bike over to a railroad tie, which I used as a step. Once aboard, I managed to stretch my joints once more.
The ride home was very pleasant, and I expected to see the boys drop off one at a time. It is a part of the ride that I never really get used to. We hit a nice stretch of expressway (not named) and I noticed the guys had picked up the pace a bit. The Gold Wing passed me like a neighborhood on wheels, while the operator (Chris) gestured in an up and down motion that suggested he was polishing asparagus.
Twisting on the gas, I glanced down at the cluster and noted the gauges read 7 grand and 107 mph. I suspect the speedo is optimistic, but I still think I was well into triple digits. I laughed like hell in my helmet. A profound sense of freedom and release came over me. I was getting to doing this one more time...
I cannot thank Joe Sestrich, Andy Terrill, Chris Jaccarino, Ken Bruce, and Matt Piechota, enough for the consideration they extended to me on this day. I was little more than a functional cripple and I had my challenges. Chris Jaccarino was especially helpful throughout the day, but then again, he always is.
© Copyright Jack Riepe 2008
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Delphi)
AKA The Chamberlain -- Perdition’s Socks (With A Shrug)