Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The August Mac-Pac Monthly Breakfast -- An All Day Affair

Pennsylvania Route 100 is a straight 14-mile shot from Exton to Pottstown. It goes from four-lanes to two, and has one heavily wooded stretch with some gentle twisties on it. I watched the tail lights of the two bikes in front of me thread their way into the turns. The speed limit was 45 mph and the speedo read 60. I leaned to the left and gave “Fireballs” more gas. The 1995 K75 responded like a well-trained quarter horse of the Apocalypse. A profound sense of freedom and release came over me. I was getting to doing this one more time...

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)


BMW-Dick said...

Dear Limburger Baby:
Now you know why I sit with my back to the wall.
Rehab is going well. I don't want to "jinx" it, but with no set backs, I think I'll be bike shopping in a couple of weeks. Then you're in trouble -- BIG TIME!

Will W said...

Jack, I'm laughing my ass off. AGAIN.

Mike said...

Mr. Riepe,

I must say "The August MAC-PAC Monthly Breakfast -- An All Day Affair" has proven to be one of the most enjoyable reads on your blog to date, and that's saying something. At first when I cold not remember the link to your blog I Googled "Twisted Roads" and came up with Twisted Roads to Auschwitz - a few paragraphs into it I thought - "This isn't funny...Jack's arthritis must really be getting the best of him." I then went back to my Email and found the correct URL and proceeded to laugh wholeheartedly. Thank you for that.

Michael Evans | Kimberton, PA

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dick:

In all the time that we have been riding together, I was never able to think of a good name for you that involved solidified dairy products. Because if I had, you'd be "Cheese Dick" Bregstein.

I was talking to Pete yesterday and we are thinking of a fall run on Route 6, about the middle of October. We're gonna give Clyde and Mack Harrell the needle on this too.

Tom B. has taken delivery on the bike you're thinking of. I expect we'll get to see it at the September breakfast.

Jack Riepe

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Will:

I am delighted to learn that you are again laughing your ass off. Judging from the size of it (as exhibited at lunch last Friday), I'll have to write a lot more funny stuff.

I'm glad I made you smile. Thanks for your kind note.
Your name has been added to the September contest.

Fondest regards,

DC said...

Another gem, Jack!! Sorry I missed that ride. I was still wrestling with 3 of the other floor dogs for a wedge of toast someone had buttered.

One correction: In the 6th picture, the gentleman in the center of the photo is Charles Hehl, not Jack Weiss.

Dave Case

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mike:

I can always count on you to find an aspect of life that I have overlooked. You must have one of the bizarrest existences on earth.

Time to do lunch at Crawdaddy's. What do you say?

Fondest regards,

Georgina said...

Jack, you kill me! Great story!


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Case:

I appreciate your kind note, and I'm sorry you didn't make that little ride last month. It was a unique riding experience. Perhaps we can do something after the next breakfast on Sept. 21.

As to your other remark, I looked at the photo caption and my version does say "Charles Hehl." I think you've been inhaling too much of the linoleum glue.

But thanks anyway.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Georgina:

I'm glad you liked the piece this morning, and your name has been entered into the September contest.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe

John said...

Another classic Jack. Great stuff. There are more pictures of the breakfast on my blog

Jack Riepe said...

Dear John:

By the time I get to where I'm going, I'm seldom in the mood to take pictures. I'm glad you captured the essence of the attendance.

And by the way, you are now automatically entered into the September contest.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe

DC said...

Jack responded:
"As to your other remark, I looked at the photo caption and my version does say "Charles Hehl." I think you've been inhaling too much of the linoleum glue."

Yes, I see that it now is correct. Quick work, Senator.

Grandad said...

Jack, felt as if I was along for the ride. Thanks for the chuckles.
Was out to Sturgis for two weeks, have some pix to e mail you.

PS 14

Charles said...

Dear Jack,

I always look forward to reading your
writing in whatever forum it happens to be in (MAC-PAC, BMW ON, Twisted Roads, etc). This was one of the best.

I've attended two MAC-PAC events in the last 6 or 7 years. I hope to meet you at the next one I attend in 2114 or 2115.

Charles Scott

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Case:

Some people always have to have the last word, hence this note.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Grandad (The Other Dave):

I think I saw your pictures in my e-mail today. I have to look again. I bet your trip was great! I look forward to the details.

I am thinking we need to do another lunch over by the Delaware. What do you say?

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charles:

Thank you for your kind note. Letters like yours are manna in the wilderness for writers like myself, who commonly dodge venom and spittle during the course of the day.

I look forward to meeting you. Why not come to the next Mac-Pac breakfast? As far as social engagements go, they're like combining brunch with skeet shooting.

Please be advised that your name has been entered in the free dinner drawing contest, simply because you left a comment.

Thanks again,
Jack Riepe

Dave said...

Dear Jack,

Once again I'm sorry I'm not closer to you guys. This ride sounds like a lot of fun and I wish like hell I'd been on it.

One day I'll ride out there but until then I look forward to my next business trip to the area in hopes that I can join the group for some chow.

Dave Misevich

Grandad said...

Jack, lunch once again on the Delaware sounds like a splendid idea.
We need to invite Walt Kern to join in when we set a date. If, you are not attending the BuRP Rally, October 4th or the 11th looks good in my planner as of today.
What does your schedule look like at this time?

PS 14

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dave M.:

Thank you for your kind note. Riding with the Mac-Pac is okay... Unless the alternative is root canal, in which case it could be a close second.

You should plan a long week-end around a Mac-Pac breakfast, and lead a ride!

Your name has been entered into the September Dinner Contest. It is entered each time you comment on my blog. Good luck.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe

Jack Riepe said...

Grandad (Dave):

I cannot attend the BuRP Rally as I have a critical client conference on October 5th. I'm the media support team and will be tied up that whole week. October 11th might not be bad. It's too early for me to tell. But we need to do this.

Fondest regards,

Charlie6 said...


great writing as usual....I loved the "giant squid eat with more decorum" phrase!

thanks and thanks also for adding my blog to your list.


Redleg's Rides

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie:

Your work has become a regular read for me and I have recommended it to my friends. Naturally, the difference between your writing and mine is that yours holds a strong degree of credibility.

Thanks for dropping by.

Fondest regards,

Sojourner rides said...

Jack, I can't remember if I responded to this before but since I'm reading it again, I'll comment. Wonderful blog entry! It seems that once you get started whatever pain you're in seems to take a back seat to the joy of "getting to doing it again." So, is it the mounts and dismounts that are the major issues? Do periods of nonmovement cause the stiffness?

Also, I like the way you talk about yourself. You don't pull any punches. That's something I need to learn to do better.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon:

I can't say that I would push the pain issue if I was riding by myself. I simply get too conscious of it. Riding with a few other folks, however, brings out the incredible shrinking man in me. It makes me inclined to show the alpha dogs that I can still bark.

As far as describing myself goes, I'm as hard on myself as I am on others. Just ask Dick Bregstein A women wrote in one day and said, 'Your stuff makes me laugh, but I feel so bad for poor Dick Bregstein.
Everybody does.

I got a note from Dick on that very subject over the weekend. He wrote, "Dear Jack, Fuck you." (Im not kidding.) But you have to expect this sort of thing when dealing with crowds.

Thanks for the note. I kind of look for your stuff now.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe

SoloBear said...

Jack - another enjoyable tale from the Master! I always find your blog a fun departure from my humdrum day.
Reading the comments can be amusing too... Limburger Baby

That's funny right there, I don't care who you are!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Scott (Solobear):

The only person who calls me "Limburger Baby" is my arch nemesis Dick Bregstein. I let get Dick get his shots in, because he always pays on this blog.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe
The Lindberg Baby

PS: You are now entered in the September Meals for Squeals Contest.

Bloom said...

Dear Jack,
Another masterfully crafted piece so full of delicious detail that I am hungry for more.
Too bad that the Saturday breakfasts compete with my early morning Yoga.
(You know I credit my yoga breathing and mediation techniques for getting me through motorcycle school...)

Thanks for yet another great ride report.
Namaste, Patty

Bloom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Dille said...


Another fine piece. The bicycle ride was "only" 20 miles to get to the PFD. The presentation of the cake was the highlight of the week. (Things were slow) It was a great breakfast and the ride home was extreemly plesant.

Ride Safe,