Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Succumb To Another Spasm And Call For Help

Last Sunday started out normally enough. I had a light breakfast, four cups of strong coffee, and a blonde cigar from Sumatra, which I smoked while reading the New York Times sitting astride the free-weight bench in the basement. I remembered to kick a weight around every few minutes to punctuate the atmosphere with the muted clack of “metal on metal,” to indicate that the purpose of this expensive and sophisticated equipment had not escaped me. Yet the room started to spin the minute the minute I stood to dissipate the cigar smoke by waving the newspaper. A dull pain shot down my back and settled in my ass. I tried to cry out -- to attract the attention of my girlfriend -- and found my speech muddled. My mouth wouldn’t form words, but could only mimic the noise of a running BMW K75.

This is not the way to call out for help in the house where I live. In fact, these sounds are more closely linked to foreplay, the threat of which can send my hot squeeze into the witness protection program. Beads of sweat dripped from my forehead as my body thrashed in a kind of spasm. In a burst of inspiration, I made the sound of a K75 missing on one cylinder -- something I once heard on the science fiction channel. My girlfriend responded instantly.

“Are you okay,” she yelled down the stairs.

It was apparent I was not. The symptoms were classic: a growing sense of detachment, a lack of enthusiasm for life, and a reluctance to converse with in-laws beyond a polite exchange of profanity. The illness, a combination of psychological and physiological breakdowns, is widely known as parked motorcycle syndrome (PMS). It affects more than 4 million riders in the US each year and is recognized as the number one reason why standard-sized houses appear to shrink to the dimensions of matchboxes during the winter. Some women claim they are unable to get a decent night’s sleep with husbands and significant others who have PMS, as they are constantly awakened when their guy starts the chainsaw in the middle of the night.

Nothing says "I've been thinking about us" to a woman louder 
than starting a chainsaw in the middle of the night.
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

Medical experts acknowledge that cabin fever and the Wendigo psychosis were the forerunner of parked motorcycle syndrome. Yet the true nature of the disease, and its cure, were not understood until the invention of the motorcycle. “In the history of mankind, the motorcycle is a recent development,” said Dr. Albert Hissingaz, PhD; of the Wilmington Institute of Holistic Dry Cleaning. “There was a time when men and women were unable to release their souls in an expression of speed, freedom, and reckless abandon. This was not so important in the summer months, when women would devote their lives to raising crops and children, and men could drink. But in the winter, they often found themselves snowed in, trapped in a small dark structure, staring at each other across a table, illuminated only by a dim grease lamp for months at a time. These were the circumstances in which someone would invariably find themselves being eaten, and not in the good way.”

Hissingaz contends that the invention of the motorcycle provided an emotional “steam valve” to successfully vent pent up passion best released on perfect stretches of pavement in distant mountains or along the endless strand of a Pacific coast beach. “This enables motorcycle riders to achieve a higher sense of balance between the id and the ego,” said Hissingaz. “This is why bikers make better lovers, writers, artists, musicians, and confidents than other people -- albeit in the summer months. In the winter, they can revert to a far more insidious and primal nature. A long and arduous winter season devoid of motorcycling can turn the most sophisticated of Renaissance riders into total pricks.”

Leslie, my girlfriend, is a certified “Writer-Life-Partner” and is thoroughly versed in procedures to halt runaway irrational logic, offset professional angst, and slow Monday-through-Saturday binge drinking events common to my profession. She has also pioneered a course of PMS treatment that has brought me back from the edge many times. On this occasion, my angel of mercy slipped a Steppenwolf CD into the sound system and began gyrating her hips to “Magic Carpet Ride,” the theme song of K75 riders everywhere. She continue to dance until the color slowly returned to my face. And when it seemed as if I would slip off again, she opened her shirt and showed me how a touch of lace can really accent perfection.

I collapsed back on the free-weight bench with a loud gasp and started breathing heavily. Leslie grabbed her cell phone and dialed the secret three-digit number that mobilized the Mac-Pac PMS Support Team. As most of you are aware, the Mac-Pac is the BMW group that I ride with. Her call activated an automated “Code Blue” alert, which had Dick Bregstein speeding in his car toward the house in less than 2 minutes. He detoured through an obscure driveway, pausing just long enough for team member Clyde Jacobs to jump into the back seat. Clyde carried with him a briefcase loaded with maps of West Virginia, rental properties throughout the state, and points of interest that could constitute a decent ride.


Clyde Jacobs -- Member By Default of Last West Virgina Ride Conspiracy
(Photo by Dick Bregstein on his $10 phone -- Click to enlarge)

Ninety miles away, Peter Buchheit jumped into his car and headed toward Jimmy’s Jumbo Crabs, a bar known for its hospitality, live music, and bikini contests, in Port Deposit, Maryland. It would be Buchheit’s job to make sure the arrangements were made at the bar, so that my symptoms could be properly treated by planning a great spring ride to West Virginia. These professionals moved with such practiced precision that we all arrived at the same time. The bartender, briefed while we were enroute, met us with a platter of steamed shrimp, reanimated with just the right touch of Old Bay seasoning.

Nothing beats winter doldrums and the demons of PMS like planning a great spring ride with your pals.

We commandeered about ten feet of the bar with a laptop, a Garmin, maps, brochures, and various samples of the distiller’s art. This would be our third annual ride to West Virginia and we wanted to incorporate the more successful elements of previous ride formulas with new opportunities for adventure. Prior trips included a ride which brought us to a different motel and restaurant each night, and a run in which we rented a deluxe cabin (complete with a hot tub, fireplace, and deck on the Potomac River), and cooked steaks and corn on the grill. With the economy being a factor this year, it was agreed that the cabin was the way to go, as we could eat and drink in-house, and enjoy better accommodations for less cash. We selected a four-bedroom vacation home on a river, complete with a screened-in porch, and a jacuzzi. The cost of the rental was cheaper per night, per person than staying in a decent motel (about $79). Each rider would have his own room and there are plenty of bathrooms in the house so no one has to feel like they’re standing in line.


Pete Buchheit -- Veteran West Virginia Ride Conspiracy Member
(Photo courtesy of Dick Bregstein -- Click to enlarge)

Finding a nice cabin-like house with four bedrooms was a bit of a challenge. Most rental properties have three bedrooms. None of us are kids anymore and there is nothing like a nice bed in your own room at the end of the day. A locking door guarantees you will not wake up with your hand in a bucket of warm water or out in the driveway with your pants gone and your ass painted blue. It is unacceptable that anyone should have to spend a night on a sofa after spending the day in the saddle.


Jack Riepe -- The author fills up the interior horizon
(Unflattering photo by Dick Bregstein -- Click to enlarege, then stand back)

The next consideration was the discussion of a menu and the kind of meals we wanted each night. This is normally not a big deal. In fact, it got zero consideration on our last trip. Our day rides typically spanned 225 miles and we’d hit a supermarket on the way back, stopping to pick up beer, steaks, vegetables and other stuff. Yet Pete mentioned that we were always looking for something we wished we had on that last ride. Stuff like a roll of paper towels, dish detergent, coffee filters or orange juice to temper the vodka.

“I am going to ask the rental agent about having a person pick up everything we want, according to a list, and deliver it to the house so it is there when we arrive,” said Buchheit. “We’ll pay the guy a fee and know that everything we need is waiting for us.”

I regarded this idea as nothing short of brilliant. This is also why we let Pete boss us around to some degree. If it was up to me, I’d have a bartender, cook, and valet on the premises as well. After all, this is a therapeutic vacation. Yet Clyde Jacobs raised the point that steak and lobster are items of intense personal preference, and he did not feel comfortable delegating the purchase of these commodities to a total stranger.

“You tell someone to go out and get a couple of steaks, and they might come back with a piece of meat barely three quarters of an inch thick,” said Clyde. “That might work if we were in prison but on a ride of this emotional significance you want everything to be perfect.”

Once again Buchheit rose to the occasion. “We could arrange to have the meat cut to order and delivered by Omaha Steaks,” he said. “They could also include other items from their catalogue which would pretty much guarantee a varied and slightly exotic flair to the menu.”

“But why stop there,” said Bregstein. “I personally recommend live lobsters and steamer clams from the ‘Lobster Trap.’ Wouldn’t it be great to come in from a day of riding and sit down to a New England lobster bake? Furthermore, we could order key lime pie from Harry and David.”

And suddenly, it was all there on the table. We’d ride like pirates and dine like Sultans. We’d drink like swells and smoke cigars like robber barons. At the day’s end, we’d sit on our screened-in porch and laugh over the silly things that contributed to the legend of the ride. In the ride report that followed, nothing would compare with the preposterous arrangements we’d have made for dinner.


Dick Bregstein -- Founding Member of the Mac-Pac PMS Code Blue Response Team
Dick has recently claimed being a Native American. He will not say what tribe but
plants a clue in every photograph that is taken of him.
(Photo coutesy of Patti Jacobs -- Click to enlarge)

This cold, winter day spent in a bar in Maryland would be the beginning of a legendary four-day ride in West Virginia. There are still a lot of details to be worked out. Our agenda for the next meeting will include a list of things we’d like to see on this trip, outstanding points of local interest, natural wonders, and historical sites. We’ll find the battlefields, the museums, the steam trains and the strip joints. We’ll find everything.

Just as we were congratulating ourselves on the beginning of another great ride, the band in the bar -- about six guys with banjos -- started warming up.”This has to be an omen,” said Buchheit.”

A number of folks have asked me about joining us on one of these runs and we’d be delighted. But the accommodations define the group at the end of the day and it would be up to another group of three or four riders to secure another house in the vicinity. (They are all over the place, either as single units or as vacation clusters.) We do not do a group ride per se either, even among ourselves. I have always maintained that riding with Dick and Pete is a lot like riding by yourself. (Still it is a comfort to know that help is only 40 or 50 miles ahead of you.) We ride in a lose group of two or three, knowing when and where we are all headed, and when and where we are all expected to end up. Dick and Pete like to switch off screaming through turns. Clyde has different moods. I like to amble along at my own pace, stopping to take pictures, relax, or donate an organ.

Sunday’s meeting ended all too soon... And it was the general consensus among all of us that we were ready for this ride the next day.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2009
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)

30 comments:

Charlie6 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie6 said...

Jack

I can honestly say, dimly recalling my ten years in the army, that your group's planning process is far superior in every way.

You guys do it in better ambience, better deep-thoughts-provoking refreshments and it also serves as a great temporary remedy to that PMS attack you had. Best part it, if the attack reoccurs, then reapply the remedy. Heck, fake an attack and reapply remedy! (At least the first part before all the guys showed up!)

Back in the day, when wearing camouflage in the office(not very effective), army operations planning involved poring over maps and reams of paperwork, SOPs (standard operating procedures), readiness reports with maybe the occasional nod towards the commander's wishes.

No liquor, absolutely no hint of lace anywhere (I shudder to think that the plans section Sergeant-Major might have been wearing lace under his cammies) and the only gyrations consisted of staff officers running in circles worrying about this or other "issues". Yeah, you guys plan much better.

Dom

Anonymous said...

Yet another disease someone can blame for being an a**hole.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/cyberchondria.htm

Thanks.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6:

This was one of the best pre-ride planning sessions we've had in a long time. Two things would have made it perfect:

1) If you were there.
2) If it had been crab season in Maryland

As the story says, this will be our third trip to West Virginia, which is a great place to ride motorcycles. I would have been inclined to simply repeat last year's run -- down to staying at the same place. But Pete is quite right to alter the mix. here are always new things to see.

I am positive there will be no riding here for the next two weeks. The weather is about to turn surly here with a three-inch accumulation of snow and the debris left over from the response effort will be on the ground for months.

Thanks for writring in.

Fondest regards,
Jack

BMW-Dick said...

Jack:
If the planning session is any indication of the success of the "Deliverance" Trip, we are going to have such a grand time.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Annonymous:

Why is it that the people with the most interesting things to say speak their mind like a rehearsal for a drive-by shooting?

How have you been by the way? It's been a while since you were last here and everyone wondered if you were okay. Somebody said you were having your tongue forked but I figured it was just the winter.

For the record. my two former wives opegged me for an asshole long before I rode a motorcycle.

Don't be such a stranger.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dick:

Yesterday's meeting was a pisser. It's was great to see the other guys too. I think this West Virginia ride will be great practice for the MOA rally ride too. I was very proud of you when you didn't complain, nor even act surprised to learn that your bedroom at the cabin currently has a car parked in it.

Fonderst regards,
Jack

DC said...

Jack,

Just when I was about to put a blade in my thigh (because of PMS, it turns out), you've posted this tale just in time.

...Now, what did I do with those WVa maps...?

Dave Case

Grandad 43 said...

Jack, your literary offering was timely. Riding friends that I have recently spoken with, have been experiencing riders' PMS also.
W.Va ride sounds great, my son and his friends made that run last spring. We are looking at Yellowstone Park for a ride this summer. Last year we did Sturgis, Montana and Wyo.
Glad that lace and it's contents got your heart pumping again.
Grandad 43

bobskoot said...

"(I have always maintained that riding with Dick and Pete is a lot like riding by yourself. (Still it is a comfort to know that help is only 40 or 50 miles ahead of you.)"

I like to ride by myself too.

You're going to be busy this summer . . . WVa, KW, MOA . What better time to plan than when there's snow on the ground .

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Case:

In advanced cases of PMS, you woudn't be sticking the knife in your own thigh but chasing somebody else around the house with it. I am now cured for another week.

Oddly enough, there are those who think PMS is cyberchondria. I suspect these people do not know the real thrill of riding.

Warmer days are coming, Dave. We'll share a ride or two this spring.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Grandad43:

The end of Parked Motorcycle Syndrome will be one small benefit of global warming. There is is silver lining to every cloud.

I look forwartd to riding with you this spring.

Fondest regards,
Jck

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Grandad43:

The end of Parked Motorcycle Syndrome will be one small benefit of global warming. There is is silver lining to every cloud.

I look forwartd to riding with you this spring.

Fondest regards,
Jck

irondad said...

You can plan all you want. Not actually riding, though, is like not being able to cut the mustard but still trying to lick the jar. Which is sort of related to eating things in a good way, as you alluded to.

Which is why I still live in this wet rathole called the Willamette Valley of Oregon. PMS would kill me in a matter of days if I lived where there was snow all Winter. Or my wife would kill me. Same difference to me but she couldn't collect the life insurance.

Tena said...

Good Gawd, Jack! I almost had heart failure thinking you'd had heart failure! Phew! Man, Leslie must put up with a lot with you around! Sheesh! Nice to know you were able to rectify the situation with a road trip. Good going!

Anonymous said...

Dick Bregstein looks suspiciously like Martin Crain (Crane?) on 'Frasier'...has he been shot in the buns by any chance?

G2W

Tena said...

Jack, as Bugser and I will acclaim, PMS doesn't have sole claim to the symptom of the sound effect of chainsaws in bed. And, while a road trip, no matter what the duration, does alleviate other symptoms of PMS, is not a cure for said chainsaws.

It's great knowing that the Mac-Pac is a group of complete geniuses. The care and planning in the upcoming outing is nothing short of brilliant. And it does my little hillbilly heart proud that this will be your third trip to West-By-God-Virginia. (my kin are there, but I play piano, not banjo)

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Irondad:

I spent fifteen minutes reading and rereading your comment to determine if you were calling me a bullshit rider. :) (It's okay if you were. Dick Bregstein, Chris Wolf, Mike Cantwell, Clyde Jacobs, Gerry Cavanaugh, and Steve Assan all regard me as a bullshit rider. Yet they do me the courtesy of taking the mystery out of it.)

It is important to note that 99 and 44/100ths percent of out plans gel into great rides. The reason we plan so far in advance is that the best accommodations tend to go quickly. There is nothing more aggravatimg than to find yourself curling up in a dump at night, because a local event has taken up every hotel room in 70 miles. (It happens.)

You're right that planning a trip is not nearly as fun as the actual riding. But the planning brings folks together in a fun way, and gives each person a role to play, in making the event come true. And I know that the business with Omaha Steaks and the Loster Trap seems utterly flakey... It is. But we'll do it, and it will add a dimension to this ride that will keep us laughing for years to come.

I am so sorry that we do not live in Montana, and that we are not planning to meet in Idaho... Because you can bet your ass you'd be invited, and wouldn't that be something!

I'm sorry the rain and the fog have you grounded. The weather is really shitty here. The rain and fog wuill dy up where you live. The salt and the shit on the road can ruin the riding here until the end of March.

Thank's for writing in!

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Tena:

The one time I had bad news to report, the headline read, "Vindak8r Down." When the time comes and my fat ass takes the express elevator to hell, the email slug will read, "Fatass's Final Fuckup." That great motorcycle philosopher, Walter Kern, once said he was sure I'd find a way of writing my own obituary. He was right. I have.

I deeply regret I gave you cause for concern. (Actually, I pretty much laughed it off. I'm over it now.) The boys and I have two multi-state runs planned. I really want to meet Steve Assan again this summer though.

On that subject, I think it will be easy to meet you guys when you get out here in the fall. I have a huge assignment in the fall, sometime in October, but I will keep you posted on its development.

And I hope you never hear the chainsaw in the middle of the night.

Thanks for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Granny Two Wheels:

Your comment was nothing more than an overt attempt to arouse jealousy in my otherwise blackened heart. (Well it succeeded.) Dick read your comment and immediately got a swelled head -- if it is possible for his head to get any larger. He was thrilled that a woman biker, who has ridden across the country, was asking about his ass and thought he looked like a TV star.

I took care of that. I said to him, "Dick, the last time I saw Granny Two Wheels, she poured me a shot of Irish whisky out of a spent 12 gauge cartridge, hugged me like a python doing justice to a peccary, and stuck her tongue in my ear.

That shut him up.

How are you doing otherwise?

Fondest regards,
Jack

irondad said...

A "bullshit" rider? I've never tried that. Does it feel like a bike with two flat tires? Or slippery, like riding on ice? At least seat height wouldn't be a problem. I've ridden pieces of crap but that has been in an entirely figurative sense. Burning oil smells nothing like excrement.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Irondad:

You got me on that one!

Fondest regards,
Jack

ADK said...

Dear Sir, I have never called you a bulshit rider. Useless, incompetent, slower than $2 whore makes change, lost and Training Wheels Riepe are all epithets that I have merrily tossed in your direction. Bullshit rider? Never!

I believe you meant WRITER.

2 feet of snow on the ground and counting, and enough salt to restock the Dead Sea.

Should have the bikes out by June. I can hardly wait. Zzzzzzzzz.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Wolf:

I wondered if you were still alive. I scan the papers in your neck of the woods daily to see if you made the headlines. The "Harkness Gazette" ran the headline
"Keene Man Made To Eat Shit Again" and I felt sure it somehow referred to you.

Mike Cantwell is living close by you again and he is riding a K75 (indicating class, character, and virtue). He doesn't mide riding around with a Cockney and I am hoping we can all ride together when spring returns to the Adirondacks, next August. I believe it is scheduled for a Tuesday.

I remembered you told me you had to go to Algeria, or France, or someplace like that to witness a kid make her pre-divorce vows. Is that still on? Can't you just send her a fish slice or something appropriate and ride with us to the BMW Rally in Tennessee this July? We are going to have fun. You are going to get aggravated and miss riding the Dragon's tail (and posing in front of the tree of shame) for a stupid wedding that won't last six months. Doesn't seem right.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Wolf:

I wondered if you were still alive. I scan the papers in your neck of the woods daily to see if you made the headlines. The "Harkness Gazette" ran the headline
"Keene Man Made To Eat Shit Again" and I felt sure it somehow referred to you.

Mike Cantwell is living close by you again and he is riding a K75 (indicating class, character, and virtue). He doesn't mide riding around with a Cockney and I am hoping we can all ride together when spring returns to the Adirondacks, next August. I believe it is scheduled for a Tuesday.

I remembered you told me you had to go to Algeria, or France, or someplace like that to witness a kid make her pre-divorce vows. Is that still on? Can't you just send her a fish slice or something appropriate and ride with us to the BMW Rally in Tennessee this July? We are going to have fun. You are going to get aggravated and miss riding the Dragon's tail (and posing in front of the tree of shame) for a stupid wedding that won't last six months. Doesn't seem right.

Fondest regards,
Jack

ADK said...

Vindicated Again.

It's Morrocco you dunce. And while you're busy wobbling around the block in PA, I shall be crossing the Sahara, as all real men do sooner or later.

You may try the New Jersey shore one more time.

Your cod is in the mail.

Steel said...

Jack,

It's Asson, not Assan. That's the last time I'm gonna tell you. Feel free to shorten it if you like, then you'll always have it right.

I think irondad was commiserating with you, not insulting you. But we Northwesterners have our own brand of cabin fever when the clouds decend in October and dont leave till July.

I'll shoot you an email and see if there is any chance of a mid-continent meet up this summer.

Steve Asson

Tena said...

Jack, awesome news that we may be able to meet! We'll let you in on the travel plans as we get closer!

As to chainsaws: Bugser says I AM the chainsaw!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steel
Asson
Asson
Asson
Asson
Asson
Asson
Asson
Asson
Asson
Asson
Asson
Asson

I will never forget it now. Plus I have developed a little trick to remembering it:

What did the K75 rider say to the exotic dancer?

"How would you like to stick your ASS ON my head?"

I didn't think Irondad was insulting me. I hope he realizes I was just having fun with him. But you will notice how ADK (Chris Wolf) didn't pass up an opportunity to kick me in the balls.

I'll be in Tennessee the second week in July. I might be easier to head over to Missouri or Kansas from that point.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Tena:

I would love to meet you and Bugser in October. Steve Asson asked me to give you something. I hope we can get a few minutes alone.

Fondest regards,
Jack