On February 9, 2009, the readers of this blog were confronted with question: “What was the most amazing thing you’ve come upon in the road, and how did you handle it?” The prize was to be a single Mini Maglite LED flashlight. I anticipated a handful of replies, with the most common answer being “ladders,” that had fallen from the vans of carpenters, painters, roofers, and handy men. The reason I anticipated this response was that I had read improperly secured ladders constituted the primary obstacle encounter by bikers and cagers traveling on highways and main roads.
This particular blog chapter drew the largest response of any issue posted on Twisted Roads in its brief 13-month history, with 27 accomplished riders writing in to share some incredible stories of obstacles in the road, and what they did to avoid them.
Not one rider came across an improperly secured ladder.
Responses varied from detached pick-up truck camper bodies to one actual dead body. Enough wandering animals were reported to fill a zoo, while many of the inanimate objects represented a bizarre strata of life in America. The first thing I realized was that one flashlight would never cover the response I got from my readers. So I increased the prize to 5 flashlights, establishing different categories of weirdness. And the winners are:
Category: Most Crap Encountered on the Road In A Single Lifetime
Winner: Chris Wolfe (ADK) -- Vintage Honda VFR Interceptor
Chris reported finding a fallen tree on a blind curve, a live electrical wire across the road, a queen-sized mattress in the center of the road, a complete rear axel from a pick-up truck adorning a center lane, and a dead deer (with all four legs sticking up in the air, like in a cartoon). Conventional wisdom urges Chris to move to a better neighborhood. Some of this stuff was on expressways just outside of New York City.
Chris Wolfe -- Code name "Artful Dodger" -- On his Honda VFR Interceptor
(Photo courtesy of Chris Wolfe -- Click to enlarge)
Category: Largest Item To Fall Off The Back of A Truck
Winner: Don Eilenberger -- BMW
Don dodged a complete camper body that bounced out of the bed of a pickup truck that whacked a pothole on I-287 in New Jersey. If it had been a Soprano’s episode, “Pussy” would have been sleeping in the camper.
Don Eilenberger -- Got around a free rolling camper body on I-287 in New Jersey
(Photo courtesy of the author -- Click to enlarge)
Category: Dumbest Thing To Encounter In A Road
Winner: Wayne Whitlock (Nite Owl) -- Harley Davidson
Wayne turned onto a rural country road, and got knocked out of the saddle by an unmarked wire extended across the psvement by a farmer, to contain escaped cows.
Wayne Whitlock -- Now ducks when someone says, "Can you hold the wire?"
(Photo courtesy of the author -- Click to enlarge)
Category: Thing Most Likely To Rip Your Ass Off And Kill You In The Road
Winner: Rick Cavaliere -- BMW
While cruising the Roemerville Road, between Newfoundland and Promised Land, Pennsylvania, Rick came across a female lioness sunning herself on the pavement. The lion was a retired circus cat, declawed and defanged... Otherwise Rick, may have found himself deballed, deboned, and deceased. The lion was on a tether that gave her too much room.
Category: Not Dead Tired... Not Dead Drunk... Just Dead
Winner: Dan Bateman (Irondad) -- Yamaha FJR
A cop at the time, Dan responded to a call on an authority bike, which led him into desert outside of Yakima, Washington -- at night. The desert darkness was devouring his lights, barely leaving enough to frame the body of the deceased (a gunshot victim) directly in his path.
Tee shirts will be awarded to two runners-up, who also had great stories to tell!
Category: What The Hell Happened To The Road?
Winner: Gary Christman -- BMW GS
Gary Christman was out for a typical ride -- on the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, in the Northwest Territories -- to see the home of the “Ice Truckers,” when he realized there was water in the road. It was about six feet deep and twenty feet across. He decided to stop, and that earned him a “Twisted Roads” tee shirt.
Gary Christman -- Found water on the road on a recent ride to the Arctic Circle
Gary Christman and his BMW GS -- Just before coining the phrase, "Screw this."
(Photo courtesy of Gary Christman -- Click to enlarge)
Category: Do I Hear Banjo Music?
Winner: Chris Jacarrino -- Honda Goldwing
Chris had just negotiated a series of tight turns in backwoods West Virginia and was in the process of taming yet one more blind curve, when he encountered a refrigerator, standing upright and burning like hell, in the center of the road. “I remembered thinking, ‘It’s very disappointing when an expensive appliance like a refrigerator craps out,’” said Chris.
It was very hard to narrow this list down to five flashlight winners and two tee-shirt recipients. All contestants will therefore receive a coveted “Twisted Roads” patch. To receive your prize, or your patch, please send your name and address, plus tee shirt size (if applicable) to JPRiepe@aol.com.
PUTTING FACES TO THE NAMES
It’s amazing how often I get to meet (and to ride) with so many of my readers. We start as acquaintances in an online dialogue and then discover we’ll either be at the same rally, or someplace in the same state, and one thing leads to another. In many cases, I will have acquired a new friend. During one such gathering (The Second Annual Amish Horse-Pile Swerve Ride), I met Dick Bregstein, Wayne Whitlock, and Tony Luna -- three guys who are all wool and a yard wide. (I met Mack Harrell on this run the year before.)
I have had the pleasure of meeting many people through Motorcycle Views (under the aegis of Walter Kern). I have been relying on them for good advice or just a good ribbing for years. One of these folks, Steve Asson, shamed me into my first long-distance ride after 30 years of two-wheeled abstinence. He said, “If I can ride from Washington state to North Carolina to meet you (at the infamous BuRP Rally), then you can certainly get off your fat ass and ride down from Philadelphia to Maggie Valley to meet me. Unless, of course, you’re afraid of pissing your pants in truck traffic on the interstates.” Steve is a diplomat, and made this statement online, in front of 36,000,000 people.
At the time, I was afraid of pissing my pants in truck traffic on the interstates, but it was a secret that I had kept from public announcement. Steve took care of that.
I’ve known “Bugser” Abbey since 2005. He is a cruiser rider who once admired my methods of traveling light for a ride. At the time, I stated that an American Express card, condoms, and a good rum were really all you needed for a decent weekend on a bike that was gassed up and ready to go. Our correspondence was split by a rift over the necessity of carrying frozen White Castle cheeseburgers “just in case” (a move I endorsed). But I stayed chatty with his wife, Tena, who is an aspiring writer.
From left, Bugser Abbey (Mr. Cupcake), Tena Abbey, and Steve (The Diplomat) Asson
These are exactly the type of folks you associate with crabs.
(Photo courtesy of Sylvia Asson, who had the presence of mind not to be in it -- Click to enlarge)
I recently learned that the Abbeys were meeting Steve Asson, and his wife Sylvia, for dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack, up in Washington State this past Sunday. (Steve and Bugser have ridden together on several occasions.) They were good enough to call me from the shack’s parking lot and put the phone on speaker. Steve and I are planning a ride through Dodge City and Deadwood this summer. I will meet the Abbeys (for the first time) in Ohio, sometime in September. They sent me a nice picture of their little gathering (from last weekend). If you look at their eyes in this photo, conspiracy is evident.
Then I started getting comments on my blog from “Bugser,” signed “Mr. Cupcake.” As it turns out, this is his new identity in the witness protection program.
CANTWELL BUSTS LOOSE
A resident of New York State's Adirondack Mountains, Michael Cantwell was recently faced with a choice: Dismember his family and eat them, or go for a ride. He waited until the temperature was 1 degree above Zero degrees Kelvin, fired up his K75, and took it out on mountain roads not expected to thaw in this century. He sent me a note saying, "Ha Ha... I'm riding already, and you're not."
Michael Cantwell's classic BMW K75 at the mouth of Rusty Mulvey's driveway,
with Whiteface Mountain, and its Olympic ski slopes, in the background.
(Photo courtesy of Michael Cantwell -- Click to enlarge)
A HARD DECISION IN THE FACE OF WARMER WEATHER
The weather prognosticators on television, bums all of them, have just announced that warmer weather, with temperatures close to and occasionally above 50º, will be settling in for the rest of the week. The word on the street is that this could be the turning point for the cold weather this winter.
I made the decision to render my bike inoperable by removing the crash bars, headers, and muffler. These are being sent out for Jet-Hot coating, which will effectively cover up all of the chrome on this bike with a nice black semi-gloss finish. My last K75 had a black Luftmeister muffler, with matching headers, which I liked a lot. I’m not big on chrome (especially polishing it). I timed this cosmetic maintenance to coincide with getting my seat custom rebuilt (Stiffie’s Christmas present to me) by Russell (Day-Long) Cycle Products, in California. This will take at lest two weeks from the date scheduled for seat reconstruction (March 6th).
So I am out of commission until March 20, 2009. The weather will be perfect through March 19th. Expect temperatures in the mid-70s , cloudless blue skies, and topless women to bask in the change of seasons -- right up until my bike is ready to go. Then it will rain until August.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2009
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)