The pre-ride checklist for my K75 is two pages larger
than the pre-flight checklist for the B-2 Stealth Bomber
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)
My bike does get the big “annual service,” the smaller “semi-annual” services, and the “Oh-Shit-There’s-That-Noise-Coming-From-The-Fuel-Pump-Again” services (that only occur the night before a ride). This 1995 BMW K75 sees more services than a Las Vegas wedding chapel. The engine is so clean that when the oil comes out at 3,000 miles (the color of champagne) it’s used to fry wiener schnitzel at a local German restaurant. Furthermore, the battery tender has an LED to indicate when the battery is charging, when the battery is charging beyond its credit card limit, and when the battery is thinking lewd thoughts. The tender has its own web site and cell phone so it can contact me in the event of a malfunction.
The oil coming out of my engine is so clean, it is reused
to fry wiener schnitzel at a local German brat haus.
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)
With this kind of pre-ride preparation, I do not worry about something critical falling off nor failing. But “preparation” also extends to the state of mind of the rider and to the rider’s personal gear. So the night before a recent Mac-Pac Rider’s Breakfast found me systematically organizing my riding gear for an early morning departure. It’s a short 18-mile ride to the Pottstown Family Diner, but the quickest of rides can become pure agony if you’re not prepared for a change of weather, particularly rain or frost, as both were common at this time of year.
I laid out my BMW underwear, BMW socks, riding pants, Joe Rocket ballistic jacket, gloves, spare gloves, and boots. As part of an experiment to allow myself to sleep as late as possible, I arranged my clothes in the classic fireman style: all overlapping and tucked into each other. I merely had to step into them, pull up two zippers, and squeeze some Velcro before trotting into the garage.
Then I went out to an Amish bachelor party.
The details of the evening are a bit fuzzy. I seem to recall a naked woman wearing a bonnet, and a bunch of Abe Lincoln look-a-likes yelling, “Take it off! Take it off! Take it all off.” Someone put the first of 52 drinks in my hand. It was called a “Buttermilk Divebomber.” At drink #26, an Amish hottie led me into the back room for a lap dance and to “Churn der butter.”
I woke up with a case of the horrors. The horrors begin with a numbing amnesia. You’re not quite sure where you are, where you’ve been, nor the circumstances that brought you to the current impasse. Accompanying the amnesia is a brief grace period during which your body fails to realize it has been poisoned.
“What the hell did I do last night?” I thought.
My eyes had been focusing independently until this point, but zeroed in on the alarm clock at precisely 6:59:58. Two seconds later, the screaming alarm touched off a nuclear reaction in my head, which subsequently exploded.
Suddenly it all came back to me. Every sordid detail kicked me in the stomach. It took twenty minutes to be able to stand without clutching the floor... And then I remembered I was supposed to meet the Mac-Pac (my BMW riding club) for breakfast. Getting dressed was an ordeal. The dogs had found my pile of clean clothes and were fighting over a pair of briefs. They had them stretched out a full eight feet. I activated the coffee maker and realized shortly thereafter I’d neglected to put a cup underneath it. It’s amazing how a mere eight ounces of coffee can spread out over most of the kitchen floor.
It was about 35 degrees outside (not the coldest of mornings in the past two months), but between the bite of the breeze and the pounding in my head, I considered taking the truck. But I was supposed to ride to Maryland with “Leather” Dick Bregstein after breakfast.
“He won’t care if I ride up in the truck. The guys won’t bust my balls too badly,” I thought. Who was I kidding? If I showed up in the truck, my testicles would be fragmented into dust and cast to the winds. I’d be better off taking a hammer to them myself.
It was 8:55am by the time I straddled the K75. I can’t recall the exact minute that I discovered that I’d left all my cash in the cream separator of some Amish beanpole dancer the night before, but I needed to make a fast stop at the drive-up ATM. Every little thing conspired to make me late, including the 9 traffic lights between East Goshen and Eagle. I was more than an hour late for the breakfast festivities.
The response from the crowd was predictable.
“Who are you?”
“Can we help you?”
“Who are you looking for?”
“There were some guys here earlier, but they left.”
“We were going to stick you for breakfast. Now we’ll have to stick you for lunch.”
“No seats at this table.”
The only one who understood the extent of my suffering was my riding partner, Dick Bregstein.
“Want some coffee, Jack?” asked Dick, in a soothingly low voice.
“Yes, I do,” I said gratefully.
“Me too,” said Dick. “So bring me back a fresh cup before you get comfortable, Fat Ass?”
It was then I learned that all 25 riders seated at this table told the waitress their names were “Jack,” so there’d be no mistake when the separate checks were presented. I wanted to explain my circumstances and why I was late... But there is no need for apologies with the Mac-Pac. You will suffer just the same.
“Chack. How are you?” asked Horst Oberst, in his rich German accent. “Eat your breakfast... Don’t vaste time explaining... You look like bird shit anyvay.”
And so the day began.
Dick informed me that Gerry Cavanaugh and Horst Oberst would be joining us on the post breakfast ride. These two guys look like an ad for BMW. Dressed in black leather and riding an “R” bike set up for touring, Oberst (whose last name means “colonel”) has ridden extensively throughout South America. Cavanaugh is an “ambassador” for the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America, a representative for the BMW Riders Association, and the administrator of the Mac-Pac mileage contest for the MOA. His code name is, “The Snitch.” Our destination was a joint called Woody’s. Woody’s Crab House in North East, Maryland (that’s the town’s name) is a well-known destination for this crowd as it features all of the four food groups: crabs, potatoes, salt, and rum. Cavanaugh triangulated the route in his head and we were off like a shot.
(Photo by the author -- Click to enlarge)
At the time, I suffered from a “leaning” disability. This meant I seldom leaned the bike five degrees out of vertical. As a result, my turns were slow. How slow? Chris Wolfe , a British cockle monger, now living in the US under the Witness Protection Program, once said I turned slower than a two-dollar whore could make change. (Two dollars is a lot of money in the United Kingdom, apparently, a nation where “tips” refer to winners at the race track.)
“I’ll just follow along,” I said. “I don’t want to hold anybody up.”
“Nonsense,” said Horst. “Ve haff vays of making you lean.” He withdrew a taser from a pocket and showed me the brilliant flash when he hit the actuating button. “I vill be right behind you. Ven you go too slow, I’ll zap you in der ass mit dis ting.”
I attempted to lean with the best of them, and actually improved on my turns anytime I saw Horst gaining on me.
The ride was fun and quasi technical. The guys found roads with plenty of twisties. When these became tame, they rode on the sides of buildings, the faces of billboards, and on the tops of rail fences.
We stopped at a light less than a mile from Woody’s, when Jerry gave the strangest set of hand signals. He pointed at Dick, gave the thumbs down, and drew a finger across his throat.
Lifting up my face-shield, I yelled to Horst, “Gerry wants us to kill Dick.”
“Yah, Yah,” shouted Horst. “I haff been exschpecting dis for a long time now. I’ll hold Dick and you can kick him.”
As it turns out, Gerry was trying to tell us that Dick’s F650 had just died. Dick duck-walked it off to the shoulder and the boys attempted to perform an autopsy. It was determined that Dick’s electric clothing had drained his battery. He was wearing electric pants, electric socks, electric gloves, an electric jacket, an electric hat, and an electric cod piece. The aquarium heater in the cod piece drew 16 amps by itself. Everything had been turned on “high” and Dick’s bike produced a reverse magnetic field that dimmed street lights when he went past.
Now it is a recognized fact that the old F650 had a single cylinder engine made for BWM under license by a well-known manufacturer of two-wheeled transportation favored by nuns. This was a touchy subject with Dick, who resented being called “Sister Mary.”
So here we were, on the side of the road, bordering a field that was returning to nature.
A gaggle of Harley riders swept around the corner at that very moment. In a flash, Horst draped his leather coat over the BMW roundels on Dick’s bike.
“Everyvun, quickly. Stand over here und make like ve are taking der piss.”
The four us ran to the bushes at the edge of the road and appeared preoccupied. “Why are we doing this?” I asked Horst.
“I could not bear for das Harley riders to see us standing dere mit das broken down Aprilla.”
Having diagnosed the problem, the next challenge was to give the bike a jump start from another vehicle. Dick flagged down the first one that came along. It turned out to be an Amish buggy.
“Gude morgan,” said the driver, who looked like a traveling log cabin salesman. “Ist das Englander das sheist koff vanten to yump das horse?”
“What did he say,” asked Dick.
“He said you are a fine fellow,” translated Horst.
The woman in the buggy with the driver winked at me and I realized she was the butter churner from the Amish bachelor party the night before. Dick lifted up the horse’s tail in search of a battery connection, and not finding one, waved the Amish couple on.
I pulled a set of cables out of my top case, Gerry Cavanaugh exposed his posts, and Horst had current running through Dick’s alternator (which said Schwinn on it) in a second. Five minutes later, we were sipping chowder at Woody’s.
Dick Bregstein working on his F650's electrical system with Brian Curry.
Brian Curry is shown at his full actual size.
(Photo by the author -- Click to enlarge)
Nothing makes chowder taste better on a cold day than knowing you were the only one who had the cables when the old salts found themselves up shits creek. There is something for being prepared.
This story appeared as Ride Report #167 in a previous though limited Mac-Pac list. I resurrected it here for a larger audience because it is one of my favorite riding episodes and accurately depicts the true character of my riding friends.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2007
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)