Monday, March 2, 2009

A Motorcycle Oriented Weekend...

Hopes of getting a jump on spring riding, and having the state and various municipalities sweep the streets of excess gravel and salt, were dashed in southeast Pennsylvania today, as a winter gale dumped up to 10 inches of snow in a broad swath ranging from Harrisburg to Philadelphia. This was just a small cross-section of a late winter storm that covered an area from Tennessee to New York, and from Atlanta to Boston. Under normal circumstances, I would be really pissed at getting all this snow at the beginning of March, but my bike is laid up getting a custom seat and some beautification done on the headers and the muffler. It will be March 20th at the earliest that I can get out, so I am content to sit here by the window, sipping coffee, and alternately typing a few lines.

Today's storm mocks the promise of an early spring. This is the front yard looking left.
(Photo by the author -- Click to enlarge)

I am listening to classical musical at the moment -- classical motorcycle music: Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild.” Yet I can still hear the scrape of the snow shovel from outside as my girlfriend, Leslie, shovels out my car. I’m glad I got her that ergonomic snow shovel for Valentine’s Day.

Looking right, at 12 Noon, the street is obscured by densely falling snow. 
(Photo by the author -- Click to enlarge)

Last year, we hired a small company to plow the driveway. They were called "Two Douchebags With A Plow." It snowed about five times in 2008, usually on a night when we were having company. I found myself often asking, "Where are The two Douchebags With The Plow?" Or, "Do you think we should call The Two Douchebags With The Plow again?" We hired two other guys to plow the driveway this year. They are former investment bankers from Wall Street. They asked for a flat fee of $2.5 billion to not only plow the driveway, but to shovel the walkways and establish confidence in the economy. 

While this winter scene looks very pretty, I'm already sick of it. 
This is the view from the right side of the front porch.
(Photo by the author -- Click to enlarge)

Despite the fact that I couldn’t ride, the past weekend held strong motorcycle content. It started with a lunch meeting of some good old moto saddle tramps. These were my riding partner Dick Bregstein, Rogers George, and his wife Val. Bregstein and Rogers drink the BMW Kool-Aid, while Val rides a Honda Shadow. The meeting convened at the Himalayan Exotic Restaurant, which offers the hottest (spiciest), best, and cheapest all-you-can eat Indian buffet for $7.99. Bregstein and I have lunch here at least twice a month as it is centrally located to our jobs and the owner, Sam, treats us like we are dignitaries. This appeals to me on a number of levels.

In addition to being riders, each of these folks is also a writer. Bregstein wrote professionally as a public relations wordsmith. Rogers George has built a career as a technical writer and maintains a rather interesting blog. Val George has specialized in a series of editorial efforts on a number of topics ranging from customer service issues to care for the elderly. Among the topics discussed at lunch were the essentials of a good ride report.

Bregstein contented that a good ride report should have enough factual material to interest novice, re-entry riders, and seasoned road fanatics. Rogers stated that a decent ride report should be a mix of local color and history, as well as technical riding data. Val thought there should be a strong, personal, introspective touch in each story, explaining something about the author (his or her beliefs in regard to riding in general and the ride under discussion in particular). To this mix I added that every good ride report should include an element of danger, a near topless woman, and a motorcycle that makes a noise like its metal parts remember when they were magma.

My three companions concluded that it was only a matter of time before I would be exposed for the literary charlatan I really am and for the fraudulent biker stories I regularly perpetrate.

Rogers’ blog -- Mushrooms to Motorcycles -- takes a “Poor Richard’s Almanac” approach to life and covers a broad range of topics from rides he’s taken to construction projects he’s undertaken. He made an announcement that he was thinking about a stronger emphasis on motorcycle stories, as opposed to the mushroom side of life, and posted a new essay on getting ready for a ride to Florida. Rogers has diverse interests, one of which includes poetry. He regards poetry as mathematical equations, which is why he sucks at writing it. His motorcycle stuff is good though, and i recommend it.

Actually, all of Rogers writing is precise and methodical, like his outlook on life. His blog is more of a personal journal, like a behind the scenes account of the seamier side of Mayberry, RFD. The trouble is that there is nothing really seamy. I have never even heard Rogers curse. I suggested that he add little nuggets to the text that imply he has a secret life where heavy drinking, hard motorcycle riding, and cross-dressing were occasional events

“It seems to work for you,” was all he said. Underneath his pleasant "Mr. Rogers" personality, he is a bitter s.o.b.

I actually have one funny Rogers George story. Rogers is actually a very proper individual and gives the impression there is starch in his shorts. David Hardgrove and I were out tooling around in a convertible one day, showing Rogers, (who was following behind on his "R" bike) a shortcut to Delaware, when we passed a stunning woman in a skin-tight outfit, on a street corner. Hardgrove and I nearly snapped our necks taking in her perfect form.

Rogers noted this performance, then turned to see what we were looking at. (He would have missed her, keeping his eyes on the road.) In the most uncharacteristic manner, he beeped his horn and waved. 

She waved back. 

All Rogers would say later on was, "I don't think that outfit was the most practical choice if she intended to walk far." Hardgrove and I were astounded.

Last weekend also led me up to the local BMW dealer -- Hermy’s Tire and Cycle -- in Port Clinton, Pa. The shop is located 60 miles north and west from my desk, at the end of a series of nice roads that wind through horse and agricultural country. You pass through several little towns that are pretty non-descript, until you come Fleetwood, Pa. The focal point in this little urban center is a brick factory rising up next to the very active railroad tracks. This factory was the home of Fleetwood Metal Body, a premier builder of luxury car bodies since 1909, purchased by Fisher in 1925, and integrated with General Motors in 1931. Fleetwood car bodies were used by Bentley, Cadillac, Duesenberg, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Packard, Pierce-Arrow and Rolls Royce.

Main Street in Fleetwood, Pa. Note mural painted on corner building.
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

A trip to Hermy’s is like dropping in on a relative you really like. Donuts and coffee are within easy reach, and glass counters -- like the kind you’d find in a jewelers -- display stuff ranging from marque watches and key chains to the coolest stuff dejour. Yet it cannot be denied that the hottest things in the shop are the BMW’s and Triumphs parked on the showroom floor. The new K1300GT called out to me as I walked in the door.

“Hey you, Fatass,” it said.

“I beg your pardon,” I replied, looking around for the source of the voice.

“You heard me. Over here.”

The K1300GT looks like sex on Metzler tires. The machine is a lot more compressed-looking than its counterpart in the “R” bikes. In fact, it looks like a comet waiting for ignition.

‘I can be yours,” said the bike. “All you have to do is lose 1100 pounds, write something that people will pay real money to read, and cash the checks.” Then the bike laughed and spit on my boots. If nothing else, BMWs are painfully honest motorcycles.

My purpose in visiting Hermy’s was to return a bagful of fancy electronic stuff that would carry the voice of my Bluetooth-equipped Garmin GPS into my Nolan helmet. After hours of experimentation, it appeared that the Bluetooth option would work for my cell phone, but not for the GPS. (Not unless the lady who lives in the GPS unit called me via my cell phone to give me the prompts for turning.) The solution called for connecting the GPS to the helmet via a cable, which I thought was utterly stupid in this era of electronic wonder. I attempted to be more like Rogers in accepting this disappointment, but saying, “Good heavens,” didn’t hit the mark. Uttering, “Fuck this,” made me feel instantly better.

I’m told Scala makes the unit I want.

There are two women behind the counter at Hermy’s, who play a vital role in separating a man from his money. The first is “The other Chris,” who has warm, penetrating eyes that extract honesty from consumers attempting to return stuff. She can tell at a glance of you dropped the part in question into the toilet, used it, or let the dog play with it.

And then there is Suzy. Suzy has the kind of smile that makes guys spend money just to prolong the conversation.

“I’m so sorry this purchase didn’t work out for you,” said Suzy, with a voice that sounded like bubbles escaping from a glass of champagne. “Can we get you anything else? How about a nice Givi topcase that looks like it costs the same as the stuff you’re returning, but will inevitably run a century note higher?”

“Okay,”I said.

Suzy looked at Chris, and they exchanged a “high five.”

If Hermy’s had a bar, I’d still be sitting there. Real bikers, the kind who find nutrition in milege, tramp through this place on a regular basis. The best thing about Hermy's is that you’re always running into folks you know, or people who know you. My vicious negotiating with Suzy was interrupted by the arrival of Roddy Irwin from the Mac-Pac. Roddy is a tree surgeon, whose business card is a laugh of recognition, which he passes around freely.

We shot the breeze for a bit and were then joined by Gary Christman, who won a Twisted Roads tee shirt in last week’s contest. I am always amazed when somebody comes up to me and asks, “Are you Jack Riepe?” My first inclination is to say, “Why? Were you presented with a kid who looks like me?” (Apparently, a growing number of women are claiming they were random victims of my “battered baby harp seal look.”) Gary was cited on this blog (last month) for running out of road in Alaska.

Then another gentleman named “Vince” introduced himself as a reader of my work and paid me a nice compliment about my writing. I can’t tell you how good this is for my ego.

I have been thinking about getting a Givi topcase for the longest time. The one I looked at is the larger than the OEM BMW K75 topcase and can be wired for a stoplight. The mounting rack is more practical than the original on the K75 too, as if offers a broader area for carrying stuff like camping gear, or a case of beer.


Those of you who have ridden with me before know of my fascination with tee shirts. Most of my more elaborate rides are commemorated by tee shirts that highlight some of the events’ more obscure details. For example, I am putting together a ride to Crapo, Maryland (actual place) this summer. That deserves a tee shirt. I am also doing my first annual “Toys For Tarts” ride this fall, which will acknowledge the efforts of performance artists in the tri-state area, many of whom are so poor that they must earn their living without wearing clothes. That ride will get a tee shirt too.

But now for the first time ever, I am announcing the highly coveted “Twisted Roads” Tee Shirt. Made of high quality materials and treated with long lasting dyes, these shirts make a fashion statement and an editorial statement that cannot be ignored. They are also restricted to a limited printing of 26,000. Once they are gone, that’s it.

Announcing the "first ever" Twisted Roads Tee Shirt
Red type reads: Raw Biking Adventure... Romance like broken glass.
(Only $25, plus $3 S&H -- Ordering Details Below)

Designated as the occasional blog prize, the Twisted Roads Tee Shirt is also available for purchase. Why wait to try and win one of these things when you can buy one for $25 (plus $3 S&H). They make great gifts. You can even wrap a set of tire chains in one and make a great impression on that mother-in-law who just won’t stop bitching. To order one of these rare shirts, send your name, address, telephone number and shirt size to All data is destroyed after shipping and billing.

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


Stacy said...

Two Douchebags and a Plow? You should have hired Mr. Plow.

What does BMW Kool-aid taste like? I've never had any. I bet it tastes like cash money. OH YEAH!

Woody said...


You seem to have left a single word out of one of you sentences. I took the liberty of adding it in the proper location.

"Those of you who have ridden with me before know of my fascination with WET tee shirts".

I'll email you about a t-shirt. I suspect I'll be receiving the one used to clean up the dog shit.

Best Regards,

bobskoot said...


sorry to take so long to get over here. I was over at Rogers George's blog and there was NO link to find my way back, but I googled the word "Wet T-shirt" and the name Jack Riepe purveyor of Wet T-shirts instantly popped up on my screen.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Charlie6 said...

a snow shovel for valentine's day, you romantic devil you.....

jwesterman said...

Crapo, MD... huh. Of course, under 6 inches of snow, it's all crapo for a ride. Thanks for diverting my attention from the snow for a bit. I enjoyed the read!

BMW-Dick said...

Dear Jack:

Please send Leslie over here with the shovel.

I worked out of the house yesterday, because I just couldn't face shoveling with 20 degree temps and 40 mph gusts. Got up this morning and it's warmed down to 15 degrees with a breeze. It's going to be a long day and a longer few weeks until we get to ride again.

I used to like winter before Global Warming; I wonder if Chicago weather is moving East to accommodate the new President.

John said...

Jack I too am lamenting the snow. I spent about 10 minutes in the garage yesterday staring at my K. It started whining at me. I told her that we would go for a ride soon, but that today I needed to use the Deere to plow the driveway. She was sad, but understood.

fasthair said...

Mr. Jack: T-shirts huh? Well then on your visit I will try to come up with a tee I know you will wonder how you ever got along with out it. With it and your battered baby harp seal look you will forever have the gal of your dreams.

Judging from the remark from the BMW I will get the tee in X-Cow size. There are other things so wrong with this post but I don’t have time to go through them all.


bobskoot said...

Jack: I also check your Blog/comments for new stuff. I just love your STYLE. Sorry for the short absence (makes for fonder hearts). I noticed that Steve (scooter in the sticks) is still working on his 3 picture project and here I am with all this equipment and doing nothing except digital. I decided that I would resume developing again but all my stuff has expired. Both film and chemicals have dated lives. Plus I have a sizeable camera collection. During the past month I have been going to camera get-togethers and tonight is "our" camera meeting. I belong (or used to) the Western Historic Photographic Camera Association, just a group of OLD guys, shooting with OLD cameras and talking about the OLD days before digital (ie: just like us BLOGGERS)

Except for the ice and snow of December/January, I have been riding constantly but nothing exciting. Just normal stuff like meeting friends for Sat AM breakfast and doing errands. No joy rides yet but you have already seen lots of pictures of these Haunts so without something new to post -- I didn't. Plus the fact that there have been massive snow storms in the eastern US and I didn't want to rub in the fact that we were basking in Spring like weather. It even got up to 15c (~59F) on Sunday, but this weekend the cold front is returning with mixed snow and rain.

There is a Pi Rally in a couple of weeks down in Bellingham, WA

Starting from Breakfast the ride starts and stops at PIE places along the way so we can eat and be merry. It I had one of your Sorry Harp Seal look T-shirts perhaps I could find Angie's or Gina's sister and just forget about those pies, I can catch up later . . .

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Tena C.(upcake) said...

Jack, I LOVE snow! Or, rather, I love OTHER people's snow, as where I live snow is a once a year event. While it makes a pretty picture, I hate shoveling. But I like watching other people shovel... Can't wait to hear what your next gift from Leslie might be after receiving a snow shovel for V-day.

Lovely shirts! If we can scrape up the money, we might have to get a couple. I'm holding out to see if you sell Annual Horse Swerve shirts, let us know, please?? I think those would make a statement out here!

cpa3485 said...

I like snow. At least I used to like it, before I got a scooter. Actually I have only missed about 10 days of riding all winter because of snow or ice. We haven't had much snow this year. But there have been some really cold days. Last Saturday it was 15 degrees when I left for work. Monday was just a few degrees better. Tomorrow they are predicting 65 and the next two days we are supposed to get into the 70's. So even If Bobscoot won't rub it in, I might rub it in just to kid around a bit.

Right now I am listening to a greatest hits collection of The Who. Ahhh, Pete Townsend.

Actually I am excited about the weather later this week because my new armored jacket and pants should get here and I am dying to try them out. I bought some mesh hear that I can use in multiple seasons and wear over my work clothes when I commute.

I am excited about my new gear because:
1) I will look really good wearing it and
2) I will be much safer in it.

My scooter dealer is kind of a one man show. He's a great mechanic, but I know he struggles financially sometimes. I hope he stays in business because If he doesn't I will have trouble finding someone to work on my scooter.

Also, Jack, If I purchase one of your T-shirts, in order to set you up as a vendor in my accounting software, I will require the following information from you:
1) your federal tax identification number,
2) your complete address,
3) your Pennsylvania sales tax number,
4) the I-9 form to prove you are not an illegal immigrant,

All of this is needed in order to be able to send you a form 1099 at the end of the year.

I take that back. I think I must be getting taxes on the brain.

In all seriousness, I hope your bike looks better than you hoped when you get it back, and I'll try and some of our weather up your way.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Stacy:

There is nothing to quite get you through the blah days of snow on the ground like seeing the unbroken blacktop of the driveway. The new guys we hired to plow showed up once, got the driveway clear, and fxed it so there were no icy patches.

This doesn't do much for the salt and gravel on the ground, but it makesmy heart lighter!

BMW Kool-Aid tastes just like German beer!

Thanks for reading my blog, and writing in.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Woody (Wayne):

Twisted has just celebrated its one-year anniversary. I will think about sponsoring a wet tee shirt contest if we have a second year anniversary.

I think the tee shirts make a powerful statement, with or without dog shit.

Thanks for writing in!

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobscoot:

"Wet Tee Shirt" is my middle name. It is on my drivers license. I support wet tee shit as a valid use of three natural resources, two of which are water and cotton.

Always a pleaaure to see you, Bob!

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

There are some things a man has to do without hesitation, and making a bold romantic statement when the time calls for it is just one of them.

My choice of presents on days like Valentine's Day supports this philosophy.

Thanks for reading my stuff and writing in, Dom.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear JWesterman:

I like nothing better than to scan the maps for unique destinations. I found "Crapo" under the magnifying glass in southern Matyland (Eastern Shore Side) last year. It seems like a bump on the map, but that's good enough for me.

Somehow, I see a "Proudly Stepping In Crapo" tee shirt coming out of this ride. Maybe I'll see you there!

Thanks for reading my blog and writing in!

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dickie Boy (Bregstein):

There are two young cardinals sitting on the tree branch outside of my office window at the moment. That has to be a sign of spring, or something.

The earliest day I can ride is March 20th. I can assure you it will probably rain on that day.

Fonndest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear John (C):

My bike understands nothing, least of all why my ass is so fat. She did like going to Cutter's though, which she likened to a BMW spa. The first day we get 60 degrees, and the exhaust is back on this rig, I am going to wash and wax it.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Fasthair:

I had to laugh when I first read your comment. Triple "X Cow" would be about right. But if you can find a tee shirt I can't live withoutr, I'll happily trade you.

Riding days are coming soon. I like a tee shirt that shows neither bugs nor grease.

Thank you for writing in, and for listing this blog among your favorites.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobscoot:

Thanks for the longer message and the complient. My editorial style either delights the soul or engenders deep hatred. I'm glad its the former where your concerned.

My arthritis is marginally better and there is a hope this will last throughout the riding season. If this is the case, and I can get on and off the bike more easily, I intend to take more pictures. But what I will make up in quantity will not match the quality of yours.

I'm looking forward to your next ride report.

Thanks again for writing in.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Tena C(up):

I am sick of looking at snow and the crap they put on the road to reduce its impact on traffic. The Annual Amish Horse-Pile Swerve Rides are generally organized by now, and I haven't got one planned. This is because I haven't been riding and don't know what shape I'll be in when the new saddle comes back.

But I'll keep you posted about the tee shirts.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3485:

Hopefully, this will be the last snowfall of the season. Even if I had the machine all back together and ready to ride, I'd still be waiting for the towns and state to get the salt off the road. It would destroy the nice blsck facings on my engine.

There is nothing like getting a nice box of motorcycle-related stuff from UPS or FedEx. It turns an ordinary day into Christmas. Have fun with your new gear. I hope you never have to test it out.

My bike is the kind of machine that is an acquired taste. Somebody once said to me, do you think anyone is going to look at a slightly modified exhasut system and say, 'Wow."

My response was, "I will. And so will every other K75 rider..." That's enough for me.

Fondest regards,

ADK said...

Dear Jack,
Where's my flashlight?

You've been my acquaitance for over 20yrs and have prooved to be at least the equivalent of a good hair shirt, so a nice tee shirt seems like a good idea for a change.

MattPie said...

Hey Jack, if I stop by the house, can I save myself the $3 shipping? :)

I'm dying today, since other than the salt everywhere it would be a great day to ride. Luckily, Jet-hot called today and I have my headers in the truck.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear ADK (Chris):

I just mailed your flashlight, bulk rate. You should get it in July. I ordered the Tee Shirts last week. Kindly forward $25. The weather was 67ยบ degrees here today, but I understand you're freezing your ass off up there.

My bike is still in pieces in the garage, but I expect eveything to be up and running in three weeks. Start looking at your weekend schedule for June, as I will be a guest in your house, money having become scarce. Actually, I will have access to a house in the ADKs. We will be doing our drinking on the porch.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Hey Matt:

I'll be working in the garage for a bit on Sunday. You are one of 10,000 people who have the house number. Give me a ring and drop by tomorrow (Sunday, Mar. 8th).

Fondest regards,

Business Cards said...

I enjoyed reading your post. Nice adventure you had there!

Business Cards Online said...

I enjoyed reading this, I like the way you tell you story. Great adventure you had.