Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Very Long Way Down To Tennessee... Part One

The most rugged bikers will begin their longer rides with a secret ritual which calls upon the motorcycle gods for raw adventure, good weather, and mechanical perfection. These rites differ from rider to rider, though they are generally held at dawn and encompass the hidden elements of one’s innermost self. On July 12th, 2009, Dick Bregstein, Clyde Jacobs, and myself were each getting ready to embark on the first leg of a 7-day road trip to the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America Rally in Gray, Tennessee.

I glanced over at the clock on the night table and saw it was a few minutes past 5 am. Despite the early hour, I knew that a Shaolin monk from a Chinese monastery was dancing around Dick Bregstein’s R1150R, in a driveway two towns away, purifying it with smoldering herbs, and chanting an ancient litany in a strange form of Feng Shui. Dick, who would be known as “Grasshopper” Bregstein for the duration of this ride, was sure this would get the evil spirits out of his machine. What none us knew was that they vacated his bike and took up residence in my left hip.

Twenty miles away, Clyde Jacobs drank a pint of mead from a horned Viking helmet, which he then clapped on his head, before biting the head off a live chicken. He swallowed it in mid-squawk and let his dog, Trooper, chase the headless bird in circles. Jacobs swears that Norsemen and Huns developed this ritual specifically for worthy BMW riders who wanted to squeeze the last mileage out of a back tire -- without replacing it prior to a rally ride.

My ritual was a lot more primal... I had just been laid three times in the last 90 minutes, which I have discovered is the best way to start a 7-day ride, a transatlantic swim, or entry into the witness protection program.

“Mmmmmmmmmmm,” I whispered to the semi-conscious, naked form beside me. “Maybe tomorrow would be a better day to ride to Tennessee.”

“I don’t care where the hell you ride to,” said Leslie, the love of my life, “But I will cut your throat if you are not out of here in ten minutes.” Passion does strange things to women, especially after they have become resolved to a man’s leaving.

••• ¶ •••

Clyde led us south, over a familiar series of back roads, across the mighty Conowingo Dam (spanning the Susquehanna River, which is only mighty on the upstream side of the structure), through farm lanes and forested stretches, and around backyard swimming pools with topless sunbathers. (He gets these locations from a website, apparently.) You are guaranteed endlessly changing topography with Clyde out in front. In one mile, we passed an Amish preacher in a wagon, a covered bridge, crab shacks, a Harley poker run, a tattoo parlor, and a woman tanning major league yaboes.

The mighty Conowingo Dam carries US-1 across the Susquehanna River, in Maryland.
It is a familiar landmark for Harley riders headed to the Union Hotel and Bar, just north of Port Deposit. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

For a change of pace, we headed out onto I-95 around Towson, Maryland, to experience life on the edge of the chainsaw. I actually enjoy riding in high-speed traffic, separated from certain death by the merest reflex. Going around one turn, Dick wedged his bike between two cars doing 93 mph, and walked over the hoods of the vehicles to ask me a question. He got back on the bike after a brief dialogue of ten minutes.

This post marriage testicle realignment device was the inspiration for the traffic flow on I-95 around Towson, Md. (Photo courtesy of the lawyers who represented my former wives -- Click to enrage)

Flying along like a shooting star and dodging blocks of surging steel can be just the thing to get the juices flowing. The thrill was not diminished by the heat of the day, which was about 451º Fahrenheit.

Clyde is a cautious leader, however, and after riding along miles of wide open, straight interstate shoulder (as broad as an airport runway), he pulled over on a curve, where the edge of the road shrank to the width of duct tape before ending in a bridge abutment 25 feet later. Taking 15 seconds to reference a map, Clyde then stampeded all 130 horses of his 2004 BMW K1200GT, and pulled out into an opening in traffic that was smaller than the pants I had on. He exited so quickly that Bregstein got sucked into his vortex.

And so another epic journey begins... Clyde Jacobs leads the author and Dick Bregstein on the first leg of the ride to Tennessee. (Photo by Patty Jacobs, who is actually more woman than Clyde can handle -- Click to enlarge)

I was left on an evaporating shoulder, facing an endless stream of traffic that was entering the curve at about 80 mph. Thank heavens the heat distracted me from my plight. I had to open the flip face on my Nolan helmet to drain two gallons of water out onto the pavement. Otherwise, I might have said something like, “When I get my hands on that bastard, Clyde.” Fortunately, an overloaded truck carrying nuclear waste had to slow down to 78 mph, which is as fast as you get get a K75 to go from a dead stop in 25 feet, and I was on the road again.

Clyde and Dick were good enough to start off with a very short day, as I was unsure if the shots I had gotten for my arthritis would be effective. In truth, the deterioration of my joints has progressed to the point where anti-inflamatories and pain killers have a limited effect. Yet life without them would be unbearable. We rode a mere 136 miles to the home of Pete Buchheit, the fourth rider of the Apocalypse, where we spent the night. Though I had ridden a greater distance the week before (but not without running out of steam), I was glad to get off the bike.

Dinner on the Lido Deck with Debbie and Pete Buchheit... By far the best meal of the trip. Debbie is a gourmet cook, with an eye for presentation. She sat next to me to make sure I didn't eat the placemats. Pete offered to put us up for the night to reduce the impact of the first day's ride on my joints. Dick Bregstein is about to make light conversation on the subject of the ballet, and why it is never performed by artists wearing snowshoes. (Photo by Pete Buchheit -- Click to enlarge)

Pete and Debbie Buchheit welcomed us into their home with a gourmet dinner (the best we would have on the trip) and a warning that everything of value had been counted. Clyde had too many sarsaparillas at dinner, and insisted on showing us how to fold a napkin into a brassiere. He has other useful skills as well, like fashioning brassieres into double-barrell sling shots.

Working from memory, Clyde Jacobs fashioned a bra out of a napkin, demonstrating the resourcefullness that kept him alive during his brief stint as a prison guard. (Photo by Pete Buchheit -- Click to ernlarge)

••• ¶ •••

It is essential when planning a long trip motorcycle trip with others that you choose riding companions with similar interests. I like to see new scenery. You will see that with Pete Buchheit and Clyde Jacobs -- for a split second as you flash through the countryside. They carry cameras in the event someone walks up to them and offers $1,000,000 for a picture. Otherwise it would never occur to them to stop and take an interesting photograph. In White Post, Virginia, there is one of the most bizarre tourist traps that warrants a grinding halt for pictures.

This is the scene that riders come upon at the intersection of Rts. 522 and 340, in White Post, Va. I was mesmerized. (Photo by the author... Click to enlarge)

Dinosaur Land, at the intersection of Routes 522 and 340, features somewhat life-size dinosaurs fighting in the parking lot. They are not quite scale, and somewhat past their prime. In fact, the ones visible from the road are a little cheesy. I am drawn to cheese like this the way a politician is drawn to self-serving legislation in Washington.

This is a scale representation of the divorce lawyer retained by one of my former spouses. My shredded ass has been removed from the picture so all of the teeth can be viewed in their total horror. Note the doorway in the far side of the shark, allowing for visitors to be photographed inside. (Photo by the author -- Click to enlarge)

I signaled for the group to stop, which they did, but not before looking at me like I was a total jerk. In addition to the two dinosaurs fighting out front, they had a shark the size of a boxcar in the back and a huge octopus on a hillside. The front door to this place was framed with huge jaws. What I would have done, was get off the bike and take the $5 tour. But there are limits to the patience of the folks I ride with.

This is the dramatic entrance to "Dinosaur Land." Our group should have paid for at least one admission for the right to pose in these jaws. (Photo by the author... Click to enlarge)

In an age where natural history museums all across the country can be toured by computer, coupled with the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel, and the History Channel, and Saturday morning cartoons, kids have the options of seeing dinosaurs everyplace. And even though it was a Monday in the summertime, this place didn’t have a car in the parking lot. This was the kind of attraction, like the long-gone Storybook Farms in New Jersey, that would have packed them in -- back in 1962. But unlike a museum, this place is an open Jurassic Park, where kids can run like cavemen, doing battle with painted concrete monsters, which are realistic enough to make the point.

I could see renting this entire place out for a biker’s party -- with great barbecue, cold beer, and loud music.

••• ¶ •••

Clyde, Dick and Pete were very solicitous in asking me about my route preferences. I told them I didn’t care, that the back roads were okay, just as long as we stayed off “Skyline Drive,” the Virginia State Park equivalent of the “Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway.” They said, “fine.” The nature of my arthritis is such that I have to get as many good (meaning fast) miles under my belt as possible. These are great guys and they understand, why I prefer not to poke around on corkscrew rides to nowhere. But they can be perverse bastards too. Therefore, I was not totally surprised when Pete Buchheit led us onto “Skyline Drive.”

A great picture of Pete Buchheit on Skyline Drive, posing with his beautiful K1200rs, named "Margie." I am distinguished in that Pete has been a friend of mine for over 25 years, and it is this bond that prevents us from playing little tricks on each other. (Photo by Breg Dickstein -- Clisk to enlarge)

It begins at a picturesque tool booth, where a cheerful attendant soaks you for a $15 admission. Though I had never been on this stretch of road before, other riders told me the riding surface left a lot to be desired, that it was infested with deer like Senators at a fund raiser, and that the speed limit was 35 miles per hour. The road surface was perfect. Everything else, however, was absolutely true. The last time I did 35 miles per hour, I was moving from the table to the bathroom in a $2 “all-you-can- eat” buffet just south of Juárez.

My riding partners in crime, (from left) Pete Buchheit, Dick Bregstein, and Clyde Jacob, pausing to study the magnificent view of the waterfall in the background, with the topless coeds swimming in the pool at the bottom. (Photo by the author -- Click all you like to see if anything happens)

Skyline Drive is a delightful way to spend a week in an afternoon if you have the time and if arthritis isn’t turning you into a human armadillo. This route south is perfect for anyone who wants to practice rolling on and off through nice twisties, at a highly manageable speed, in a country atmosphere, occasionally situated in the clouds. The views are delightful on a clear day. And if you miss one, the same identical vista (or one just like it) will appear every 90 seconds, for the next 105 miles.

This is but one of the 70 vistas riders will find on Virginia's beautifdul Skyline Drive. One weekend, I intend to book a hotel at each end of this 105-mile ridgetop ride, and stop at every overlook, engaging everyone I meet in conversation. Those conversations will be called "The Two-Wheeled Cloud Dialogue." (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

I love dramatic views as well as the next guy, but these are never situated in a place of convenience. For example, New York State’s Adirondack Mountains have incredible vistas in some of the wildest territory you’ll find in the United States, complete with eagles, wolves, bears, and mountain lions. All you have to do is walk 10 to 15 hours, occasionally climb ladders on cliff faces and traipse across cable bridges to get there. We passed a couple of particularly nice overlooks on Skyline Drive that seemed worthy of pausing for a picture, but of course, I wasn’t leading, so we didn’t. In fairness to my riding partners, we had a destination for the day and the semblance of a schedule to keep. And it isn’t possible to tell if one vista will be better than another until you are right on top of it -- provided you are doing 35 miles per hour.

One of these opened up on the right to reveal a breathtaking cliff and ridge formation across a haze-filled valley. That’s what I remember from the split second I had to look at it. In the instant I turned my head, I heard the engines of three BMWs ahead of me going up and down the scale as they dropped a notch in gearing, to negotiate an unanticipated “s” curve. Which brings me to my next point: Every impressive view, which might cause you to take your eyes off the road, is immediately followed by a blind curve skirting a natural source of gravel, decorated with a salt-lick to guarantee the presence of enchanting forest vermin.

This is Mary Rock Tunnel on Skyline Drive... Just one of many picturesque scenarios to be found on Skyline Drive. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia... Click to enlarge)

I was behind Clyde, who is a very good rider with great command of his machine. Clyde effortlessly snapped his bike through the “s” curve (which had a descending radius on each end) like he’d been fired out of a slingshot. I dropped two gears in one move, catapulting myself forward on the seat far enough to entangle my balls in the triple trees.

The four of us soon found ourselves bunched up behind a recreational vehicle the size of a Greyhound bus. The guy driving this vehicle was dreaming of the day when he could get it up to 35 miles per hour. The road was so curvy, that the bulk of this rolling retirement home effectively blocked the view ahead. The double yellow line on the pavement began to remind me of the endless tracks of the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The seeminly endless unbroken "double yellow" lines of Skyline Drive reminded me of the parallel tracks of the Trans-Siberian Railway, running on uninterrupted forever. (Photo courtesy of the Russian divorce rehabilitation bureau, which maintains a re-education camp at the end od these tracks for American husbands who try to dodge their fate -- Click to enlarge)

This is the only unpleasant aspect of riding either the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive. You can find yourself behind some old geezer driving a vehicle the size of an aircraft carrier on his way to the cemetery. And unless the driver pulls over intro one of the many overlooks, you might wait a long time to legally pass him. Dick Bregstein was in the lead at the moment, about 25 feet off the RV’s bumper.

Dick has become a lot more cautious about things since he crashed into a boulder on a curve last year, ejecting himself from the bike into the side of a house 600 yards away. (Dick claims he was doing 35 miles per hour at the time, but may have been texting in “singles” chat room at the moment of impact.) He was close enough behind the RV that the broken line signifying it was okay to pass came as a surprise to him.

But it wasn’t a surprise to me.

A quarter of a mile back in this parade, I could see the full extent of the passing zone -- and I went for it -- despite the fact it appeared to end on a blind curve overlooking a cliff, at the end of a long downhill stretch. Gauging the current speed of the RV, passing was well within the safety parameters of the road. I dropped two gears for the second time that day -- but after loading the clutch.

The K75’s engine screamed like an enraged Germanicus in the Roman Coliseum. The tach needle jumped toward the red line and I passed Clyde in a flash. Then I was past Pete... And s second later, I screamed by Dick. Snicking the shifter back up, the needle on the speedo and the tach were almost parallel as I was halfway past the RV -- when the asshole at the wheel of that steel monolith stepped on the gas.

I couldn’t believe this prick.

Since we were moving downhill, the RV picked up speed surprisingly fast. The end of the broken line was about 20 yards away and this old son of bitch was racing me to it in a wheeled bank vault. I twisted the throttle all the way around and swung past the camper ten feet into the double yellow line -- just in time to lean far left into the tight curve that Virginia State law requires following every decent passing zone on Skyline Drive. The driver in the car coming the other way saw only a red blur, gushing sweat, as I went by.

I laughed out loud in my helmet, thinking of the other three guys stuck behind the smoke-belching RV. It was a short laugh. A blaze of blue/white PIAA lights in my mirrors indicated Pete had followed me through the whole maneuver -- about 10 feet behind.

We rode parallel for a second, caught in that unbreakable bond between men, who know that two of their friends will show up as thoroughly smoked as Nova Scotia lox.

Three miles up the road, two deer stepped out in front of me. My aged Irish grandmother, Briddy Fitzgibbons, who used to sing me to sleep and who taught me the Lords Prayer, as well as how to handicap a horse race on a dirt track, once said to me, “There is never a high-powered sniper’s rifle around when you want one.” She was right.

We tucked into an overlook for our-one picture stop on this famous stretch, and encountered the first of 8,700 other Beemer riders headed to Tennessee that week.
He was a pony-tailed, tight-lipped musician from sinful New York City, in his early twenties, astride an elderly K100, that could have been as old as he was.

“Where are you going,” I asked.

“Same place you are,” he replied.

His name was Mark, and he was a student of the Clint Eastwood conversational school. After exchanging grunts about each others bikes, he pulled out some crackers, which he smeared with peanut butter, and then ate, staring wistfully out into yet another haze-filled valley.

"Mark," a musician from New York City was the first BMW rider we encountered on the run down to the Tennessee Rally. Here he is on Skyline Drive. I got the distinct impression he thought the four of us were 10 pounds of bullshit in a two-pound bag. (Photo by Dick Bregstein... Click to enlarge)

Raising my eyebrows at the peanut butter jar, I whispered to Bregstein, “There is a reason why Harley riders think we are all douches.” I started chewing on a piece of half-cured moose jerky, just in case some Harley riders showed up. Pete bit down on a “chaw” of tobacco. Bregstein started chewing on the end of his belt. Clyde merely looked around and fired off a 30-second, three-tone fart that echoed again and again in the valley before us, like distant thunder.

Jack Riepe (the author) astride the legendary K75 "Fire Balls," pauses to do a few squat-thrusts on his custom Russell Day-Long Saddle, while taking in the view from Skyline Drive. Mark, a musician from New York City and the proud owner of a great K100, looks on at Riepe with unabashed admiration. The author is also demonstrating the effects of cooking a head (his own) in a black helmet on a scalding hot day. (Photo courtesy of Dick Bregstein, who tried to get scale shots clearly showing how fat the author really is -- Click to enlarge).

••• ¶ •••

Our destination for the evening was the Days Inn at New Market Battlefield. Perched on a hillside overlooking town, this property looks like the standard motel usually presented under this chain. I have stayed in a couple of these and found them nice. This one was furnished and maintained like a Turkish prison. If you like your wildlife small, you could view them climbing the walls in my room. Science-minded guests could have played “Guess The Mold” in the bathroom. The soda machines were empty. Clyde told me he was going to try the pea soup.

“Where the hell is the pea soup,” I asked.

“In the swimming pool out front,” he replied.

Dick decided that he didn't like where his bike was parked, and was in the process of moving it, when one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, sashayed through the parking lot (for the purpose of getting a tan on her fantastic ass apparently, much of which visible through strategically placed holes in her jeans). Target fixation is a very real danger for some bikers. Dick followed the trajectory of that woman's ass, piloting his bike straight into a bush (not hers).

After being justifiably distracted by a natural wonder, Dick Bregstein rode his bike straight into a bush. His attempts to attract our attention were frustrated as we were all rolling on the ground, laughing, at some private joke. (Photo by Pete Buchheit -- Please click to enlarge)

Rather then dwell on the things we couldn’t change, Pete Buchheit concentrated on those we could. He went to the front desk with the intent of finding out where we could get beer. After ignoring him for a fashionably long period of time, the desk clerk replied (half in English and half in a strange tongue that requires the speaker to sneer after every word) that there was no place that sold beer in town. Pete found one 400 yards from where he was standing.

I may have mentioned that I do not really get a vacation. My clients expect me to call the office every day and I carry a computer to take on pressing assignments as circumstances warrant. Sure enough, the shit hit the fan with something and I had two complex stories to deal with. No big deal. I turned up the air conditioning, switched on my computer and -- nothing. The computer that I have carried in my saddle bags for 4 years had given up the ghost. The screen gave me nothing but a flashing icon of a filer folder with a question mark in it.

A call to my tech revealed that this woud either be something really simple... Or something really tragic. Tragic won. I had one day to either get to a computer in a hotel business center, or to get to the BMW rally's cyber cafe. Yet the thought of working for hours in a public place was very distressing. The only real solution woould be to get to an Apple computer store (my brand) and buy another... One more thing to do on tomorrow's ride.

One of the best pictures ever taken of the author, until you realize the photographer, "Slippery" Dick Bregstein framed the word "litter" to be at Riepe's eye-level. Dick claims the picture would have been better if the word had been "trash" or "bullshit." According to Bregstein, it's getting harder to find the word "bullshit" on a sign these days, other than on the author's mailbox. (Photo by "Slippery" Dick Bregstein -- Click to enlarge)
••• ¶ •••

The ride to Fancy Gap on the next day was perfect. We started out on I-81, and planned to separate around “Natural Bridge,” as the boys wanted to go the rural route. The temperature was cool, barely 70º, and the truck traffic had yet to surface. Despite warnings of intensified police activity, I twisted on the throttle, hitting 102 mph in one stretch, backing off just before flashing through a speed trap. Ten minutes later, Clyde, Dick and Pete headed off toward the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Riding alone for the first time in a long while came with a singular calm. There was never any question in my mind that I was going to take the slab down to Fancy Gap, as the run for this day would be about 236 miles. While this is a little more than 3 hours at 70 mph, I routinely pull over every hour or so to flex my knees. And while I do not always get off the motorcycle, moving around on the seat greatly alleviates the pain and enables to keep going for another hour.

It got hotter than hell out fast, and I stopped at every rest area I came across, if for no other reason than to take a few sips of water from the bottle in my top case. Regretfully, the State of Virginia has begun closing a lot of these as a cost-cutting measure. State officials claim the money is needed for other things, and that there are enough facilities at each exit to offer drivers a place to park, something to drink, and a place to piss. Yet there was no discussion on how many of these facilities would provide these services for free. Nor was there any commentary on the accommodations that would be made for busses, trucks, and hundreds of drivers who routinely sleep for a couple of hours in their vehicles. (I’m sure the local Burger King will be delighted with this new clientele.)

I roared into one of these rest areas and passed through to the extreme end, where some trees provided a modicum of shade. The truth is that if I had to take a piss, I could hit the pot from where I was standing. Yet the red hot air blowing through my jacket was sucking all the moisture out of my body before it ever got close to my kidneys. Not long after I arrived, a tough-looking customer, and his red-hot squeeze, pulled in on a tricked out purple Harley, that looked like an ingot from a chrome mine. Fifty percent tattoos and fifty percent muscle, he dismounted and headed to the pissoir. I had taken off my Joe Rocket mesh jacket and was leaning over my K75 -- wearing my “Twisted Roads” tee shirt (the best “Get Laid Anywhere” shirt that money can buy), when this firecracker of a woman said, “Hey, I read Twisted Roads.”

I stood bolt upright and without thinking, fired off my famous “battered baby seal” look.

“Wait a minute,” she said. “Are you Jack? Is that Fire Balls?”

“I am and they are,” I replied.

This stunning redhead squealed in the most delightful way, showing a violin-string tight midriff under a leather vest, and the edge of a tattoo peaking out of leather riding pants, that accented the lines of a perfect ass. “I can’t believe I met Jack Riepe and Fire Balls in a rest area, in Virginia, of all places. What are you doing here?

I told her the truth, that I was riding to the BMW Rally in Tennessee, and that I had started in Alaska, the day before. She looked at me with eyes as blue and big as Delft saucers.

“What’s your name,” said the spider to the fly.

“Cindy... And I have to tell you I love the Cheri Pie stories in your blog.” She bit her lower lip for a second, then asked, “Is there really a Cheri Pie?”

I nodded and smiled.

“Where is she,” Cindy asked.

“Not here,” I said. (The heat made me crazy... I fired the battered baby seal look an unprecedented second time.)

“Do her hooters look as good as mine,” she asked. And with that, she popped open the vest and let puppies play in the sunshine.

“At the moment, yours are much nicer” I replied.

They were Irish purebred, right down to the sprinkling of freckles. And the way she held the vest open, only I could see what was going on.

“Wait until I tell everyone that Jack Riepe of Twisted Roads thinks my hooters are nicer than Cheri Pie’s,” said Cindy.

The human master cylinder returned to the bike ten seconds after Cindy corralled her McGuffies back into the vest.

“This is Jack from Twisted Roads,” said Cindy, “And he rode all the way from Alaska.”

The guy instantly calculated the mileage that trip would have entailed, divided it into my bulk, and came up with correct answer of “not fucking likely.”

“Swell,” he grunted.

I gave a brief smile back that hopefully said, “Correct, but I still got a look at your girl’s tits.” Realizing the chances of Cindy bringing this up in conversation seemed rather high, and I said "Goodbye" by way of hitting the starter button.

I met Pete, Clyde and Dick at the hotel in Fancy Gap four hours later.

“How was your ride,” asked Dick.

“Routine,” I said.

I loved the generous and kindly nature of this Harley lady. Her warm gesture of greeting me cannot be improved on. And quite frankly, I think women who ride other marques should adopt this practice too.

••• ¶ •••

The final leg to the rally was uneventful, except for my inability to read the mileage scale on my GPS. Bowing to the sensitivities of my posse, I agreed to ride a short distance on the Blue Ridge Parkway into North Carolina. I estimated we’d be on it about 15 miles, or 35 minutes. Eighty-two miles (and two hours) later, we turned off and headed north/northwest into Tennessee.

I felt a distinct sense of pride pulling into the Jameson Inn, where one or two Beemers were already parked in front of each room. (This was a scene being played out at dozens of motels in the area.) Some of these machines belonged to friends of mine... Others were owned by friends I was about to make. It had been my intention to put the side stand down, splash some cold water on my face, and pour myself a rum and Coke as big as my ass.

Instead, I tossed my gear on the bed and looked in the phone book for the nearest Apple dealer. There were none. So I dialed 1-800-Vacuum-My-Pockets. “Hello Apple,” I said. “The gold is buried under the chicken coup. Please send a MacBook Pro to my hotel room no later than tomorrow morning. I don’t care what it costs.”

They didn't care either.

When the charge hit my credit card, it made a noise like a metal target getting plinked by a BB -- but it went through my bank like shit through a goose. The computer arrived 15 hours later. Donor organs for the Pope don’t get delivered that fast.

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


Next Blog: I Spend A Day At The Track With One Of The World”s Fastest Men On Two Wheels


Allen Madding said...

reep - I greatly enjoyed the first installment of your road diary from the trip to Tennessee. Kudos to Mark for sizing you up so quickly.

Kudos to you for winning the RV Drag Race. I personally tire of individuals performing the same actions on my commutes. Ride behind them and they will maintain a nice 2 mile gap between themselves and the next car in the left hand lane. Pull out to pass them and watch the jackleg suddenly decide they can actually drive the speed limit and perhaps more.

And, finally Kudos to Dick Bregstein for his photo capturing you and the TRASH can in the same frame. You might consider making shirts from it :)

Again, congrats on the purchase of your new Apple. You'll get along nicely without the kidney that you traded them for it.


Charlie6 said...

Jack, ah yes, it was well worth the interminable wait to read this first part of your journey to Tennessee.

Truly, your pre-long distance ride ritual is the best of the ones listed.

Slow bastards in RVs, plenty of them around here too. Good on ya for whipping past the SOB as he tried to prove his manhood by blocking the obviously stalwart beemer riders behind him.

Re the lovely lady at the motel where Dick managed to steer his bike into a bush, what, no one had a camera on the girl?

Re Cindy, again, no camera on hand?
Then again, being seen photographing said puppies by big boyfriend would probably not be conducive to your continued well being.

Very nice telling of your ride so far....I await, impatiently of course, the further telling of your adventures.

Redleg's Rides

Woody said...

Oh sure, when you are riding ALONE, the hot chick shows you the goods. You didn't take a photo did you? Of course not, because it was all just a hallucination. You said it yourself: "The heat made me crazy".

Nice story. Thanks.


mq01 said...


i love your rides/stories/rides. so many thoughts always come to mind...

first, i can only imagine what balls entangled in triple trees must feel like, ROTFL..OUCH!! second, i have a redhead friend named cindy, hmmm, but she rides her own (teal heritage no less), hmmm...hey cindy, are you in VA?!?.. and third, i prefer your manner of ride preparation as well ;)

til the next chapter, be well and enjoy the ride!!

RossK6 said...

Boy, that took me back - I used to live in the hamlet of Stephens City, a few miles from Dinosaurland, some 15 years ago. I'm surprised the place os still there. Just about the time we moved to IL a BBQ stand opened across the road - very tasty; was it still there?

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Madding:

Thank you for your kind comments and for writing in. I'm sure a lot folks think I just make this stuff up... But in truth, I am writing what I felt at a given moment on a ride. I can always tell when I meet a guy on the road, and he is thinking, "What is Fat Ass doing on a BMW?" This was one of those occasions.

Passing the RV was a simple exercise that became a point of honor. Some day, I hope to have one of those. And I will pull over at the dtop of a hat to let people, especially bikers, get around me. I do it now with my Suburban. I takes no effort at all to pull over and let the other guy pass.

I'll get back at Bregstein in my own good time.

For the cost of that Apple ($3100), I could have bought a used bike, a new Kevlar canoe, two weeks in Paris or three days in Key West. But for once in my life, I have a laptop that is second... And I like touching it. Odd, I know.

Thank you for reading this piece so quickly and for getting back to me. I was starting to feel a little distant from my own work.

Jack "reep" Toad

Anonymous said...


Great story and I know it's true. Even Dot enjoyed the hospitality at Rutt's Hut yesterday. Do they really serve chocolate Ice Cream?

Big Jim

Conchscooter said...

At the rate you plough through women $3100 my police friends tell me you'd have a good 57 minutes in Key West. The Red Garter doesn't offer 'em cheap (heresay, your Honor).

Conchscooter said...

Oh and you never did spend any time at any track with me so your next essay is all a total fabrication.

sgsidekick said...

Jack of all Trades: I actually felt like I was riding along as I ran through your ride writeup. As always I was not disappointed. Sorry to hear about your comp. I'm hoping to hit the lotto sometime soon so I can replace my 8 yr old laptop myself, but I don't have such a dire need.

Congrats on passing El Stupido RV'r. I'd like to think there are actually smart people who drive them as well as ijits. Oh well.

Keep up the good writing. I'll keep coming back! Maybe next time I'll have something smart and even smartassed to say.

sgsidekick said...

Forgot to add: Ron REALLY appreciated the fart soundboard. In fact, I'm pretty sure he contributed quite a few of them!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Domingo):

Thank you for reading this so quickly and for getting back to me. The business with the RV is something that all riders have in common, as each runs into circumstances like this fairly often. And while I can understand that maneuvering these things on tightr mountain roads is a chore, one would presume that folks doing this were not pressed for time.

Wha effort does it take for the drivers of these vehicles to just pull over or wait until more agile traffic has gotten around them in the passing zones?

Then gain, stupidy and inconsideration is not in short supply.

Thanks for reading this tripe, and for your comment.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Woody:

The intoxicating effects of my battered baby seal look are intensified when I am by myself. There is simply too much to overcome when traveling with the Bregstein Flying Circus.

Riding solo, women want to mother me and bake me zucchini bread. I encourage mothering, especially breast feeding exercises. The last time I had a hallucination, it was the Mac Pac coming to me for technical advice.

Thank you for reading my work, and for adding to my life experience by commenting.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ms. MQ01 (Ms. M):

There was a time on this past trp when I stopped so abruptly that I thought my triple trees were Christmas trees, because of the balls that were hanging on them.

And if that was your friend Cindy I met in the rest area, please be advised that you are traveling in good company.Tell Cindy that I have freckle polish that I would love to apply for her.

Ride preparation is very important to one's state of mind. I believe it is essential to get on the bike with the appropriate degree of swagger. My method prodsuces swagger for the man and mind control for the woman... Leaving everyone happy.

Thank you for reading my stuff, which tends to be somewhat long, and for chiming in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ross:

I did not see a barbecue joint across the street from Dinosaur Land. Then again, I was being hustled so quickly through White Point that I barely saw anything. I rather got the impression it had been there quite some time.

I am going to enter Dinosaur Land on my list of great and peculiar landmars. And you can bet I will run another ride down that way strickly to go through the place at my leisure.

Too bad you're not close by... I could meet you there. Thank you for reading my stuff and finding close, personal ties in it.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Big Jim:

Every aspect of this story is true... No matter what Bregstein says. In fact, I can even recite every detail of "Cindy" from memory (if Bregstein challenges me).

It was great seeing you and Dot up at "Rutt's Hutt" in Clifton, NJ on Saturday. I hope we get the chance to do that again. When you guys left, my brother said, "What nice people! They're in your motorcycle club?"

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conch:

I do not "plough through" women. I meet them halfway in a communion of body and soul... Prior to peeling them off the ceiling.

I was aboput t tell you that I have never paid for sex in my life... But that would be a lie. First of all, there were those forrays into New York in the company of the late, great Bob Pearson when I was younger.

And then there were those marriages and all the other times... I guess I did pay. One way or another.

Thank you for reading my column and for incorporating my recommendations into your life's philosophy. I know they help you.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conch (again):

The only way you could pass me on your Bonnieville, would be if you launched it off a church roof... While I was still attempting to get on the seat.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sgsidekick:

Eight years is a phenomenal amount of time to be using the same computer, let alone a laptop.

I went into an Apple store last March to get a battery for that MacBook 13" Black. While I was there, I got a look at the MacBook Pro laptop. I almost bought one then, but I thought it might be beeter to hold on to my money.

Recent reverses in my industry, however, prompted me into gdetting exactly what I wanted. I figured that if the shit hit the fan and I had to life on freelance work, than I was going t have a great computer with a strong reputation for durability. And just once in my life, I have a newer, fancier, more powerful computer than Leslie.

I'm glad Ron liked the special effects that accompanied this story. Tell Bugser I said, "Hello."

Thank you for continuing to read this tripe... Your support is appreciated.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Todd Trumbore said...

What a wonderful account of your journey to Johnson City, TN. Your light hearted stories had me smiling and laughing the whole way through.

Our journey to the Jameson Inn was far less eventful as we had to clock in the miles rather quickly.

We planned to make up for it on our return trip to PA with some of my favorite country roads in VA, but Karl developed an oil leak at his pressure sending unit and we were afraid it would develope into something more serious.

Fortunately it did not.

Sorry we didn't get a chance to spend more time together kicking tires at the rally and the Inn. Time always flies by when your catching up with old friends at these annual rendezvous.

Breakfast VP said...

Jack, I never thought you'd actually blog one that was totally truthful. Well done. I belived every word. I rode the whole dam BRP and had no such luck. Musta be you charm and swavvv.

Don Eilenberger said...

Dear Jack,

I stopped at Dinosaur land the day after you were there. Your footprints were still visible in the soft asphalt (and the damn gravel pulling out.)

Have a lovely photo showing me taking relief on a dinosaur leg. Will have to send it along.

Sorry I missed gathering up the flashlight at the ON dinner, but the heat of the day had burned me out, and the thought of a dip in the pool at our motel, followed by a good meal overcame my desire to get back on the bike and ride 15 miles to the dinner.

Maybe next time.

Did you get back to the Big-Pig Museum in Gray (or Grey..)? My riding companions and I went for the full blown tour, which looked like a septic system install in progress.

Keep well, and it seems we've missed your birthday, so when are we going for sliders?

bobskoot said...

Jack "r"

You're very sneeky. I know you did it to see if anyone would notice, but I did. Jackpedophile.jpg & click to "enrage", etc . Your solo rides are legendary. I think you should have a small fleet of bikes and solicite riders to accompany you on your "solo ride tours", you never know what will happen. And also some lessons on that Jack Reep "Harp Seal" look

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

BMW-Dick said...

I wish I could have seen your face when Pete led us onto the Skyline Drive, but I was riding behind you, and most else of what was in front of me was obscured. The saddest part of this trip was when I realized that it was over. We had such great fun, and you certainly captured the spirit if not the truth of the journey.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Todd:

This trip was a pisser, but I'd like to do it again -- stopping at all the tourist traps in a given area. It's hard for me, given the limited number of mounts and dismounts I can pull off.

I'm sorry to hear that Karl Duffner developed an oil problem. But I understand I will be riding with him in October again.

I'm glad you got a couple of laughs out of the story. Thans for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Breakfast VP (Todd):

Truthfulness is my middle name. And you should know it has been my experience that the whole world loves a man who appreciates free and freckled hooters.

Thank you for reading my tripe and living your life by it.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Don:

The summer heat in Tennessee, the humidity, the spattering of rain, and dealing with the intense traffic of the rally sapped the strength right out of me.

I know how you felt. Wasn't Dinosaur Land a peculiar place? I loved it and do ewant to go back. But the gravel in the driveway was a real pain in the ass as the pea-sized stones on cracked asphalt made it rerally easy for your foot to slip.

Don, I have only one birthday, but 364 unbirthdays. When the backbone of this heat is broken, I'd like to meet at the Berkely Fish Market in Seaside Park, NJ.

I want to smoke a cigar on the boardewalk, have a nice drink at the fish martket bar, and eat clams and lobster overlooking Barnegar Bay. Would you be up for that?

Thanks for reading this crap and dropping me a line.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

The most amazing thing happens to me when I ride alone. I get thin, like I was at 22-years-old. Nothing hurts... And I get to have sex with all the women I have ever loved -- all over again. My mind goes to places I haven't been to in years when I ride solo.

I find that the bike sings to me... It sounds like the Vienna Boys Choir at 50mph... And the "Doors" at 90. And I am reminded that I love this K75 in ways that never occured to me when I had the Kawasaki H2. The "Widowmaker" would sputter in all five gears. This one will fart in a hefty downshift... But always with dignity.

You ride alone. Stuff like this must happen to you all the time.

You are very kind to include my tripe on your daily reading list, and to comment when so moved.

Fondest regards,
Jack •reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dick:

The fact that you won't be riding for a bit has hit me hard. I have decifed to use most of August to fix or finish the little cosmetic chores I have wanted to get to for a while.

This will include:
• Replacing the windscreen
• Getting that damn right Motolight fixed.
• Having the muffler Jet-Coated
• Getting the air horn installed.

I do intend to ride to the Adirondacks over Labor day.

Keep smiling, Dick.

Your pal,
Fat Ass

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack:

I wanted to comment on your last installment on Twisted Roads, and may still do so, but I'll tell you this, I'm blown away.

The second line of your opening salvo got me:

"The most rugged bikers will begin their longer rides with a secret ritual which calls upon the motorcycle gods for raw adventure, good
weather, and mechanical perfection. These rites differ from rider torider, though they are generally held at dawn and encompass the hidden elements of one’s innermost self."

It made me stop at the word "dawn" and think about all the pre-ride jitters (for lack of a better term, ...excitement, anticipation, concern, none fit more aptly than your opening two lines) ... the
jitters of anticipation and mental checklist finalization I've gone thru for every long ride. For me, the rituals are remarkably similar, if not identical. This is something I never realized until until being brought there by your words.

You have so much juicy narrative and dialogue in this installment, that I can't read it quickly at all. It's like eating fudge, or your favorite baseball team scoring 40 runs in a game, almost too rich.
Then the one liners, tossed in to make the reader cackle. Wonderful.

I'm glad for you, that you made this run, not only because it's something you so truly love, but how it added a log to the hot coals of the writer that you are. It is my fervent hope that you continue
to make such journeys and share them with your growing audience.

Warmest regards,
Dave Case

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Case:

Your note was a tonic (complete with gin) for me tonight. I misplaced my editorial mojo lately and have found myself easily distracted at the keyboard. My spelling and typing are worse lately... And I have been under the impression that I am writing shit. I almost tossed this one out as uninteresting. Sometimes the lines and gags are only funny to those who were there, and then the whole thing becomes pointless.

I now I can rely on you guys to tell me the truth, however. Then again, it may be nothing more than the dog days of summer.

Thank you for taking the time to read this tripe. I acknowledge that this was a long one, and it isn't even done yet. And thank you again for your note.

Breakfast at the PFD is on me this Sunday.

Fondest regards,
The Lindbergh Baby

Steve Williams said...

Well, I read much of this post out loud to my wife with tears in my eyes and a lot of laughter on hers.

She gave your work her highest honor when she said, "Send me the link to that blog".

She was suspect of Cindy --- redheads usually don't have blue eyes. Being a redhead herself she pays attention to such things.

Great post.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve;

Your wife is an excellent judge of literature. Thank you for reading my stuff, and for dropping me a kind line.

Fondest regards,

Torch said...


Thanks for making my boring afternoon at work into something fantastically entertaining. I haven't laughed this hard, or this long, in a long time. My favorite part was;

"I started chewing on a piece of half-cured moose jerky, just in case some Harley riders showed up. Pete bit down on a “chaw” of tobacco. Bregstein started chewing on the end of his belt. Clyde merely looked around and fired off a 30-second, three-tone fart that echoed again and again in the valley before us, like distant thunder."

The whole story was great!

Ride on,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Torch:

Your kind note revitalized me tonight. This was the first piece that I had written in a month, and I wasn't sure if I liked it. Yet hearing from you, and others, have persuaded me to give up my plans of being a professional horse racing jockey and to try being a writer once more.

By the way, I look at your column often. I even bought a pair of boots from Bates, on your recommendation. I love them. I am going to write Bates and tell them where I got the reference.

Torch, I don't admit this to too many people, but i am not terribly bright. I haven't been able t leave a comment on your blog because I can't figure out the registration process.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Sojourner rides said...

Enjoyed going on this whacky ride with you. Skyline Drive is on my list. Already did part of the BR. The computer crash, wow! Bummer.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon:

This just goes to prove my theory there isn't anything money won't fix. And when there is no money, the cure for that is to get some.

This ride was an absolute pisser, but it was also very strenuous for me. But it left me with a hunger for more -- when it gets a little cooler. When are you coming to Gettysburg or Valley Forge?

Fondest regards
Jack • reep • Toad

Ihor said...

The Apple actual cost as much as 2 canoes by Hornbeck!!

10’ 8” "The Black Jack"
is a ten footer and a bit.
All carbon fiber to include a unique carbon fiber gunnel.
Beam 30” depth 11” capacity 300 lbs.
Weighs 12 lbs.!
10' - $1595
You could use it as a hat until we can call you Slim Jack.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

With regards to your recommendation of me using a canoe for a hat... Fuck you. (That was the first really good laugh I had all day.)

Thank you for sending me the keys to your cabin in the Adirondacks. It would be great if you and Helen were going to be up there on Labor Day.

I am actually thinking of leaving on September 3, 2009, as it could take me two days to get up there by bike, depending on the pain in my hip.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Sojourner rides said...

Jack, don't know now when I'll get that way. Husband is having a knee replaced in a couple of weeks and will need some fussing over. I'm the boss of his GS now and I've been riding it a lot! Might try to get that way to see some fall colors and hope the leaves wait as long as possible to turn.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon:

Leslie (my hot squeeze) uses traditional Navajo healing techniques whenever I fall ill. This entails moving me out into the yard by a fire, and leaving me with a three-day supply of firewood, plus a knife to fight off wolves. I am expected to recover or die, without annoying her again.

It always seems to work.

Remember that you have a place to stay out here when you decide to hit the two closest national parks.

Fondest regards,

Ihor, in keeping with the proprieties, said...

Don't take this the wrong way but if you get a dawn start you should make Wilmington (NY) by dusk. Stopping for a massage and an occasional break for medication and calisthenics will require a bit of programing on the GPS. Google 'Massage Clinic' and set to work. Choose an icon similar to Emergency Room.
I look forward to future canoe trips, bring your new hat! I'll supply the paddles and cigars. Hornbeck should use the price comparison with the Apple to boost his sales 'cause nothing beats messing about in boats.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

Do you remember our last canoe/camping trip on Middle Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks? When there was a two-foot swell running on the damned endless lake? If you recall, the boat crested the first wave with water blowing past the boat at the exact height of the gunales. We were a half-mile from shore when I opted to return to the river for another strategy.

It was at that pint where you said to me, "Is this dangerous?" Well, it was. That's why we skirted all of those little islands on a two-hour paddle, to keep the wind andf the waves off the boat.

You should try riding pillion on my bike. That's not dangerous either.

Fondest regards,

Ihor recollectively said...

I thought that was our first Coalpit Island trip. The last one we met that ranger who engaged us in a lengthy conversation on the water. I read his obituary last year.
When your ADK travel plan is set let me know and we'll see if we can convoy.

irondad said...

I don't care if it's true or not. It's entertaining, which I DO care about. However, I do believe the Cindy thing. Have you ever noticed that women are more relaxed around guys they don't feel threatened by? Same stuff happens to me all the time.

The Director of our motorcycle training program bought a motorhome. Upon which he promptly installed a bumper sticker.

"Warning: I do 80 in passing zones."

Just for the record, Elvira and I could pass your ass anytime, anywhere. No roof needed.

Thank you for the pleasant reading time. Most of your posts are like drinking whiskey. However, I don't fall down if I spend a lot of time with them.

viagra online said...

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