I once promised my gentle readers that I would occasionally run guest blog episodes by credible authors. It was my intention to solicit well-written stories by riders who had accrued valuable experiences through thousands of miles of challenging rides. That was the plan. I have since discovered that my colleagues have no problem sharing their harrowing adventures with me (provided I’m buying the drinks), and doing the writing. This tale was told to me by one of the more colorful members of the Mac Pac -- DucDude. It is true to the details as he explained them to me. (The Mac Pac is the premier chartered BMW riding club serving southeast Pennsylvania.)
The minute hand seemed to move slower and slower as the day progressed, until finally, in the last hour of toil before the official start of the weekend, it seemed glued to the face of the clock. The man known to his friends as DucDude (acknowledging his preference for exotic Italian motorcycles) was immersed in the data on his computer screen. To the casual viewer, it appeared as if he was lost in some complex scientific text. In reality, the man was reading some internet tripe on telekinesis, and attempting to focus his mind on the clock’s minute hand, in an effort to make it skip. DucDude wanted out of the office and onto his bike pronto. He was a man with a primal mission.
Friday night was date night... It was DucDude’s opportunity to shine in the candle-light of an intimate dinner... To glow in the cleverness of a well-delivered line... To see his true self reflected in the eyes of a beautiful woman... And just possibly, to con that same women into throwing him a tumble, which would make all the preliminary stuff a smart investment in carnal satisfaction. The fact that he’d recently missed a couple of Fridays only added to his sense of urgency. With forty-five minutes left to go in the workday, DucDude sat in his cubicle, pounding away at his keyboard — while wearing his helmet, gloves, and Aerostitch leathers.
(Above) DucDude puts his 1997 Ducati 748 Desmo Quattro through its paces on track day. He named the bike "Mio Limone" after a small town in southern Italy. Photo provided by DucDude.
The stroke of five launched him through corporate corridors and lobbies like Cupid’s torpedo. He mounted the 1997 Ducati 748 Desmo Quattro, fired it up, and roared into traffic in one practiced, fluid movement. Enhanced by a muffler the size of an industrial oxygen canister, the Ducati’s exhaust screamed in defiance as DucDude twisted the throttle with a vengeance. The seemingly seamless yellow bodywork gave the bike a golden aura, as it darted through traffic like a predatory burst of sunlight. The bike’s engine started out as a 748cc powerhouse, but the rider had it bored out to an exacting 855cc nuclear reactor. The slight buzzing sensation in the grips belied the fact there was power in reserve long before the tach needle would goose the red line.
(Above) DucDude demonstrates the classic riding position he assumed throughout most of this story. DucDude is a loyal customer of Duct Tape, which is often used as an external fastener on his Ducati. The last time I saw this bike, it was on a trailer behind my Suburban. Photo supplied by DucDude.
There were three traffic lights separating DucDude from the relative freedom of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. He got stuck at all of them. Nevertheless, he kept the revs up to leap forward when the signals turned green, and to keep the Ducati from sounding like marbles rattling around in a coffee can at the bike’s standard idle. (Once before, when stopped at a long light, cage drivers all around him craned their necks to try and determine whose car was eating its valves. Another biker once advised him that adding a quart of oil might reduce the valve and cam clatter.)
Snatching his turnpike ticket from a machine, “Ducky” (as he is known to his few friends) worked the throttle like it was the bow to the violin from hell. His goal was to surf the surge of rush hour traffic, keeping slightly ahead of the snarling masses building behind him. He had eight high-speed miles to go. He covered them in 5 minutes. With visions of quimm dancing like sugar plums in his head, he skidded the bike to a stop at a toll booth under a grimy green light.
The booth’s occupant was a woman who was so fat, her body had taken on the shape and proportions of her container.
“It was both amazing and terrifying,” said DucDude, his voice expressing both shock and awe. “Here was a woman who would have been hard on the eyes under normal circumstances, confined in a vertical aquarium, with her face pressed flat against the glass. The enormous pressures outlined her ferret-like facial features with jowls flattened to the diameter of a round garbage can cover.”
“Eighty-five cents,” mouthed the ghastly maw, after DucDude passed her the toll ticket, making sure his hand remained full inserted in the armored riding glove.
He dutifully opened the back pocket of his tank bag (a male Ducati rider’s substitute for a change purse) and counted out two quarters, three dimes, and a nickel. Yet in handing them over to the toll beast, a dime rolled off the glove and disappeared under the bike.
“I said eighty-five cents,” said the creature.
“I gave you eighty-five cents,” said DucDude, who was beginning to wonder if her saliva would dissolve the glass just like the monster spit burned through metal in the movie classic “Alien.”
“You gave me seventy-five cents,” insisted the talking flesh bag.
“You want me to get off the bike and get you a dime,” asked our hero, surmising the ten-cent piece was on the ground.
The woman replied with a gesture that was half nod and half hiss, making her face look like a sucker on the tentacle of a giant squid. Scared shitless, DucDude jumped off the bike and rummaged around on the ground, where he collected an unspecified amount of loose change, far in excess of a dime.
“Here, take this,” he said, tossing the collection into the toll booth.
“You’re paying me with my money,” she shrieked. “You owe me a dime!”
Despite the fact that every inch of the toll booth’s interior was filled with seething flesh, DucDude was afraid the little door would open and he too would be sucked inside. He realized the Ghastlyville Horror never saw the dime drop, and would only be satisfied with another one from his tank bag. Accordingly, he started to count out ten pennies, which only served to infuriate the woman/thing even more.
Meanwhile, the rush hour traffic that had been far behind him had now caught up. The line of cars stretched from the toll booth to the rings of Saturn. It was when they all started to blow their horns that the toll operator waved him on.
DucDude loaded the clutch with a farewell message of torque and let it out with a smile that elegantly said, “Shove it up your ass.” The Ducati launched itself with another mighty roar, and all might have been well, except that the rider felt something graze his left knee. Looking down, he realized that the back pocket of his tank bag was open, and that all his cash for the night, and his identification badge from work, had blown out onto the pavement.
“Fuccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkk,” he screamed into his helmet.
With the reflexes of a puma, DucDude guided the bike through two lanes of traffic, parked it on the stiletto of a sidestand (for what passed as the shoulder), and threw himself into the automotive melee in pursuit of his cash. The wind, aided by the turbulence of passing cars, unraveled his bank roll into individual tens and twenties, before flying them like little green kites.
(Above) DucDude unveiled... He wanted a picture of his bike with the legendary "Fireballs" in the background. Photo by Tom Byrum.
DucDude is a great rider, but above all, he is a man. Therefore, he had calculated the exact minimum amount of cash it would take to precipitate the sex act that evening (two entrees, the cheap dessert, and an even cheaper bottle of wine), and was watching his chances of copulation success diminish with each passing breeze. It was literally “going with the wind.” With a ferocity that no one would have suspected, he rounded up all but twenty or so dollars, and was just in time to see the fiftieth car run over his identification badge from work. He grabbed this too, but his picture looked like it had been given the rubber stamp of approval from Goodyear.
The last straw, or so he thought, was the mocking face of the hag under glass, who had witnessed the whole thing.
DucDude was about halfway back to the bike, when he noticed that it appeared to be leaning at a very aggressive angle. The Ducati seemed to shiver, as its sidestand pierced the hot, softened asphalt, and the stately machine crashed to the ground.
“Fuccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkk,” screamed DucDude for the second time in ten minutes.
Fortunately, the bike’s fall was broken by the seamless yellow fairing, which fractured in three dozen places. Yet the last sound my friend heard was the hard crack of his helmet, striking the pavement next to his bike. I told him he should have saved the dime. In the long run, it was worth about $1,100.
I’d been invited to a party at the home of another Mac Pac member, that was held poolside in a yard that had been carved out of a little hillside. When it came time to leave, my arthritis refused to cooperate. I had to climb a flight of uneven stone stairs, sans handrail. As ever, my fear was of falling in the company of savage close friends, who would rush to my aid, before tormenting me forever. I began my upward climb, convinced that I’d be pitched into the crowd in two seconds flat, when a voice said, “I’m right behind you, Lard Ass. Lean on my shoulder if you want to. I won't let you won’t fall.”
That was DucDude.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2010
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)