Monday, March 8, 2010

Riding To The Ocean... And Dancing With The Painted Whore

I love the ocean... I love the sound of the waves... I love the taste of the salt on the breeze... I love it when the horizon is obscured by dark clouds that breed lightning... And I love it at dawn, in the brief few minutes before the sun rises, sometimes heralded by the green flash. And there is no better way to get to the ocean than on a motorcycle capable of mixing all of these elements into a kind of vapor, that when breathed, makes you feel like you’re 17 again.

Traveling the east coast of the United States allows one to sample the many moods of the Atlantic Ocean as it washes up on thousands of beaches from Port Clyde, Maine to Key West, Florida. The expression, “the rock-bound shores of Maine” is an understatement where the Atlantic bashes this New England state. There are no beaches in Maine, only places where quarries meet the water. There is an austere charm here which I have found in no other state, but it is an acquired taste — like lobster steamed in a pile of seaweed and cracked open with a stone.

(Above) The Atlantic where it washes into Scraggle Point, Maine. This is about as "beachy" as it gets in Maine. If you examine the picture carefully, you will see little marker buoys that identify lobster pots (traps). Leslie and I stayed in a house about 200 yards from this spot. Photo by Kate Farrell.

I did once find a semblance of a beach in Maine. It was on Moneghan Island, ten miles off the coast of Port Clyde. There was about 300 square feet of sand hemmed in by boulders, just off the footpath on the eastern side of this little paradise. There was a sign nailed to a post that read,

(Above) Another perspective from Scraggle Point. Plenty of places to unfold a beach blanket and to soak up a tan. My friend Kate Farrell has a house close by, where you can awaken each morining, at 4:30am, to the sound of the lobster boats. Photo by Kate Farrell.

“No swimming... No wading... Extremely Dangerous Tides.
Everyone who goes into the water at this point drowns.
No one is available to help you.”

That put it in pretty certain terms. I have also discovered that the water temperature is fairly frigid, and that hypothermia gets even the strongest swimmers.

(Author’s note — Despite the quaint signage, Moneghan Island is one of the most romantic places on earth. The full-time population is 65 and there are no paved roads nor any powered vehicles on the island. There are houses for rent in the summer [but not all feature electricity]. This is the place to go to find your soul again. Bring a good book, a hot-looking woman, and several bottles of rum. There are two inns on the island, but only one seems to offer internet. Moneghan Island is where people go to remember who they were before being force-fed a daily diet of bullshit.

The “Island Inn” has a fantastic restaurant. A bowl of clam chowder in this joint costs about $15. Pay it without question. Clear your mind before the chowder comes. If you are accompanied by an annoying pain in the ass, tell them to “shut the hell up,” and threaten to throw them in the water on the eastern side of the island. The chowder is best eaten in silence: the kind of silence reserved for viewing the rose window in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The clams in the chowder are so fresh they may still blink when poked by your spoon. They are so numerous, that you will think they’re breeding. This is a New England style chowder, which means the broth (which has the consistency of soft ice cream) is 85 percent heavy cream, bolstered by 15 percent butter. I think my bowl of chowder weighed 11 pounds. My ass inflated to twice its natural size after one bowlful.

How many times have you wanted to try a dish indigenous to a region, only to discover it didn’t live up to the myth? That is not the case with the clam chowder on Moneghan Island. Sadly, Moneghan is not a motorcycle destination, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

I was introduced to Moneghan Island and its chowder by Vinnie, a transplanted New Jersey original possessed by a penetrating sense of truthfulness that is occasionally painful. He no longer visits this spot anymore, claiming “the island is home to too many 1960’s era artists, whose tits hang down beneath their tie-dyed cotton skirts, to be bruised by their knees as they graze.” That was as penetrating an analysis as I have ever heard.)

(Above) Looking out into Delaware Bay from the mouth of the Murderkill River. Photo by Rob Haut.

Moving farther south, the salt marshes of Delaware don’t exactly qualify as “shore,” as they form the western bank of the Delaware River where it flows into the Atlantic. But Delaware Bay has all the elements of a misplaced seacoast: lighthouses... Little fishing villages... Tidal surges that spill out onto the street... And run-down shore-type saloons that beckon to me. The salt marshes are absolutely amazing. Endless reeds with odd pockets of hardwoods border on the blue Delaware and little farms where corn and horses are raised. At one point, an iron-legged lighthouse rears up from a cultivated field, creating the oddest possible sight.

(Above - from left) Dave Oehler, his daughter Jessie, Rogers George and Corey Lyba (plus my bike Fireballs) on the Delaware salt marshes at Bay View Beach. Photo by Jack Riepe.

The Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge offers an incredible glimpse of the marshes from the inside out. For a modest $4 fee, which entitles you to use a clean modern, bathroom, you gain access to a series of loops that skirt interior ponds, cut through a forest, and come right to the swamp’s edge. The roads through the refuge are gravel and packed dirt, and offer no challenge on a dry day. I hesitate to ride on gravel under any other kind of conditions. Bring your compact binoculars. The local wildlife are accustomed to the occasional engine noise (not that the K75 makes any), and I was able to watch a red fox unsuccessfully stalk a snow goose by one of the ponds. Scanning the horizon, my binoculars — okay, they were Leslie’s compact Swarski’s, which cost twice as much as my first car —picked up the distinctive cupola of the East Point Lighthouse, on the Maurice River over in New Jersey. This magnificent lighthouse is the second oldest surviving structure of its type in the Garden State, and is not visible to the naked eye, even when perched on a tall K75 in Bombay Hook.

(Above) A classic brick farmhouse and a new barn surrounded by cornfields, and eventually salt marshes, on Route 9 in picturesque Delaware. Photo by Leslie Marsh

Many of Delaware’s bayside communities hint at a former glamor that is now conspicuous by its absence. They have a kind of threadbare atmosphere that the late author H.P. Lovecraft liked to work into his small-town pieces. Of course, if you run down to Rehoboth Beach, you will find real waves, real sand, real traffic, and the real throbbing in the ass that accompanies a trendy shore resort.

(Above) "Back Range" lighthouse in farmer's fields (town of Taylor's Bridge), at least one mile from the water (original location). Photo by Leslie Marsh.

The enlightened State of Maryland (where I still have an unpaid ticket issued by one of those fucking camera-speed traps) has a stretch of beach that calls out to the common man. Assateague State Park is one of the few places I have passed through that offers camping within a stone’s throw of the ocean. It is nothing like secluded camping, which encourages a little monkey business by the flickering light of a campfire, but could make for an interesting weekend if a bunch of riders took over a whole little area. I may try this before the 2010 riding season is over. I have yet to camp within earshot of the ocean, but the thought of sitting in my Kermit Chair, by a flickering campfire, sipping something civilized with the surf grumbling in the background is the second best image I can think of at this moment. (The first best entails stretching out in a large tent, on an inflatable mattress, next to my semi-naked soul mate, staring out into the night, and noticing how the wanning firelight animates the red paint on my Beemer.)

(Above) Wild horses in what passers for a meadow on Assateague Island, in Maryland. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

There is an eight-mile stretch of the Outer Banks, in North Carolina, where the rental homes can only be reached by 4-wheel drive units. Known as Coroba Beach (north of where the pavement ends and the wild horses run free), this is the most perfect stretch of shoreline I have ever encountered. At various times of the year it has great surf fishing, intense solitude, and ample opportunity to watch the love of your life walk around outside half naked. Regrettably, you can’t get to this place on a bike either (unless you are riding a two-wheel drive Rokon or the unstoppable BMW GS). The soft sand runs deep between the dunes and the strand, and it holds the heat of the day to make lying in it something of a delight in the dark. Leslie and I rented a palace here, just for the two of us, three seasons in a row. This is the house. Note the other houses around it. At first, we took it for one week. The following year, we took it for two weeks. And during the last year we stayed there, we took it for three. (This was smart thinking as we were evacuated during the middle week to accommodate a passing hurricane.)

South of Duck, NC, the road hugs the dunes — sometimes a straight as an arrow, but always swept with windblown sand — as it makes its way past the lighthouse at Cape Hatteras and passes through Ocracoke Island (via a cool ferry). This is not a challenging ride by any means, yet it is a delight to the senses. Somewhere around the hamlet of Avon, NC I found a storefront fish joint called the Caribbean Something-Or-Other. I was hungry for seafood that was not fried in motor oil, which is the fashion in the deep south. They had a grouper dish, which when accompanied by several Negra Modelos (great beer from Mexico), seemed capable of regenerating knee cartilage. The place had little in the way of character to recommend it, but the grouper spoke for itself. (They should have had the head of that fish animated and mounted in the window, where it could have addressed passers-by.)

There was a charming woman behind the counter, who had one of those unbelievable southern accents, a southern smile, southern blue eyes, and a southern tan acquired by hours of slow simmering on Outer Banks sand, which qualified her for a ride on my pillion. She was apparently too shy to ask. (When I said to her, “Ain’t you somethin’” in my best Cool Hand Luke manner, she bit her lip, thought for a second and replied, “Yawl keep walkin’ all the way back to New Yawk City now, fat boy.”)

(Above) These wild horses were photographed from the kitchen of the house Leslie and I rented on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Photo by Leslie Marsh.

My ride though this part of the country was relaxing and uneventful. I was taking it easy and taking in the natural beauty of a narrow road between two large bodies of water, when a driver in a minivan, filled with Japanese tourists nearly ran me off the road trying to get a picture of a stupid-looking bird. I flipped them a bird of my own which set them all to taking pictures and nodding like crazy.

(Above) No roads for us. This is the beach on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. The house we rented is 10 miles up this strand with no other way to get there. These stumps are all that remain of hardwood trees that used to be on dry land, before the ocean started investing in real estate. If I am going to stay by the shore for a week or more, this is the setting I prefer. Photo by Leslie Marsh.

Any riders heading through the Outer Banks of North Carolina in late September or early October should be warned of vicious wildlife capable of stripping the flesh from the body of a grown man in seconds. Heading north on Route 12, I found myself roaring through the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, when I thought it might be fun to pull over and take a refreshing 20-minute piss. The famous 20-minute piss is what eventually follows two quarts of water, three Negra Modelos, and four diet cokes consumed in under three hours. Now it should be noted that Pea Island is fairly deserted, and offers the rider magnificent views of stately dunes on the right, and marshy areas extending out into Pamlico Sound on the left (if you are heading north). The Sound is home to birds having stilts for legs and tweezers for beaks — the famous North Carolina Tweezer Bills. (These are number four on the endangered species list, as they will only eat Pamlico Sound Deaf Salamanders, which are number three on the same list. It has been argued that the Deaf Salamanders would make a comeback if the Tweezer Bills could be hunted to extinction. The Japanese believe the tongues and gall bladders of the Tweezer Bill are “good for the man.” A matched set sell for $15,000 on Tokyo street corners.)

A Tweezer Bill observation area materialized on the sound side of the road, and I pulled into it, coming to a sliding stop on the inescapable sand that drifts everywhere. The road was as straight as a Baptist televangelist, with visibility limited only by the curvature of the earth. My purpose required a modicum of privacy. “Shit,” I said out loud. With the K75’s powerful three-cylinder “Exterminator” engine switched off, the silence of Pea Island had a palpable weight to it. Voicing that simple expletive seemed to send a shiver through the scrub bushes that constituted habitat for the Tweezer Bills. That should have been my warning.

Pea Island falls under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Two kinds of people work for the NPS. The first are hot-looking women who appear on the Jay Leno Show in “Smokey The Bear” hats with embarrassed wildlife in a sack. The others are “Terminator”-type cyborgs, who have memorized all 1200 pages of the code of Federal Regulations. (It was one of these who detained myself and seven of my friends for attempting to commit suicide on the Delaware River — by floating down it in inner tubes during a drought, when its average depth was 8 inches. The ranger shadowed us for 4 miles, using his binoculars to determine that the four women in our party, had perfect yahbos, barely concealed in wet tank-tops.)

I was now certain that the act of unzipping my jeans and releasing “Affanculo,” the one-eyed killer whale, had to be in violation of whole chapters of the CFR. This was guaranteed to attract a ranger with the authority to take me straight to a federal facility, where some new anti-terrorist law would allow him to plow me in the ass for two weeks before I could hang myself in a cell.

What I needed was a little camouflage.

A berm and an elevated wooden walkway snaked out into the marsh, providing the kind of cover that ideally suited my needs. With a row of bushes screening me from the road, I dropped trow and returned to the parch sand the moisture I’d consumed earlier in the day. A ritual shared by Romans, Vikings, Charlemagne, and environmental visionaries like Theodore Roosevelt, there is something regal about taking a piss outside in broad daylight. I was thinking about how I would express this ultimate Libertine sensation in a future blog when every bush in a 50-yard radius came alive with an ominous buzzing. Within seconds, the atmosphere was choked with a dense cloud of insects, the largest of which would barely cover a comma in one of my sentences. Each of these was equipped with a hypodermic proboscis and the sucking characteristics of an elected official.

They covered my body in an instant.

They were in my jeans... In my jacket... And in my mouth and nose too. They swarmed “Affanculo,” causing him to roar. The pain was incredible and I started to feel faint from the massive loss of blood. I pulled my helmet over my love-muscle, despite the tight and painful fit. Some may think it male vanity, but my first instinct was to save the pocket pachyderm and its trunk. My fastest hobble made me the perfect target for these carnivores. I was halfway back to the bike when I saw a chilling sight. Below the berm and nearly at the water line were the skeletal remains of six individuals, clad in deteriorating biker rags, and all frozen in their last action, which appeared to be watering the lawn from the groin. How many riders had innocently pulled over at this spot, uncoiled Cupid’s iguana, and lost their lives? And what of their bikes? What ghouls claimed those.

I was almost at the bike and barely a foot or two ahead of the cloud, when I realized my death was imminent. I would make the motorcycle, but I’d never mount it and pull away before the flying death would get me. With less than 10 yards to go, the minivan filled with Japanese tourists pulled up behind the K75.

“This is home of many unusual birds to make the picture,” the Asian driver seemed to ask me, pointing at the marsh to my back. While the occupants of the van had cameras, they were carrying nets and clubs too.

“There are hundreds of them right behind me, with big beaks and fat gall bladders,” I yelled. The minivan's passengers were nothing to me and I used them like chum.

I jumped on the motorcycle with my helmet still on my schwantz. It was as if a two-headed thing had come running out of the swamp. And quite frankly, the little pilot was out in front and seemed to be calling the shots. (This has been true for most of my life.) The crowd in the minivan boiled out of the vehicle, staring at my Nolan helmet which seemed to be magically suspended in mid air. They must have thought I had just consumed a bushel of beaks and gall bladders.

The K75 fired right up and roared out onto the road, as six cameras recorded my departure in a flurry of Japanese exclamations. Then the midge clouds had found them. Their shouts of astonishment turned to screams of terror as I made my escape. The bones by the berm would be a bigger pile now, increased by six skeletons taking pictures of each other even as they were systematically being ripped apart.

(Above) Cape Hatteras lighthouse, and its distinctive paint scheme. Photo by Tony Luna.

The gentle reader with a sense of geography will realize that I have skipped over the Jersey Shore. This because I have saved the best for last. Of all the beautiful places that I have described, the Jersey Shore is the painted whore of the lot — and I love her, swathed in cheap amusement piers and smelling of French fry oil. Bruce Springstein got it right, singing of a tired Asbury Park as the soul the Jersey Shore. But that soul extends through Lavalette, Belmar, and Wildwood, with its epicenter at Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Each of these communities features a boardwalk — a planked boulevard that may extend for a few miles, generally harboring an amusement pier, cheesy games of chance, greasy food stands, and (in some cases) a bar or two.

Asbury Park held the most promise of all these places, and was the first to fall into a deep decline from which it has not yet recovered. Seaside Heights was the blue-collar Riveria, and the standard two-week vacation spot for every cop and fireman’s family (in Jersey City) throughout the early ‘60s. It was where I first felt the Atlantic swirl around my feet as a five-year-old... And where I first saw the lights of a ferris wheel against the night sky. (Even then, I knew Paris couldn’t compete with this.) It was here, while in the charge of my father, that I first sat on an outdoor bar stool at age 8, and tasted an icy cold, peeled shrimp, dipped in something that looked like ketchup but tasted like fire.

“You won’t like this,” said my dad. He nearly cried when I replied I did. Not because I had a discerning appetite as a kid... But because shrimp were expensive on a fireman’s salary and I wanted more. My father was a clever man, and offered me an oyster on the half-shell. I took a hard look at this one, having no clue what organ this shellfish most closely resembled. My dad put a dash of Tobasco on it, and said, “Try this.” It would be nine more years before I would taste another, or anything that remotely looked like it.

Seaside Heights had long since acquired honkey-tonk status as a shore town for college kids by the time I’d acquired my 1975 Kawasaki H2. Yet I was a late bloomer in life, and it was not until I had that bike that I learned the taste of a woman’s skin basted with cocoa butter, how oysters and clams on the half-shell delighted the palate when chased by beer cold enough to make your teeth throb, and how the most soulful sound is the crash of the surf on the beach — muffled by a woman’s waist-length hair, cascading around your face and shoulders.

I can still remember racing down the Garden State Parkway on a Friday night in July, 34 years ago, dancing back and forth over the dotted white line to get through the mounting traffic. The H2's three cylinder, two-stroke engine screamed like a leaf-blower with its balls in a knot. I'd get the first whiff of the ocean flying over the twin bridges just south of Perth Amboy, and that was only the halfway mark. It's interesting remembering the scents that tightened my DNA in those days. My girl smoked Marlboros, the smell of which would be on her lips and hair. The Kawasaki left a blue smoke-screen that was the perfume of raw speed. And the aroma of exposed salt flats and the deceased fish who had invested there was always my first indication of the shore.

In those days, there was a three-lane drawbridge on Rt. 37 to handle all the traffic going in and out of Seaside. Exits from US-9 and the Garden State Parkway, about 200 yards from each other, dropped 55,000 cars a second every Friday night onto this road. Then a sailboat would come along, moving at the speed of continental drift, and that drawbridge would rise like a great traffic-screwing boner. And traffic would back-up throughout Ocean County, NJ to the rings of Saturn. I was a new rider then, and had a special hatred for bridges with steel-grate floors. Not only did the bridge into Seaside have a steel-grate floor, but since it was a drawbridge, it jumped up and down with the weight of the traffic. To me, it was like riding over a diving board that would grate your ass like parmesan cheese if you dropped the bike.

The traffic was as thick as shit in a narrow pipe the first time I rode a bike into Seaside. I didn’t feel like sitting in it. Glancing around in a casual cop check, I’d let the clutch out and split lanes in 50-car bursts. Then I’d repeat the process. My pillion candy was perched on the back, wearing an over-sized army fatigue coat, looking as hot as all hell. (Then as now, I was way out of my league.) It took 30 minutes to cover the ten miles from the Parkway to the damned bridge. The flow of traffic was such that I was at the head of the line when the light turned red, the gate came down, and bridge went up.

This was not in my travel plans.

The idea was to hit this steel-grated bridge at 40 mph, and to be over it in a second. Now I’d be crawling as the bike's front and back wheels wobbled over this slippery, uneven surface. The woman on the back was smoking a Marlboro, oblivious to the certain death before us. The sailboat drifted past, the gate went up, and the light changed. I snicked the Kawasaki into gear with all the confidence of an inmate on death row... And stalled it.

“Fuck,” I said.

And because this was New Jersey, 14,000 drivers behind me all said “fuck” too, leaning on their horns in a gesture of solidarity. The Kawasaki did not have an electric starter. The girl jumped off while I unfolded the kick start lever and pulled up the pillion peg on that side. She climbed back on as the machine barked into life on the first kick. Then I stalled it a second time. She was off it again in a second, while I repeated the process. This time the bike didn’t start. A strong smell of gasoline suggested I had flooded it.

An endless line of drivers behind me tried to help by giving me the finger, flashing their lights, and holding down their horn buttons. This was my signal to start saying "fuck" like I had Tourettes. I held the throttle wide open and jumped on the starter. The engine fired like it had tuberculosis. One cylinder coughed first while another wheezed. Then they all went off like a hand grenade. Rich, dense, blue smoke poured out of the exhausts as spark plugs sent little lightning bolts into oil-slicked gas in each cyclinder head.

My girl was barely in the saddle again when the clutch found the friction zone and rolled the bike onto the knife blades of the bridge deck. Fully flustered by this point, I didn’t realize the only vehicle in front of me was a straight truck loaded with neutron stars or something. The deck bowed and shot upward as the truck rolled off it. The bike bucked like a horse for an instant, and then we were on the pavement again.

I followed the road to the right and entered the sedate community of Seaside Park. Barnegat Bay provided a tranquil canvas for a full moon, and the breeze coming off the water felt cold for an instant. Our “shore house” for the weekend was actually the second floor of an old manse overlooking the boardwalk, about a mile south of the noise and colored lights. We were sharing it with 6 other couples, who were already out for the night when we got there. My girl was wearing boots, jeans (with a bandana tied to a belt loop), and that fatigue jacket, with her hair in a pony tail. Our spot was a little living room with a pullout couch, and a view of the house next door. She lit a lamp, shook out her pony tail; and took off the army jacket — under which she wore only a tan and a tiny crucifix.

I was speechless and she laughed at the desired effect. She was Italian, and had skin the color of beeswax by firelight.

“Did you think that cross was going to save you tonight,” I asked.

“I had my doubts when you couldn’t start the bike,” she said.

“What would you have done if this house had a party raging when we walked in?”

She smiled and pull a skimpy bikini top out of a pocket. “Every guy here would have thought you were a god.”

That was thirty four years ago.

•••

I rode my K75 into Seaside Heights last summer. The bridge is still there and so are the pain-in-the-ass sailboats. All three lanes over the old Rt. 37 drawbridge are eastbound now, as there is a much taller arched structure (that doesn’t move) next to the original, carrying as much traffic westbound. Once again, I followed the road around to the bay, where hot-looking mothers (MILFS) now chased fat little babies around in the narrow bands of sand separating the water from the pavement. I couldn’t remember the cross-street, and turned left on the first one that looked promising. I rode up and down along the boardwalk searching for that house, but I couldn’t remember that one either.

My first stop was Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, the heart of this town’s tackiness.

Parking is madness in both Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. The cash crop in each town is the parking meter, and if it was up to the town councils there would be two for each car. The meters are calibrated so you pay 25¢ every 15 seconds. Each meter has a $1500 limit for four hours, I think. Each parking meter is equipped with a “Cold War-era” air raid siren that goes off the second the time has expired. This summons a parking authority cop who is authorized to auction off your vehicle right at the curb, as this is usually cheaper than paying a parking ticket.

A car pulled out of a metered spot at the corner of Franklin St. and the Boardwalk, and I edged my bike right in. These parking spaces are usually left to succeeding generations in family wills. Two or three cagers looked at me with utter contempt and disbelief as I parked in the center of the spot, leaving them no room to squeeze in and knock my bike over.

“You gonna take dat whole fuckin’ spot wit dat fuckin’ piece a shit bike?” asked one, in a typical New Jersey greeting.

“Eat shit and die,” I replied appropriately.

“Sorry, Buddy,” said the cager. “I saw the Pennsylvania plate and figured you for a pussy. What part of Jersey City are you from?”

“The part where your mutha’ used to greet the truckers at Charlotte Circle.”

“That’s how my old man met her,” the guy said, pulling away laughing.

The July sun had been beating down on the hot asphalt for six hours and it was as resilient as Jello. I pulled a kickstand puck out of my pocket and dropped it to the pavement. One side of the puck carried the legend, “Certified pussy.” The other side read, “Dooshe.” This would prevent it from being stolen by anyone who lived in New Jersey. There is no greater insult in the Garden State than to be called a “douche.” I was in the second grade at “Our Lady of Victories” grammar school in Jersey City when little Tommy Burns raised his hand and ratted me out for looking up the skirt of Vivian O’Brian, the most beautiful girl in the entire second grade, while I pretended to fumble on the floor for a dropped pencil. The nun, Sister Constance Aggressa, beat the shit out of me unmercifully. (As I recall, she used a railroad tie.) Then she beat the shit out of Tommy Burns, screaming that she would not tolerate a “douche” in her classroom.

Casino Pier extends about 400 yards into the ocean and used to be home to some incredibly junky carnival-type rides, like the Himalayan Bobsleds (which spun around in a circle to loud rock music at 40 mph), the Tilt-A-Whirl, the Round-Up (a caged cylinder which spun around and tilted upward, giving many their first sensation of g-force), and The Wild Mouse (a crude attempt at a metal roller coaster). Some variation of these still exist on the pier, but the main attractions now are multi-million dollar rides from Europe, that snap the suckers around and turn them upside down, 60 feet above safety. A chintzy miniature golf course (with threadbare obstacles) still sits atop a number of concessions (with putting greens linked by bridges).

The pier used to have an old “spook house” that had the head of a huge, ghastly demon on the front of it. The head was about 15 feet in diameter, and capped huge bat-like wings that ended in claws. This exhibit terrified me for years, and from the time that I was six until I was too old to legitimately explore this cheap thrill ride, I was too afraid to go inside. Yet my daughter — Katherine — wanted to see what all the advertised horror was about when she was eight, and I finally had a reason to satisfy my curiosity. We climbed into a well-beaten up upholstered carriage, from the ‘50s I think, that seemed to be self-propelled by a washing machine motor. It followed a jerky track through the darkness, suddenly popping out into daylight a couple of times to charge down a little incline.

As the gentle reader suspects, the damn thing was a hoax, with strobe lights flashing on and off, stupid plastic faces that lit up from behind, and spring-loaded doors you couldn’t see in the dark banging around. Bumping our way to the ride’s end, Katherine (my kid) noticed a little boy — about her age — in the car in from of us. He was crying his eyes out.

“I feel sorry for his mother,” said Katherine, “‘Cos that kid is a real douche.”

There are four timeless landmarks that have not changed on this stretch of boardwalk. The first of these is the Kohr’s frozen custard stand, which has been selling orange/vanilla swirl cones on that spot since World War I. The second is the Aztec Motel and Bar. Not much can be said about the Aztec for its accommodations. The best rating it currently has is 2.5 stars out of 5, which is giving it the benefit of the doubt. It is the kind of place where kids go to party and get laid following the senior prom.

However, my interest in this place is the open-air bar on the boardwalk.

Despite the fact that about 40 feet of the Aztec is open to the pier, it is refreshingly dark inside, with a constant breeze maintained by the ceiling fans above the bar. It smells of stale beer (in the troughs under the taps), clams, and cocoa butter. There is no better place to park your ass on a hot summer day, sip a rum and Coke or a Tom Collins, and watch thousands of women — aged 18 to 30 — walk by in bathing suits smaller than a folded bandana. My routine is to secure a corner stool where the efforts of the ceiling fans are matched by the draft coming in off the Atlantic. I will order a a double Bicardi and Diet Coke and a dozen clams on the half-shell. (These will be Little Necks and Cherrystones.) In the course of two hours, I will probably have two more drinks, and some peel-and-eat shrimp. I may chat up the bartender, if she is pretty. But pretty bartenders on the New Jersey shore tend to have a razor sharp, stainless-steel edge to them... And they will slice off the balls of a stranger in two-seconds flat.

So I generally mind my own business, and get lost in my thoughts. There is usually one other guy at the bar who is older than me, sitting there looking at a bottle of beer, smoking a cigarette, and showing no other signs of movement for at least an hour at a time.

I was there for 90 minutes on my last trip, left a decent tip, and hobbled back to my bike for the next stop. I found a young auxiliary cop (summer stock, Hitler Youth-type) looking over the K75 with interest. The subtle beauty of the K75 is so powerful that all kinds of folks are drawn to it.

“It’s a 1995,” I said, anticipating his first question.

“Where’s the inspection sticker?” the cop asked, looking over the front end.

“It’s on my balls, you skinhead motherfucker,” I said in my mind. What came out of my mouth was, “It’s there on the front left fork...”

It was. And it was as fresh as daisy when it was new — two years prior. But the forks on the K75 are black, and the sticker was dark green, with black type on it. It looked Kosher enough from a couple of feet away, however.

“Okay,” said the cop, walking off.

I hate to disappoint people, and I could tell this guy wanted nothing more than to club me into the pavement. But the cop was not expecting a middle-aged, arthritis-ridden, over-weight relic of a past life to limp out to this bike, and he would have felt funny about shoving me around in front of such a large crowd. Especially if I had dropped my cane and flopped on the pavement like a huge flounder. Cops want some good, youthful resistance to their nightsticks. It's no fun if the perpetrator deflates like an airbag after one good whack.

The second stop was a mile south of my present location. The second cluster of boardwalk amusements — Funtown USA — is on the borderline of Seaside Park. While it has a water slide and a metal-tracked roller coaster, it is primarily for little kids. Yet on stretch is the third of my personally significant landmarks. It is a character-free seafood stand selling clams, oysters, and shrimp, nestled on huge piles of ice. Three Jersey shore-type mugs shuck the clams and oysters like assembly-line automatons. (This is no guarantee you won’t find the odd bit of shell in the meat.) The counter adjacent to theirs (in the same concession) sells over-cooked corn on the cob. The corn is steamed at 12,000 pounds per square inch, and rolled in “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Lard.” It has the consistency of corn flavored paste on the cob. I usually get two.

I recommend a dozen clams, a dozen oysters, two ears of corn, and two cold beers (available inside) which will sadly be Budweiser like as not. Bud, the king of American beers now owned by foreign interests, actually saves the consumer time. Since it is already piss as it comes out of the bottle, it will not linger in your kidneys. The clam and oyster concern actually fronts a collection of tables, many of which look out over the beach, the water, and Casino Pier. But since there is a pizza-making concern in here, it is often filled with hateful kids who are running around, annoying the shit out of everyone else. This place gets crowded and chances of getting one of the few tables with the breeze and the view are not high. And then it doesn’t really make any difference, because the other tables have the ambiance of airport dining in Entebbe.

There is a current trend in shore towns from the Outer Banks in North Carolina to Seaside Heights in New Jersey to import and hire summer help from Albania, Bulgaria, Latvia, and the Russian Confederation. Chances are the kid handing you the French fries or the cheap prize that you won will have an accent like a Cold War spy. My experience with adult Russian women is that they were all nuclear engineers, cardiologists, and astronauts become coming here to assume jobs as pole dancers. If the economy continues to suck like it does, typical shore jobs will be held by home-bred professionals who really were nuclear engineers, cardiologists, astronauts and public relations specialists before the country went broke.

There is another bar down at this end, but it’s no big deal and I don’t drink without ambiance. The fourth of my personal landmarks is the carousel in the arcade at Funtown. It is the real McCoy and a delight to look at and ride.

By now it was 8pm, and the piers were beginning to wind up for the night. I threw my leg over “Fireballs” and buttoned up my mesh armor. I was about to turn the key, when a voice that sounded like hot honey on a pancake said, “What kind of bike is that?”

The source of the voice was a stunningly beautiful hottie who had the kind of ass that I would wear as a hat for any occasion. And she was accompanied by another bucket of glowing rivets, who had the kind of smile that could illuminate the dark side of the moon.

“Huh,” I said, desperate for traction.

“We were trying to figure out what kind of bike this is,” she explained.

“It’s a BMW,” I said, looking around for the hidden camera. Sometimes reality TV shows have really beautiful women say things to guys like me to see if we can be provoked into doing something really stupid, and I was just about to show her how I can knock a seagull off a piling without using my hands.

“See,” she said to her friend. “I told you BMW made motorcycles.” Turning to me she added, “I think my grandfather has this bike.”

Her grandfather! Her friggin’ grandfather!

They both giggled and melted into the crowd, leaving me standing there like the ultimate jerk.

Snicking Fireballs into gear, I headed south with the boardwalk on my left. (It is simply a wooden sidewalk atop the dunes at this point.) But I couldn’t see the ocean and there was enough traffic on the street to be annoying. I found my way back to the bridge and headed west. My headlight was slicing through the Pine Barrens fifteen minutes later, and shortly thereafter, I was on the New Jersey Turnpike, doing well over 90 miles per hour. Even so, it would still take me two hours to get home.

Now some of you will fail to see the pleasure I got out of this run... This may be because you are mature riders who only find comfort in rural settings, or twisted roads through life's isolated canyons. Or it could be because you are as boring as hell, and have never danced with the painted whore as the ocean slams the beach in the background.

Some New Jersey readers might take exception to this piece. They will throw the poshness of Avalon and Long Beach Island in my face. Others will talk of Atlantic City and Wildwood. And shore purists will salute Cape May. Avalon and Long Beach Island have barbed wire in their jock straps. Atlantic City is a boardwalk on the South Bronx. Wildwood is just okay. And Cape May is Lake Placid on the ocean... A couple of beautiful old houses... A row of old hotels... Some very nice beaches... And a real sense of community, bound by slow moving traffic. Fucking swell.

Give me the painted whore.

I’ll take Seaside Heights and Seaside Park every time. I’m planning a ride to the Aztec Lounge again late in May. That’s because I won’t be able to wait any longer. And I’ll do it again in July, when the scent of hot cocoa butter is heavy in the air, and women walk by in outfits too small to hide a tampon fuse.

(Above) Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola from the un-reality series "Jersey Shore." Sammi is the only one in the cast from New Jersey, and she makes "Snooki" look like a badly packed suitcase. My motorcycle keys are hanging from her navel. The building to right in the background is where I like to eat clams, oysters, and corn. "Funtown USA" directly behind Sammi. Photo from the MTV site.

(Author’s note — There was recently a reality show called “Jersey Shore” produced under the auspices of MTV. In my opinion, this series was total bullshit and a very half-assed representation of Seaside Heights. Jersey girls are among the most beautiful of any in the world. In Jersey City, “Snooki,” one of the stars of this series, would be a “ten drink poke.” This means the average guy would have to have ten drinks before he would talk to her in a typical Jersey Shore bar. Every girl I ever knew in Hudson County, NJ was ten times prettier than “Snooki,” and 50 times smarter. Only one cast member in this series was from New Jersey. She is Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola, and she did justice to the Garden State.)

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2010
AKA The LIndbergh Baby (Mac Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With a shrug)


Addendum

I would like to apologize to my readers for wandering off my Monday/Thursday Twisted Roads publication schedule in the past two weeks. Many of you wrote, or called, and said "WTF?" Well, sometimes I get distracted. And sometimes, as the winter draws to a close, I run out of stories and must ride to get new ones. Reader and friend Bob Skoot called me to suggest I change my blog to include articles about pink crocs, garden club pictures, how to make club sandwiches, and other things, to take up the non-riding slack.

When I stop writing about the smell of two-stroke oil, the inside of biker bars, biker women who either beat the shit out of me or pulled their shirts over my head, and the hot cookie from Nebraska who whispered the word "motorcycle" to me on the phone — and made me buy one — it's because I'm dead.

Let me know if I made the right choice. If you agree with Bob Skoot (author of Wet Coast Skootin'), please begin your comment with "Bob Skoot is right." If you agree with my approach, begin your comment with "Screw Bob Skoot."

Jack • reep • Toad

44 comments:

sgsidekick said...

Thank you, Jack, for the lovely trip down the coast. I lived in Maine as a kid, near Presque Isle, and never really made it to the coast. But the pic of the farmhouse took me back to the potato farms in the surrounding area.

I was jealous to read you had stayed near Assateague Island. I've always wanted to go there, ever since reading the books about Misty as a child. Leslie took some great photos.

As always, you kept me highly entertained, and thankful that I thought to put my water glass down before reading your blog. The midge story would surely have ruined my laptop computer!

Thanks for the fun read!!

dave said...

Don't change a thing!!There are plenty of folks that want to tell us how to live, there are some who want us to believe they are one percenters. But there are very few who want to share all that their twisted imaginations combined with real life have to offer !!
(And I never bring a drink near the keyboard when I know I am reading Twisted Roads:))

Keep it pure Ihor said...

Screw Bob, the tales are rarely better if there's no two wheeler in them. I've visited most of your shore spots and am most familiar and comfortable in Cape May. I spent all my summer vacations in Westhampton Beach, Long Island during grammar school and that rural farming outpost has changed. Every place does or dies.

Didn't we make an evening trip about 15 years ago to sample seafood in Seaside Heights?

At one point about 20 years ago I applied for a lateral transfer to the Route 37 bridge as assistant bridge tender. Even went there for a final interview. Got turned down because they couldn't match my wage rate.

Like Yogi Berra said, "When you come to the fork in the road, take it.".

Anonymous said...

Jack,

Yes, I was one of those who wondered what happened, why no blog. Imust express my delight when I opened my Twisted Roads blog today to
find your latest. You brought back many memories from our family tripsto Maine and visits to Nova Scotia and Tancook Island where a mail ferry was your only means to transport to the island. Some vehicles were on the island but license plates were not required. If you and a neighbor had a dispute you placed his car on the bottom of the sea.

This was followed by fond memories of Scouting with the wild ponies ofAssateague. Many camping and hiking trips to the state side of the park (needed the showers and nicer facilities). Even enjoyed the ponies walking through our camp site during the nights. Found those buggers to be aggressive if you got to close. Plenty of fishing,
sailing and canoeing in the local estuary.

The best was the reminder of the Joisey shore points. My family would travel each year to the Longport, Margate, Ventnor area. While we were housed in the area we would generally go to Ocean City for the board walk and the rides you mentioned. As I grew older I most often
frequented the local "establishments" along the beach and back bays. generally these vists would last until 5:00AM when they were required to close for the night. Spent many a night in the car sleeping off the package from the night before. I recall a special trip when I owned a white 350 Camaro Super Sport, pervertable. The top went down and so did the driver. We had arrived at the Dunes Bar & Grill just outside of Ocean City, Margate, and Somers Point and proceeded to
party hard. I was informed on the trip home that the guy in the back was getting sick so we all shouted faced the right since he was on the
right side. He faced left and blew everthing he had into the converable boot area since the top was down. I had the delightful job of cleaning up the mess after dropping everyone off at their home and I had to go home an work. Just one of many memories the others are for me to keep to myself.

After Sue and I were married her parents lived in Margate year round so we had lots of visits and these were not the best of times. Every trip required a visit to a hospital to visit one of them. The kids began to hate going to the shore as they had little or no time on the beach or other good memories to recall. We sold the house and have
not returned for over 15 years now. The video injected into the blog was wonderful and I saw a life time flash in front of me based on a 17
minute show.

Thank you.

Gerry Cavanaugh
Coatesville, PA

Electra Glide In Blue said...

Screw Boob Skoot!
Who the hell is boobskoot anyways? Oh yea I forgot he rode back in the 60’s.
Thank God Jack, I thought there for awhile you were going to be predickable with your timely posts. I can deal with your spontaneity, it’s like a bowel movement.
Some of us “ride to live” others “ride to write”.
Ride on Jack.

BMW-Dick said...

Jacko:
You were right. This is a long piece, but it is also totally delightful. It brought back a lot of memories, like driving to Love-a-lot (LaValette) in the winter, drinking beer until we were stupid, and then setting a bonfire with creosoted railroad ties that had washed up on the shore. It burned for five days. Or driving to some tiny bar on the shore in a snow storm to shoot pool, suck down raw clams and drink dime beers (I guess that dates me). Loved the story. With any luck the weather will improve and we'll be able to head for the beaches on our bikes before the idiots in Washington triple the price of gas with their legislative slight of hand.

ADK said...

Glad to see that you finally got your lazy, drunken ass off the couch and back to the keyboard.

Skrew Bob and let the Sausage Monster run wild.

Doesn't look like I can make it down in March. Maybe April, but not on the 17th. I'd still like to get out of town for a few days though. The real estate market is on the uptick here, and very small lots are coming up here and there. Don't think that I'm going to bite this time though. I'll let you know. Word verification today is monsfoon, which leads me to thoughts of monkeys and Shakespeare.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear SGSidekick (Tena):

Maine is one of the most beautiful states in the Union. It has mountains... It has lakes... And it has a haunting seashore. The farmhouse you liked so much is in Delaware, though. That brick house looks new. The barn is certainly new. The picture is enhanced by the shadow of the barn cupola on the side of the house. It is austere to the point of American Gothic.

A colleague of mine, and a friend, Kate Farrell, took the pictures on Scraggle Point. They constitute one of my favorite seascapes... Especially the first one.

But I love the picture Leslie took of the strand on the Outer Banks. If you click on it, it will expand, and you can get a real feeling for the endless nature of the waves.

The incident with the "No-See-Ums" on Pea Island is absolutely true -- for the exception of the mini-van.

I love riding my bike to the shore. But the shore I love the best is Seaside Heights. It is so New Jersey, and so unique.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dave:

A story unfolds every time I get on my bike. Some are so-so. Some of the best happened 35 years ago. Some people see riding a motorcycle as a kind of religion with tenets that can never be broken. Others see it as a social statement of revolution.

Every motorcycle I have ever seen — and I mean all of them — reminded me of a great time I had someplace, where I saw something of wonder, had a drunken revel where I woke up on a beach, in a barn, in a garage, or in the bushes, after having gotten laid to the point where all the blood in my body was below my waist for a week.

I am and was the fatherest thing from a one-percenter... And my body is a shapeless garbage bag of guts now... But nobody can tell me I didn't have a good time. And nobody can tell me that life without the occasional riotous good time is worth living.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

My father, God rest his most worthy soul, once said said that I had the ambition of a brick and the talent of a cigar store Indian. He advised me to become a New Jersey State Bridge Tender as the job seemed to only entail staying conscious for eight hours. Then he expressed concern that a job opf that weighty responsibility might be above me too.

I remember that night we met in Seaside. You thought I was nuts too. But the best thing about knowing each other for over 40 years is that the overt stupidity of an idea is seldom a consideration at the time.

Do you know what John Reilly (renowned barrister and author) and Ray Bucko, SJ (head of the Anthropology Department at Creighton University) have survived that you never tried? Riding on the back of my Kawasaki.

The last time Bucko rode on the back, I picked him up at Fordhan University in the Bronx, and raced him down to Jersey City (on the West Side Highway in Manhattan) to bury Dennis Loughman. That was a ride I both savor and regret.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Gerry Cavanaugh:

From time to time I paint myself into a corner. This happens when I place myself in the position of the reader... And conclude, "Who wants to read this shit?" Then I don't write for a while.

It has been four months since I last rode a motorcycle. I have the creepy feeling that I am going to crash the fucking thing within five minutes of sitting on it. The arthritis is so bad that I am wondering how I will mount it this season, even using the step.

And I am afraid to tell Jim Sterling that I now use that same step to mount the toilet. I have 12 days to limber up that damn left hip. I am now barhing it in bong water I get from a crack den each night. It seems to help.

I'm glad you liked the blog today, and gladder still it triggered some memories of your own.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear EGIB (Jeff):

A good friend of mine once described Peter Egan as a rider who could writer. He claimed I was a writer who attempted to ride. That's about right.

But I swear that riding heightens my senses, like a kind of dangerous drug or a sexual act that entails having cut off your oxygen at the point of climax.

Bob Skoot is a good guy with a highly pragmatic approach to riding. His suggestion coincides with a conclusion that Leslie, my hot squeeze, has also drawn. She claims I used to write about a lot of things, but now limit my scope in a way that threatens to limit my perception.

The solution is to start another blog. But I will not write another serialized column like this one. I'd rather do a book. BVob Skoot will be horrified when he sees what fun I am having at his expense.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dick:

Thank you for your kind note. Sometimes, I like to meander around a keyboard. It's nice to know that you don't mind joining me.

I think we are going to hit the Jersey Shore once or twice this summer on crab runs. It is unbelievable to me that the two best places we have found for crabs are in the interior of Amish Pennsylvania.

Global warming is driving the temperatures up into the 60's this month. With any degree of luck, the end of April will have us suycking down clams on the boardwalk in Seaside.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear ADK (Chris Wolfe):

Keep your eyes peeled for a PR job opening in Lake Placid of any kind. If things boom up there, I might have a shot.

My friend Conchscooter is going to attempt a measured red butt run during the third week in May, which will entail running out to Long Island. He is starting in Key West.

Putting off your trip to April guarantees warmer weather, and you may even have new duct tape holding the fairing onto your yellow asphalt polisher. And whatever it is you're doing on the third weekend, it really isn't important.

Come down here. We can get int some real trou... fun. Do you have to do tire or chain maintenance on the Yellow Peril yet? Do it before I have to scrape your as off the road.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

bobskoot said...

Jackie:

I am merely following in the footsteps of my HERO, Mr Conch down in KW and not have such a narrow mind as to exclude other worthwhile topics that others may enjoy.
Especially when you haven't ridden in months. We are able to ride nearly all year round and this year Winter missed us. No snow, no salt, no sand.

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Charlie6 said...

Jack,

First, all due respect to the worthy bobskoot...you're doing just fine with your unique and top notch writing style and subjects! Reading this post made me realized that I was apparently brought up in a monastery cleverly disguised as suburbia. sigh....what a tragedy to have discovered motorcycling so late in life.

Only you could go take a piss and end up in an Indiana Jones style escape from certain death while barely fitting your helmet onto your exposed manhood. Good idea using the Japanese tourist group as chum.

You should write a "motorcyclist guide to dives and good eats joints of the North East". Though in your culinary lights, I'd be but a heathen since clams, oysters and most seafood are not what I look for in menus.

As to the two trollops who didn't recognize your Teutonic Steed's brand....did you not use the "wounded harp seal" look or were you too stunned by their "assets"?

As always, outstanding writing even though this posting was a veritable maelstrom of ideas and images.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

I just want to reiterate something that most everyone who reads my stuff already knows: That you're a good guy with a sense of humor. I decided to have a little fun with you just as I brought this column to a close. Despite the fact that ther snow around the house these days would be called "residual," I still have ten tons of it in the yard and driveway.

But the riding will start this week, even if the town doesn't get to sweeping the grit off the streets for another month. The forecast is for rain this weekend, which is great as far as I'm concerned, as the mercury is supposed to top out at 60º (A).

I have to be able to hit the 200-mile mark in 11-days. Better start to prepare now.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Domingo):

I had a lot of help with my early education. I wouldn't be the man I am today if it wasn't for the late Bob Pearson, who was one of the best friends I ever had.

Bob Pearson introduced me to some of the roughest guys in the world, in some of the blood-thirstiest saloons you could imagine. He took me for my first-ever paid-for blow job from a hooker on Tenth Avenue when I was 17. It was from him I got my first lesson in negotiation... And also from him I got my most poignant lesson — that you get what you pay for, sometimes.

Another friend of mine, Ricky Matz, introduced me to the café society of topless dancers when I was 18. (I walked into a bar where he was nailed to the counter, watching a blonde bombshell named "Smidgeon" dancing around in a "G" string and suspenders.

"Damn," I said. "She might just as well show us everything.

"Smidge," said Matz, with a gesture... And she did. He would introduce me to a number of others in this way over the years — including "Laura The Animal."

I am compelled to point out that Pearson could quote Shakespeare verbatim and read Latin with hesitation in translation. Ricky is an authority on Science Fiction and can do most anything.

I ran with the most amazing crowd.

Thank you for reading my tripe, and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

The bridgeless Ihor said...

Dear John,
At the time, being a bridge tender down the shore was a better alternative to the tripe I was experiencing. And Reilly and Ray still say their prayers with you in a prominent reference, no doubt caused by the rides you provided.

Bet Tupper Lake is looking to up their PR status given the Big Tupper plan. Up there 40 miles is next door after all.

Do hope you limber yourself into good shape and slip sufficient mass to ease into active riding mode. It would be wise to adopt my suggested plan, post haste or 10 months ago, which ever comes first. At 190 lbs. two comrades could raise you off or onto the K-thing with little trouble and no hernia preventing accessories. Less bag-like, more David Niven should be the goal!

be the ball,
Ihor

bobskoot said...

Jack "r":

said:"I have to be able to hit the 200-mile mark in 11-days. Better start to prepare now."

You should be able to do it. works out to 18+ miles per day . . .

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

cpa3485 said...

Bobskoot might be a douche!
I said might so as not to offend him, just make the implication.
Great writeup and beautiful pictures. Alas, it is difficult for me to post pictures of the ocean from Kansas. You may have to put up with wheat fields and silos.
I do however suggest you take care of that Maryland ticket. States are starving for money in these troubled times.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

Tomorrow will see my first day in the home gym, attempting to loosen up my joints a little better. I'll send you a daily list of what I ate, and the calorie count. I was up and moving aropund today, and may take the Red Beast out on the road just to see what it's like agin.

I've made plans to get some basic maintenance done. This will be my year of "The Great Depression Riding."

Hope to see you in New Jersey on the 20th.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

There are ten days left to go on this ride. My first run will be a short 40 or 50 mile shakedown cruise, to test systems and to get reacquainted with the machine.

My second run will be an 80-mile ride through varied terrain to test my own reflexes and to get my back and hips realigned with the seat.

The third ride will be 150 miles (75-miles out and back) to get used to the saddle again. I just might pop in on my pal Ihor. And two or three days later it will be that 200/225 mile ride. That should do it .

But I have to tell you, I am a bit pensive about it.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3485 ( Jimbo):

I can tell you without hesitation that Bob Skoot is not a douche. A bone fide two-wheeled douche is the kind of person who does not fill their gas tank at the same time everyone else does, insisting at stopping 20 minutes later at another station that is 3¢ per gallon cheaper.

That's a douche.

Or, a real douche is a 52-year-old friend who insists that your 25-year-old daughter ride on the back of his piss yellow motorcycle, trimmed with duct tape, allowing hin to create the impression she is his girlfriend.

Glad you liked the pictures. There is nothing like the ocean to put things in perspective.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

cpa3485 said...

Bob knows I dont consider him a douche,and hopefully knows that I am kiddding. Still, gotta wonder what kind of gas he would be willing to buy. (Canadian only)
My main point was to tell you to write whatever you wish to. I can not imagine reading something you wrote and not enjoying it (at least a little bit).

cpa3485 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bobskoot said...

Jackie:

I prefer Chevron, price doesn't matter

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Conchscooter said...

screw you jack and bobskoot. You really ned to clean up the language on this blog as my work blocks it, which means I have to waste valuable free time (every other week) reading it.
Surprisingly, this essay seemed vahuely worthwhile because not only did you write about places I've never been but you also ragged on bobskoot.
The wife is talking to the dog about what they are going to do when i am gone in May. I am getting worried, as I think she means to let me try this stupidity.

bobskoot said...

Mr Conch via: Jackie:

You'd better be careful, it seems that you are being replaced by Cheyenne. Now I would be more worried if your dog was nodding back in agreement

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Planning and Google Mapping Ihor said...

Dear John,
you're always welcome to stop by, just call ahead to be sure there's someone at home.

I'll be at White Castle on the 20th, rain or shine, ready for lunch.

Ihor

Anonymous said...

Screw Bob Skoot

You are doing just fine. My head was about to explode this morning and I stopped work for a lunch break. It consisted of a delicious ham & turkey hoagie, some chips, and your blog. Now I feel much better.

Thanks,

Joe Sestrich

Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo):

Poor Bob... I didn't even tell him I was going to run the informal survey. In fact, I didn't know if I was going to post the blog even adfter I had written it. Most of it read like shit to me, but I had nothing else to put in its place.

But I never do anything by committee and I thought, "What do I have to lose. Somebody will step forward and tell me my stuff looks like shit, if they think so."

Bob Skoot has achieved "Superstar Status" on this blog without yet having had the pleasure of being tortured by me on a ride. For example, look at Dick Bregstein. He has had to ride thousands of miles with me to get SuperStar Status in my stories.

But no douche was ever cited in any of my stories.

I understand the rain is falling in your neighborhood. Good biking weather should follow. When is yiour next club ride?

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bob Skoot:

In my opinion, there is nothing more aggravating then riding through unknown territory saddled with the worry of running out of gas. The gas warning light on the K75 is set to go off when I have hit 140 miles on the tank. This is a common complaint about the K75, as many riders think it goes off too soon. I usually gas up at the 170-mile point on the clock, thus leaving myself with another 50 miles or so if it was necessary.

The K75 gets 50 mpg at a reasonable speed of 65mph. But Dick and I often ride much faster than that. Turnpike speeds around here routinely hit 75mph in the slow lane, and 85 is what I like to ride at on the slab. Gas consumption goes out the window at those speeds.

So if the boys want to stop for gas and I only need two gallons to top off, I do it anyway. The K75 likes the highest octane available (94), which is generally offered only by Sunoco. But I will use premium from any oil company.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conchscooter:

Thank you for the left-handed compliment. Twisted Roads is the all motorcycle content blog that offers real excitement, cheap adventure, and romance like broken glass.

The story counts on this blog.

I make no apologies for the language, the sentiment, the plot, or the consequences. To me, the wind in my hair, the open road, and the endless horizon are only enhanced by the bad hotel rooms, the sexual liaisons, the cheap rum, and the friends I have made along the way. They are integral to the ride in my mind. Am I likely to come to a bad end? You bet.

Thank you for occasionally reading my blog, when the dog lets you. And if your wife is talking to dog and mentioning you in the third person, than that 1500-miler might be the start of a one-way run.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

Yesterday I caught Leslie telling both dogs not to eat anything from my plate, as it might make them sleep permanently.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

The best thing about visiting you by bike is that the parking is so much better. Still, I'll wait until the ground is firmer, dryer.

See you on March 20th, for the great slider run.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Sestrich:

Thank you for the kind compliment and the vote of confidence. I look forward to riding with you again at your earliest convenience. Hopefully, it will be raining like hell — just like the last time.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Steve Williams said...

"Screw Bob Skoot".

Write whenever and whatever you want. Lowering expectations for you can only help me feel better about my own blogging schedule of once a month.

The Maine Coast. Love it. Last time there I approached from the southeast towards Peakes Island on a 38 foot Hans Christian sailboat. Nothing like hearing the surf crash on rocks in the fog and the sound is getting louder...

As always a great piece of writing and your stable of photographers keep delivering the goods.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve:

Bob Skoot was trying to solve a dilemma of mine and his solution would have been a good one for a blod that did not have so tightly a defined focus as this one. My goal is to write about motorcycling, but in a vein that combines the best eklements of story-telling with the facts.

Bob kindly offered me a recommendation that would have enabled me to wrote shorter blog episodes about more diverse subjects. His suggestions were helpful, but not for my circumstances. Wha he did give me was the chance to incoprporate him into a much broader story line — for one episode.

My problem is a lot more complicated. In a nutshell, I don't always think the piece I wrote is any good, and I am always tempted to shitcan it before hitting the "publish post" button. That piece about the different seacoasts was destined for the shitcan, except I had nothing else to run in its place. I was surprised to have received so many calls and e-mail notes about it.

Another problem I have us my motivation for riding. It is, without a doubt, a throwback to my misspent youth, and a weekend to weekend lifestyle of partying and getting laid. Regretably, the motorcycling part is pretty much all that's left to me.

The weather looks like it has finally turned. I hope to be writing less from recollection and more from fresh experience.

Thanks for the nice note.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Lee said...

Bob Skoot is right!

Jack Riepe said...

Lee?

Is that Lee Kazanas or Lee Lamparski?

If it is Lee Lamparski, I can only point out that your opinion is in the faint minority. If it is Lee Kazanas, then you can kiss my ass.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

irondad said...

Well, you asked for a group,um, well you know. Perverts like you need to realize that the answer to your prayers can take on more than one form. Madge, Mindy, Midge. Guess it does make a difference after all.

How did you strap the helmet on, anyway?

Sojourner rides said...

"screw bobskoot"--don't tell him I said so.

I loved everything you said about the Outer Banks, NC--it's been on my list of places to visit for a long time now. I also loved the part about the insects!! A very nice read on a late Sunday night.

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