Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Color Of This Blog Is Black Today...

May 2, 2010, provided me with one of the most exciting moments in my life... The parking lot at Montgomeryville Cycle Center (in Hatfield, Pennsylvania) was jammed with BMW motorcycles trying to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the greatest number of German bikes ever assembled to ride in one continuous parade. BMW motorcycles spanning more than 50 years of production — with virtually every model recognized — rolled in to participate. They trickled in at first, and then arrived in waves from a five-state area. Some of the guys had been on the road longer than 5 hours just to ride in and be counted.

The deadline was high noon. The tide of arriving bikes had slowed to a trickle. Then simply stopped. With twenty minutes to spare, we were one bike short of breaking the record. The silence was palpable and the atmosphere was positively electric. And then there was that sound... The distinctive nuclear growl of a BMW super bike coming up Route 309. Hundreds of people held their collective breath as a rider wearing full racing leathers, on a brand new BMW S1000RR, barreled into the assembly, putting the whole effort over the record-breaking top.

The rider was Edward A. Stimmler, Jr., an unassuming guy, who was just out for a spring ride on his new BMW predator, pulled in because he saw the crowd, the bikes, and the cops all in one huge gathering. He hadn’t heard about the event, yet was the keystone in its success. He had no idea why hundreds of people were applauding him, and slapping him on the back. That day, Stimmler was a vision of the BMW rider of the future: a thin, young guy, wearing form-fitting marque racing leathers, riding the hottest new motorcycle introduced by Beemer in years... A bike that would soon raise the bar for every racing motorcycle in its class.

Two other machines would follow Stimmler, but none would draw that response from the crowd. Members of the Mac-Pac (southeastern Pennsylvania’s chartered BMW riding club) would meet Stimmler up close and personal three-weeks later, when he rode in for their monthly breakfast.

On October 21, 2010, Edward Stimmler, Jr., 37, was fatally injured Thursday after the BMW motorcycle he was riding collided with a vehicle in the 1200 block of Penllyn-Blue Bell Pike, according to Whitpain police. Allegedly, the driver of a Ford Fusion pulled out of a driveway and sideswiped the motorcycle, causing it to veer off into a fence. Despite being treated at the scene and being flown by helicopter to a local hospital, Ed Stimmler, Jr. died as a result of his injuries. He wore a helmet and full gear.

I only knew this man for the five minutes it took him to register for the Guinness Book event. I did not make the Mac-Pac breakfast that month. I remember Stimmler as a nice guy who laughed at the reaction of the crowd when he rode in. It is my intention to ask the Mac-Pac to make this gentleman an honorary member and to conduct some annual event, with proceeds collected to be donated to some local charity in his name. There is no evidence at this time that the driver of the Ford Fusion was guilty of anything other than “not seeing the motorcycle,” though I do not have any details of the subsequent investigation.

I am tired of cage drivers not seeing motorcycles... And it is always sad to read of a fellow biker who went down “minding his own business.”

Tomorrow night, at 9pm Eastern Time, I am going to raise my glass to Ed Stimmler, a fellow biker and a BMW rider who sure knew how to make an entrance. Please join me in this simple gesture to this “unassuming nice guy,” and thousands of others like him, who went down doing something they loved.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2010
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain — PS (With A Shrug)

67 comments:

Keith said...

Very sad, indeed. Tomorrow night at 6pm PST I'll raise a glass too in honor of Edward and with the hope that someday automobile drivers will pull their heads out of their asses and pay attention.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Keith:

Mine will be a glass of Jamisons Irish Whiskey. And I too wish that cage drivers would put down the phone and concentrate on the task at hand. It's not fucking rocket science. Thank you for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Gary5410 said...

Very sad.............I will join you in the "glass raising" to our fellow rider, Edward!
Gary Christman

cpa3485 said...

Really sucks to read about his accident. I too will raise a glass in his honor. My best condolences to his friends and family.

Nikos said...

I'm very sorry to have to read this Jack but you have written the report most sensitively.
We are truly in the hands of fate - if only Edward had left 30 seconds earlier or later he would be drinking with us too.

682202 said...

It's always sad to here. A reminder to live life at it's fullest, as you never know when your time will be up.

Walter Sanders said...

Damn sad story...damn fine writing. I'd rather catch-up with you at the bottom of a merrier column, but awareness is an important message.

mq01 said...

f@#$ not another :(
i raise my glass as well.
rip edward.

bobskoot said...

Jack:

I will tip my glass tomorrow too. It's a sad day . . .

bob
Wet Coast Scootin

Jack Weiss said...

Well said Jack. Ed used to visit the Abbaye on Philadelphia Riders 2 Wheel Tuesday nights fairly often and I enjoyed our conversations. He did a lot of track days and was a very good rider. I have been the victim of blind cage drivers, but I was very lucky. R.I.P. Eddie

Anonymous said...

My condolences to your family and friends. I too will raise a glass in your honor.
Rest in Peace Edward.
Frank - 1050Tiger

Conchscooter said...

You are a giant pain in the arse riepe, but mine will have to be a cup of tea, at work. I feel lucky to have got away with a twisted ankle after spending two nights in your company.I thought it was hilarious he was the last unwitting arrival and now this?

Don Eilenberger said...

Jack,

Very sad. The only consolation is that he did live his life, not sleep through it.

Woody said...

Dear Sir,

Black indeed.

The procession for the Guinness ride had come full circle with the newcomers and the early arrivals a few feet apart in opposite directions. I was probably 10 feet from Edward when he arrived. I recall the boisterous greeting and the 'What the fuck?' expression on his face.

Now we're all thinking "What the fuck?"

DC said...

To Ed Stimmler! Who could have been any one of us. God speed, Edward.

Where you having that 9pm Jameson's, Jack? Maybe I'll take a ride and toast with you.

Dave Case

BeemerGirl said...

Damnit! Thank you for reporting in. Does he have family? I too will lift a glass in his honor.

David said...

It was a great feeling of camaraderie at the Guinness ride seeing this
individual ride in to take the group over the top for the record.

We are all potentially "the last rider" and might consider how even
our smallest actions can be valued by others.

Cantwell said...

I too will raise a glass to Edward.

Sláinte mhaith

Dave Misevich said...

So very sad. I too will raise a glass tomorrow in Edwards honor.

Circle Blue said...

I, too, will raise a glass.

Sad.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Esteemed Friends and Colleagues:

We have all done stupid things on motorcycles. Some of them were the result of day-dreaming, others were errors in judgement, and the remainder were the kind of calculated stupidity that makes for great story-telling at the bar — even though we all know how badly things could have turned out.

This guy was just out for a ride, doing nothing other than blending into the background of headlighs behind him. And he got nailed by a car.

It could have been any one of us... My first raised glass tomorrow will be for Edward Stimmler. But my second will be for all of you. Man, how we all love to ride.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

carolinecurran said...

A very thoughtful piece.

BMW-Dick said...

Dear Jack:
I only had a chance to speak with Ed briefly at breakfast, but it was clear that he was a vibrant guy with a love of motorcycle riding and someone who fit in well with our band of misfits. It is very sad, indeed,to see his life ended by a negligent driver.

jasiii said...

Well said. thank you

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Gary:

I can't believe how random an event can seem, like when lightening strikes... And then it's no longer a statistic. It's somebody you know. And sometimes, it's somebody you've met under the most extraordinary circumstances.

None of us knew this guy... And suddenly, all of us knew him.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo):

Thank you for readng and for adding your voice to the other riders on this page. I just wish we all had somerthing happier to drink to.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

Thank you readin my blogg and for your kind comment. Coulda... Shoulda... Woulda... Three words that can change destiny... Thiough they seldom do.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear 682202:

You're absolutely right... You've got to take a running start and life and live it on the edge. If you click the picture of Hunter S. Thompson on the upper right-hand corner of this blog, you get one of his better pieces, citing the "Sausage Creature." But he put it well when he said, "It's better to get shot out of a cannon, than to be squeezed out of a tube."

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

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Walter:

You have no idea how many times I have thought about you... And how many times I regretted not being able to take you up on seeing the "Amish Comedian."
I have fallen on hard and desperate times... And now run with a bad crowd. But don't let that stop you from dropping me a number to call. Send it to JPriepe@aol.com.

It's great to hear from you.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ms. M:

This tragedy is a recurrent theme played out entirely too often. And no matter what we wear, what we add to our bikes, or how loud our pipes are, there is always someone who just didn't see the motorcycle.

Ride safe.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

Raise your glass, but drink with your eyes open. The threat is all around us, and it never really goes away.
Thanks for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Jack (Weiss):

Nearly everyone I know has either been hit by a deer or a car. I have been struck by cars three times, and by a guardrail once. I am amazed at how lucky we have been. But then again, look at how lucky we are to all know each other. This kind of luck seems to come with a price or a curse.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Frank (1050 Tiger):

Drain the glass to the bottom, and charge it tio my account. Thanks for commenting.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conch:

Ass pains come in squadrons, like Mike Cantwell, Dick Bregstein, Clyde Jacobs, Gerry Cavanaugh, Peter Frechi, Pete Bucheit, Lee Kazanas, DucDude, Matt Piechota, Ron Yee, Kimi Bush, Chris Wolfe, and the entire Mac-Pac. (Don't exclude yourself.) But you got off lightly on your last visit. Next time, make sufre you span the third Sunday of the month.

It was amazing that Ed Stimmler rode in and changed the course of the entire event... And he did so without ever planning too. So many interesting people go through life like that. The time will come when you will really appreciate having met me.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Don:

Amen, brother. Amen.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Woody:

You wrote, "Now we are all thinking, 'What the fuck?'"
Yup.. And there never seems to be a good answer.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dave Case (DC):

Remember the bar in that dumpy chain joint behind the WaWa where Rt. 202 passes Rt. 29? That was a shithole totally lacking character. How about I meet you there at 8:30pm tomorrow night?

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Beemer Girl (Lori):

I didn't have many details about Ed Stimmler. One of our Mac-Pac members found the obituary in a local paper and posted it. I recognized Ed Stimmler's name right away. The whole episode is somewhat numbing.

Thanks for reading and for adding your voice to the comments.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear David:

You wrote:

"We are all potentially "the last rider" and might consider how even our smallest actions can be valued by others."

Truer words were never spoken. Thanks for reading and for commenting.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mike Cantwell:

I wish you lived a lot closer... We could raise those glasses together tomorrow.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dave Misevich:

It's a simple gesture, but one that binds us in a concept. Thanks for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Circle Blue:

Thanks for responding. I read your blog for the first time tonight...I like your ride.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Caroline Curran:

You were thoughful to read this piece tonight, and to write in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dick:

Aside from checking in for the Guinness event, I never spoke with hin at all... But like I said, the look on his face when he rode in that day was priceless.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear JASIII (Jim):

I would much rather preferred writing about anything else today. But we never get choices in these matters. Thasnks for reading and for writing in today. I was thinking of you this weekend, Jim, when my bike rode flawlessly without missing a beat due to a loose relay, and when I used that step about 50 times.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

bluekat said...

Very sad. Thank you Jack for sharing this, even though it's difficult to read. There are too many of these "I didn't see him" instances.

My condolences to the family.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bluekat:

I think we should all be remembered for somethig we did in our lives... Even it it was only for a few minutes and before the eyes of strangers. Thanks for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Charlie6 said...

I too am very sorry for the loss of Edward Stimmler.

Each of us affect the life of others unknowningly most of the time, I believe Edward knew he'd made the day of several hundred fellow riders on that fateful day in May.

He will be remembered fondly, what more is there to ask for when one is gone?

dom

Brady said...

Jack, I'm in. I'm getting scotch for the occasion.

Brady
Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

It was as if the luck that brought Ed Stimmler into our group for such a brierf period of time just ran out. Like I said, I only met the guy for five minutes... And I can't get this out of my mind.

Thanks for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Brady:

Let's hope this is the last toast we have to drink to "absent friends" in a long time.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

BeemerGirl said...

I think we should do to cagers what you recommended for deer: cull to 20% of the population...

I've started my memorial to Mr. Stimmler early. Edward, may you be at peace and may your family have comfort.

Fellow riders, tip a drink, but be safe and keep a careful eye out! :)

Peace.

-Lori

Canajun said...

It just never seems to end -- a cager loses his/her concentration and a motorcyclist dies. How I wish I had a solution, but instead I will rage in frustration and raise a glass to Edward and all the others just like him who died at the hands of others while doing something they loved.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Canajun and Beemer Girl:

I raised my glass tonight in the company of five other Mac-Pac riders, in memory of a man we had all wished we'd gotten to know better.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Steve Williams said...

News like this always triggers two reactions; a strong sadness for the loss of a fellow rider, and also a renewed recognition of the risk I take every time I ride out onto the road.

I hope the family and friends of Mr. Stimmler find their way through their loss.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Anonymous said...

Well, just read this sad story. Two days late, as is usual for me. My condolences to Edward's family and friends. As an old fart that just started riding a year ago, I see mortality smacking me in the face every time I read something like this. But wasn't it Jimmy Buffett that said: "I'd rather die when I'm living, then live when I'm dead"? Ride safe dear friends, ride often.

Dale

David said...

Thank you all for you support, prayers and this wonderful article. I actually remember the day this happened. I was at my parents house hanging out and Ed came pulling in saying "you'll never believe this". It has been very difficult time for my family and I. Ed and I used to ride all the time together before I hung up the Ducati. Ed always loved life and enjoyed hunting, cycling, skiing and of course Motorcycling. As much as I will miss him I know he is in a better place and I am blest for all the memories and good times we had together.

His Loving Brother,
Dave

Shannon T Baker said...

I usually save your columns until I have the chance to sit down and read it slowly, enjoying each line.

I am a little sorry I did that this time as I missed raising a glass in Edward's memory.

Each time we lose a riding brother we are diminished.

Each time I read or hear of something like this I have to question my decision to ride. It is a risky and dangerous activity made more so by those around us who fail to realize the lethal nature of the weapons they drive. I choose to continue to ride because I prefer to live life to the fullest while I am on this planet than cower in fear for a little more time. One day that may change but not today.

My thoughts and prayers go out to a fellow rider, a brother I never knew, as well as to his friends and family.

-Buddha

Classic Velocity said...

Dear Jack, my sadness is mixed with anger. I don't know the details, but there are too many instances of motorcyclists losing their lives to drivers who "did not see" them. We need some mandatory components in the driver's ed and driving exam to increase awareness. Every manufacturer needs to include a built-in voice-activated telephone and stereo. Driving while distracted needs to be a primary offense nationally that is enforced. We all need to ride more so that we are less of a rarity to drivers. I could go on and on, but instead I will take a moment to raise a glass in the hope that Mr Stimmler is the last such loss that we suffer....

Wayne

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dale:

Thank your reading my blog and thank you for the sentiment... I was unaware that one of Ed Stimmler's family members had been reading this piece, and I'm sure each note of sympathy is warmly appreciated.

I sincerely hope that I will never have to write another blog entry like this again...

Fonfdest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear David (Dave Stimmler):

There is nothing I can write to adequately express my sense of loss and dismay over the tragic passing of your brother — and I only knew him for 5 minutes. I can only imagine the loss to you and your family. My impression of Ed will always be of the unassuming guy who crossed the finish line, not realizing he'd won the race. It is my impression that he will be made an honorary member of the Mac-Pac at our monthly breakfast, on November 21, 2010.

Once again, I am very sorry for your loss.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Buddha (Shannon):

I question the validity of riding every time I get on the bike... But I never think about the loss of absent friends. Otrherwise, I might never ride again. But motorcycling is never thought of in the shadow of loss, or in terms of "what if;" not by riders, at least. It is thought of as release, with the odd misfortune as something that happens to the other guy.

And it is this perspective that compells us to ride.

I have the utmost confidence in our luck that you and I will ride in perfect safety — at least until we meet in Key West.

Thanks for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Classiv Velocity Blog (Wayne):

As I am typing this response to you, I'm reading about a horrific motrorcycle accident in Calfornia, in which a vehicle plowed through a double column of Harley riders... The loss of life was quite high.

Again, these guys were just minding their own business when their luck ran out. And it wasn't luck, just poor judgement and driver error on the part of a guy in a passing car, who fled the scene.

There is no end to this...

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep * Toad

motoroz said...

Just found your blog, but I took a moment to remember Edward and others hit by cagers not paying attention. I too was hit in August, but was blessed to end up with just 15 stitches in the head. We have to stick together against inattentive the cagers.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Motoroz:

I have been hit by cars three times in my riding career, but have been lucky enough to walk away (with x-rays and minor injuries). Regretably, we are in a world where flying steel cages are the reality, and you can never be sure whether you are visible or not. Lights... High Viz jackets... And loud horns (or pipes) are no guarantee for the distracted cage operator.

Take care of yourself out there. Thank you for reading my blog, and for writing in. I wish I had a better story for you today.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Julie (Ed's Sister) said...

Thanks for this great post. I think it's awesome that he made your day, but you guys made HIS day, week, probably month with the experience of so many friendly, welcoming people applauding him just for being curious. He truly loved riding his bike, and made many great friends through it.

Diana Stimmler Winkler said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful tribute to my cousin Ed. I can't believe it has been a year since the accident. Ed was full of life, always had a joke or a smile, having fun. It was hard for me being on the other side of the country because I couldn't go to the funeral or anything. We miss him a lot.

As far as the cager goes, we are all human, and have our attention somewhere else while driving. I think the person who hit Ed will feel terrible for the rest of her life. I was just hit in the parking lot by a truck that was backing out that didn't see my red car. It doesn't just happen with motorcycles. We all need to pay attention and be focused on the road. Thank you for the thoughts and prayers and toasts. Our family appreciates your support.

Diana Stimmler Winkler