Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Mouse And The Cobra...

The mouse stares at the cobra, paralyzed by the hopelessness of its situation, until the snake inevitably eats it. I know how the mouse feels.

Fall is nature’s way of paying you back for the heat of July. While I had big plans for riding this past summer, the opportunity to do so fell on days when the Mercury was bubbling at a stifling 95 degrees; or on weekends when a marginally cooler 87 degrees was accompanied by a matching 87 percent humidity — the kind of atmosphere you can stir with a canoe paddle. These are the days when strapping on ballistically practical mesh gear, with matching perfed leather gloves and a full-face helmet, rivals shower romance in a Turkish prison for overall appeal.

Like millions of other riders who remember the crisp fall days of youth (when every outdoor breath had the bite of a Macintosh apple), I have been waiting for September, October and November to arrive. I dreamed of mornings when I could strap on my asphalt-resistant gear — without breaking a tsunami-like sweat — and ride off in the direction of country inns, where warm mugs of spiced cider and hot-buttered rum are served by smiling waitresses (with perfumed good will spilling out of authentic 18th century bodices), alongside crackling fireplaces.

So what the hell happened?

September was a continuation of August’s heat, which made our lawn look like pre-smoked tobacco. October in this part of the country saw daytime temperatures in the high 60’s or low 70’s (Fahrenheit for my European readers, who are under the impression my ass must be fireproof), which is as perfect as you could ask for. But it was a damp October and my arthritis exploded. The pain was the worst I have experienced in the last three years. The throbbing was so bad that I couldn’t ride out 60 miles to meet Michael Beattie (Key West Diary) on his Iron Butt ride through these parts. I was compelled to take the SUV, expecting to endure all kinds of criticism from Beattie, except for the fact that he ran over his own foot with the Triumph — landing on his fat ass in a trench.

The first week in November was flakey too. Here in Pennsylvania, temperatures had been forecast to hit the lower 50s (Fahrenheit again), but barely hit the mid-40s, dropping to 33 degrees at dawn. The first frost of the season coated the lawn on Wednesday, November 3, 2010.

I do not consider temperatures in the 40-degree range (Fahrenheit) to be exceptionally cold. Dick Bregstein, Pete Buchheit, and myself have ridden on days when it was much colder than this, and I simply wore silk long-underwear (beneath jeans), the liner in my jacket, and a pair of off-the-rack leather gloves. So when the opportunity presented itself to take a multiple-day fall ride, I wasn’t anticipating any challenges. There is nothing like a periodic motorcycle adventure to put things in perspective. Now it should be noted that the phrase “motorcycle adventure” is subject to interpretation. My idea of a great motorcycle adventure is riding off to a place I haven’t been to before, checking into a nice hotel, and swapping stories at the bar with legitimate motorcycle adventurers, whose bikes are adorned with shrunken heads, claw marks from wild animals, or mini-dents from the spiked heels of painted pillion candy.

My destination was the pleasant city of Bloomsburg, Pa, a college town of great restaurants, interesting bars, and stunning women, who appeared to be all over the place. It was a scant 150-miles distant, and the meeting place for the BMW Motorcycles Owners Of America’s (MOA) board of directors, who were there to begin the final planning for the group’s summer rally. Expected to attract a crowd in excess of 10,000 (a huge number when applied to BMW motorcycles), the rally site is the fairgrounds at Bloomsburg, which are ideally suited for an event of this nature. My riding club — the Mac-Pac, is volunteering to serve on a number of committees and I thought this would be a great opportunity to participate myself.

But I hadn’t ridden in 6 weeks, and I was developing a paralyzing apprehension.

Not an apprehension about riding... But an apprehension of finding out this fucking arthritis had made another serious incursion in my capabilities. I was concerned that if I got my feet on the pegs, I wouldn’t be able to get them down again. (The drawbacks of this situation would become evident at the first “Stop” sign.) Then it is always is the back of my mind that I might be too stiff to make a good panic stop. Coupled with the knowledge that the first half-hour in the saddle is likely to be uncomfortable in the extreme, I lose the mad passion to go ripping out of the driveway. In fact, there is no “ripping out of the driveway,” as it can take me 15 minutes to put on my boots, and 20 minutes to mount the bike for the first time.

This ridiculous apprehension seriously delayed my departure. It had been raining earlier in the morning, and I decided to wait until the roads were less wet. Leslie (Stiffie), my significant other, wanted to know why I was stalling. (I think she was planning on bringing another guy in here as soon as I left. When I explained I wanted the piles of leaves on the streets to dry out some, she dialed a number on her cell phone and said, “Not yet. The ‘Man of Steel’ is too chickenshit to get on the bike.”)

First I bullshitted myself into thinking it would be significantly warmer than 46 degrees (F) around noon. (It wasn’t.) Then I decided it was absolutely critrical to re-adjust the new Air Hawk seat cushion that I bought, and that consumed another 40 minutes, bringing me to the question of a mid-afternoon lunch. The gentle reader is getting the picture. I had two dread fears that I did not want to realize: getting stuck in rush hour traffic, and having to ride any distance in the dark. Having identified these real fears, I then became the mouse looking at the cobra.

My departure at 4:30pm absolutely guaranteed that I’d get stuck in weekend and rush hour traffic, as well as the thrill of riding 80+ miles in the dark.

Bumper to bumper traffic snaked throughout the first 40 miles of the ride, as 48 million people left Philly for the Poconos (the five-foot high mountains between Pennsylvania and New Jersey) for the weekend. Ninety-eight percent of these people were in front of me, at a dead stop. I pulled over twice in the first 20 miles to shake the cramps out of my knees. Then I attempted to make up for lost time by adjusting the throttle at breaks in the traffic. I performed speedometer and tachometer checks whenever possible, pulling the ton a couple of times, and still managed to cover 60 miles in 70 minutes.

Above: The magnificent mountains of the great Pocono Plateau, with many peaks as high as card tables. The ridge in the background runs across Pennsylvania in this part of the state and is pierced by a tunnel on the turnpike. The gap in the ridge could be the Delaware Water Gap, or not. Photo from Wikipedia.

The bike ran like a champ, never missing a beat nor hesitating when I pushed it though an opening in the pulsating steel trap around me. At 16-years-old, this BMW K75 has no problem hitting the "century" mark on the clock nor holding a 90mph pace indefinitely. It seems to run better in the cooler weather, though there was no indication (on the instruments) that the K75’s systems were affected one way or the other. My route north is known as the “Northeast Extension” of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and it connects the holy city of Philadelphia with Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. There is a fuel and food stop at Allentown, which was my immediate destination.

I can get 200 miles from a tank of gas, though the warning light comes on 60 miles short of that. The bike has a 5-gallon tank, which I have never run dry, and averages between 45 and 47 miles to the gallon — when operated between 65mph and 75mph. Considering the size of my ass, it burns a lot more gas when steadily pushed at higher speeds. My plan was to pull into the food and fuel stop at Allentown, and replace the 5 quarts of gas burned off in the first 60 miles. This way, I’d make Bloomsburg without looking for additional gas, regardless of how fast I had been traveling. There is nothing more frustrating to me than to have to deal with screaming knees and a glowing gas light when all I really want to do is call it a day.

I was ten miles south of Allentown when I noticed two peculiar things: daylight was draining from the atmosphere at the rate of 10 lumens per second; and my hands felt like ice. The sun didn’t set... It sank to the horizon like it had been assassinated. And the blood in my hands turned to slush, before being pumped directly to my balls.

“What strange bullshit is this,” I thought.

The rundown rest area on the Turnpike at Allentown, Pa. has been replaced by a modern food court and instant caloric ass-expansion system. Three sides of the interior are dedicated to pizza, pasta, roast beef sandwiches, fried chicken, and cinnamon buns that will inflate your ass like a life raft on a stalled Carnival Cruise ship. I wanted a scalding cup of hot coffee, and made the mistake of standing in the Starbuck’s line. This concession was staffed entirely by zombies, who had eaten each other’s brains. One vapid cashier was taking orders at the rate of continental drift, while a team of two alchemists struggled to construct coffee drinks requiring no less than 72 ingredients.

“My simple order of one, plain cup of black coffee will delight them,” I thought. Nothing could have been farther than the truth.

The cashier received my request with a nod, grabbed a cup, and then tilted the coffee pot, a large, square metal container, to drain the last out of it.

“Not for me,” I said cheerfully.

“You want me to make a fresh pot,” she asked.

“No,” I replied. “I’ve been standing in this line for 20 minutes just waiting to see if lightning would hit both of us in the ass.”

This response puzzled her, as she had never seen lightning hit anyone in the ass before, and it was highly unlikely that a fire had ever appeared under her’s. But the approving response from the crowd must have troubled her somewhat as she went through the motions off adding ground coffee to a filter, and sticking it under the faucet.

I remained standing there like a cigar store Indian while she took other orders. After processing the third one, she informed me I should move down to the receiving area, a counter about which a crowd of people hovered like the arriving flights in a pattern at Newark International Airport.

I emitted a sigh that sounded like a zeppelin deflating. “You want me to wait on another line while an expert reads a purchasing order before pouring hot black, liquid into a cup?”

She blinked at me, realizing this was a trick question. Then she poured my coffee herself and handed it to me with all the grace and aplomb of a Romanov attempting to get rid of a red from the receiving line at the Winter Palace.

Let the gentle reader take note that I do not find this performance typical of all Starbuck’s. The one on US-30 in Exton is staffed by coffee-conscious Kamikaze pilots. And the one in Missoula, Montana used to have an incredibly beautiful blond working the drive-up window, who presented me with a cookie because I had to wait a minute for a fresh pot. But your staff is only as good as their training.

My joints were looser from the hour’s run on the K75, but I was still puzzled by the cold. This had never been an issue before, and the data on my Droid Incredible still showed the temperature above 40º (F). I killed an hour and a half at the rest area, before donning an additional sweater and a heavier pair of gloves. These were Nubuck insulated leather gloves from Gerbings, with the new micro-wire heating elements. While bulkier than I like, they would be much warmer than the pair I had on — even though the bike was not yet wired for electrics.

Now ladies and gentleman, your hero faced a moment of truth. While many of you routinely ride in the dark, I do not. I have done so on occasion, and liked it. But I do not go out of my way to pursue it — despite the fact my bike is illuminated by 2 million candlepower. In fact, the last time I have ridden in the dark was two years ago. I am a superstitious rider and like everything to feel perfect. The Air Hawk seat felt odd... The new Gerbings gloves felt odd... And pulling out into the darkness felt odd. Traffic had faded quite a bit and I had a lane to myself. The ultra-bright Osram “Night Penetrator Darkness Ball-Buster” headlight that cost me $60 from Great Britain threw a bright white corridor of light ahead of the machine. It was very gratifying. Flicking to the high-beam illuminated mile markers several hundred yards ahead of the bike.

“Not bad,” I thought.

Then I switched on the 50-watt MotoLight spots, mounted down low on the brake calipers. These lamps are mostly used for daytime visibility, but bathed the motorcycle in a basket of forward-shining light that went a long way toward giving me a clear view of the shoulder, and of the pavement on the left.

“Cool,” I thought.”

And then for the piece de resistance: the PIAA High Intensity Discharge Lights. These are lightning bolts continually squeezed in a self-contained ballast and lamp arrangement, mounted on the crash frame. They take about 20 seconds to power up and the left one comes on a few seconds before the right. The light is of the blue/white intensity and enables me to read a newspaper two miles away. An abandoned farm shed came into view, and then vaporized in the light. These lights were a $600 investment, plus $150 to install.

“Fucking eh,” I thought.

Though my eyes were glued to the road, and wide open for the little orange/red reflections that indicate rats on stilts headed for the pavement, the ride became outright etherial. I know the road well and 15-miles north of Allentown it dashes through a mountain tunnel, with a sharp turn to the left. This was a pisser. Crossing into the valley on the other side brings you past the Town of Jim Thorpe (formerly Mauch Chunk), where the road begins to climb a series of ridges. The scenery was of no consequence in the dark, but the changes in elevation were met with an increase in RPM as the engine challenged heavier resistance.

Above: This picture was taken from the shoulder of the Pennsylvania Turnpike on the way home, two days later. My joints were screaming so badly I didn't feel like taking pictures, but grabbed this one to prove I made the run. This is looking through the scratched windscreen on "Fireballs." Picture by the author.

Though the highway is an interstate and has none of the hairpin curves you would expect from a country road in the mountains, this part of Pennsylvania is highly rural and loaded with deer. I found it exhilarating to tear around curves, with the tach and speedo needles parallel to each other, as I knifed through the darkness in a flash of light. Traffic had dissolved to nothing and I was less concerned with aggravating other drivers with my lights. Many cars now sport xenon headlights, which aggravate the shit out of me. Even the low beams are blinding, and leave me blinking for a good 15 or 20 seconds after they pass. I have my revenge now as these cornea-scratching PIAAs light up the road like it was a hospital operating room.

Above: Still on the shoulder, this shot shows the pleasant nature of Pennsylvania countryside, before 4 lanes of interstate cut through it. Photo by the author.

A truck driver, three or four football field-lengths ahead of me, flashed his back-up spots in protest, and I killed the PIAAs. They cannot be flicked on and off and require another full 15 or 20 seconds to come back up to full brightness. These unbelievably bright lights picked up the tenderized remains of full deer carcasses on the pavement several times, as well as lengths of blown truck tires that would have packed a greater surprise a second or two later.

The ride would have been perfect if not for two things. The first was the pain in my left hip and right knee. This discomfort was greatly reduced by the purchase of an Air Hawk Comfort System, which amounts to an inflatable seat cushion wrapped in a non-skid cover. This eliminates 40% of the bumps (and a major source of pain). The Air Hawk also gives me a bit of knee relief from some added height, but does not affect flat-footing the bike as the air in the seat moves toward the back as I slide to the front. (It takes about two breaths to inflate this cushion, leaving it with a very quashy, ass-coddling surface.) Still, the joint pain was substantial and I would pull over twice on the 90-mile stretch north of Allentown.

The second ride qualifier was the lingering cold in my hands. Despite the increased thickness and insulation of the Gerbings gloves (not yet connected), my hands were cold. I got off the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike at I-80 (West), and sat warming them on the engine casings for a full 15 minutes. This was a real puzzler as my hands never get cold in weather this mild. According to the GPS, I only had 49 more miles to go, but creaky joints would cause me stop again, a scant 13-miles from my hotel.

Above: This is my idea of the perfect parking space: 8 feet away from the lobby of the Comfort Inn and Suites. The side bags pop off and become convenient luggage. Click to get a close up look at the Air Hawk Comfort System on the Russell Day-Long Saddle.

I usually ride in the company of one or two others... But sometimes, you have to ride alone to get the full effect of the motorcycle experience. I really cranked it on whenever I got moving on this run, undoubtedly riding much faster than was prudent. This machine is a great equalizer and I can run and play just like the other kids with the throttle wide open. My thoughts are as weightless as I feel on this BMW. There are times when I think the bike is silent and the whine of the engine is coming from my soul.

The sound of the K75 has been the subject of debate among riders for years as there is no good connotation for the word "whine." To the untrained ear, this model BMW does have a whine to it. But so does a bullet fired from a beautifully crafted Mannlicher rife.


Above: The classic full-stock Mannlicher rifle... A thing of beauty, like the BMW K75. Photo from the internet.

Now there are those among you who raised an eyebrow reading the line that stated I spent "an hour and a half" in the food and fuel. "What the hell was he doing," you may well ask. Quite frankly, I was looking at some of the most beautiful and sexiest women I had ever seen on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, or in Manhattan, for that matter. These were ladies who had gotten out of cars dressed in a manner that suggested they were rushing off somplace to specifically reverse the process. And there were a lot of them. But the great motorcycle god works in strange ways, especially for the pure of heart. That delay spared me the invigorating pleasure of two rain squals that had passed 25 miles to the north. The road was still wet in places when I got there, with a hint of spray evident. But this was no bother as my PIAA HID lights dried the pavement with one pass.

The bike ran flawlessly, and as achey as I was, I took my exit from the interstate with a hint of regret. The engine wound down like the last line in an epic opera, resuming the factory idle without catching a second breath. The darkened face of the GPS pointed at the hotel, and I pulled up like I was carrying a dispatch from the fires of hell. Several ranking members of the MOA board were outside, smoking cigars and sipping spring water from glass slippers shed by debutantes.

“Care for a cigar,” asked a gentleman I had not yet met.

“Can I have one you haven’t been smoking,” I asked.

The lobby doors of the Comfort Suites opened, from which poured the fireplace-heated hospitality of a bartender named Rudy. The adventure was in full swing... And for the life of me I couldn’t remember what the hell it was I’d been worried about all day.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2010
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

Constantly accused of never riding, Riepe suddenly takes off in desperate traffic and pitch blackness... The man makes no sense.

Charlie6 said...

Only you Jack can make a ride to a board of directors meeting for the MOA seem like an adventure.

I curse that arthritis of yours, not only for the pain it causes you of course, but because it deprives us by depriving you of riding opportunities and experiences therein which apparently only happen to you. These you share with us so freely and we live/enjoy vicariously through your stories.

Natasha, by the way, is back home again.

dom

ps: I ride at night when I must, and I don't like it. Though there is something magical about doing so while its snowing....

Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Circle Blue said...

+1 to Dom. I, too, "curse that arthritis of yours." Not a stranger to pain myself, I wished we all could be.

Thanks for taking me along on this ride. I particularly enjoyed the scene at Starbucks.

Ride on.
~Keith

Gary5410 said...

I sooo wish you could ride with me so it could be documented in words like these! Great story!! Maybe you should follow me to Yellowknife in your Suburban (with the K75 in tow to ride into town for the Great North Riders Dinner) this summer! :-)
Gary Christman

bobskoot said...

Jack:

. . . at least you made it in time for dinner. Every ride is an adventure

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Steve Williams said...

You should move to the central part of Pennsylvania and be done with the highway insanity and embrace a more sensible world. Except this Monday. Everyone will be toting a gun looking for something to shoot.

Great post as always. Hope your BMW responsibilities go well and your arthritis eases.

Steve

Shannon T Baker said...

Jack,

It is amazing. You can build more drama and conflict into a coffee stop that I could a run in with the Bandidos. Another good read. Thanks.

Did you figure out why the cold was affecting your hands more than it normally would? It could be from the weight loss and commensurate loss of insulation or something that a doctor should know about.

Oh, and when we meet up for either Key West or Indianapolis remind me to tell you about the night ride and the funny looking cat...

Hang in there.

-Buddha

Backroads Buddha

RichardM said...

Another great story. Even a trip to Starbucks is interesting reading. Since dark and frozen usually occur about the same time around here, I also don't ride much in the dark. But your lighting setup sounds interesting and effective.

Richard

BMW-Dick said...

Dear Jack:
The arthritis hasn't effected your writing ability. This is a well crafted Riepesque solo adventure that I'm only partially sorry I missed.
The idea of being cold while riding in the dark with your B-52 landing lights in my mirrors is not enticing -- of course you could have led like a cattle prod on a locomotive.
The heated gloves and jacket were essential yesterday. Gerry and I saw snow flakes on the way home from Hermy's.
Don't put the bike away for the winter. I'm convinced we still have a few good riding days before the snow and ice arrive in Pennsylvania.

rob haut said...

Jack, You have a gift.

BeemerGirl said...

Hi Jack!

I can empathsize with your coffee stop. I've had many of those types out here too.

But I am glad that you enjoyed the ride (for the most part). Hope the arthritis eases up on you sometime. Hope the rest of the adventure is warmer than the beginning!

-Lori

Nikos said...

Jack

I had a long conversation with Mrs Nikos about you over breakfast this morning:I had taken her for a birthday treat to an iconic Art Deco restored hotel by the seaside (I may blog this soon) - I had spent most of the stay trying to read your blog on my poxy useless mobile phone screen whose web browser crashes everytime a picture appears. After much thought (she is a medic by profession), the conclusion she came to is that you should step up to a K75 RT model to benefit from the wind protection to your knees - there is nothing worse, apparently, for arthritus than the cold.

All the best to you from freezing Britain, N

Stacy said...

Jack, I think of you whenever I see one of those "The Most Interesting Man in the World" commercials.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

Thank you for your kind note. That run up to Bloomsburg was a trifle out of character for me, but a departure from the mundane is the whole point of riding — isn't it?

I expect to ride as often as I can this winter, or at least until the road is covered with sand and salt. I used to think that big kids' motocycles had the kind of stuff on then that made them special. My bike now has all of it: custom saddle, custom riding lights, heated seat, and being wired for electric gear. Now all I need are new joints.

I'm glad you got the Ural back. I want to hear more about the new alternator, and your expectations of the same.

Thanks for writing in, Dom. And I hope your winter is a mild one with lots of riding.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Circle Blue:

You are welcome to join me anytime you like. I read your blog with amazement and with admiration. Get the most out of your bike and out of life.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Gary:

Thank you for your kind note and words of praise. I have two questions for you:
1) Is the road paved to Yellow Knife?
2) Can you give me a 10-day head start?

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

I read your note and busted out laughing. I pulled into the Allentown food and fuel for gas at 5:40pm. It was 7:30 when I left, and just before 10pm when I pulled into the hotel parking lot. I hold the world's record for the longest 150-mile run.

But I did have fun.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve:

I am headed out to your direction one late spring weekend in 2011. I am going to check into a nice little place on the edge of a small town, off Rt. 322, and invite you to breaklfast the next day. Then if you hsve time, I'd be delighted if you showed me around some of the roads in your neck of the woods. Maybe it will be a weekend on which you will be "road testing" another German bike.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Shannon (Buddha):

Thanks for the compliment. Leslie (Stiffie) says its better to read my stories than to witness them first hand standing in line behind me at Starbucks. I do find a way into the spotlight.

I suspect there are a number of factors at work regarding my new found sensitivity to the cold. The first of these is age... The days when I'd run outside in an undershirt (in February) to get the mail, chase the dog, or shoot a grouse are over. Another factor is a dramatic change in what I eat too. The carbs are gone.

But I spent the afternoon wiring up the K75 for heated gear, and whule I was at it, I connected the heated seat. Now when I go out, my jacket, gloves, and ass should all be around 98º.

That should take care of that.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Richard M.:

I had a few errands to run on a Saturday night over a year ago, and noticed that my right side MotoLight had crapped out. This was no big deal, until some stupid kid (wearing black pants and a black hoodie) dashed out of a driveway on a black bicycle (without a light).

I missed that little asshole by a foot. Since then, I have not ventured out without an electric blaze of light burning the air ahead of the bike. Naturally, this lowers the odds that some dope won't see me either.

It helps to have a 700-watt alternator though.

Thank you for reading Twisted Roads and for writing in. I hope you have a great Holiday season.

Fondest regards,
Jackl • reep • Toad

Woody said...

My son is staring at me because I'm sitting at the kitchen table, laughing so hard, there are tears in my eyes. I think I pee'd a little on this line:

“I’ve been standing in this line for 20 minutes just waiting to see if lightning would hit both of us in the ass.”

Meanwhile, back at the rest stop, Jack has a special headlight and 2 sets of driving lights throwing off 2 million candle power, but his fingers are frozen.

Normally, I'd attempt to throw a couple of lame spit-balls at the battleship, but I've learned that I'm way out of my league.

So instead of calling you a dumbass for not having your gloves wired, I have a simple suggestion.

For your next 'cold-weather' trip, unbolt the motolights and stick them in your gloves. If you need some extra light, it's readily available and you have warm hands.

A simple 'fuck-you' as an expression of your gratitude would be sufficient. I'll offer 'you're welcome' in advance :-)

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dick:

Gerry Cavanaugh came by today and we made some adjustments to the pigtails for charging up the battery and for running the electrics. We got rid of one extra cable on the battery and used an adaptor to serve two functions. Then Gerry and I discussed various other ways of positioning the Gerbings heat controller, other than the "belt mounted" concept, which sucks.

I also put the fuse in the line that activated the heater in my seat. I now consider the machine "winterized." I loike to take a practice run up to Strasburg this week to see how the system works.

I'm glad you liked this story and thanks for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Rob Haut:

You have a gift too... You always manage to say exactly the right thing at the exactly the right time. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Thanks for reading "Twisted Roads" and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Beemer Girl (Lori):

I never hesitate to say "thank you," when someone renders me good service, even going so far as to say something to their manager. But there is no excuse for stupid nor half-assed service. And I always have something to say about that.

I had a great trip that weekend. Know how I know it was great? I was sorry it ended. Thank you for reading my tripe, and for writing in anyway. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. And for the exception of Christmas Eve, I hope your rides are snow-free.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

I am flattered that you and Mrs. Nikos are compelled to duscuss my situation first thing in the morning, though it must be a drag to hit the highlight of the day before 9am. I can just imagine the wild gesturing as my name is bandied about like a shuttlecock, over marmalade and kippers.

While I must confess there is fine logic in your wife's thinking, her conclusion is flawed. At 56-years-old, I am almost two young to ride a straight K75. The fully-faired K75RT would require me to be at least 87-years-old, and on life support too, perhaps.

I am thinking that windproof-heated pants might provide a benefit... However that would demand the same amount of electricity per mile as a small New England town (pop. 10,000) would consume for heat in a month. (I beat you to it.)

I hope your Holiday season got off to a great start. Thank you for thinking of me, and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Stacy:

That was one of the nicest things anyone has said to me in a long time. Of course, now I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Woody:

Your response had me in stitches too.

Wasn't my situation just absurd? The bike was glowing like an ember and my hands were fucking freezing. And like I said, I didn't think it was that cold out. Whilr my hands were cold, there were not as cold as they got on the Mac-Pac Haiggis run to New Jersey (27º). That was the day that Bregstein laughed a all of us because of his electrics, then nearly froze his ass off because he hadn't plugged them in.

I installed the appropriate pigtail (on the battery) as soon as I returned, and will now have the benefit of a heated seat, gloves, and full jacket liner.

I'm glad I gave you a good laugh tonight. It was my pleasure. Thanks for reading Twisted Roads.

Fondest regards,
Jack • Reep • Toad

Nikos said...

Jack

On the basis that you are only as old as the K75 you feel times 4, that puts me exactly on target, and your machine is how old?

Best wishes from the frozen wastelands of Northern England, N

PS1 Tubbyballs is 13 years young.
PS2 The kippers were delicious and came from the Isle of Man

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos,

As my K75 is 16-years-old that would make me 64-years-old, about 8 years ahead of schedule. But this arthritis makes me feel like I am in my 80's. My friend Brian Curry has a K75RT, with the full fairing in red. It does make for a striking bike... But I have really grown to love the profile of this Scout Parabellum Fairing. With the authority bars, it gives this bike a reallu unique appearance.

But in truth, if my luck changes, I am going to purchase another K75s, and mount a Sprint/Triumph fairing on it. It will be the rebirth of Blueballs. And then the process of farkling this one will start again.

When I am less elephantine, I do expect windproof, heated pants will take some of the sting from these joints.

You know, Nikos, I wished you lived closer. I think you'd be fun to ride with.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Conchscooter said...

The second picture was where I blew you away on my ratty old Trumpet. Too bad you were in a cage.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conch:

Close enough, but no cigar. I look forward to the day when we ride together in a staggered formmation, each in 5th gear, at 6,000 RPM. Oh wait... You hsve no way of meaasuring RPM, do you?

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Classic Velocity said...

Dear Jack, judging from the photographs, those lights really are bright ;-) I live near Allentown, but have never actually stopped at that rest area. Given the women you describe, I'll have to make a detour next time I'm over that way. Sounds like it is worth the toll! Great writing as usual.

Wayne (Classic Velocity)

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Wayne:

I was just sitting there, minding my own business, when one of the most gorgeous examples of the most perfect human form sashayed past. I nearly applauded. This then happened about 50 times, like I was on a runway at the Paris fashion show. I thought, "What he hell... Bloomsburg can wait."

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Brady said...

You're right, Jack, I'm not old. You're old, you poor bastard. When old man arthritis finally tries to bite my fingers off, I only hope I can still convince myself I still like riding, I might not be able to live with myself, otherwise.

As for your AirHawk Hemorrhoid pad... well, I've already got one of those. Took the damned thing all they way from VA to MN. Damned fine investment, even convinced my old man to pick one up, too. It saved my spine innumerable times. Glad to see you're in the club.

I would be remiss not to congratulate (or give you shit) your riding is an inspiration to us all, choosing to overcome your powerfully crippling disabilities is an inspiration. (Cheesy winking emoticon.)

Keep it up.

Brady
Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Brady:

Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog. I am far from throwing in the towel but without my meds, my knees don't bend. As I have said before, my rig sports a $700 Russell Day-Long Saddle, that is tyhe foundation for the Air Hawk pad. Without that Russell saddle, I'd be dead in the water too.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

irondad said...

A sturgeon lays a thousand eggs deep underneath dark waters. A silly hen lays a single egg but then goes and squawks to everyone she can about it.

( we'll skip the discussion about caviar versus juevos here )

For some of us 150 miles in freezing cold is just a warmup. You ride that distance and it sounds like a global circumnavigation. Written like a true publicity hen!

Now the other shoe:

On a serious note, some riding conditions are tough enough by themselves without adding things like arthritis.

I know I'll later kill myself for putting this in writing, but here goes.

I admire your fortitude in toughing it out without excuses.

Charlie6 said...

Irondad: It's Huevos...not juevos...

just saying...

dom

Jack Riepe said...

Dear IronDad:

Yes, you will deeply regret putting that sentiment into words. In fact, I am going to use it in my endorsements column "What Twisted Roads Readers Are Thinking..."

But I can assure you, I don't really share the half of the ordeal with my readers. I was out with an accomplished BMW "R" rider last week, who stared open-mouthed at my ten-step procedure for mounting the bike.

It takes me four separate moves to get my left foot onto the peg. And on a cold day, that can take 10 minutes.

Thank you for the compliment.

Fondest regards,
Jack • Reep • Toad

Buddha said...

Jack (my long lost father),

Playing the sympathy card won't get you out of the back child support but it will make me feel bad about the bashing I gave you about not wanting to ride in the heat...at least until something shiny distracts me, again.

Ooooh, what was that?

Hang in there

-Buddha

Backroads Buddha

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Buddha (Shannon, My Bastard Son, otherwise referred to as "That Bastard In Texas):

Just a few short weeks ago I was complaining about the heat. Tomorrow, will be my first full-fledged experiment with heated gear.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Circle Blue said...

Jack,
Good luck tomorrow with the heated gear. May it be a truly hot experience.
~Keith

Buddha said...

Jack (The King of MotoBloggers, my Biological Father, also known as That Yankee Bastard That Left Us High and Dry),

I would prefer to be called The Bastard From Texas or That Texas bastard. Either of those denote that I am actually from the greatest state in the nation rather than just simply residing here.

Good luck with the heated riding gear. Please Read The Fine Manual for this gear or at least watch National Lampoon's Family Vacation to make sure that it does not end in unpleasantness.

As a Karmic payback I will be riding today under a beautiful cloudless sky with a projected high of 79 degrees...

-Buddha

Backroads Buddha

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Circle Blue (Keith):

I was thinking of you yesterday. Thumbing through the Whitehorse gear catalogue, came across the following product: BikeVis Bullets.

These are cool and may serve your purpose for additional lighting without taxing a limited alternator. They are are small, self-adhesive, weatherproof pods, so they can be mounted just about anywhere. Put them on the side of a fairing, tucked away under a ram air scoop or on your dash or fender. And unlike power-hungry auxiliary lights, BikeVis Bullets draw only 3 one-hundredths of an amp (30mA) each! Even the smallest motorcycle or scooter can easily power several pairs of BikeVis Bullets.

They need no switch and come on with the ignition. The size of a quarter, they are $29 each! You can look at them at:
http://www.whitehorsegear.com/bikevis-bullets

The heated gear worked well in the first test this morning, but there were some concerns about the way the controller mounts to my belt.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Buddha:

The heated gear worked okay in the first test this morning, but I didn't get to really wring it out. I am going to try and d that tomorrow. The mounting system for the controller leaves a bit to be desired and I am experimenting.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Buddha said...

So, I am probably smoking crack on this one but here is an idea. Use the wiring and controller for the heated gear along with heated components just where you have arthritis. Sort of a mobile heating pad for just the affected areas. It should be possible but would it help?

-Buddha

Backroads Buddha

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Buddha:

I was thinking about that, and I'd get the ame effect with heated pants. But heated pants for me would be a custom order, drawng enough current to heat New England. And it might work, but I won't know until next year.

There are no stupid ideas — just Congress.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad