Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Guys Talk About On A Long Ride...

It was our last night on the road to Asheville, North Carolina. Pete Buchheit, Dick Bregstein and I had ridden south to attend the annual rally for the BMW Riders Association (BMW RA), which was being held on the grounds of the historic Biltmore Estate. While many in my riding club, the southeastern Pennsylvania-based Mac-Pac, easily made this 620-mile trip in one day (on back roads), the boys and I did it in three. This was partly because we came most of the way on the Blue Ridge Parkway and didn’t want to rush the experience; and mostly because of my debilitating arthritis. The pain in my knees and left hip gets pretty bad after four or five hours in the saddle, but does not reset itself to “zero” over night. I start out the second day with the pain meter reading 25 percent of total tolerance, and can look forward to 50 percent at the beginning of day three. I am fortunate to have patient, and kind riding buddies who are willing to accommodate my limitations.

Above: This is one of my favorite pictures of "Blueballs," a 1986 BMW K75. It was 20 years old in this picture and was routinely pulling the ton (no pun intended nor accepted). This is one of my favorite pictures. It was taken by Dick Bregstein shortly before we pulled into Asheville. Four days later, this beautiful motorcycle was totaled.

I try to compensate by sparking outrageous good times and by being the catalyst for impossibly funny situations. On the way down, we stayed in one place that had great accommodations, but which could only be reached by a long, negatively-cambered gravel road that had been washed out in 10 places. The office was a mile away from our rooms, and in hindsight, we should have gone to dinner first. I don’t like gravel under any circumstances, but I absolutely detest it at the end of a long, hot day, when my hips and knees are making me see things in shades of plaid. I willingly admit I had a couple of touch and go spots on this stretch, where I almost dropped the K75 in the washout ruts.

“I think we’re in for the night,” said Pete, looking down the gravel ski slope. “To hell with dinner, we’ll just eat a big breakfast.”

Bregstein agreed.

“Fuck that,” I said. “It’s our last night together as a little group on this trip and we are going to have a party. I’ll call the woman who manages this place and offer her $40 to drive us into town. There has to be a pizza place or a Chinese joint somewhere around here.”

Above: Beer and Chinese food on the verandah at dusk. Pete Buchheit, Dick Bregstein and I (and later Clyde Jacobs, when we voted Bregstein off the island) have had some of the best times together, drinking whiskey, smoking cigars, and watching the stars come out on distant bike trips.

Above: One of the many vistas on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here I am parked behind Pete Buchheit's 2003 BMW K1200S. I am sitting on my bike in every picture taken on this trip because it hurt too much to dismount. Picture taken by Pete Buchheit. Buchheit and Bregstein were in a competition to see who could take the most unflattering picture of me.

I should mention that this is our standard procedure. When we arrive at a hotel in a rural community where the concept of a cab is alien, we bribe someone at the hotel to drive us to a local gin mill or tavern, where we can get a decent taste of the local cuisine, and knock off about 20 drinks. This way no one is anywhere near a motorcycle with half a bag on. Neither Peter nor Dick (both names are synonymous with penis in colloquial US English) wanted to deal with this gravel stretch again, either to save me the embarrassment of crying, or to save themselves the effort of picking up my bike.

But I was hungry and had a particular hankering for Chinese food.

A call to the manager resulted in a tone of surprise.

“I thought BMW riders could ride over anything to go anywhere,” she said. “That road really has you spooked?”

“Not me,” I replied. “But those other two guys are old and they get frightened easily.” It was then I made the offer of $40. She seemed equally surprised that I would pay someone that much for a short ride into town.

“I’m baking a surprise for my husband tonight and want to get it done before he comes home. But if you’re ready we can go now. Town is only about ten minutes away. I’ll be right over to pick you up.”

Pete and Dick were each sitting in rocking chairs, looking out over the Shenandoah Valley. Pete was sipping a vodka martini and Dick was drinking vodka and prune juice, which he calls a “Squatting Russian.”

“You guys aren’t going to believe this, but she is willing to take me into town provided I throw her a fast pop, before her husband gets home.”

The unholy two looked at me and laughed.

“I’m serious,” I said. “She just told me flat out... She didn’t want the money... Just a good old-fashioned, meat-tenderizing, plowing of the lower forty. And she jumped right in the truck to come and get it.

“Aren’t you going to shower?” asked Dick, with a total look of incredulousness.

“She told me she wants it fast, down and dirty... Before the old man gets home. I’m just gonna lay there like the Woolworth Building and let her jump up and down on Thor’s hammer.”

“When is he supposed to get back?” asked Pete. “You might be cutting this kind of fine.”

Before I could fabricate an answer, a jeep came bouncing up the road, and the manager, who was an attractive brunette in her mid-40’s, yelled out the window, “We’ve got 40 minutes before Bob comes home. Let’s get ‘er done.”

I thought Pete and Dick were going to shit themselves.

“They are kind of old,” she said to me, as we headed down the gravel track.

And then with a graciousness that you can only find in the American south, this lady whom I barely knew for more than ten minutes said to me, “Keep your money and take the car. I’m baking a cake for my husband and I don’t want to rush.” The Chinese joint was 15 minutes away. You would think that Chinese food in rural North Carolina would taste like shit (compared with what you’d find in New York City’s Chinatown) but this stuff was great. I ordered five entrees, plus egg rolls and spare-ribs. (Did you ever notice how you get the munchies on a road trip about 10pm, and wish there was something like egg roll or spareribs to eat?) I put $20 worth of gas in the car. The kitchen was a hubbub of baking activity when I got back. The manager was up to her smile in flour and eggs, and just told me to leave the jeep in the driveway, with the keys on the counter, and to take the golf cart up to the cabin. I folded two twenties in half, and left them under the keys.

“Did you do it?” asked Pete when I pulled up.

“Of course. She was unbelievable,” I said, passing out the Chinese food.

“So what happened?” pressed Bregstein.

“What do you think happened? She made me sit in a big recliner, then climbed on with her legs over the arms and whaled away.”

Pete and Dick looked at each other in total amazement.

“Did you pay her anything for the car?” asked Pete.

“She didn’t want money... She wanted certified Jersey City love python, and she got it.” With that, I absolutely refused to say anymore about the subject, and neither one of these guys could tell if they were being hosed or not.

Checking out the next morning, the manager told us to help ourselves to the coffee — but she poured mine. “You were very kind last night,” she said, jingling the car keys.”

“As were you,” I replied.

“Are you boys coming back this way,” she asked. And then to me, “I saved you a piece,” pointing at the cut cake.

I thought I heard Bregstein choke.

I couldn’t look at either one of these two guys as we saddled-up and headed out for breakfast. But Pete and I have been friends for over 20 years and I knew he suspected fraud. The diner where we were having breakfast was about 5 miles distant, and it can take me that long to stretch my knees when first starting out. I found a tight parking space in front, and reached around behind me (without looking) to fish my folding cane out of the top case. I wasn’t having much luck with the latch, when suddenly, another pair of hands popped the lock and handed me the cane. Looking over my shoulder, I saw the sweetest little old southern lady, wearing a kind of bonnet.

“Two pairs of hands are sometimes better than one,” she said with a smile. “I used to ride a Harley Davidson before the war.” I figured she meant World War Two, but the waitress in the diner called her "Miss Gracie," and Bregstein thought she could have ridden an H-D before the War Between The States.

“You were lucky she didn’t see the Pennsylvania plate and beat the shit out you with that cane to settle the score at Gettysburg,” said Bregstein.

“Do you want us to wait while you tap that one too?” asked Pete. Some guys can be so petty at times.

The bike I was riding on that trip was Blueballs, a 1986 BMW K75, with the rare Sprint fairing. I was the machine’s third owner. Pete Buchheit had been its first. Pete was splitting off to head for Maryland after breakfast, while Dick and I were continuing on to Asheville. What none of us knew nor even suspected was that four days later that K75 would be a pile of wreckage and my trajectory would end in a Virginia hospital.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2011

47 comments:

sgsidekick said...

Once again you prove you are a BSer extraordinaire, and someone to be looked at in awe. Instead of a journey of days or hours, you took us all out for Chinese. Nice. But now I'm hungry for more.

CraigInSTL said...

Jack, another great, great story. I also just saw the TR video in the last blog for the first time. Loved it! When is your next going to appear?
Craig
P.s will be riding with you this summer as a very good friend just took a job out there and I'll ride out to visit.

Woody said...

Another masterful story. I loved it (this is my way of thanking you for agreeing with me on the black ice thread, otherwise, I'd do a squatting russian comment).

Joe Dille said...

Jack,

Great story. Still sorry to hear about your loss.

Ride Safe,

Joe

BMW-Dick said...

Dear Jack:
That was a great trip. I think that was when you coined the phrase, "Riding with these guys is reassuring, because I know help is always 50-60 miles ahead."

I don't know how you found the one Chinese Restaurant in Virginia that laced its food with Metamucil. That stuff worked like Rotorooter.

It's been raining since last night, and the top layer of snow seems to have washed away. If this keeps up, we may be able to get out before April, when gas prices "stabilize" at $5 a gallon.

Gerry said...

Wonderful story just the way you remember it. Not necessarily the way it actually happened but close. The demise of "Blueball" was however the culmination of Bregstein throughing you to the dogs. I have determined that when you lie your mouth is moving but then again you could be stuffing yourself with another Hunan meal.
More big guy, I love it.

Cantwell said...

Dear Jack,
As always, you spin a wonderful yarn.

I didn't get to do my 'President's Day' ride as planned. Instead, I put miles on my rear wheel in a different way. I drove the wheel down to Heid's Hodaka and BMW in Johnsburg because the new Avon that I had mounted at the end of July was badly dry checked. There was a crevasse on both sides of the tire about a half inch from the bead. They agreed to have it replaced, no charge.
There is another storm working it's way into the area today. We're expected to get another foot and a half. At least I got to ride in January.
I'll give you a call this weekend.

Cheers,
Michael

Charlie6 said...

Jack, a great way to start my Friday morning....

"certified Jersey City love python", you certainly have a gift for words.

Wish you had captured the looks on Dick and Pete as you related your tale.

Of course, they're following day question of “Do you want us to wait while you tap that one too?” in reference to the HD riding lady was well timed!

You really are fortunate in your having such great riding partners.

thanks

dom

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Redleg's Rides

Anonymous said...

I am so disappointed you didn't get to our spanking white love nest in Richmond General Hospital. Is that the next episode?
love and fond memories.
Nurse Spanky. xox

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sgsidekick (Tena):

You can't make shit like this up. This actually happened... And we laughed about it right up until I wrecked. Stuff like this happens all the time when the three of four of us ride together. I am hoping this summer will see more stories like this in the making.

Thanks for reading Twisted Roadsand for leaving a comment. Tell Bugser I said "hello."

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Craig:

I can't wait until circumstances bring us together on the road. I am predicting big trouble. I would love it if your adventures brought you to my neck of the woods on the third Sunday of any warm month. You could spent the previous night here (at the house) and then we could ride to the Mac-Pac breakfast.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Woody:

This was one of the easier ones to write as I just sketched it out as it happened. Riding with Buchheit and Bregstein (and to some extent Clyde Jacobs, who joined us afrter we voted Bregstein off the island). is a fertile field for really good riding stories.

That crap that dumped the guy on the Victory really didn't qualify as black ice in my opinion... But I was wrong in my finally assessment. He had no way to avoid that as it ran all across the road. I can't imagine how he could even duck-walk that beast (as it must easily weigh 900 pounds) across an ice patch.

Thanks for being a devoted reader of Twisted Roads

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Joe Dille:

I'm glad I could give you a bit of a smile today. It is a pleasure to get a rise outr of accomplished riders like yourself.

Thank you for reading Twisted Roads.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dick:

I have decided to serialize the higher moments of that ride, and there were quite a few. If you recall, there are two distinct sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and I think the better half is in North Carolina.

Dick, do you recall where the road is carved into the side of the ridge? It drops down into a vallley rim, them pops up over the top? I have hit that strecth twice and the memory of it still takes my breath away.

We've had some good times on the road, eh Tonto?

Here's to a lot more this year.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Gerry:

How can you call me a liar? You weren't even there. And even if you were, it would have happened just the same way. I can assure you that Pete and Bregstein read that piece and busted out laughing. The whole thing was utterly preposterous.

But it's bits and pieces of a run that make the trip worthwhile. I m looking forward to riding with you this summer, and making you the brunt of a good story. In fact, I think I have one.

Thanks for reading Twisted Roads.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Cantwell:

I have another video in my files... One of you pulling out of the driveway. And when you least expect it: Zap, you get nailed on Twisted Roads. I'm sure you will be in a couple of pieces this summer.

Too bad about President's day. But I'm sure we ca come up with abnother occasion to ride.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

To those who read Twiated Roads frequently, they might think that Dick Bregstein, Clyde Jacobs, Pete Buchheit and I are the original "Four Desperados." But the truth is I have over 60 close riding buddies, many of whom have made me feel like I was Sonny Barger over the pat five years. This is why I cannot mention the Mac-Pac without getting teary-eyed. Of course, I would never want those merciless bastards to know I felt this way.

Thanks for taking the time to read Twisted Roads and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nurse Spanky,

I am working up to the crash, but I don't know if it will be the next episode or the one after that. Thank you for reading Twisted Roads, and for thinking bout me when you get your vibrator out.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Confidently, Ihor said...

Dick and Pete are co-gold-medalists when it comes to deciding the winner of the photography competition, the ultimate gullibility prize, and the how tolerant can one be marathon. Lucky you!! Sympathies and congrats to Pete and Dick.

Steve Williams said...

I have to admit (again) that you are a great storyteller and possess the requisite command of the English language to bring it to life. It probably doesn't hurt that you are in touch with the thoughts and dreams of men.

I was going to go to lunch now but I can't get a picture out of my head.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks
Follow me on TWITTER

DC said...

Dear Jack,

Another gem. Especially liked your 50 year jump beyond where I thought you were going (WWI) to date the helpful biddie.

Spring is trying to get to us, when it does, let's find out when Dick is in a buying mood and take a ride to Jenny's.

Dave

Jack Riepe said...

Dear DC (Dave Case):

So much for your anonymity. I'm glad you liked the piece this morning. I really can't do enough for Peter and Dick, and today's blog proves it.

Jenny's is a good place and a decent run from here. I'm hoping to be in bretter shape this April.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

Don't be misled... Whenever a nice piece of road beckons, they leave me flat.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

Friends like Pete and Dick are like the gift that keeps on giving (clap). I'd like you, one of my oldest friends, to meet them, two of my riding friends, here at the house one day. You can all commiserate.

Fondesat regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve Williams (Scooter In The Sticks):

Thank you for your kind note of encouragement. I just finished a class at the local community college titled, "How to write good." It has really helped me .

I find the first step in putting my thoughts to paper include, "what don't I want Leslie to find out about this trip?" Then I attribute all that stuff to Bregstein.

Many people criticize my approach to riding, which in addition to the mysticism of the road and all that horse shit, includes having a great time, partying, and possibly getting laid. And if it doesn't happen, then I like to pretend.

Dick and Pete have a common dream, in which I ride into a pool of quicksand, and naked Victoria Secret models throw me greased ropes in a feeble attempt to save me.

Thanks for reading Twisted Roads, and for providing me with the blogging example I try to follow: Scooter In The Sticks. (It's hard to believe that I looked at your blog and said to Leslie, "I want mine to look like this one." And Leslie replied, "That's not possible. This guy is sincere and has something of substance to say." Can you imagine how cutting this woman would be if she didn't love me?)

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Roy said...

Dear Slim,

The late great E.B. White was able to write the most interesting stories about the most every day occurrences -e.g. taking the dog to the vet, going for a ride on the subway or buying a Christmas tree. It is exactly what, in my view, a writer is supposed to do.

You, me lad, possess the same rare and enviable skill.

Now it's fine that you write about the Mac Pac and motor cycles, but you might also try writing about other things and perhaps in a more serious way.

Take a ride up to Jersey City. You can stay at my place and we can take a look around. Then you can write about how the city has changed.

You could catch a movie at The Loews Jersey and write about that! This weekend they're screening three films featuring Bogart and Bacall - To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep and Dark Passage.

And so you your trip isn't a complete waste of time, we could also head down to Courntey's Cafe West Side and hoist a few.

I'll call you soon and provide you with all the curse words I couldn't use in this public forum.

Major Pettigrew

Chris Luhman said...

Another interesting story Jack. Too bad about the blue bike. It's always sad to see one totaled out

bobskoot said...

Jack:

did anyone ever tell you that you look magnificent on your mighty K75 ?

bob
Wet Coast Scootin

Aurelio said...

Jack,
I've only just recently started reading your blog.You are truly a raconteur of all things revolving around two wheels. You have evoked many smiles and reminiscences. I rode BMWs for over 35 years and had to stop due to hip/back problems and I feel your pain and admire your perseverance. About a year ago, at my wife's insistence, bought a Vespa. It has restored some of the joie de vivre that two wheels evoked, but for the long trips with friends...well I guess two 12" wheels are better than not riding at all.

Nikos said...

Jack

I've been a little distracted of late due mainly to a farkelisation fest on Ferguson (my decaying R1150GS tractor) so it came as a bit of a shock to find that I had almost missed 2 of your tales of TUV Certified daring and mamaraderie.

Is a"Peter" really a "William"?

Toodle Pip, N

Allen Madding said...

reep,

Another excellent story and very well written. I have spent some limited time riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoyed every minute of it. I regret that I have yet to ride it from end to end, bit it is on my list.

I hate to hear that arthritis is interfering with your riding so significantly, but at least you are able to make the best of the situation.

I have visited the Biltmore as well and have occassionally mentioned that we should revisit it at some point.

Keep riding and writing.

-Peace

Asheville said...

I felt sad for your lost. but great post you have there.Asheville Used Motorcycles

Anonymous said...

A friend in Key West suggested i read your stories and this one quite reminded me of an encounter I had just before Ernest Hemingway went off to see to that trouble they were having in Spain.
Frankly my dear, I don't understand why you held back. Fornication is the best form of exercise my doctor told me. But that was years ago of course.
Yours in the pink
Shirley Steinblatt MD

Camilla Jessop said...

I think you are such a talented writer, Mr Riepe. But it's a shame that you have to spoil such a good motorcycle-read with smutty asides. My late Grandfather, Edgar, would have got on very well with you - except for the innuendo.

motonomad said...

Jack,

Nobody said life is fair. If it were, you would have been totaled and that beautiful K75 would have rolled away with a few bumps and bruises.

Thanks for the memories....some of them actually true.

MotoNomad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Major Pettigrew:

I get the urge to write about all kinds of other topics, but indulging myself in these fancies would mean having less time to write about motorcycles, and that is something I am not quite ready to do.

And in truth, I get sick of writing about motorcycle stuff too, but by that time, I don't feel like writing about anything. I would be delighted to come to Jersey City, to hit Loew's, and to hit the Park Tavern. I feel sorry for the current generation of folks, who have never seen a movie in a movie palace, as they were built in the '30s.

I also feel sorry for those folks who do not have a neighborhood bar, like the Park Tavern. It seems I am going to be doing a run up to New York City one weekend. Maybe that might be the time for a get together. I will be coming up on Fireballs, now that the weather is changing, so I need to find a secure garage in which to leave the bike. I have no intentions of leaving it at the curb on Duncan Avenue.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and for leaving a comment. I know biker stories are not yor forte.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Chris:

Sometimes the best part of a ride is a snippet of dialogue, a thirty-second flash of terror, or a reoccurring memory of the sunset, the moonrise, or a woman's shape by candlight. I just felt like writing up this one.

Thanks for reading it, and for leaving a comment.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

Not exactly... But I have had adoring women say to me that I looked "Mighty" on my "Magnificent" K75.

Thanks for reading and for commenting.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Aurelio:

Welcome to the twisted world of "Twisted Roads." While my current ride is a BMW K75, and a 16-year-old one to start, I try hard to put myself in the perspective of all riders. I am fighting a losing battle with arthritis, and I will eventually need to spend a year out of circulation, between surgeries and recoveries.

On the subject of scooters, the step-through feature of a scooter can be a great way to get around throwing your leg over the saddle of a tall BMW. And the advent of BMW's new scooter, with 80 horse-power and full-sized wheels, may get around certain scooter limitations. For example, BMW's scooter has 9 more horsepower than the K75.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you are a member of the BMW MOA, you will also see that I have a monthly column. Thanks for taking the time to write in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

There is never a rush to farkelize an R1150GS tractor as they have a half-life of 25,000 years. Drop me a line when you start to fall behind with my Twisted Rosds episodes, and I'll slow down.

Thanks for reading, for catching up, and for dropping me a line.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Madding:

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an amazing ride with something for all skill levels (except rank beginner). It is beautiful, charming, and seductive. It is also slow, and ideal for riders who aren't pressed for time.

The arthritis is steadily getting worse, and I am worried about this riding season. But my luck changes for better or worse all the time. Things are bound to pick up.

Thank you for reading my tripe and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Asheville Used Motorcycles:

Thanks for reading my blog and for dropping by. I think this is going to be a great year for used motorcycles.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dr. Steinblatt:

The only friend I have in Key West is a dickless Triumph rider who takes his instructions from his dog. The hotel manager in the story really didn't hit on me, but who can tell where things would have gone if she had.

Thank you for reading my blog and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Camilla Jessop:

Bless your near petrified heart, Dear. I promise I will write my next piece without a hint of sexual inneuendo. It will read like a minute-by-minute account of an English honeymoon.

Thank you for reading my blog and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear MotoNomad;

If life was fair, I would have broken my fall on Jennifer Anniston. This blog episode is as accurate as grand jury testimony. When I lie you object to the fact I did glorify your feeble contribution to the ride conversation. And when I tell the truth you object to not being let off.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

In all sincerity, Ihor said...

I think that your over sanitized and censored blog is becoming too much like a column in Highlights. Your future instalments should allow a free reign of topics and vocabulary. Any objections posed by readers are nonsense, unless the source is a nun backed by a class of 3rd graders. Your blazing blog at full force would cleanse these Vestal Virgins from your readership, no loss to anyone,leaving behind a ashen stack of glazed bone and dental fillings.

Count me in on a JC visit. Haven't seen Roy in more than a decade.

Classic Velocity said...

Dear Jack,

More great imagery and another great story. "Jersey City Love Python", great laughs, that phrase is a keeper.