Monday, January 9, 2012

The Throttle Or The Breast...

Two sensations to which I have never grown accustomed are holding a woman’s breast in my hand; and twisting the throttle of a well-tuned motorcycle. While each is about as different as two actions can be, both leave me breathless and utterly euphoric. The breast caress is generally accomplished in seclusion, amid whispers and an exchange of soft looks. The throttle twist is best savored when it puts you out in front of your riding buddies, or just ahead of the mundane thoughts that hold everyone else back.

I refuse to write a word of appreciation for the female breast. To me, it’s like expressing gratitude for oxygen. There are breasts, therefore poetry, sunsets, love letters, moon rises, candle-light, exotic beaches, rare liquors, and art all have a raison d’etre. (Breasts don’t have to be big, nor round, nor pointing upward to be perfect... Just connected to a sigh.) I am always amazed when a majority of men fail to understand that the fastest way to find a woman’s breast in their hand is to never let their eyes leave hers. And when the poetry is right, this sensation occurs again and again with the same woman — ad infinitum.

The motorcycle is a metaphor for life.

It is so easy to think of motorcycles as machines with the utility of painted ponies, with the loyalty of dogs, and with the killer instincts of leopards. Yet nowhere does the pulse of moto-metaphysics beat strongest than at the throttle. You may experience a buzz in the pegs... You might feel the imperfection of the road through the handlebars... And you may see your life pass before your eyes in the skid of the front wheel... But only through the throttle will you touch the soul of the machine, and feel it touch yours in return.

I touch the soul of my motorcycle every time I pull away from the curb, but there are some moments when it grabs me first.

The State of Delaware (US) is about the size of a large tablecloth, and yet it has some of the most beautiful and unique motorcycle runs in the country — albeit short. One of these is Delaware Route 9, running south from New Castle, through beautiful salt marshes and migratory bird refuges. The gateway to this stretch of heaven is the “Reedy Point Bridge” over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Built in 1968 by the US Army Corps. of Engineers, the bridge stands 138 feet tall and has two steep approach ramps that carry a two-lane roadway.

This is one of my favorite places to take the pulse of my motorcycle.

Coming south out of Delaware City, you first cross an archaic, steel-decked bascule bridge, providing a view up the curving ramp to the towering pile of rust that is the Reedy Point crossing. This is where I twist the throttle about three quarters of the way around. The steady hum in my right hand becomes an incessant buzz, as if I was holding a fist-full of bees. Shifting from third to fourth adds dimension to the buzz, as my 17-year-old BMW K75 digs into the ramp like a chain saw going through a crowd of zombies. I shift into fifth, the final gear, at the top, with the tach reading 6 grand.

The effect is amazing.

I feel as if I am being shot out of a howitzer.

The bike and I become one at the top of the Ferris wheel, fourteen stories above the water. For a few brief seconds, I can see three states... I am taller than the ships coming in from sea... I’m above a nuclear power plant on the horizon... I am as close to weightlessness as I will ever get... And then we swoop down into the salt marshes on the other side. I am astride a red Valkyrie, plummeting to the surface of the marsh. The road is barely an inch or two above the water under the best of circumstances, and the cattails tower over me as the bike levels out. The pavement on the barely-maintained bridge can best be described as “ Aspiring Third World,” and first-time riders on this route should expect some debris or flooding everyplace else, depending on the weather and the tide.

My bike is powered by a three-cylinder, 72-horsepower, liquid-cooled engine that sounds like a blender in a power dive. It is contained in a package that carefully replicates the sexy lines found in a bale of hay. And while it is as responsive as a whore aware of her advancing years, she still gets up to pole dance at five grand. (This mill routinely runs at an RPM that would turn the engine in my truck to paste.)

But you don’t need a bridge and a marsh to get the howitzer effect.

On another morning when the mist was glued to the edge of the pavement, I was accompanied by Dickie Burkenstock. and Michael Redcheek. (They are members of a soon-to-be renegade BMW riding club and have requested their last names be concealed... Not from the law but from their respective spouses.) We were headed for a fund-raising, lingerie breakfast and found an utterly deserted slab just begging for a little Houliganism.

The boys were in loose formation behind and I tapped the button for my flashers... Then I twisted the throttle around until I could feel the grip throb in my hand. The whine of the engine changed to a dare and I laughed in my helmet. The bike rode lower on the forks, but otherwise rose to the occasion. Dickie B. knew the drill and responded in kind. He was astride a much younger, bigger BMW “R” bike, that had huge opposing, horizontal jugs, and which had no trouble keeping up — though it would never pass me.

Michael R. came late to the realization that he was being abandoned. It wasn’t until Dickie B.’s tail light diminished to the substance of a rumor that he would put the spurs to his K75 too. Dick and I arrived at our destination, opened our helmets, and said... Nothing. There was nothing to say. We laughed quietly, knowing full well what the other guy was thinking. And then Michael pulled up, grinning like the village idiot.

“I have to get this GPS fixed,” he remarked. “It showed I was going 55 miles per hour over the 65 mile-per-hour limit.” Then he reset it.*

These are not the sort of things riders brag about, nor even admit in mixed company. Certainly not riders who are old enough to have kids in their twenties’ and thirties’. It’s enough that they just know what the soul of a motorcycle feels like set free... Or even just rubbed through the bars of the cage on the way to the Post Office or the hardware store.

I didn’t always know about breasts and throttles.

In fact, there was a time when I thought I was going to die as the direct result of a breast drought (age 19). It seemed as if every woman I looked at had joined a union, which circulated my picture attached to some kind of a warning. Then I met the first of four women who would forever change my life in the most incredible way. She was a Mediterranean beauty with olive skin and brown eyes, with waist-length hair as dark as my romantic prospects the day before I met her. Naturally, she thought I was an asshole... But that was before she got a look at the purple Kawasaki H2. (Once she saw the color of the bike, I think the word “douche” may have occurred to her too.)

Still, the day came when that bike carried us to the rim of the Hudson Valley, where we sipped a cool, herbal gin drink from a Thermos, and watched the sun dissolve into the mountains. It was there she learned that gin unbuttons blouses... And I learned that as exciting as a motorcycle’s throttle is, it doesn’t hold a candle to a woman’s breast.

*This erroneous GPS reading was scored on Route 182, the primary interstate highway in Samoa. Twisted Roads does not advocate irresponsible speeding on motorcycles.

Copyright Jack Riepe 2012

23 comments:

bobskoot said...

Jack:

Throttle or Breast, that's a hard one . . . I'll try caressing my Throttle and see if I get the same sensation

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

Steve Williams said...

I didn’t always know about breasts and throttles.

Who does? It's part of the journey towards manhood. Or in some cases womanhood...

The motorcycle is a metaphor for life.

That short statement completely encompasses the reason I ride and write. I've struggled to describe it and there you are with its essence. South Jersey living is turning you into a poet.

Another fine post from you Mr. Riepe. They seem to get better all the time.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Dan Hounshell said...

"... Just connected to a sigh."

Mr. Riepe, that short line may be one the best I've ever read. You, sir, are a master.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack

I must admit I've been following Twisted Roads for awhile. Some stories are embellished (which is your right as an author) but some are alarmingly accurate right down to the smallest detail. You have an amazing memory!
In any case, unlike most of your readers, I can compare your writing to your past stories of 35 years ago.

You've come into your own voice, which is as good as any best-selling author around. This is your year to write "the book".
I've always believed in you...
I was infatuated with the handsome young writer but I loved the man. ( You never did understand women)

SnowQueen


P.S. Who is this Alan Madding? For some reason he thinks Satan is my father.

Nikos said...

I was a Cow & gate baby.

I caress breasts and throttles - I have no idea what bobskoot is banging on about - his V-Strom must have pretty poor pick up?

Yours from England, N

MattPie said...

In fact, there was a time when I thought I was going to die as the direct result of a breast drought (age 19). It seemed as if every woman I looked at had joined a union, which circulated my picture attached to some kind of a warning.

I thought it was well past your teens that the union was formed.

Great read Jack.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

I must side with Nikos on this one... As much as I love riding motorcycles, cupping a woman's breast in the moonlight pretty much trumps the throttle... However, the throttle has been useful in getting away from the boyfriends of obliging women.

I've been reading your most recent postings, Bob, I just haven't got a lot to say about photyography.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve Williams (Publisher of Scooter In The Sticks):

Thank you for your kind and encouraging note. This blog episode was an off-shoot of something I have been developing for the book. The motorcycle is a metaphore for life... And life is a little different for all of us.

I have no real interest in becomig a poet, unless that is really useful in getting laid. There is an advantage to writing 12-hours a daty, in that it takes your mind off your immediate terrors.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dan Hounsel:

Thank you for the compliment... I try to reach some level of profoundity when I write. Failing in that, I try to reach for a little originality... And when that fails, I reach for the Jamesons Irish Whiskey.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Keith said...

As much as I enjoy riding, when given the chance I always opt for "the breast". My motorcycle rarely tells me no. My wife, on the other hand...

Thanks for another great story, Jack.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear SnowQueen:

What a nice thing to say! I am amazed that you would read Twisted Roads, considerng the early parts come from the twisted area of my mind. Yet so much of this blog, and my new book, spanned the years you graced the pillion of my Kawasaki.

Your gentle touch, kind nature, and exquisite beauty was wasted on me in my late teens and early twenties. The degree to which I was an asshole cannot be easy appreciated by the view from the street. It requires satellite imaging to get the full effect.

(I can see you nodding your head at this point, and saying, "Yeah, you were an asshole.")

I didn't fully understand the purpose of telling a story thirty-five years ago. It was easy to develop a one-sided punchline, or to bring out an emotion... It has been harder to justify the exercise over the years. If you are asking the reader to come with you for the space of a paragraph or a page, you owe that person something for the favor. And sometimes, information nor opinion is enough.

And then there are times when I feel I am writing to someone standing at the edge of the light, at the back of the room, who might still be waiting for my work to amount to something. They are very special and they deserve to see a little progress.

SnowQueen, I can easily imagine the velvety quality of your voice, unchanged over the years. But I have despaired of ever hearing it again. On Thursday night, I will stand in the moonlight on the dunes of Cape May. NJ, and throw my cell phone into the ocean. What is the purpose of having an instrument of this nature if not to transmit perfection?

I will ask a few passers-by to serve as witnesses, and to help pull me out should I fall in too. You could call me, however. I gave your brother Steven my number. Or you could zap me at jack.riepe@gmail, and I'll send it to you directly.

Actually, you have the right idea. Desolation, solitude, and silence become me. I am best left to the wind, the sand, and the surf.

As ever,
I remain,
Fascinated but confused by women,
Jack

PS:

Alan Maddng is a kindly minister/pastor-type of person, with a strong commitment to social consciousness and the human spirit. He is a former moto-journalist/racer who believes I can be saved. (He did not read the fine print.) I cannot imagine he would think you were related to Satan. Wait, has he met Stephen?

JR/tw

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

A cow and gate baby? My family got me a wet nurse when I was a kid. Her name was Florence Gilhoully and I kept her around until I was 14-years-old. She smoked cigars and sometimes the ash would drop onto the nipples. It was where I acquired a taste for Maduros.

Thank you for rwsing Twisted Roads, and for putting Bob Skoot in his place.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear MattPie:

Thank you for your kind note and your observation. The Union Of Women Against Riepe was formed when I was 16-years-old at a girl's academy in Jersey City. It went international when I began consorting with blondes with a foreign accent. It's strongrest chapter is now local to Nebraska, where attractive women spit whenever my name is mentioned.

I'm delighted you liked the piece.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Kieth:

I have discovered that a can starting ether is as home in the bedroom as it is in the garage.

Thanks for reading and writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Charlie6 said...

Jack, another great posting full of material I shall digest and hopefully be reminded of as it happens to me.....

And yet, the best phrase still that you gifted to us and remains my favorite: motorcycling is as close as a man can come to flying while still touching the ground. I paraphrase of course, but you know what I mean.

I fear I would not be able to keep you with you if we were to ride together one day....I've only gone above 100mph once on a motorcycle; it was my beloved 1150RT. The speedo on my R80 maxes out at 85 but am sure I've come close on that one as well. :)

dom

Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

BeemerGirl said...

Hi Riepe!

Geat telling. Some roads are absolutely perfect for a slow romp allowing absorption of the wonderful earthy marsh smell. Others are built for pushing and taking above speed.

I see that you wrote Twisted Roads does not advocate irresponsible speed. Does it advocate responsible speed??

My Best,
Steel Cupcake

Canajun said...

"Dick and I arrived at our destination, opened our helmets, and said... Nothing. There was nothing to say."

That's the mark of a great ride and a memorable moment, when you and your riding partner(s) have so completely shared in the euphoria of a great ride that nothing needs be said. The smiles say it all.

Anonymous said...

I must say that you need to be in exhile for a long time. That sir was probably the best writing that you have done to this point. True feelings and emotion that moved my heart and soul and bared yours. Now let's get out there and ride, you must keep your spirit up as I need additional input.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

Regrettably, it's not like the good old days of a few years ago. I do not deny that I like to go fast... And there was a time when I would routinely roam into the neighborhood of three digits on the speedo. Yet the emphasis on revenue generation by the authorities have made pushing the envelope a risky proposition these days.

So chances are good that if we were riding together, I'd be topping out around 85 or 95 miles per hour. Bobskoot raised this very question, and my answer to him was: If you think riding around at 65 mph is a pisser... Life gets real good around 110.

Of course, riding is like investing in the stock market. You should never go beyond the point you can comfortably hit the ground.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Beemer Girl (Lori):

I was just thinking of you. I read your last two blogs yesterday and realized that there was some distance between the last two episodes. I can only assume that work and the weather are getting in the way of things again.

How are you?

The stretch of pavement that is Route 9 in Delaware really doesn’t accommodate a lot of fooling around in terms of speed. First of all, it is a really pretty stretch combing the best of little farms with a seashore atmosphere... You really don’t want to blitz it. In the warm weather (not hot), there are a lot of bicyclists on it, as it is as flat as a pancake. And parts of it are crawling with cops. There is also a neat little local bar — Sambo’s — on the water, as well as three wildlife refuges. Plus there is the added fun that at high tide, the bay comes up and covers the roadway in a number of places. But no matter how you look at it, Route 9 in Delaware is a cool ride.

As far as the slab goes... Well, you know how that works. There are just some days when the devil is in the handlebars. There have been times when I have paced myself with truck traffic on I-81 in Virginia, and it is akin to a death wish. I find myself sandwiched between two steel behemoths, with a third coming up on the left, and the feeling is ghastly. The solution is to twist it, letting the genii out of the bottle, and that’s when you realize the trucks are pulling 85 mph. I generally realize this as I go around them, about 20 miles per hour faster.

And there are those times, which are not uncommon, when that is the most responsible way to ride.

I have missed hearing from you. I’m head-first in the shitter these days, but looking to make a comeback on a grand scale.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Canajun:

Thank you for reading Twisted Roads and for writing in — again. You are one of my faithful readers, who makes writing this blog so rewarding.

I am very fortunate in having met the Mac-Pac, one of the finest group of riders I have ever encountered anywhere. These are the guys who really taught me the protocols and showed me the ropes, while occasionally throwing me on them. I have covered more miles with Dick Bregstein than any other rider, and he is the ultimate pisser, plus the world’s best straight man. Dick and I have explored high RPMs (in higher gears) on some of the remotest stretches of road, in some of the prettiest places that I can care to think of. There have been more than a few times when the uninitiated might have commented on an unforeseen development, when nothing more than a quick roll of the eyes between the two of us actually said a mouthful.

To those who don’t get it, no explanation will do. To fellow riders, no explanation is necessary.

Spring is coming.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Anonymous:

There is nothing more satisfying, nor as eerie, as a truly anonymous comment. I’m delighted you liked this piece, which is the general tone of my motorcycle book, to be released this spring. As far as baring my soul goes, that generally requires the assistance of a female reader. One of the folks that has decided to comment publicly is the very first woman who ever threw a leg over my pillion, and me personally. The effect this has had in jogging my memory is astounding. Not only for recalling those instances when my Kawasaki served as a magic carpet for romance, but for thousands of miles I spent on it alone, lost in thought that has still to see the light of day.

Thank you for reading Twisted Roads, and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

mtlcowgirl said...

Dear Jack,

I am delighted that twisting throttles and fondling breasts are two of your favorite activities. Also, I think I speak for women everywhere when I say I fervently hope you never confuse the two actions. Once again, you penned a winner.

Karen