Saturday, June 2, 2012

On A Summer Day, in 2006



“How far do you think we’ll ride today?”

That question was posed to me by the late Mack Harrell, who was strapping the last of his camping gear to the back of a bright yellow BMW GS.

“Not as far as you’re accustomed to going,” I replied, with a grimace.

I’d been home less than 24 hours from a week on the road — via the BuRP Rally in Maggie Valley, NC — and had made a horrible discovery: my arthritis was no longer resetting to “zero” after a decent night’s sleep and a hot shower. Here it was, at the beginning of a run to Montreal for Mack and Lake Placid, NY for me, and my knees would barely bend. I struggled to get my side cases out to the bike and mounted to the frame. (According to the manual, each case could hold a maximum of 25 pounds. Mine were certainly heavier than that, but I knew the system was up to it.) Yet a loud creaking and popping sound accompanied the maneuvering to get each pannier on the frame. (There is a trick to mounting the bags, and knowing it guarantees the panniers will attach in two seconds or less, and stay attached throughout a nuclear attack. Not knowing it will cause the rider to say, “Fuck,” no less than 7,000 times, as nothing will get the bags on the frame.)

“Are your side bags creaking like that?” asked Mack.

“No,” I replied honestly. “That noise is coming from my knees.”

Later, when I started the engine, Mack cocked his head in amazement as the legendary whine from the K75 filled the air. “Is that sound coming from your engine?”

“No... My dick,” I lied, for variation.

Our ultimate destination was the BMW Rally in Burlington, VT (2006). But Mack had a romantic liaison planned for Montreal and I had always wanted to ride a motorcycle in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. His bike, the Trojan workhorse of the BMW line, was set up for a week of camping. It looked like he was out to discover the source of a strange river. My machine was a 1986 BMW K75 (with the rare Sprint fairing), carefully loaded to get the most out of a first class hotel with superb room service. The plan was to head north a few days before the rally, enabling each of us to pursue our own objectives, before meeting at the rally in Burlington.

Lake Placid was about 400 miles from the driveway and Montreal was another 90 minutes north of that. Most BMW riders would cover that distance before lunch, and Mack had made the run to Montreal, Canada from Essex County, NJ in one shot many times. But my longest day’s run (as a middle-aged male destined for the La Brea Tar Pits) was just around 300 miles, and it nearly killed me. (That ride was on a scalding hot day, and between the heat and my arthritis, riding buddy Wayne Whitlock  suggested replacing my helmet with a plastic bag.)

It’s not that I don’t like riding long distances. But the pain in my knees gets to the point where I start grinding my teeth, and that’s after taking the really strong medication. I would try to make the most of a day’s run by choosing a mixture of direct side roads and picturesque slabs, thereby squeezing 60 to 80 miles out of each hour. Hence my love of the interstates. I have been driving to the Adirondacks for over 35 years and knew the fastest routing — which ran through New Jersey. But Mack had just come from there, so I chose a scenic route up to I-84, that would bring us into New York without having to pass through the Garden State again.

Under the circumstances, that was probably the stupidest thing I could have done.

We took PA Route 100 up to US-22, and grabbed the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Northeast Extension) at Allentown. We followed that to Scranton, and got on I-84 (which misses New Jersey by about 8 feet), which we then traced to the New York State Thruway.
Except it wasn’t quite that smooth nor automatic.

The demons in my knees started hammering before I left the driveway. Pennsylvania Route 100 (heading north) has stretches that delight the eye and refresh the soul. I found myself chewing through my lower lip  with every imperfection in the pavement. There are traffic lights, little farm communities, and the occasional tractor pulling a load of shit. We were delayed by all of them, as the temperature steadily climbed into the mid-90s. While the routing I chose seemed to offer an abundance of high-speed slabs, it wasn’t the most direct route by far. Three hours into the ride brought us to a rest area on I-84 (in New York State), which wasn’t even the introduction to the ride that lay ahead.

We were both wearing mesh ballistic gear that enabled the hellish breeze to evaporate the moisture from our bodies. I was so dehydrated that I didn’t have to take a piss in 8 hours. (I tried, only to release a puff of steam and a whistling sound from “Thor’s Hammer.”.)

“How are you doing?” asked Mack.

“I’m having the time of my life, but don’t really know how far I can get today,” I replied. “I might have to call a halt in Albany.” Albany is the State Capital of New York and was only a little more than halfway. But the truth was that I was starting to think of one of the cheap, run-down hotel properties that one can find for $60 or $70 off the toll road in the vicinity of the Catskills, fifty or sixty miles before Albany.

“Whatever you want to do,” said Mack. The stink of defeat was in the air.

We pulled through the tollbooth of the New York State Thruway 20 minutes later, and moved out into traffic. That was when the real demon made his presence known.

I have always love to see things by car, and the New York State Thruway has been my gateway to freedom since I was 17-years-old. It was the fastest way to get a dramatic change in scenery for a kid who was raised in a city of flat roofs, broken glass, and dog shit. You can’t really see the Hudson Valley to the right, but the foothills of the Catskills open on the left, and all this open, wooded, uncrowded space boggled my adolescent mind. Once again, I found myself lost in reverie on this road.

Now, at age 52 (astride this near vintage Beemer), I stated thinking of the thousands of times I had driven this road in both directions. Twice with new brides... Eight times with new lovers... Dozens of times with hunting and fishing buddies... Hundreds of times on visitation weekends with my daughter (starting at age five)... And many more times by myself (as I owned a business in New Jersey yet lived in Lake Placid, a scant 7 hours distant). Yet this was only the second time I’d traversed this road by motorcycle. (The first was in 1976, when I rode a Kawasaki H2 to Niagara Falls, turning west at Albany.)

Despite the fact that only 11 years separated the issue date of that Kawasaki H2 (1975) and that BMW K75 (1986), there was no comparison between the two machines. The Kawi was primitive, rough riding, and buzzy in the extreme, complete with an odd engine sound. The Beemer was as smooth as 20-year-old single malt, far more responsive on the lower end, immeasurably better in the curves, a lot more reliable on the brakes, and marginally better sounding. What a difference a decade makes!

Then I thought of the comparison between the riders... With more than 34 years difference, the Kawasaki rider had the knees of a varsity fencer, the reticence of a Kamikaze pilot, the commitment of a serial killer and the sense of a doorknob. That rider’s throttle knew two positions: “balls to the wall” and “guilty as charged.”  The H2 rider got a erection once in 1975, and that lasted from April 3rd to December 22nd.

The BMW rider was a shadow of that kid. Rotten knees and an outlook stained by two failed marriages, a mad compulsion to eventually write down every thought and inflict it on unsuspecting readers, and a desire to cling to the one link that forever kept him 19-years-old (at least in his mind), conspired to keep him in the saddle, always waiting for the other boot to drop.

The demon began to seep into my hand through the throttle, and I felt a tingling in my fingers. Looking down at the speedo, I realized I was clipping along at 93 miles per hour, with Mack in hot pursuit. (Some things never change.) I opted not to slow down, but pulled into the first fuel stop to tank up.

“You seem to be feeling a bit better,” noted Mack. “How’s it going?”

It was going worse than I wanted him to know. It hurt taking my left left off the peg almost as much as it hurt to get it up there... And the pain was gravitating toward my hip.

“These rest areas are spaced about every 20 or 30 miles all the way to Albany,” I said. “Would you mind if I pulled into each one just to drop my legs?”

Mack didn’t mind at all, suspecting that we’d have another 40 miles to go before I got off the bike for the day. But the demon had begun to possess me now... And he was feeding on the pain. We covered the distance between rest areas like errant bullets, running speed traps twice. The Catskill Mountains reared up on the left, where we could see a thunderstorm  loose among the peaks, with lightning arcing from crown to crown. The temperature dropped a bit, which was reflected by another jump on  my tach. We ripped past the exits for the cheap hotels, hurtling beyond a picturesque valley housing a maximum security prison.

I carried my own prison in my knees.

There are three beautiful streams crossed by the Thruway and I have always wondered what it would be like to hike along them, casting a fly here and there... But not that day. Hiking and fishing are for the damned when you can be riding a motorcycle. I clung to the far right lane crossing these bridges, so I could see over the side, knowing that they’d be behind me in a second or two. I pointed out waterfalls, mountains, rivers and landmarks to Mack. One of these was the first covered bridge I ever saw in my life, though they would be common enough where I would come to live in Pennsylvania. Mack was a technical rider, who was all business. He never took his eyes from the road and would later confess he had no idea why I was gesturing and waving.

I pulled into every rest area, and got another hour’s leeway in the saddle for every twenty minutes I stretched my legs (without getting off the bike). We were burning up daylight, but covering the miles too. Albany, the center of government in New York State, is but the heart of a metropolis formed by the sister cities of Troy and Schnectady. It is here that the New York State Thruway heads west, and we continued up the Hudson, carving through the interchange that put us on the Adirondack Northway. Imagine what this road first looked like to me when I was 17, a guttersnipe from Jersey City, encountering my first highway signs in another language: French! This is to accommodate the hoards of French-speaking Canadians headed north.  (The second time I’d see highway signs in French, I’d be driving a Citroen SM from Geneva to Chamonix in the French Alps, in the company of a sizzling brunette. I’d be 35. I used to get away with fucking murder when I was alive.)

Passing through Albany, Mack Harrell got his first surprise... “Let’s go as far as Glens Falls,” I said, “about 45 miles further north.”

The Northway crosses the Erie Canal, which is about as wide as most waterways in states that do not support a legendary river (like the Mississippi). Then just before Glens Falls, it crosses the mighty Hudson. At this point, the Hudson is not as wide as one of the cruise ships it floats 140 miles to the south. It has a lake-like quality as it disappears into mist and mystery, en route to the Blue Ledges. (Again when I was 17, I’d hiked to the headwaters of the Hudson — Lake Tear Of The Clouds – and stood with one foot on each bank.)

I informed Mack that we wouldn’t be stopping at Glens Falls nor Lake George, but going straight through to Lake Placid, another 86 miles to the north... And he could see the madness in my eyes. The pain was coursing throughout my body by this time, but it was a different kind of pain. It was the pain that accompanies the desire to accomplish one more ride — just like I was 19- or 20-years-old again. My soul thirsted for the wonder and the thrill of yet “another” first time feeling on a motorcycle.

We crossed the imaginary “blue line” of the Adirondack Park, one of the most amazing reserves anywhere in the world, in the honky-tonk resort of Lake George. There should be a “blue line” painted across the road, but there’s just a sign. I blew my horn like I always do, and did a swerve of celebration. The Adirondack Park is the largest state park of its kind anyplace in the United States. With 1200 lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers, it spans 7 million acres, and is larger than any three national parks combined (in the “Lower 48”). I couldn’t help thinking of all the circumstances under which I’d driven this road before. The best of these adventures were spent in a red GMC Suburban, with a 5-year-old marvel on the bench seat next to me. My daughter and I played every game, sang every song, made up every kind of story, and ate lots of ice cream and Chinese food in that truck. And we did it every other weekend for the next 7 years. (I put 50,000 miles on a new Suburban in the first year I owned it.)


But something different was happening now. There was electricity flowing from the throttle into my hand and the effect on me was amazing. The interstate (I-87) is sweeping turns, marshes, dense forests, and views of open water north of Lake George, which itself is 44 miles long, and I would have run it wide open, had I not been sure I’d have been arrested. I pointed at every landmark I knew, laughing like an idiot, knowing that Mack Harrell had no idea what was running through my mind. The Beemer (Blueballs) was 20 years old that summer, and I rode it like it was new. Sparing neither the horses nor the emotion, I routinely pushed that machine to the red line, only to discover that it used no oil after cruising at sustained speeds in excess of 85 and 90 mph. It barely burned 3 ounces that whole summer.

Our exit was a hundred miles north of Albany, and I pulled over on the shoulder of US-9 (the same US-9 that runs through Jersey City), to catch my breath. Dusk was settling in and the sky was scarlet, against “honest-to-God” purple mountain’s majesty. With the bikes switched off, we could hear a stream tumbling into a ravine, scented with the fragrance of a million balsams.

“How much farther?” asked Mack, amazed that we were pulled over in a place where there was nothing but solitude.

“Another 50 miles, or so.”

“What the fuck got into you today?”

“A sense of who I wanted to be, and what I wanted to feel like,” I replied.

“Well who do you feel like now?”

“I felt like Charles Lindbergh earlier. Now I feel like the Lindbergh baby,” I replied, thumbing the starter for the final time that day.


Have you ever noticed how the last light of the day disappears in the blink of an eye? We weren’t stopped 10 minutes when the shadows matured into a tangible darkness. Pulling in, our headlights had been a suggestion in the gathering dusk. Now they punched a hole in the night, fifty feet ahead of the motorcycles. And while it was night on the pavement, the last vestiges of daylight bled through  the openings in the trees above us, and in the wide expanse of Keene Valley, through which the AuSable River flows.

The road gracefully climbed past Chapel Pond, with the granite cliff rising straight out of the water, before plunging into Keene Valley. Mack only saw the pavement of Route 73, framed in the headlights. I saw the road in my mind, as I have seen it a thousand times. I found myself carving into one “S” curve after another, feeling each turn as I remembered it — but in a truck. I was leaning into them for the first time after all these years. And there was something ethereal about doing it in the dark. All of you have experienced the thrill of riding into a cold pocket, where cooler temperatures envelop bike and rider like a specter. We rode through a dozen of them, as the river pooled alongside the road in unseen recesses, home to trout and wild mink.

The Hobbit-town lights of Saint Huberts, Keene Valley and Keene, winked before we started the final ascent, through the Cascade Lakes, into Lake Placid. The solitary beam of a motorcycle headlamp is like looking through a keyhole in reality... The  bike is cradled by the same invisible forces that hold it at an angle to the ground during the day, but they are positively cult-like in the dark.

The Cascade Lakes are a ribbon of water that span different elevations parallel to the road on the final climb into Lake Placid. Route 73 is gentle in this stretch, but twisty and steep leading in and out of it. I flicked on the MotoLights, mounted to the K75’s brake calipers, and the front of the bike was wrapped in a basket of light. The bike glowed like an ember, rising upward. I knew this entire stepped valley was walled by granite, softened by millions of Aspens, all deep green this weekend... But my world was the golden ring of light, and in that moment, it was all the world any rider could ask.

Two stunning vistas lay before us, but we flashed by them in the dark. (It is unlikely Mack would have seen them in broad daylight.) These were the cluster of high peaks visible at the open field  (where Adirondack Loj Road joins Route 73), with the Olympic ski jumps just beyond. Minutes later, we entered the soft, elegant light that is the resort of Lake Placid, home to two Winter Olympic Games; neither of which succeeded in compromising the charm of this exquisite village.

We pulled up under the marquee of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, one of the nicest places to stay in town. I put my feet down with an audible sigh, and switched off the bike.

“You must be hurting,” said Mack.

I was... But it was the kind of hurt that accompanies the realization one cannot hurtle through space forever. There reaches a point where the ride is over. Hopefully, the bar is open at that point.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012
All rights reserved


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44 comments:

RichardM said...

What a wonderful story. I have only a couple of 300+ mile days under my belt but look forward to changing that this summer. A Citroen SM, eh. I remember when that car came out and I loved the appearance and the technology. Plus the Masarati V6 sounded wonderful but it was way out of my budget as a starving student.

I was wondering how you were doing as there hasn't been a post in a couple of weeks...

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mtlcowgirl said...

Great writeup, Jack. Thanks for turning back the clock.

BMW Pixie said...

I suspect you've made many women scream, Jack. You just made me cry.

Charlie6 said...

Wow, now that's the illustrative writing that makes one "be in the saddle" with the writer"!

Your description of "riding through the pain" to the rewards of the endorphins-generated "high" reminded me of the runner's high I once experienced after a particular fast and long run....(back when I was young and indestructible)...thanks for dredging up that memory for me.

You know, if dropping your legs eases the strain on the knees...you could get a high clearance trike/sidecar rig that allows for that while moving. Heck, I used to be able to do on my longer rides, while astride my R1150RT....Of course, there's a price to pay for that leeway, not being able to solidly plant both of one's feet on the ground when stopped. Unless you've three wheels of course.

Here's hoping you're feeling better Jack....

dom


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

BMW-Dick said...

Nicely done, Jack. In my mind's memories I could almost smell the tobacco burning in Mack's pipe. He was an accommodating riding buddy willing to put up with anything for the sake of the ride.

Steve Williams said...

I won't bother repeating how well you write. Or the level of stamina you possess.

Details may be different for each of us but your story is a potent reminder of how fast the road rushes by. I'll admit to a level of uneasiness while reading as I thought about the time I let slip by.

The next to the last sentence was chilling. Here's hoping we all postpone that last ride as long as possible...

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Anonymous said...

Chamonix was great, Jack. xo

mtlcowgirl said...

Dick, You could say that about our marriage, too (snork). My Mack was always ready for adventure.

Shango Rider said...

I've got one word for you Jack - Celebrex

Shango Rider said...

Oh and here's a second word - Thanks.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Richard:

Thank you for your kind comment. I am now undergoing a number of serious lifestyle changes that I hope will result in making it easier for me to take a 300+-mile ride in the future. And I hope there are a lot of them.

I was a guest "of the house" of a great hotel in Geneva, and they put the hotel manager's car at my disposal. (The trials of being a travel writer were many.) It was a Citroen SM, a car I had only seen in adolescent dreams.

I carried a torch for that brunette for more than 20 years.

The epilogue to this piece will run on Monday. It's a little different than the usual tripe I write. Thank you for taking the time to wade through all 3700 words.

I am still recovering from "this condition," with my legs still in bandages. But better days are coming.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Online Dating Site:

Fuck you... Strong letter to follow.

Jack Riepe
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear MTLcowgirl:

Thank you for your kind note. A lot happened on that ride... I regret I was only able to list the high points.
I think I wore Mack out though. Not with the distance, but through the stop and go.

Fondest regards,
Jack/Reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear BMW Pixie:

They all scream in the beginning... I make they all cry sooner or later.

Thanks for reading Twisted Roads, and for writing in. This type of expository writing is a little different for me. I used the style extensively in my new moto book, which has been somewhat delayed by my current health issues.

If you enjoyed this, I invite you to look at the story's sequel on Monday, which details the second day of that ride.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

Thank you for your kind note. I was feeling sort of blank the other day, and decided to write a moto piece that did not have a smart-assed remark around every corner.

This was that piece. I can occasionally write something that has genuine rider appeal. It just scares the shit out of everyone when I do.

I think the time will come when a trike may make sense for me... Or a scooter. But I am still dreaming of the day when I straddle a BMW K1200GT, and push that sucker to the red line for 100 miles.

I never saw the fun in running. I only tried it once, when the bike wouldn't start, and I had to escape the enraged boyfriend of a college cheerleader. All I did was rub her shoulders, but she was in the shower at the time.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear BMW Dick:

That ride with Mack predated all of the runs I have taken with you. But Mack could be reasoned with... You have to be cunningly out-maneuvered.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

mtlcowgirl said...

Ah well, Jack. With your aches and pains, I am confident that Mack had the patience to keep up with you. He always said: "I do not do patient." But with you he did. I happen to know.

mtlcowgirl said...

Mack Harrell? My Mack Harrell? You, Jack Riepe, are too funny. He and I were at Mexican standoffs all the time. For some reason, however, we had the same values and that is what is important.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve Willams:

What a thoughtful thing to say! Especially coming from the epicenter of moto sincerity and genteel honesty.

I wanted tell a story from the heart, indicating I had a rider's heart. My mind is being pulled in a lot of directions these days, and being confined to a bed, or one position in a chair, for a month has not improved my disposition any.

Though it has me thinking a lot about the future. When I get through the tail end of this, in about another month, I am going to start making some very serious plans.

Next year, I am riding cross-country, or I'll be dead.

Thanks for reading this piece, and for commenting.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Anonymous:

The average Twisted Roads reader is unaware that I have been communicating with a few of my past loves. So, Anonymous, what were the three primary cities we hit on that trip?

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Shango Rider (Dan):

The truth is that I was popping the maximum dosage of Celebrex on that ride, and every other one I was ever on. In fact, I was on Percocet too. The pain in my knees used to be phenomenal. Snd I swear to God, I am going to get around this for riding next year.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Michelle said...

Jack,

Oh my. Thought this was one of your usual laugh a minute pieces, but no...it was even better. Very thought provoking. We all age whether we want to or not. The only constant is change and the ever creeping movement of time. I too have felt the sting of time passing. Since the breakup of my marriage and ultimately divorce, I have had a lot of time to think about life and what I missed out on. Hence my new found determination to live life to the fullest each and every day, 100%. I tell people I am 17 again ( though Rony says it should be 21 so that I can drink, haha) and though some of the things I do people don't agree with I have chosen to turn back the clock and do all of the things I wished I had. Motorcycling is one of them. I come from a family of non-riders who only see the bad side of this activity and refuse to see the thrill and enjoyment that can come along with the risks. This piece has strengthened my resolve to ride. I want to feel what you felt that day before it is too late. Even if I have to fight through the pain and or fear to feel it. Thank you Jack. Thank you for reminding me of how short-lived opportunities can be and that when one comes along to not squander it but instead embrace it. I will NOT let this bike beat me.

P.S. Not sure if I have told you as of yet, but I am an IBA member, i.e., a long distance rider. Ok, a "pillion" rider at the moment but still. Longest ride to date is 1,000 in 24 hours and 1,500 in 36. When you get yourself back in riding form, come ride with me. I am a patient person, we can stop as many times as you like. After all...it's all about the ride, huge smile.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Michelle:

Thank you for the kind sentiment and note of shared two-wheeled enthusiasm. If I had a dime for every woman who left my ass for dead on the road, I'd be a wealthy man. Yet if all the details were to be examined, my hands would be far from clean.

I have discovered that the best way to explain motorcycling to non-biker family members is to wash my ass extra hard in the shower, so that they can kiss it with impunity.

I feel all sorts of things when I ride... The 19-year-old thing is just one of them. I allow my senses to be overcome by what I see, smell, and touch (through the handlebars). Then the ride seems to become part of me.

Why are you thinking along the lines of "I will not let this bike defeat me?" The motorcycle should be a co-conspirator. Every Beemer rider I know customizes the hell out of their machines to make them fit better into the conspiracy.

Thank you for the generous ride offer. I will be delighted to ride with you and your possee, though I suspect it will be next year.

Ride like you stole the last hour... And don't want to get caught with any of it left.

Thanks for reading Twisted Roads and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Michelle said...

Jack,

LMFAO! That is umm pretty much what I told them. Couple that with being a state away from them and voila, sweet freedom.

Regarding sensory thing. That is how I feel when I am riding pillion. I take it all in, sight, sound, touch, everything. It completely overwhelms me, like nothing else has, besides sex of course. But I want to be in charge of the bike. To choose the path myself and as they say ride my ride. Decide the speed, the line, the lean angle, everything. As you know I bought a bike, but the old me inside myself fights against the new me and makes me fear what might happen. I can't seem to relax and get the hang of it yet. I stare at it everyday, and try to get the nerve to get on it. I know only time in the saddle will accomplish this, but just putting my gear on to ride it has me almost hyperventilating. Why can't I be fearsome like you? Thinking of dragging out the prozac that I have stashed from the divorce era and take one and then try it. Sound like a good idea? Anyway, I know fearless men like yourself could not possibly understand this thought process. It's so easy for you. Whatever you want to do...you do. No thinking, screw the consequences, push thru the pain, damn the torpedoes and all that. Sigh, screw it...tomorrow prozac and ride.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Michelle:

A motorcycle is algebra, physics, metal, plastic, gasoline and passion. It is the only inanimate object on earth with a soul. And it has a sense of vengeance. According to the writer Melissa Holbrook-Pierson, a motorcycle is in a state of rest when lying on its side in a ditch.

Yet if you can ride that bike to the corner, then you can probably ride it to California. Consider the bike. Is it a handful for you? BMWs are sometimes tough for beginners.

Solution #1

Look in the papers for a Japanese 250 that's four years old, has less than 12,000 miles on it, and isn't too banged up. You'll have to replace tires, tubes, maybe the chain and sprockets. Then ride it into the street. You won't give a shit about dropping it and you can concentrate on mastering the street.
Ride it everyplace. When you get sick of it, put it up for sale and back to the F650.

Solution #2
What gets you antsy about riding?
Is it traffic? Dropping the bike? Looking stupid? Or fear of death? My second former wife pulled a gun on me. You can't anticipate bad news. (You passed the test. So it can't be fear of parking lots.)

a) Find five other women and ride with them. The ballsy-est BMW riders I know are women.
b) The threat is in your mind. So is the chemical to work around it. Think of the excitement and the challenge as opposed to failure and defeat. Set up the winning ride the night before, by getting excited about putting your gear on.

Solution #3
If the bike is too tall, look into a lowering kit and have the dealer do it. Look into a custom seat and see if you can get one that cuts the height between the top f the bike and ground. Expect a compromise in butt padding or clearance in a curve.

But I'd be dipped in shit before I threw in the towel. The game is barely starting. And the fun parts are ahead... Continued.

Niteowl said...

Hi Jack,

Good story Jack.

I would like to ride to Lake Placid someday (so little time/money).

Sure doesn't seem like that was six years ago.

Sorry to here you are under the weather. Hope you have a speedy recovery.

Rode Lucy's Spyder to Charles Town the other day (Harley was in the shop for 45K maintenance). She likes the Spyder and even made a couple 100 mile runs alone!

Wishing you the best,

Wayne W.

r said...

Dearest Jack,

I continue to grow more fond of your writing. The style in which you use the tools of your trade are exquisite.

I do believe that sometimes I enjoy and admire your responses as much or more than your stories. Fantastic advice you give.

Having old injuries that cause me to creak and crackle, I can somewhat hear your descriptions. I often find that it's the pain that both keeps me company and makes me feel alive.

Wishing you a speedy recovery,

Ronman

Canajun said...

One of your best Jack because it resonates with so many of us "of a certain age" who while we may think we're 19 when riding (and who doesn't?) have to deal with the reality we're not. But like all addictions we keep coming back, hell or high water, because of that feeling that when we're in the saddle we are 19 again, invincible, with nothing but the open road ahead of us.

Take care Jack and get well soon.

Cantwell said...

Dear Jack,
I pray this finds you well and in good spirits (or at list with good spirits in hand).
I have to confess that I sit here with a tear in my eye thinking about your story. I was that year that I took my MSF course and bought my first bike. The bike was a 1993 K75. I also joined the MOA. The very first ON I received ther was a story written by you. That made me happier than a fly on shit! Since then, I have re-kindled our friendship, endured scorching heat on rides with you, and made some truly fantastics friends (Mack, Dick, Jerry, Clyde...) and many, many acquaintances. It truly is amazing to think that a simple machine can bring that much joy into your life. I know that 400 miles is a short ride for many BMW owners, but I really wish I was closer to you and those people who I met through you. Thanks for bringing back memories and continuing to make more.
Every morning, as I head out for my commute to work, I think about where I live and how beautiful it is. Rain or shine, hot or cold (more often cold), tourist traffic or empty road, I wouldn't trade it for the world. You know, even though Lake Tear of the Clouds is only a seven mile hike from the Loj, it seems like you are thousands of miles away when you are on it's boreal shore.
Looking forward to riding with you soon.
Sincerely,
Michael

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Niteowl (Wayne):

What a delight to hear from you, and a thrill to discover you are still reading Twisted Roads!

I remember the rides we have taken with great pleasure. I am planning to do a number of great long-distance rides next year, and a Lake Placid run will be one of them. It would be cool to have your Harley right along in tight formation.

I didn't know that Lucy had a Spyder. I can easily see her rocketing around on it.

Take care, Pal.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ronman:

Thank you for your kind note. I really just like to tell compelling stories, as they rolled over me at the time. I'm delighted that you can relate to some of my own experiences, weariness and pain not withstanding.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Canajun:

It is nothing less than an addiction, isn't it? What substitute can there ever be for carving into a curve? What could take the place of twisting the throttle like a tiger's tail? And so what if it hurts? What doesn't hurt after a while? These are the questions that riders answer with that look in their eyes.

Thanks for reading Twisted Roads.

Fondest regards,
Jack/Reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Michael:

I will not deny that this past year has been — without a doubt — the worst year of my life. I have suffered the kind of reverses that I never would have thought possible ten years ago.

But so what... Adversity can kiss my ass. There are two choices... Do what I do best, and become a best-selling author, who gets to ride fast bikes, or fucking blow my brains out.

Blowing my brains out is not an option, as it would lend credibility to the mediocre bottom-feeders that are calling the shots in the US today. But their days are numbered.

I remember the rides you and I (along with Chris Wolf) took in the Adirondacks, as one of the best weeks in my life. But we are going to do this again... And we are going to take the long way around.

Thanks for leaving such a nice note. I swear to God we are going to cut up rough next year.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Anonymous said...

Hi Jack

Glad your writing again. I was working on a insurance proposal for a prospective client (my real job)when I decided I needed to get away from the task at hand for a few minutes. I checked your blog and saw you had a new story. Enjoying your ride through your words I came to the end and was shocked. The proposal I am working on is for the Crown Plaza Resort in Lake Placid. Guess I better get back to it. They are going to need all the insurance I can write now that I know you stay there.

Stay well Reep

Key West Bob

PS Book was great Thanks again

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Key West Bob:

Great hearing from you... And I am delighted that you read Twisted Roads to get through the tedium of the day. Give my regards to the folks at Lake Placid Crowne Plaza, including the sales director, Christina. I'm delighted you liked my book.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Ken said...

Jack,
Very very nice story, but I find it odd that a French brunette would be named Murder...

Hopefully you get things under control enough to make that cross country ride, I know a guy (not named Murder) that will show you around Utah.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ken:

I was shocked to hear from that brunette as "anonymous" in the comments section of this very blog. I wouldn't mind taking her to Europe again... Or even Utah, on the back of my next bike.

And Utah is one my "A" list.

Thanks for reading Twisted Roads, and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Anonymous said...

Dear Fatass:

I enjoyed your latest blog post. Glad you're posting regularly again.

I remember that stretch from the Northway to lack Placid. You always seemed to maintain the speed of light along that road, often covering thirty or forty miles in three or four minutes.

Yours ever,

Sgt Cutter

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sgt. Cutter:

My next bike will be bigger, faster, and more wicked looking. And I intend to ride through the Adirondacks a lot more often.

Thanks for reading Twisted Roads, and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

BeemerGirl said...

Dear Reep,

I feel your pain. Maybe not through arthritis, but at least through searing pain of bent knees on sport bikes. Where the only thing you can think of is hitting the next red light just so you can stretch the legs.

However, I was more captivated by the descriptions of the roads in the Adirondacks. I have only visited the park once, but that was one of the best weeks. As you described your sashay down the roads it brought back my memories of the roads that we travelled and how much pleasure I would get taking the bike on the roads.

My summer plans cannot be nailed down, no matter how hard I try. We have be torn between taking that trip out west versus a trip north and hitting the Adirondacks,

Sigh. Thanks for awakening the desires again,

Steel cupcake

Roddy said...

I've never succeeded in posting a comment yet. So this is a test. If it works, I will write something much longer as this story has been very enjoyable and has brought vivid memories of my first long distnce ride on my first bike, A 1958 R 60 BMW with a sidecar, to the Newport Folk Festival in the mid '60s.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Beemer Girl:

If it the last thing I ever do, I am going to ride from the New Jersey shore to Eureka, California... And then I am going to ride to the Adirondacks, cruise the entire park, and do New England.

I've got plans for my comeback ride.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Roddy:

A motorcycle ride is more than miles, challenge, and adventure to me. Each rides leaves me with hundreds of thoughts and day-dreams that all evolve into something. To me, the ride report is about how I got changed by the road. I'm delighted you liked this story. If you get a chance, look at the sequel.

I look forward to riding with you next year.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep