There is a great little Mexican joint just off the corner of Downingtown Pike and East Lancaster Avenue, in Downingtown, PA. It takes 25 minutes to get anything on the menu because the folks who run the place make everything from scratch. And while there are two or three things listed that anyone would recognize from a Mexican chain restaurant, there is no comparison with the bill of fare here. “Rincon Tarasco” has the best Mexican food I have tasted north of Acapulco. You could almost make a meal of their Guacamole and fresh corn chips.
The kitchen is an open book. You can look over the counter and watch your entree crafted from the freshest ingredients in the most authentic way. If I had a complaint, it is that this place is “dry” and you cannot get a great Mexican beer — like Negra Modelo. They serve those fruity Mexican sodas and I am partial to the pineapple and lime flavors.
The restaurant is intimate (small) but biker casual. The bikers that had just casually left this place were Breg Dickstein (not his real name), Clyde Trotsky (not his real name), Gerry Cavanaugh (his real name), and me. The bikes were strung out in a line as we headed north to Strasburg. I was in the lead with Dickstein not more than 3 seconds behind me. It was a warm spring day and paving cutbacks gave the run a bumpy aspect. The gentle up and down motion of the bikes, coupled with the afternoon heat, set the Mexican meal to percolating.
Riding a motorcycle is the ultimate freedom. You can talk to yourself or even sing as the thrum of the road and snarl of the engine drown out everything else. All incriminating sound evaporates in the celebration of forward motion. I raised myself in the saddle and let fly with a mighty anal bellow. Had we been in a closed environment, like a zeppelin hanger, the resulting noise would have been the equivalent of material ripping. And not ordinary material, like a bed sheet... but something far more substantial, such as the tarp used to cover the outfield at a ball park.
I counted “One second... two seconds...” and glanced in the mirror.
Dickstein has the personality and reflexes of a cobra. He’d seen me rise up in the saddle and guessed what was coming. Before I could reach “three seconds” in the count, he swerved to avoid an invisible obstacle. Unfortunately, the subtlety of the moment was lost on Clyde, who rode into the vapor barrier with total oblivion. The humor of the moment was almost lost in the horror of his expression. Trapped in the confines of a full-face helmet, his eyeballs popped out and pounded against the face shield like two little fists.
Dickstein and I kept going. What else could we have done?
Seasoned rider Gerry Cavanaugh claims to be above these puerile antics. Getting the bloated feeling common to politicians about to give a campaign speech, he dismounted by a lake, bent slightly, and brought down a flock of low-flying Canada geese. “Once you get the range and windage right, the rest is easy,” said Cavanaugh.
While accredited studies of biker flatulence are rare, many anecdotal observations are attributed to “meat loaf night,” hosted by various riding clubs. There are always one or two stories of “R” bike seats bursting into flames or Harley’s accelerating to the speed of light, leaving comet-like trails behind them. Yet there is very little statistical analysis or scientific data to support these claims. Consensus acknowledges that biker flatulence increases in potency and frequency as age advances. According to one medical expert, it takes less than 15 minutes for a 58-year-old man to convert the mass of two chili dogs into 200 cubic yards of nerve gas. A 68-year-old man can convert a dish of apple sauce (or anything else on a diner’s “early bird special” salad bar) into an explosive vapor capable of causing a mine disaster. Worse in both cases is the sudden change of atmosphere which can make a feed lot seem positively aromatic.
Nor is this condition restricted to men. Women are not only capable of breaking the vapor barrier but many do so without suspicion, relying on their feminine guile to shed guilt. One flawlessly beautiful woman I know stepped into the shower with a hulking Harley pilot who rode under the name of “Kevlar.” The shower stall simmered with the steam of the hot water obscuring this woman’s toxic release. She bolted, then applied her dainty bulk to holding the shower stall door shut.
“Kevlar” trumpeted like a mastodon caught in the tar pits. His screams became hollow gasps, followed by a thud seconds later. “That gnarly son of a bitch has been doing this to me for years,” said his wife. “See how he likes it.”
A dainty morsel of a rider I adore buzzes through the Pennsylvania countryside on a bike painted a distinctly feminine color. She seeks out a German Frau Brau Haus, where she can get a Limburger cheese sandwich, with sliced Bermuda onion, on pumpernickel. Within minutes this lethal combination is whipped into the equivalent of diazinon. She does Pilates and has developed the kind of muscle control which will sustain a build-up of 168 psi. On one ride, a cager got too close to her bike and she let fly with a backdoor thunderclap, blowing the windshield out of his car.
Moto gear manufacturers have been aware of this problem for years. It has been said that attempts to mask the discharge of personal methane led to the development of mesh pants. Yet you cannot wear mesh in autumn. Solid ballistic pants would generally blow out on the third or fourth release. Special valves, once common to steam locomotives in the 19th century, were bulky and took up pocket room. A company in Minnesota developed an airtight product line called “Gastro Bloomers,” which were airtight ballistic pants guaranteed to sustain a shotgun blast at close range. The company dissolved in lawsuits. It seems riders would tuck the pants into their footgear. The integrity of the pants actually magnified the effect of the release and the soles would blow clean off the rider’s boots.
This unique aspect of rider behavior has changed the way some bikers travel. When my shrinking circle of riding buddies rents a cabin for a long trip, we now look for a place with a ventilation system that would do justice to the Lincoln Tunnel. This wasn’t possible on one trip. An engineer in the crowd suggested we all buy little wooden toy train whistles and insert them to the point where they could issue adequate warning, like a kind of air raid system. This proved impractical as the sounds coming out of Dickstein’s room at 5am were reminiscent of Union Station in 1865.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2013
All rights reserved
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Above: Doug Vavrick (Washngton), on "Helga," his expensive German mistress, a 2002 R1150RT-P. While the photo gives the impression of snow, Vavrick has just been tarred and feathered by "K" bike extremists.
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