Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pre-Ride Report -- Dickless Travel On A Motorcycle

On Thursday, May 29, the pre-dawn stillness will be shaken by the growl of a red K75, as I roar out of the driveway and head west on the first stage of a ride to Seneca Falls, West Virginia. It will be a long day in the saddle for me, nearly 325 miles, as I wind my way to a beautiful cabin situated on a stream in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. My gear was carefully chosen for the journey and is nearly packed. Yet I will be leaving without taking the most import thing essential to a good time -- Dick Bregstein.
The author, left, and Dick Bregstein before Seneca Rocks on last year's ride.
Photo courtesy of Pete Buchheit who insists on photo credits.
©Copyright Pete Buchheit 2007

As you are all aware by now, a house ran out in front of Dick on Sunday and he is now munching prunes strapped to a bed pan. I understand Dick is the model patient and the hospital wants him to be happy, so they are bringing Chinese food in for him from the "Yellow Peril" restaurant, in Fancy Gap, Virginia. This is one of Dick's favorite places to eat. And now with the bedpan attached, he need fear no side effects.

Those of you familiar with my work are aware that Dick Bregstein usually plays a major role in punchline development. He has many skills but his strongest point lies in his ability to hold things with a deadpan expression on his face. That is why he so often appears "holding the bag" in my stories. Dick Bregstein, Pete Buchheit and myself had such a good time on our four-state extravaganza last year, that we immediately began planning this West Virginia tour. The original scheme called for Pete and Dick to abandon me at the beginning of each day's ride, meet me back at the house 6 hours later, and explain how they looked everywhere ahead of them for me.

That plan will have to be adjusted. Pete Buchheit will now have to follow behind me, reading a book or something, while I experience the joy of third gear. I am going to miss Dick dancing around in my mirrors on the long pull south and back. The truth is this trip is going to be a bit sedate without him. The evenings with our feet up before the fire, cocktails in hand, and cigars punctuating the conversation just won't be the same. The dinners, served by West Virginian beauties (wearing cut-off jeans and skimpy halter tops), will lack a certain element of animation, even followed by the traditional night cap shared by all in the hot tub.

But the fact is I am going to need a temporary shill for the time that Dick takes to heal. The ideal applicant must have Dick's better qualities: a) never tell you to slow down, b) never tell you to stop drinking, c) never tell you the waitress is actually a man. Plus the applicant must always be willing to believe it's his turn to buy. Looking at these qualities as I type them, however, I realize the odds of finding them all in one person are slim. So Dick is going to have to get better quick.

Jack Riepe
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Delphi)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Chapter Six: The BuRP Rally -- The Ride That Changed My Life

Dawn touched off a motorcycle fusillade on my second day of the BuRP Rally. At least that’s what it sounded like. A couple of dozen bikes fired up and roared out of the Laurel Park Inn at first light, in pursuit of that measure of perfection -- the southern breakfast. There was a pancake and egg joint not far up the road and this was the immediate destination of the troops. It was also rumored that some kind of a group ride had been organized for the day.
Dawn arrived with a motorcycle fusillade as folks
headed out for a southern breakfast.
Photo courtesy of Walter Kern
©copyright Walter Kern 2006

Every region has a local myth. There are those who believe that the temperature of North Carolina’s mountains drops to something like “Alpine” levels at night. This is pure bullshit. The tropical climate of North Carolina in the summer drops to amateur blast furnace levels after dark..

It is perfectly comfortable to sit out on the hotel porch at night, provided you have a cold can of beer tucked inside your shirt collar. The locals will glance around sheepishly and say things like, “I might have to put on my jacket,” but this is more for effect than anything else. Six minutes after sunup, it was 98º. I watched the cap on the K75’s gas tank bulge upward as gas pressure exceeded 400 pounds per square inch.

Rick suggested we cool the bikes by taking them out for a short run to the next town, which is called Cherokee, as it has a longstanding affiliation with a tribe of the same name. I was told there were “casinos” here. Gambling doesn’t hold much fascination for me, considering I’ve been married twice. But I’ve never been on an Indian reservation before and thought I’d take in the sights. I envisioned a quaint settlement where a proud and ancient people bartered leather goods and hides for cigarettes and women.

Four of us saddled up. Ricky on a Honda CBX 1800, Tony Luna on Vulcan 850, “Bob” on a tricked-out Gold Wing, and myself of a 1986 BMW K75. When I asked where the reservation was, Ricky replied, “Over the hill.”
The chrome on "Bob's" Goldwing was rivaled only by the extent
of its accent lighting, which included LEDs in the front hub
Photo courtesy of Walt Kern
©Copyright Walter Kern 2008

The “hill” commenced at the end of town where Route 19 headed west. It was four lanes of good pavement. Quite frankly, I was thrilled, thinking this was how it would be all the way. This classy stretch of asphalt ran for about two miles. Then it became a two-lane toboggan chute that changed elevation according to mood. The highway was patterned after a corkscrew.

Ricky, Bob, and Tony effortlessly leaned their machines through the curves at a death-defying speed of 45-50 mph. I could have gone that fast too, but the thought of taking the bike out of second gear seemed so ostentatious. Glancing in the mirrors, I noticed a long line of cars, trucks, buses and pedestrians behind me, stretching back to Maggie Valley. A huge motor home led the parade trailing clothes on a line. The other drivers were very friendly, with many holding a finger up, indicating that I was “Number One!”

The pavement twisted like a snake in anguish, narrowed, and became a knotted rope at one point. This didn’t surprise anyone but me. Two seconds later we arrived in Cherokee.

There are three levels of casino: Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Cherokee. Las Vegas is where you go to justify losing your shirt by watching gorgeous topless women. Atlantic City is where you go when you’re 85 and that roll of quarters is burning a hole in your pocket. Cherokee is where you go when 85-year-old women look good to you. It is not a quaint native American cultural center. It is a kind of urban partnership providing the noble Red Man a small chance to stick it to the ignoble white man with better odds.

But I loved Cherokee. For one thing, that damn mountain was behind me and everything had pretty much leveled out. Rick wanted to surprise me with something and led us into Dillsboro, which is a rather neat place with an excursion railroad. It was also a tourist destination and loaded with traffic. In the North Carolina heat, each bike became a glowing iron ingot -- neatly situated under its respective rider’s balls. It was then we discovered an authentic, old-fashioned ice cream parlor. We loitered in this place for about an hour, rolling face down in banana splits, ice cream sodas, and hot fudge sundaes.

Rick asked a few questions and determined we were in the wrong town. Forty minutes later, we pulled into Bryson City. Bryson City is also home to an excursion train. (By now you must have figured out that I like trains.) Rick popped his side stand down directly in front of Smoky Mountain Trains -- the largest collection of Lionel Trains and the most incredible scenic model railway that I have ever seen. I believe I am justified in saying that the layouts on display here are the finest in the world. None of the three guys riding with me that day have an interest in model trains, and all stood there in the door, and gasped.

The primary exhibit is one continuous layout, in perfect scale, about the size of your average summer bungalow. Trains went about their business, crossing ravines, disappearing into tunnels, stopping at stations, and hauling freight. The authentic noises were pretty much in scale too. It was unbelievable. I quit after two hours. The other guys looked at exhibits for another 40 minutes.
Incredible detail in trestles are standard at Smokey Mountain Trains
Photo by Jack Riepe
©Copyright Jack Riepe2006

Smokey Mountain Trains is for men who have not forgotten what it is like to be boys. But no boy ever played with anything like this. I would estimate the value of this layout to be about $7 million bucks... And that doesn’t include the model train collection.

Rick had one more surprise for us and led us back into Cherokee to take a helicopter ride. The heliport is a grassy field at the end of a sloping gravel driveway. Not asphalt with a little gravel, but an honest to goodness gravel driveway with rocks the size of acorns. I followed the “Hindenberg” (the Goldwing) carefully to the bottom. It was here that Bob pointed to the stones and said to Ricky, “Do you know what this stuff is? It’s gravel. Motorcycles don’t like gravel. Do they have any of this where you live?”

The helicopter was a 1973 Bell Ranger. It looked brand new, but aircraft often give this appearance. The pilot was 23-years-old and had a German accent. He assured us it was a perfect day for flying. Ricky climbed up front, and Bob and I sat in back. Tony declined the flight not realizing he would a have a helicopter to himself the next day.

The machine started with a prolonged whine and the German kid pulled it up into the air... Three feet of air to be exact.

“Und velcome to der zite-zeeing flight of der Smooookey Mountains,” he said. “Ve haf a lot of der weight in this aircraft today und it vill take a running start to get over das power lines und trees at ze end of der runvay.”

Both Bob and Ricky looked at me as if each of my ample pounds was a direct threat on their lives. And quite frankly, nobody had said anything about struggling to get over the trees and the power lines when we were buying the tickets. The pilot, whose name was Hans Undfeetz, backed the aircraft to the end of a short field, gave it the gas, and headed straight for what looked like certain death to me.

The helicopter’s turbine screamed in outrage and we did a climbing turn over power lines, trees, the highway, and hundreds of Cherokees fleecing the customers. The view was quite spectacular and I was able to pick out the ribbon of death that was the road back to Maggie Valley. I have flown in helicopters many times and I am always amazed at the similarities they share with motorcycles. Both vibrate. Both are somewhat loud. And when both crash, the results are about the same.

The mountains of North Carolina are very beautiful and the weather was clear enough to see at least 20 miles, but still get the true flavor of “The Smokies.” The skill of the pilot was beyond question and I was amazed at the pinpoint precision with which he landed the machine, about 20 minutes later. It was a fun and thrilling ride.

The drama wasn’t over yet though. The gravel driveway was a good 10% grade and covered with loose stone, about 6 inches deep. It ended at a curb on the edge of a four-lane, undivided road. Naturally, we were headed left across two lanes of opposing traffic at the top of this obstacle.

My suggestion was to go right at the top, and to make a U-turn at the next light. This suggestion seemed to be greeted with enthusiasm. Ricky charged up the hill on his cruiser, spewing gravel from the back tire -- and turned left! I was dumbfounded. He was followed by Tony, who also turned left. The imperial Goldwing wobbled a bit, climbed the driveway on a diagonal, and Bob disappeared to the left too.

“You bastards,” I thought to myself. I put the spurs to the K75 and felt the back tire struggle for purchase in the gravel. This was not what I wanted to do but I was not prepared to admit I was a gutless, ball-less, pussy of a rider. I resolved to die in a flaming ball at the top of the driveway.

There was absolutely no traffic where the driveway hit the pavement. Not for another 30 seconds. I twisted on the gas and shot across the road. This would not be the first time that I made a situation worse in my mind than it would be in reality.

The ride back to Maggie Valley was uneventful but highly educational. I stuck on Bob’s ass like a boil. I did everything he did. I cut his line through the curves and matched his angle of lean. I twisted on the gas when he did... And the most amazing thing happened. My turns were better, faster, and steadier. Bob’s bike probably weighed in at six or seven tons. I estimated Bob’s weight to be about 160 pounds. He wore a helmet, a tee shirt and a lit cigarette. He was a good teacher, and he never knew it.

Jack Riepe
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Delphi)
AKA The Chamberlain -- Perdition’s Socks

My Riding Partner Is Down...

It’s 3am and I wondering how my pal Dick "Bermuda Triangle" Bregstein is doing in a hospital room some 60 miles away. Dick is my riding partner and he came away from a crash on Sunday morning with four broken ribs, a broken nose, and some lacerations on a leg. Ribs are passive bones. The kind of bones one doesn’t think much about until they are broken. In fact, they are the kind of nondescript bones that team up with equally nondescript muscles to assist in various inglorious functions that get one through the day... Functions like taking a piss and wiping one’s butt. One never realizes how simple things, such as putting on a pair of pants, require consensus from hundreds of hidden components, until that consensus is no longer assured.

I don’t know if Dick will attempt anything with his pants today. But I have a suspicion that he will try to take a piss at some point, and that he will discover the role his ribs play in the urination process. Nearly a year ago, Dick waited patiently outside an emergency room while the experts tried to determine the extent of my injuries. Dick had been in the saddle all day when I crashed (June 9, 2007), and it would be five hours more before he’d get to sleep. Yet he waited until he could talk to me personally, before riding off in the dark, in a strange town, three states away -- to find a hotel room.

I deeply regret that I wasn’t there to return the favor yesterday. Dick was riding with the "big kids" on Sunday.

There has been some speculation on what could have caused Dick to go off the road. The weather was good... The road was dry... And the circumstances were well within his competency. In time, the cause will be chalked up to algebra, physics, and metaphysics. It will be determined that the apex of the curve -- divided by the intensity of solar flare activity -- and multiplied by 22/7ths, aggravated the “Sausage Creature,” forcing Dick to leave the pavement.
Dick "Bermuda Triangle" Bregstein with his F800 BMW,
now totaled in yesterday's accident.

The “Song of the Sausage Creature,” written by the late Hunter S. Thompson focuses on speed. In truth, the song has many verses and the Sausage Creature changes shape from speed to distraction, from distraction to panic, and ultimately from the vertical to the horizontal. Yet the truth is that if you can hear the song, you are compelled to dance. In the opening lines of the “Song of the Sausage Creature,” Thompson writes, “There are some things nobody needs in this world, and a bright-red, hunch-back, warp-speed 900cc cafe racer is one of them - but I want one anyway, and on some days I actually believe I need one. That is why they are dangerous.”

No one really needs a blue BMW F800 either. The same way there is no justifiable need for romance, oxygen, sex, literature, or the change of seasons. Life without them though is the chorus of mediocrity. And I’d rather dance to the song of the Sausage Creature, then hum the tune of the walleyed zombie legions, safe in the numbness of their day-to-day lives.

I can hardly wait to see Dick again.

Jack Riepe

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No Pain, No Gain

Every ride I start begins with two distinct jolts of pain. The first comes from attempting to mount the bike. It takes three or four false swings before I can get my right leg over the saddle. And this model of BMW, a 1995 K75, is one of the lowest machines ever made by the German marque. The second occurs with bringing my left foot up to the peg. This time the pain shoots through my left hip. The source of the pain is my family curse -- arthritis.

The jolt from the hip is so bad that its anticipation causes me to delay in getting on the bike. I’m just not anxious to hurt. The restricted movement in that joint causes me to snap my left leg up, using resistance against the right one. This is a peculiar way to get started, but it does allow me to ride the bike. (And there are some days when I can’t do this very easily, and it take a few tries to get up to peg too.) What I cannot do is bring my left foot to the peg on the fly. And this makes it dificult to do anything like an up-hill left turn against traffic.

My doctor has prescribed the anti-inflammatory “Mobic,” which helps in a passive sense. Passive in that the relief is not overwhelming. Yet not taking these pills for a week brings out aches in a dozen other places, however. I am supposed to have blood work done often to make sure this medication is not having an adverse affect on my liver or kidneys. I was originally on Celebrex, which worked like a miracle for about three months.
This is my 1995 BMW K75 "Fire Balls." This is the low version of this bike.
This seat is still 4 inches taller than the saddle on my girl's Honda Aero Shadow

I was taken off Celebrex as I am somewhat fat in the ass and a more likely candidate for a cardio-event. (Doesn’t the expression cardio-event sound like a fucking rodeo, or something?)

Some days are better than others. I rode 237-miles last Sunday. The first 129 miles went off without a hitch. I didn’t feel the need to put my legs down once.Yet I did stop three times on the ride home. Each stop ran around ten minutes, and I didn’t get off the bike. I hit 80 on a regular basis and topped 96 mph on one stretch. The K75 is knowbn as the gentleman’s express. It is certainly that.

Sunday was peculiar as far as the weather went. It was too cold to wear mesh, but too warm to wear the ballistic stuff without taking out the vent sections. By the time I hit the first toll booth (Valley Forge), I had to pull over and open the sleeve vents too.

I met my family at Michael’s Riverside Restaurant in Lyndhurst, for Mother’s Day Lunch. Michael’s is a great place. Try the New Zealand Mussels if they have them. And get the tartuffo for desert.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008
AKA The Lindbegh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Delphi)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (Perdition’s Socks)


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Chapter Five: The BuRP Rally -- The Ride That Changed My Life

The truth be known, I don’t pay attention to directions when I am following someone. I’d been following my old pal, Rick Matz, for about two hours and it was getting late in the day. I had no idea where we were in relation to our final destination -- Maggie Valley, NC. The heat in my helmet had fried my brains and my eyes were smarting from the sweat that occasionally trickled down my face. The pain in my knees had become constant and a bit of a distraction. Rick had checked out Maggie Valley the week before (as he lives in neighboring Tennessee), and I mimicked his maneuvers, forcing myself to concentrate on the traffic ahead of him as well as behind me (where Wayne Whitlock and his wife Lucy followed).

Rick, Wayne, Lucy, and myself had been in the saddle all day and it was time to get off the bikes.

Rick triggered his Honda’s left turn signal and pointed to a little motel drifting by. We were on the main drag of a little town framed by mountains. I had spent 19 years living in Lake Placid, New York, which is a mountain resort of the cushiest sort. I was expecting something on that order and couldn’t imagine why Rick was turning.

“What the hell is he pointing at,” I asked myself. There were bikes parked in front of the motel and it was then I realized the sign said, “Laurel Park Inn.”
Every Kind of Bike Was Represented At The 2006 BuRP Rally 
And Parked Outside The Laurel Park Inn.
Photo Courtesy of Walter Kern
© Copyright Walter Kern 2006

I confirmed the turn with my own signal, banking across traffic into the parking lot. Wayne Whitlock and Lucy were right behind me. We switched off the bikes for the last time that day and the resulting silence was better than a naked woman whispering in my ear.

A mob of folks surged out to meet us, and more than a few said, “It’s Vindak8r.” Not since I played Santa Claus for a thousand little kids at a roller rink did I feel so warmly welcomed.

“I thought you never met these people before,” said Rick.

“I haven’t.”

“Then how do they all know you,” he asked. "And why do they seem happy to see you? Do they know they're welcoming a rum drought?"

These were folks I’d met in an online forum, under the aegis of Walter Kern. And now, Walt was stepping up with his hand extended. He tossed me two little cookies that were as brittle as hard plastic. I started chewing on one, and Walt said, “Those are to put under your center stand so it doesn’t damage the new parking lot paving. But I think you’ll need a sheet of plywood under each tire too.”

Ricky slapped the back of my helmet and I spit the puck out onto the ground.

Folks crowded around my Beemer and I felt like a celebrity. It wasn’t until the next day that I discovered they just didn’t want me to fall over and knock down the whole row of bikes. I was so tired that I couldn’t stand up, and spent twenty minutes just leaning over my bike. Danny, 50 percent of the couple who owns the motel, asked me to shift my position every few minutes, to redirect the fountain of sweat pouring off me onto another stand of flowers.
I Was So Tired, I Couldn't Do Anything But Lean On The Bike For 20 Minutes After I Arrived.
Photo Courtesy of Walter Kern
© Copyright Walter Kern 2006

It was like attending a reunion at a correspondence school. I had been communicating with these folks via the internet for two years, and suddenly, each of the electronic personalities had a face and voice. Surprisingly, some individuals were very different from their online personas. Walter Kern (poppymoto), who can come off as somewhat abrupt in his posts, is as warm as a Roman candle. This is contrast to his wife Jane (Customkat), who is always like the birthday present with the best wrapping.

Carrie (ShadowRebellion) has been hosting an online column for as long as I have known her. I felt like I was meeting a new chapter in a book. She is a mileage and weather-be-damned biker. Carrie rode what I remember to be about 500 miles with her mom on the pillion. Scott (Solobear) has been a fan of my writing for a long time. I met him briefly at the beginning and the end of this event.

Brenda Wheatley and Bill Wood are a big part of the driving force behind the BuRP Rally. They rolled out the red carpet for me and made me feel as if I was the reason all these folks had come together in the first place. That wasn’t really true, but they worked hard to disguise that fact.
Bill Wood (left) and Dan (SCRUFFYD2) Pretend To Welcome Me. 
They Will Severely Beat Wayne Whitlock Later For Making Sure I Arrived Okay.
Photo Courtesy of Walter Kern
© Copyright Walter Kern 2006

Sammye, (Granny2Wheels) rode in on a machine named “Dirty Sally” from Oklahoma. In conversation with Sammy, she will alternately refer to herself as “Granny” or “a squaw,” as she has a proud native American heritage. You could weld steel with the fire in this woman’s eyes. And that fire heats a passion for riding and an amazing sense of humor. Sitting next to me on the second night, Granny offered to trade a lap dance for rolling papers. (She changed her mind when I got up to dance in her lap.)

Tony Luna and I had ridden before under the aegis of “Perdition’s Socks,” a secret society whose members are identified by a mystical gesture and a hidden symbol. (Wayne Whitlock and Mack Harrell were part of the original cabal.) Little did anyone know that Tony would become the focus of an intense lifesaving operation later in the week.
Tony Luna -- Member Of Perdition's Socks -- Was One Of Two People I Knew At The BuRP Rally.
Photo Courtesy of Walter Kern
©Copyright Walter Kern 2006

Scott Bensen (DocMeteor) provided lots of interesting conversation and led several rides later that week. Yet there were a lot of people there that I was even chatting with for the first time. They were Alicia and Dan (AliciaDan), Bill T and Judy, Bob, Carol, Frank Vanek (Frankjv) Scott (Voyager), Scott (Voyager) and Tony and Laura. And I apologize if there were others that I missed (and I’m sure I have). This was their party, and they all made me feel like I had something useful to say and that I was a guest of honor.

I wondered what these people thought of me. I looked like a cartoon version of my electronic signature.

The Laurel Park Inn is the perfect location for a genteel motorcycle get together. The property is built in the classic, roadside motel style. That being said, the maintenance and care this motel receives would put many chain properties to shame. My room was utterly spotless, comfortable, and nicely appointed. Everything worked as advertised. That means the air conditioning had a “cyclone” setting and was adequately sized to lower a tropical temperature with corresponding humidity in about 4 minutes. This is important when you weigh as much as a neutron star (I do) and give off 15,000 BTUs every minute.

The second guest benefit was put in specifically for this event -- high-speed wireless internet. A growing number of riders are carrying laptops with them to get work done, or to simply stay connected while on the road. I don’t really like to ride in the rain, and will opt to work in my hotel room rather than get soaking wet when on a trip. Some hotels offer an an ether net connection. Other’s claim to have seamless wireless connections but don’t. Still others places just have it in the lobby. Some very swanky hotels in Vancouver, Montreal, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles have great wireless internet for only $10 per day.

The little Laurel Park Inn has fantastic wireless internet, that functioned flawlessly, for free, and made me feel like I had dozens of options. Some of my gentle readers may be put off by my initial physical description of this property. The Laurel Park Inn may have the lines of a traditional roadside motel but the exterior decor goes far beyond that. The place is covered with beautiful flowers that give it a unique “your-kind-of-people” stay here look. There is a delightful verandah that runs the length of the building, with a couple of comfy rocking chairs by each door.

If you think the rocking chair bit is for an older, nearly prehistoric clientele, you are sadly mistaken. At the end of a long day, 8 hours or so in the saddle, where your ass has taken on the contours of a motorcycle seat, there is nothing like kicking back in a comfy rocker, and relaxing on a cool evening. Trust me on this one. My bike at the time was a 1986 BMW K75 with a Corbin Comfort Seat. I believe this particular seat was designed by the North Korean secret police. After sitting on it for two hours, the most hardened criminal would sign anything. I fell into the rocking chair outside my door, and wondered how I could get this mounted onto the bike. The verandah became the impromptu meeting place to discuss the day’s adventures, to plan the next days rides, and to trade death-defying lies.
The Verandah On The Laurel Park Inn Was The Scene of Many Impromptu Biker Discussions.
Photo Courtesy of Walter Kern
©Copyright Walter Kern 2006

This motel also features an outdoor pavilion with complete party facilities, which made group gatherings for pizza, a barbecue, and birthday cake a snap. Once again, after a full day in the saddle, it’s nice to be able to get together without starting up the bike one more time. There is a pool in the back and I would recommend this place as the premier guest house in Maggie Valley.

I collapsed into a chair, and somebody gave me a cold beer.

“Don’t give him a beer,” screamed Ricky. “He’ll go into a coma and we’ll need a fork lift to move him.” He pried the beer from my hand (no easy trick), opened my topcase, and pulled out a Sigg bottle. He passed the bottle under my nose a few times until my eyes opened wide. The scent of warm rum brought me back to full consciousness.

“There you go, big fella,” said Rick. “You’ll get another sniff when you get your bags off the bike and into the room.”

The rest of that evening became a party. Everybody had a story to tell. And every story was great.

The tale of the BuRP Rally is the story of the people who ride to it. And I only know my own perspective. In 2006, the BuRP Rally was a summation of riding styles, unique personalities, cool bikes, and folks who revel in meeting each other year after year. I arrived with all the finesse of a whoopee cushion at Thanksgiving Dinner, and no one seemed to mind.

This was my first multi-day motorcycle rally and it has spoiled me by setting some high standards. The accommodations were delightful. The company was fun, pleasant, and polite. The conversation was always interesting. No one's behavior was inappropriate.  The ride was challenging, but doable. The destination offered a lot to see and do.   The bikes covered the whole motorcycle spectrum, from tricked out trikes to pimped-out Goldwings, from techno Euro tourers (not mine) to sport bikes, and from gorgeous Japanese cruisers to royal Harleys. Yet the only time a marque came up in conversation was when someone else admired it, which was often. Only two women followed me into my room at night, and I am forever grateful to the one who did that thing with the waffle iron. 

The next few days would offer a full agenda. The rally split up into group rides, or went off exploring, or hung around in little discussion groups. It was the most seamless matching of personalities I have ever encountered with a group this large. If there was disagreement, it was certainly handled discretely.

There would be challenges all week. Wayne’s Harley blew its last fuse and was towed off to the dealers. The culprit would be determined to be a chaffed wire coming into contact with the frame under a chrome cover. Wayne handled this like it was nothing. I have never seen the man get angry nor frustrated. It would take a few attempts before the local Harley dealership would get the problem straightened out, but Wayne was confident they would.
Wayne Whitlock Decided To Trade His Harley Ultra For A Handful Of Magic Beans. 
The Kid He Traded It To Will Later Return With An Attorney.
The Ultra Is Loaded Onto A Trailer.
Photo Courtesy Of Walter Kern
©Copyright Walter Kern 2006

Scott (Voyager) found his magnificent Aprilla was eating a rear drive bearing. He had a huge ride home (to Wisconsin or Minnesota, or someplace like that) and determined he could make it. What amazed me is that all of these guys had no problem taking stuff like rear drives and transmissions apart -- and putting them back together again.

No one can watch the great Christmas movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” without feeling good at the end. Jimmy Steward understands what his life is worth and Clarence the angel gets his wings. I got my wings pulling into the Laurel Park Inn. Everyone seemed delighted that I had made this ride, despite the fact that everyone else rode farther than I did, and had real adventures getting there too. But this group understood what this trip meant to me as a “push-your-luck,” overweight, arthritic, advanced middle-aged, reentry rider. And this group celebrated the personal triumph it was for me to get there.

Yet a strange tempering process had begun. My limited reentry riding ability was being heated and beaten with the sledgehammer of experience. Changes were already taking place that would alter my perception of riding, and how I wanted to ride. But I didn’t know it at the time.

Next week: Chapter 6 -- I Meet The SteelHorse Rider And North Carolina’s Mountain Roads Attempt to Devour BuRP Riders

The author would like to acknowledge the photography of Walter Kern, who made the pictures in this chapter possible. Mr. Kern's extensive motorcycle knowledge and biker columns can be accessed by clicking on "Motorcycle Views," under the "Destinations" heading on this blog. Mr. Kern was the first person to encourage me to write motorcycle-related stories. I suggest you address your complaints to him directly.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA The Mighty Vindak8r (Delphi)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)