Saturday, November 29, 2008

Getting Or Giving The Perfect Moto Gift For Christmas!

There are many great aspects to Christmas... Religious... Cultural... Family... Personal... And presents. My column today will deal with the “Fifth Aspect,” known in the vernacular as “swag.” The standard Christmas present can also be broken down into a number of subcategories. These include the “surprise or the anticipated” gift; the incredibly thoughtful present or the pre-wrapped shit that was on the “reduced” table closest to the exit in the store; the real McCoy and brand name item that you always wanted but wouldn’t spend the money on or the usual knockoff crap you get from your brother-in-law.

The truth is that most Christmas gifts mirror the personalities of the people who give them. This is why your sister’s husband (or the equivalent pineapple on your family tree) will always give you the drugstore plastic flashlight three-pack in exchange for the bottle of great Scotch.

So why not start to smarten up? I annually contribute to a charity by purchasing a box of light bulbs. I wrapped last year’s shipment and gave them to the family curse. He tore them open and said, “Jack did you mean to give these to me?”

“Are they the 75-watt ones,” I asked back?

“Uh huh,” he replied.

‘Yup. Those are yours. I gave the 50 watt ones to Ed.”

Ideally, what you are hoping for is a surprise gift, that falls into the thoughtful category, and is the real McCoy. In many cases, these attributes add up to expensive... But not always. The best gifts are those that delight every time they are used. And if they are well made, then they will last forever, and so will the memory of the day and the person who gave it to you. This is my short list of great gifts that I like to give my pals and riding buddies. Each item has a moto application, and most are under $30. They make excellent stocking stuffers -- And fine recommendations for those wondering what they should get you.

Item #1
The Mini Maglite “AA” LED Flashlight
There is nothing more aggravating than to find yourself in the dark with a crumby flashlight that casts an anemic beam or doesn’t work at all. I have had Mini Maglites for more than 15 years. I can never get enough of these.
• 3 Watt LED technology
• Focusable beam
• Built like a brick shithouse
• Made in the USA
Available at Campmor (online) for $22.99

I consider the "AA" Mini Maglite to be essential equipment on my bike
And I really like the power and pure white light of the LED model.

Item #2 (For above)
NiteIze Mini Flashlight Holder
The power went out during a vicious ice storm in the Adirondacks, and stayed off for two weeks! These little headbands are like having an extra hand and eliminate holding the light in your mouth.
• A headband that make mini lights “hands free”
Available from Campmor (online) for $4.99

This is like having a third hand. It weights nothing and stays tight around the light.
The Mini Flashlight Holder by NiteIze is standard equipment on my bike too.

Item #3
Nissan 1 Pint Silver Bullet Stainless Steel Vacuum Bottle
Did you ever ride off to a great spot on a lake or even the shore on a late fall day and wish for a hot cup of coffee? This pint-sized vacuum bottle from Nissan fits nicely into a top case or a tank bag and keeps coffee hot! The small-sized insulated cup holds about four ounces -- which is perfect for sipping coffee outdoors, without letting it cool off in the cup.
• Stainless steel construction
• Holds a pint
• Fits into topcase or tank bag
Available at Campmor (online) for $19.99

On a cold day, you can have no closer friend than a hot cup of Joe
by the side of a river, valley, or beach -- especially if there is no
coffee shop around. I highly recommend this unit and it has a great price.

Item #4
E-Z Air Tire Gauge
There are any number of tire pressure gauges out there that will tell you how much air is in your rubber. But there’s only one that makes getting a good reading -- and topping off the pressure -- a snap. The E-Z Tire Pressure gauge snaps onto the valve via a 6” flex hose (perfect for getting around brake rotors) and gives you a clear reading on an analog gauge big enough to see without your glasses! Need to put a few pounds in? No problem! The air pump connects right to the gauge to give you the exact amount you want!
• Larger than you might expect -- fits into the topcase!
• Easy to use and great for those of us with stiff knees!
Available from Whitehorse Gear (online) for $25.00

This remarkable device maintains a tight bite on the valve, gives an accurate reading,
and makes it easy to top off the tire, even working around brake rotors.

Item #5
Formotion Motorcycle Thermometer (Stick-on)
I love to see the temperature I’m riding in -- especially if its cold. This little stick-on device starts out accuratly enough, but it will read hotter than hell if mounted on your bike’s exposed dash in the summer sun. Still, I like having one. It comes with white number on a black face (or black numbers on a white face) with double-sided adhesive tape.
• Looks cool... Works okay when it is cool out.
Available from Whitehorse Gear (online) $37.95

This picture is about twice as large as the real thing. I like getting data about my riding environment and this works well enough, as long as it's not getting direct summer sun.

Item #6
Helen Two Wheels Super Pack Straps
These straps come as two 6” lengths and two 5’ lengths. They provide scratch-proof lashings to just about any spot on your bike and eliminate those annoying pongee cords that can let go with disastrous results.
• Work better than pongee cords... Last forever.
• Better to order two sets.
Available from Racer Parts Wholesale (online) $22.00

Helen Two Wheels Super Pack Straps will give you tight lashings anyplace you 
can wrap a strap around your frame, without weak knots or pongee cords.
Won't scratch anything either.

Item #7
Tuthilltown Spirits -- Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey
This is the perfect accompaniment to the end of the trail. Hopefully, you’ve had a hot shower and have your feet up. The campfire is glimmering in the otherwise dim lens of the headlight. And you’re holding a Manhattan made with this extraordinary rye whiskey.
Available at select liquor stores in New York City that cater to a better clientele. Click here for more info.

And then again, you might have rated a slightly more expensive gift. Do you do a lot of camping on your bike? Do you attend a lot of regional rallies? Does your ass get tired of sitting on logs, rocks, or picnic bench seats -- especially after a long day in the saddle?

Item #8
The Incredible Kermit Chair
Then try the famous Kermit Chair. At 5 pounds, it will weigh more than your tent, but offers a great alternative to sitting on anything else. Made of oak with stainless steel fittings, it takes less than a minute to set up with no loose parts. And its rated to hold 350 pounds! It packs to 22” by 3.5.” And order the leg extenders while you’re at it. These raise the seat level to a standard 17.5.”
The chair is $129. The leg extenders are another $30.
• Supports 350 pounds -- tested to much higher!
• Made in the USA!
• Different colors available!
Available from the Kermit Chair Company

The Kermit Chair is without a doubt one of the most civil introductions
to motorcycle camping and rally participation. Great for canoe camping too!

Please note that I have no affiliation with any of these fine products. But I do own all of them and highly recommend each.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain-- PS (With A Shrug)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Learning to Travel Cheap... Compliments of “The Suits” at AIG, General Motors, and Citi Bank

The current economic crisis is going to play hell with the motorcycle industry and the suppliers of riding gear next year. With the Holiday season shaping up to be as cheery as the December the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, 2009 is going to get off to a very rocky start. Every rebound of the world markets is followed by a plunge of equal or greater magnitude, and today’s news of Citi Bank woes is driving home a sense of financial foreboding that few Americans can appreciate.

Those of us with a two-wheel addiction are going feel a hit. No matter how you slice it, riding a motorcycle is an expensive proposition.

There is nothing about a motorcycle that doesn’t fall under discretionary spending. Even the most Chevy-like Hondas (arguably the most maintenance friendly bikes on the road) will require tires two or three times more frequently than any car. That pretty much negates any savings in fuel -- especially at the current rock bottom prices. And those buying into this addiction this year -- starting from scratch -- will have the joy of purchasing riding gear too.

The worst way to purchase riding gear is the way I did it -- piecemeal. I bought the cheapest shit I could find to meet minimum riding parameters. This was a $69 dollar open-faced helmet and $10 gloves. I rode in jeans, hiking boots and a wind-resistant jacket that I had in my closet. Believe it or not, the first time I’d heard of a mesh jacket was in a Motorcycle Views forum. And then I bought the shitiest one of those I could find for $69 too!

Cheap gear always turns out to be the most expensive investment you can make... Because you are going to spend every cent of that money over again when the cheap shit breaks, splits, tears, soaks through, or dissolves when your cheap fat ass hits the pavement. You don’t have to spend top dollar to get great stuff, but you will pay 30 percent to 40 percent more to get adequate stuff. Regrettably, first time riders or reentry riders on a shoestring budget seldom see it that way. And the cash-tight constraints of 2009 are going to guarantee that a lot of riders are making due with cheap shit.

It can be argued that the average squid or kid-on-the street rider seldom gets this stuff anyway. But I was thinking of how the motorcycle market has come to depend on the middle-aged reentry rider who has had the cash to burn on a new bike and the stuff that comes with it. I read that the average age of the Harley Davidson rider is 58! That means the average BMW rider got their first bike six years after the last shot was fired in the Civil War.

That same freewheeling bunch is now discovering their retirement funds and 401k’s have been seriously devalued. The fixed income crowd is becoming cash-squeezed. And forty-year-old somethings who have been considering motorcycles, or who have recently acquired bike payments, are now finding themselves scrambling to meet the mortgage and grocery bills. Motorcycles have a way of becoming low priorities with those who are about to consider health care and tuition payments as luxuries.

I think at least two marques will come close to extinction as per their 2009 sales in the US. One because its Halloween costume life-style is based on converting gold into chrome excess, with the sale of clothing and trick or treat stuff becoming more important than the actual two-wheeled hardware itself. And the other because the cost of its trademark bikes is about $4000 more than a decent compact car, coupled with the fact the new corporate strategy is to have two dealers in the US (one on each coast).

I see a lot of barely used bikes going up for sale these days. I have noted that more than a few come with helmets, gloves, jackets, and left over visions now stained with a new reality. Some guys have discovered a new dimension to life: fear. If not a fear of dropping the bike in a curve, than the fear of dropping the financial ball.

How can we get through the next year? My discretionary fund is now a large jar filled with change harvested from my pockets every day and from the floor of the car once each month. It weighs about 25 pounds and is mostly quarters and dimes. This is my riding money for 2009. On the savings end, I have decided to limit dining out with the squeeze to once a month. This includes coming home with KFC, a pizza, or Chinese and should save from $150 to $200 on a monthly basis. I have a pretty well-stocked bar, but will no longer replenish it. I will drink down what I have and then give it up. Since I have premium cable, I will not go to another movie for a year. (Most of them really suck anyway.)

As far as Christmas gifts go, I’ll take care of Stiffie (my squeeze) and my daughter. For everyone else, I’m going to plant a tree to honor their friendship, and to offset the carbon bullshit of politicians scrambling to fix the economy.

I typically spend $10-$20 on a meal when I stop on a trip. That’s because I look for a nice country tavern. That’s over now. I will begin packing my lunch when I head out for a ride. I bought a great stainless steel Nissan/Thermos for $19 last year. It holds a pint. I have a special coffee at home that I love. I will be able to fill the vacuum bottle for $1.10, and enjoy a better steaming cup of Joe than I can find at most greasy spoons. A #1 “Big Mac” meal at McDonalds runs about 1800 calories and costs $5.99 At the current price of gas, about $2.40 a gallon for high-test in Pennsylvania, that’s more than 130 miles of range.

I may have to rediscover camping too. I made my first reservation for a bike trip in 2009. It’s a run I’ve done before, to a rustic cabin in Maryland’s Elk Neck State Park. That cost $100 for two nights. And I’ve also made my reservations in a hotel for the BMW MOA Rally next July. But aside from that, I suspect I’m going to become a regular saddle tramp.

I hate traveling cheap, but none of this was my idea. If anyone wants to say that I am not doing my part to pump cash into the economy, please direct your remarks to the suits at AIG, General Motors, and Citi Bank. They had a lot more to do with it than I did. In fact, I would cheerfully pay $100 to have the CEOs from those companies wash my bike, or twice that to have them kiss my ass. Yours too, in fact.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008
AKA The Lindbergh Baby
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Winter Maintenance Ritual Is Completed... My Bike Is Ready For Spring

The economy has responded to the election of Barack Obama by jumping in the toilet and pulling the chain. This has nothing to do with Barack Obama. It would have done this anyway. This has to do with with corporate mismanagement on a scale that the world has never seen before. Mismanagement that extends from the banking industry to heavy manufacuring, to the airlines to the oil industry. Money is disappearing faster from corporate America than politicians with something useful to say.

'The Ace 500 Stock Ticker..." Get the latest from Wall Street and deliver 
your exit address standing up. Also good for government employment reports."
(Photo courtesy of the internet.)

While I am still employed, it must be acknowledged that Public Relations writers are the first to be sacrificed in tough economic times. The prevailing philosophy is that since no one will believe any of the bullshit spouted by tarnished CEOs anymore (especially in the auto industry), why pay somebody to write it?

PR people are fired in a peculiar way. First, they are invited into the CEO’s office to review films of themselves having sex with their secretaries during various corporate retreats. This is to insure their silence. Even if the PR person is single, he is not likely to want a video of himself dressed as a peacock doing the trumpheter swan mating dance on U-Tube. (I actually ordered 5 copies of my last firing video.) Then they are offered a case of Swanson frozen dinners and a check for $500, which they always take. (Under all the glitz, they are still writers and this is a reflex action.) After being escourted to the parking lot with a black bag pulled over their head, their offices are purged with a flame thrower. The symbolism is clear. The PR person represents the corporate gall bladder and is simply removed.

This has happened to me three or four times in the past, so I know.

I spent some time this morning making a sign that reads, “Will write for food, rum, sex or a hip replacement.” I sat down behind it on a busy street, and started sipping an Irish coffee . Twenty minutes later, a cop got out of a car and clubbed me in the knees. Perhaps doing this on the “Main Line” in Paoli was a trifle ambitious.

By now, the gentle reader is asking, “Where is the moto content in fatass’s blog today? Has he succumbed to the temptation to think that his opinions on other things might be important?” People are going to need to laugh in the immediate future, and I have started my next book, titled: Better Sex and Eternal Youth Through Motorcycling -- A Re-Entry Rider’s Guide.

There are a lot of fine books on motorcycling, and more than a few that can be a help to the re-entry rider looking for advice, or for the intermediate rider desirous of becoming a long-distance Paladen. Many of these speak of the Zen of the bike, or the Tao of the road. Mine will offer a very different viewpoint. It will address the hidden, less politically correct motivation for riding a motorcycle... Like feeling seventeen again, with a rock-hard dick dictating the route, and the wind at your command... With gravity and centrifical force competing for your attention... And with the music of an engine that goes up an octive every time you twist the throttle. Women readers, who do not actually have a rock hard dick but who would like to spot one coming along on a red 1995 BMW K75, will also find this book especially useful.

It will be the companion piece for my cigar book, “Politically Correct Cigar Smoking For Social Terrorists,” that is currently selling “used” on Amazon from $36 to $173.00. My cigar book was written to preserve the delicate male image during difficult politically correct times. Click here to read two chapters from this book, but do not attempt to order it from this site. Four stories from an earlier work are here as well. My bike book will be about taking back what is righfully yours, and finding a long-lost dimension to your soul.

"Politically Correct Cigar Smoking For Social Terrorists"
This is my book, available through Amazon or through me.
(Photo compliments of the author)

I spent the last money I expect to have for the next three years getting my bike serviced for 2009. If this thing needs a tire in the next six months, I will be shit out of luck. It is safe to say that no mechanical device (that one keeps in the garage) has ever provided me with the satisfaction that I get from this 1995 K75.

I rode the bike 50 miles to the Rubber Chicken Racing Garage, in Yardley, Pa. The temperature was in the low 40’s, and traffic was light. I hit 90 mph in a couple of spots on I-276. Dick Bregstein followed me in his car, and graciously provided my ride back. The machine was ready four days later. You may wait to get an appointment at the RCRG, but you will not get a song and dance. Your machine will not languish for weeks in a shop.

The oil and transmission fluid has been changed. The brakes have been inspected and the fluid topped off. The plugs, the gas and the oil flters have been changed too. I had a Centech fuse box added and had the MotoLight wiring routed through it. I had the brake pedal raised 8mm to its the limit.

The brake pedal was an interesting development. I told the mechanic it seemed as if the pedal was traveling further than it should before I got a good bite on the rear brake. On my older K75 with the discount drum brake, this could be adjusted by simply turning a wingnut. It requires an engineering degree to accomplish the same thing on this model with the hydraulic disk. The mechanic, a charm school tutor in his spare time, stated that the pedal was “okay,” but that the bulbous roll of fat than extends downwards from my gut, draping over both sides of the gas tank, makes it difficult for me to turn my elephantine foot into the brake properly.

I learn something new everyday.

I once had a Mazda RX-7, which was the best car I ever owned. Like a BMW motorcycle, the parts were astronomical. When the brakes went, my local Irish mechanic called to say Mazda wanted $1500 for replacement parts, but that he could use aftermarket for $1200.This was a “no brainer.” I drove this car hard. A year later, it needed brakes again. I told the mechanic, “If you knew how to install these things I wouldn’t be here so often.”

He relied, “If you could push yourself away from the table every now and again, this little car wouldn’t need brakes so often.”

To the naked eye, my motorcycle looks the same -- except for a tiny Kuryakan voltmeter that now sits on the dashboard. When the ignition is switched on, it does a neat little LED countdown to test the system, then settles on a nice green reading in the comfort zone.

Yet while the bike looks the same, it is a nuclear reactor on two wheels. The Parabellum Fairing lends this machine a dignity it did not have leaving the showroom, 13 years ago. And the seal of mechanical perfection from the Rubber Chicken Racing Garage guarantees this bike will hum a tune of terror for those unsuspecting squid, who assess my presence as merely another disillusioned old fatass, riding a squared off BMW, on his way to the La Brea tar pits.

Fireballs -- 1995 BMW K75
While I have run this picture before, I never get tired of it.
This is a Teutonic Wet Dream
(Photo compliments of the author)

I hope to make one more set of changes to this machine during the winter. This would include pulling off the crash bars and getting them powder coated black. I then want to mount a Steble/Nautilus dual tone compact air horn to this assembly, via a black metal bracket. I’ve had the black version of the horn in the garage for a year. I am going to have to get a paper route or something to fund this project, however.

Jack Riepe disguised as a writer. His mother believes he is a piano player in a whore house.
(Photo courtesy of the Police Gazette)

Our monthly Mac-Pac dinner is tonight. I have gone through my change jar and have enough to buy a burger or a drink. I pray to God I won’t be hungry. Though snow flurries are falling, there will be at least one bike parked outside the restaurant/lounge/bar. There always is at these things. Alas, it won’t be mine. My arthritis is screaming again today, and I am walking around like a cripple.


Side notes:

This story contains two “dick” references, but not in connection with a joke. My daughter, who is also a professional writer, raised the question that there were two many “dick” references in my work. Now while it is odd to be discussing “dicks” as an element of style with one’s 25-year-old daughter, I did pose the question of dick content with my readers. With one or two dissenters, they did not see the validity of her point. (Smile of smug satisfaction.) Yet the two references in this story are nothing less than the scientific name (in biker terms) of a key issue in motorcycling. This cannot be considered sexist as it does not refer to women. It cannot be considered gratuitous because... (Well, if you’re a guy, you know what I’m talking about. And women know what I am talking about too. It’s what they discuss when they all go the bathroom together.)

In future blogs, I plan to offer a factual dialogue with one of the world’s fastest motorcycle riders and accomplished racers -- Chris Carr. I hate to drop names, but Chris and I are pals. I will also detail a fabulous story of bad luck titled, “How 10¢ In A Toll Booth Cost A Bald Humorless Midget A Fairing.”

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Best Policy For Negotiatiing With The Other Guy’s Insurance Company

My reflexes twanged like the sudden release of a compound bow string. Clutch in... Downshifting in progress... Binders on... Eyes searching for an escape route in the fraction of the second dealt me by the left-turning vehicle swinging through the intersection. There are many visions that remain with a man throughout his life. Mine include sunrise in the Adirondacks, sunset in Hawaii, and a half dozen women (over the course of 30 years) who occasionally got naked around sunrise or sunset depending upon the perceived depth of my sincerity. To these I have now added the image of a predatory mini-van that suddenly filled my horizon.

Though the K75 was stopping cleanly and honestly, the front of the van pulverized the fairing and slammed the bike to the ground. For the briefest moment in time, I became the world’s largest airborne mammal. Imagine a pilot whale instantly weightless through the gift of trajectory. The sensation ended when I bounced off the front of the van and came to rest on the ground.

The once proud "Blue Balls" with the unique Sprint Fairing... 
Struck down by a left-turning mini van in Virginia.
(Photo by Leslie Marsh)

I flirted with consciousness as pressure gave way to a pain in my chest. A pain that quickly spread throughout my body. A pain that would last months after the initial impact. The excruciating pain that comes from dealing with the other party’s insurance company.

An insurance company is a vertical cash-generating instrument that promises to minimize your liability in the event you have caused injury, damage, or death to someone else; or to minimize your loss in the event you are the one being scrapped off the minivan.. The key word here is “minimize.” Insurance companies do this by paying out the “minimal” amount of money required to resolve a claim.

Insurance companies and gambling casinos have a lot in common. Everybody has heard of individuals winning millions of dollars on 25¢ slot machines. Ever met one? Likewise, we have all heard stories of people who have been awarded millions of dollars in negligence cases. Like the guy who dropped the coffee in his lap at MacDonalds. I bet you’ve never met one of those folks either. Insurance companies stay in business by guaranteeing that the cash flows in one direction. (Although this has not been the case recently where at least one huge insurance company and its investments in mortgage guarantees are concerned.)

Imagine a 50-story silo with a huge vacuum in it. The vacuum sucks up millions of dollars daily, through policies, investments, real estate schemes, and retirement funds. Insurance companies claim they must have billions of dollars, even trillions, in reserve to pay up in the event of a national disaster. For example, a tornado touching down in a metropolitan area on a busy weekday could cost an insurance company plenty, especially if they had to pay out on all the claims submitted by people holding weekday metropolitan area tornado policies.

Insurance companies have pleasant sounding names to give the impression that you are dealing with a kind of petting zoo or something. I found myself communicating with a firm whose name conjured up images of an Amish collective. Yet the lady I usually spoke with there had a voice that sounded like fingernails on a blackboard. Insurance company personnel are carefully selected from a gene pool in which Komodo dragons are crossbred with pit-bulls. This guarantees the perfect disposition for customer service. If you must meet with one, it is advisable to toss a piece of meat onto the table first. This level of distraction could work to your advantage -- unless there are two of them.

Claim representatives have a way of asking questions that imply you are either attempting to steal something from them personally, or are just stupid. These include:
• That was the closest doctor?
• Did a doctor advise you to take the rest of the day off following your release from the emergency room?
• Was your head re-attached immediately or did they wait 15 minutes?
• Have any of your previous suicide attempts on a motorcycle been this close to success?

One of their best questions is, “Are you still seeing a doctor?” The best answer to this is, “Yes, but not so much for the accident... But for the voices in my head that tell me to bite through the throats of people who trying to screw me over small change.”

When writing to an insurance company, it is important that you be concise and to the point, without a hint of emotion in the text. I accomplished this by keeping my notes relatively short (exactly as if I were writing a Valentine to a former spouse). Then I advise stapling them to a severed horse’s head before mailing. (This is how I really do communicate with one former spouse.) I can guarantee this will get you ab return call.

An insurance agent may ask for your permission to take a recorded statement regarding the details of the accident over the phone. I said “yes” to this request, then asked them to schedule a time for the call. This gave me an opportunity to rent a recording studio and to hire a sound engineer. When I gave my deposition, I had the engineer provide appropriate sound effects to emphasize the points in my story.

When I described the impact, the engineer generated the sound of screeching brakes, accompanied by a huge thud, and the tinkle of broken glass. As a nice touch, he added an elderly female voice that said, “Take that, you pile of biker shit.” In response to a question about witnesses, the engineer played mob noises from old Frankenstein movies, with actors yelling out, “That poor guy on the bike is almost dead... Was the other driver on the phone...” And the ever popular, “Is that abottle on the front seat of the car?”

Sometimes the insurance company will send you a form demanding the right to investigate your work records, previous health records, and other data that appears to go far beyond the realm of the accident. The form will be accompanied by a note that says “failure to comply with this request could delay your claim until years after you are dead.” A careful reading of the document will reveal there are virtually no limits to the information they are seeking. It also empowers the insurance company to share this data with anybody. I mailed mine back to them, unsigned, asking for the social security number of everyone who worked at the insurance company, just so I could confirm I was not dealing with convicted felons.

Never attempt to threaten an insurance company with a lawyer. This is like threatening a tiger with a bleeding gazelle. The average insurance company has 3 adjusters, 2,500 clerks, and 40,000 lawyers on the payroll. I recently visited the headquarters of the Mutually Transparent Corporation, a large insurance company based in the midwest. I had lunch with their chairman in the company cafeteria, where all of the waiters were attorneys. If you want to threaten an insurance company, tell them you’re hiring a tornado. (Tha scares the shit out of them.)

Threatening an insurance company with attorney is like
threatening a tiger with a bleeding gazelle.
(Photo from Wikipedia)

You will learn a lot dealing with an insurance company. For example, I learned the value of a flawless BMW K75 in mint condition is only $167.84. This is according to the Royal Enfield/Ural dealership they checked with in Sri Lanka. Yet if you want to buy the wreck back, they can let you have it for $3850.00. This is apparently due to the difference in the currency between Sri Lanka and the US.

It is crucial that you remain civil, helpful and polite with claims reps regardless of the way they handle your claim. I always ended each call on a cheery note, saying that they would never know just how much their efforts meant to me. Of course, they’ll figure it out if they read this story.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A shrug)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Veteran’s Day Motorcycle Story

Looking back through the years, this was one of the rare days when every cylinder on that 1975 Kawasaki Triple 750 (S2) fired at the right moment, and I managed to do everything perfectly. The bike “yingggggged” its way through curves like it was on a track. I dodged traffic, and probably touched 70mph on at least one straight-away. Stopped at a light, I heard the distinctive click of Zippo lighter opening, and smiled when I realized my pillion rider was using this lull in the activity to kindle a cigarette.

The guy on the back was my father.

The classic Zippo Lighter
(Photo From Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

Many kids have wonderful memories of unique moments with their dads. The most common of these take place at ballparks, where little league games were played and cheered, and at major league stadiums, where legendary players whacked ‘em out of the park. Fishing is another great Norman Rockwell type activity shared by fathers and sons. Who doesn’t remember the first bass or trout taken in the company of your dad? Working on the engine of the family car with one’s pop can provide another source of prime bonding moments.

I hated baseball almost as much as my father did. I assume he hated baseball because he never once mentioned it in conversation, nor watched it on television, nor ever gave any sign that he had heard of it. Fish came from Russo’s Fish Market on West Side Avenue. I never knew him to walk by a stream, nor to express the slightest interest if anything lived in one. He hated bugs, the sun, and the heat. My dad had a great collection of tools. He would let me use any one of them provided I did so without his knowledge and concealed such activity while he was alive. And though my dad’s mechanical ability greatly exceeded mine, it was not something he gave classes in. In fact, he once told me that it was his greatest hope that I would one day make enough money to always pay somebody else to do the things on my car that he had to do on his. This advice was lost on me at the time because I was four years old and had just dropped one of his tools down a sewer grate.

I learned to drive when I was seventeen. At the same age, my dad learned how to assemble, maintain, and fire a .50 caliber machine gun at unpleasant Nazis, who were aggressively shooting at the B-17, in which he was the tail gunner. (Despite the fact this position required frequent filling, my dad asked for it as the B-17G had a separate door for the tail gunner, facilitating exit. He had started out as a ball turret gunner, but did not trust to the good intentions of his fellow crew members to crank the damn thing up in the event the aircraft became disabled.)

The Boeing B-17G, at the time, the largest aircraft of WWII carried a crew of 10.
The Office of Staff Sergeant Riepe is visible just under the rudder.
(Photo from Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

He was a “no bullshit” kind of person, which made him one of my more articulate critics. His name for me in my adolescence was, “Shitbird,” and he was convinced that I was one of life’s more annoying barnacles.

In the summer that followed my successful completion of the eighth grade, I was presented with a reading list for high school. Atop the list was “Northwest Passage,” by Kenneth Roberts. I was out of class about two days, when my father wanted to know what I thought about the book. (What I thought was that I intended to read it about 30 seconds before I’d get quizzed on it in September, but I was reluctant to share this strategy with him at the moment.)

A rather one-sided dialogue ensued, in which my dad suggested that the reading list was a Darwinian plot by the Jesuits to separate the higher life forms from the shitbirds, and that I might fool them for a bit if I pulled my head out of my ass and attempted to read a great book that I might enjoy. I looked at the book with suspicion. It was a paperback with 1,000 pages. By page 30 I was hooked as if the book had been printed with narcotic ink. I have since read it at least 20 times.

My dad and I spent thousands of hours in late night conversations on the most incredible topics. These spanned Ayn Rand’s “The Virtue of Selfishness,” the Six Day Israeli War, injuries to the soul, the great works of men and their undoing, the perfection of whiskey, sailboats, float planes, the flaws of politicians, and whether or not I would ever pull my head out of my ass long enough to amount to something. (The smart money said, “No.”)

It was during one of those conversations, he asked if I had ever considered getting a motorcycle. My answer was, “No.” The explanation, which I did not share at the time, was that you could have sex in a car, even if it was a Volkswagen Beetle, like mine. Dad spoke about how much fun a motorcycle might be and what adventures lay waiting for the guy who had one.

It never occurred to me that this could have been the passing daydream of a Jersey City fireman (albeit a Battalion Chief), with a mortgage and three kids in private schools. But the seed was planted. One friend of mine, Ricky Matz, did have a motorcycle, but he kept it out in the country, in some obscure whistle stop called Honesdale. I was pretty much on my own. I wandered into a dealership (another story for another time), put money down, signed some papers, and became the proud owner of a Kawasaki Triple. (The “Sucker” light burned so brightly in the dealership that day that Stevie Wonder was able to read a newspaper without assistance.)

My mother nearly shit, but I was almost 19. I learned some important things that year. The first was that motorcycles and cars have nothing in common, especially when it came to tires, warranties, and certain aspects of service. But I also learned that you didn’t need a car to have sex in, as the bike would heighten your presence to women with apartments.

On this particular day, about two months from the time that I would move out, I found my dad in the driveway admiring the bike. I showed him how it worked, the tool kit under the seat, and some other neat aspects of that otherwise primitive machine. And before I knew it, I said, “Want to take a ride with me?”

He never hesitated.

Wearing only a light zip up jacket and my spare open-faced helmet, he climbed on the back and we took off. It was a weekday afternoon and there was plenty of traffic. We went passed Route 3 and the Lincoln Tunnel to Route 17, then north to Route 17a, where we cut west to the town of Greenwood Lake, New York. I pulled into the parking lot of a bar. The drinking age in New York State at that time was 18. For the first time in my life, I went into a bar with my dad.

We each ordered the specialty of the house, a beer and a ball. This was a glass of whatever the hell they had on tap, probably Budweiser, and a shot of whiskey. I had Jamesons. He had Fleischman’s, a kind of scotch that you would use to clean paint brushes. He bought a round, and I bought one.

I remember telling him about an idea I had for a story. It was about inner city life. He didn’t think much of it and told me if I gave it some thought, I wouldn’t either. He was right. I never wrote the story. We were on the bike again an hour later. The ride home was fun, and took about 70 minutes. I think I heard him laugh once. The expression “Shitbird” didn’t come up the whole day. My Dad was one of six people who ever rode on the back of my Kawasaki.

Now some of you will raise your eyebrows and say nothing. Others may feel compelled to lecture me on the message this sort of story carries about drinking and riding, and how it will impact the nation’s youth. And some may feel that my father exercised really poor judgment.

But if you are going to set me straight about what I did wrong in my youth, I must advise you that this episode doesn’t even make the needle flicker on the “regret gauge.” As for my father, he was the bravest man I ever met. The emphysema that eventually claimed his life was just taking a toehold, and prevented him from getting a decent night’s sleep in the firehouse. He was a captain then, and volunteered to work “rescue.” In Jersey City, “rescue” rolled on every call. Jersey City is New Jersey’s second largest city, with a collection of tenements connected by “cock lofts.” The place used to burn like a Roman candle. Since my dad couldn’t sleep, he walked through smoke-filled buildings in the dark.

I remember looking through the dresser drawers in my parents’ bedroom when I was about eight. I found a wicker basket filled with pictures of a skinny kid in an army uniform, in Egypt and in Italy. There was a maroon box with something called the “Air Medal” in it. I would learn later that it was for 36 successful bombing missions. There was a red flag with a funny cross that had bent corners on it. And among this stuff was a little box that held something that looked like a jagged stone.

Curiosity overcame my better judgment, and I asked my dad what it was.

“Flack,” he replied.

This is the story in my mind this Veteran’s Day.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- Perdition’s Socks (With A Shrug)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

God, It Feels Great To Ride In The Fall...

There are an incredible variety of alarm clocks around today. The most common are the discount drug store kind that provide the standard annoying buzzer alarm in a plain white plastic housing. Unless you are waking up to do something incredibly exciting (and the categories here are extremely limited), I regard this sound as the prelude to purgatory. Clock radios have been around forever, but you take your chances with the first sound you’re likely to hear. If it’s a newscaster commenting on a traffic jam or anything in rap, it could make you more receptive to murder or suicide. I have tried Buddist temple clocks that use recordings of gongs (in varying intensity) to announce the day; clocks that rouse the sleeper with bird calls; and a timekeeping device in the shape of a white globe that simulated dawn, provided you are easily convinced that dawn cycles out of a frosted gold fish bowl on a night table and goes to high noon in 30 seconds.

Let me advise you against any alarm clock that starts the day with the sound of a waterfall, the surf, or a stream -- particularly if you are a heavy sleeper who is open to suggestion and who generally takes a healthy piss first thing in the morning.

I want an alarm clock that wakes you by whispering, “C’mon Baby. Time to get up. Can I get you some coffee... Or something?”

On this particular morning -- which was last Sunday -- my alarm clock was my cell phone, which I really hate. As it was, I didn’t need anything to get me me up. The day started at 6:30am, with a little tongue action on the side of my face. Regrettably, the tongue was two feet long and attached to a huge German Shepherd, named Atticus, who likes to start his day by taking a healthy piss through the fence on the little dog next door. The personality of the little dog next door is such that I not only condone this action, but join in from time to time.

The other end of the tongue was attached to Atticus Finch -- 145 pound German Shepherd 
(Photo courtesy of Leslie Marsh -- Click to enlarge)

The room was filled with light as this was the first morning of daylight savings time. Though the clock said 6:30am, it was twenty-minutes past full sun-up. I was still wearing most of my clothes from the night before, a sure indication that I had had a good time. If you have read any of my articles dealing with surviving a really good time, you will recall that the best thing you can do upon regaining consciousness is to close your eyes, remain motionless, and try to remember some details related to the previous evening.

I remembered Gerry Cavanaugh, a dedicated R1200GS rider, pouring some yellow stuff into my glass and saying, “This is what lemonade and 190-proof grain neutral spirits tastes like.” I also had a vague memory of women putting make-up on my ass. Eyes still shut, I took stock of my bloated body. Amazingly, there was no hangover nor wrist burns from handcuffs.

“So far so good,” I thought.

The first stabbing arthritis pain came when I swung my legs to the floor. “Fuck this,” I hissed to the dog who was watching me patiently. It took me a few seconds to brace for the aftershocks from my hips and knees, but I got upright on the second attempt. I never thought the day would come when pulling up my pants would feel like the equivalent of running a mile with a kitchen stove on my back, but that day was officially last Sunday.

I hobbled to the back door and let the dog out. The day was bright gray with the garden thermometer hovering at 42 degrees. I followed Atticus onto the patio and felt the morning cold of the pavers through my bare feet. The little dog wasn’t out yet, so Atticus pissed in the dried cone flowers and I pissed on a bush I never really liked. Every guy I knew in the Adirondacks routinely pissed off their back porches. This is a ritual uncommon on the Main Line in Pennsylvania, however.

I took my arthritis medication with a steaming hot mug of coffee and looked at the kitchen clock for the bad news. This limited activity had consumed an hour, and I was supposed to lead a ride at 9am. “Damn this fucking hip,” I thought. Assembling my riding gear seemed to take forever, as I was shuffling with a corpse-like motion. The garage door went up like the curtain for a morality play, framing the vision of my bike against the backdrop of the driveway. I hesitated, anticipating the jolt of pain I’d get throwing my leg over the saddle.

Do you remember that movie “Always,” starring Richard Dreyfus and Holly Hunter? It’s actually a remake of an earlier film with Spencer Tracey and Audrey Hepburn. Dreyfus plays the pilot of B-25 used for putting out forest fires. Holly Hunter is his squeeze. There is this scene in the flick where he and Holly are walking in the moon light, and they come across his plane bathed in mist on the tarmac. At that moment, Holly just knows the next mission is doomed.

Well it seemed like my bike was bathed in mist too. (Actually, it was. But this was the hot air coming from the clothes dryer vent. It appeared ominous nevertheless.) “I don’t have to do this,” I thought. Considering the pain in my knees, I didn’t think the guys would mind if I showed up in the truck.

“Who the hell are you kidding,” asked a little voice in my head. “This is the Mac-Pac, you dope. They’ll laugh first, then pull down your pants and paint your ass blue in front of everybody.”

It was then I remember that “Fireballs,” my 1995 BMW K75 hadn’t started the last time I’d hit the button (after a 5-week interval of lying idle). It required a jump start then. It had only been two weeks since that episode, but no one would blame me if I had a bad battery. (What’s more, I still hadn’t plugged it into the battery tender.) Raising my eyes in supplication to the motorcycle gods, I uttered a prayer that I wouldn’t mind if the bike was as dead as Kelsey’s nuts -- this time.

The K75 exploded into life the second my thumb hit the starter.

“You heartless red bastard,” I hissed into my helmet. For some reason, I managed to get in the saddle with less trouble than usual and got my left leg up to the peg on the second try. Fifteen minutes later, I met the group at the Dunkin Donuts in Exton, Pa. They were “Leather” Dick Bregstein, Gerry Cavanaugh, Jerry Cline, Mike Evans, Laura Hirth, Corey Lyba, Matt Piechota, Jim Robinson, and Todd Trombore. Veteran hot-shot Chris Jaccarino had planned to attend, but thought twice about it when he remembered what happened the last time he rode with “Leather” Dick. I was the last to arrive.

The riders (from left) Corey Lyba, Jim Robinson, Todd Trumbore, Laura Hirth,
Jerry Cline, Jack Riepe (on bike), Gerry Cavanugh, "Leather" Dick Bregstein,
and Mike Evans (who is showing inordinate interest in community theater).
(Photo courtesy of Matt Piechota -- Who took it -- Click to enlarge)

“We figured you were coming in the truck,” said Robinson. I couldn’t help but notice a tinge of regret in his voice and a can of blue paint alongside his red “K” bike.

The crowd gathered round and started looking at their watches. When 15 minutes had passed, cash exchanged hands. “Some of us bet that you wouldn’t be able to get off the bike,” said Gerry Cavanaugh, who made 5 bucks off Mike Evans.

Officially, the ride was billed as “The Flight Of The ‘Leather’ Dick Bregstein Phoenix.” The 100-mile route was somewhat sedate with gentle changes in elevation and mild twisties. The objective of the ride was to provide Leather Dick the opportunity to get acquainted with his bike in the company of well-intentioned friends (witnesses).

The official starting point was where Rt. 401 runs into the Lincoln Highway Rt. 30 in Frazer, Pa. Route 401 begins in your typical suburban neighborhood, with heavy tree cover and the occasional deer. Yet after crossing Rt. 113, you begin to encounter solid evidence of old WASP money. Homes become somewhat solitary and isolated from each other by paddocks, pastures, and open fields. Many are made of stone and predate the Revolution. Single lane stone bridges span creeks and picturesque ponds dot the side of the road. Each little community has a church with a stone or white spire pointing toward heaven, and is accompanied a churchyard full of ancient, but presumably, satisfied parishioners. (“Leather” Dick Bregstein pointed out that the residents of these cemeteries are spryer than I am. I reminded Dick that raw truth hastens the decline of mediocre friendships. I did this through a simple gesture using but one finger.)

Despite the opportunity to go faster, I led the Teutonic line at 45-50mph. I found myself more inclined to take in the scenery than to entertain the guys behind me.

The midmorning autumn air had lost some of its bite but it was cold enough to warrant having the liner in my Joe Rocket jacket. I mention this as I initially planed to just wear a long-sleeved shirt under the unlined jacket. The Parabellum Scout fairing does a great job of keeping the wind off my chest, and except for the discomfort in my hip and knees, it was becoming a delightful ride.

I am always amazed at what you can smell riding on a motorcycle. Apple orchards, corn fields, and dense stands of conifers each have a distinctive scent. Nothing can beat it when the wild flowers burst into bloom in the spring. Especially on roads like the Blue Ridge Parkway, which seldom gets the clouds of exhaust that flavor main highways. Yet as all of you are aware, you can be tooling along, sucking in nature’s perfume, when you hit the invisible funeral vapor of a dead deer. I have no mixed emotions about this and always smile. Occasionally, one cruises through an Amish community when the elders have been spreading manure on empty fields. I have come to like this pungent aroma too. I prefer it to the smell of messages approved by candidates and political groups.

Crossing Rt. 100, the road passed through a state park, stretches of forest and open fields, some where the last of the dry feed corn is still standing. The trees were wearing their fall colors, with a few well past their prime and others that had just gotten the memo. My personal favorites are the oaks and maples, which provide the traditional golden hues and the brilliant scarlets of the season. They remind me of harlots and Cardinals, mingling in a mad ball. “Deer Crossing” signs at 30-second intervals caution the rider that “ forest rats on stilts” are lurking in every shadow. I had heard that Pennsylvania was issuing doe permits to inner city youths and allowing them to hunt with bats. I approve of positive “out of the box” thinking like this. Two deer looked up from their task of destroying fall flowers at the base of a mailbox as I roared past. It was broad daylight and this pair couldn’t make up their mind as to which motorcycle they wanted to knock over.

It is not uncommon to find houses like this one, dating back to the mid-1700's
in rural Pennsylvania. While this one is now a community museum, you can
find plenty just like it as active residences.
(Photo by the author -- click to enlarge)

We turned left, heading south on Rt. 82, which followed tighter curves through more serious farm country. My left hip started to throb and my left turns lost a good deal of their precision. If I tried to give the gentle reader the notion that I carved anything off to the left, it would have been with a putty knife. At Route 322, we turned right and picked up the pace to 60mph, matching road conditions. We turned left onto Rt. 10 and headed south toward Sadsburyville. (Who names these places?)

This stone structure is a blacksmith shop that was in business when Ben Franklin was
giving speeches as to why when should turn our backs on Great Britain (1776, not recently).
It is used a a community hall where boy scouts now meet.
(Photo courtesy of the author -- Click to enlarge)

Route 10 is a sweet little road for the rider who doesn’t have to slide his knees on the ground in every turn. You begin to encounter Amish wagons south of the town of Blue Ball, and road apples (from the horses) are always in season. The scenery along this road is very pleasant and there are enough tight curves to keep the average rider occupied. Riding through these stretches, it becomes easy to understand why the local “embattled farmers” took this land for their own and drove out the Crown.

Note the weather vane on the roof of the blacksmith shop... Can you imagine
the one they would have had on the roof of the local bordello? I want this blog
to be well-known for its reference to items of historical significance.
(Photo courtesy of the author -- click to enlarge)

The illusion is lost when you hit Rt. 30 in Sadsburyville. This is the straightaway to the Lancaster outlet center and the human zoos, where you can view the Amish in their natural habitat. Still there is something legitimate to see here. Turning right, we headed over to Rt. 41, in the town of Gap. A mile from the intersection, a view of the valley to the north opens up on your right. Hundreds of farms are laid out like patches on a quilt. And if you hit this at the right time of day, you can see miniature Amish buggies moving about on little farm lanes. You have to look fast as traffic moves at a good clip here, with a traffic light at the foot of the hill. Turning left onto Rt. 41, you move through the town of Gap. The most noteworthy structure here is the clock tower, built in 1892.

The Town Clock Tower in Gap, Pa was built in 1892, 
four hundred years after Columbus discovered Pennsylvania, 
and asked an Indian, "Do you know the time?"
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to Enlarge)

We turned right at the clock tower, onto Rt. 741. This road runs straight through a pretty Amish settlement. In fact, it is the heart of the largest Amish settlement in the US. Traffic was light, enabling us to pass buggies on the far side of the oncoming lane. I always give the horses plenty of running room as they can dart out when spooked. I have come upon several roadside dramas, in which horses struck by cars are either lying dead or awaiting dispatch. The vehicle operator is usually an asshole who passed the buggy too closely, managing to clip the horse. The last such scene I witnessed was on a Sunday. The horse was dead. The driver of the car was a tourist from New Jersey, who had come up to watch the Amish try and live their own lives, minding their own business, in their own community. The Amish couple, dressed in Sunday black, and two kids looking both adorable and miserable, stood by the side of the road.

I remember thinking that I would make a poor Amish elder, as I would have pulled a chainsaw out from under the seat in the buggy and quartered this guy on the spot.

Our only stop on this little ride was at the Strasburg Rail Road, one of the most incredible operating steam train museums in the east. I love trains and I love this place. I get a real thrill out of watching huge steam locomotives from the early 20th Century pound around the sidings, belching fire, smoke and steam. Yet I am amazed at how close you can get to these things, as the engineers expect you to exercise good judgment. It is surprising at how often people demonstrate their lack of knowledge when it comes to appropriate behavior around old steam locomotives.

On one such occasion, I watched a guy position a little boy about three feet away from the steam box on one of these beauties. He wanted to take a picture. This is understandable. Close by the boy were a series of pipes and valves issuing steam or dripping boiling water. From time to time, a valve will release pent up steam as part of its function. I was thinking the caption for this picture could have been, “The Last Day Little Johnny Had Skin.” I wondered if this guy was aware that boiling water, steam, and flame are all part of the equation for propelling this 25-ton hunk of iron. On another day, I watched a woman who had just had a brain transplant from a bottle of Airwick Solid take her daughter by the hand and cross the tracks in front of a moving steam locomotive -- less than 20-feet away. It would have been a bad day had either the kid or she stumbled. You can’t stop one of these things in 20 feet. Understandably, the woman probably thought that I would run in and save her. Not unless she was naked.

While at Strasburg, Dick announced that he was going to raise the seat on his new 2000 BMW R1100R at his earliest convenience. Todd Trumbore insisted this could be done painlessly and without tools. He stepped up to the plate and the process took about five minutes. We then shoved off for lunch at the Whip Tavern, about 20 miles away. Taking Rt. 896 to Rt. 10, and Rt. 10 to Rt. 926 brought us out of Amish farm country and into horse farm country. The horses are immediately thinner and more picturesque. Instead of pulling plows, they jump over things at the command of gorgeous women in jodhpurs.

Bikes parked outside The Whip Tavern are a comforting sight on an autumn day.
On this occasion, the Beemers were in front and the Harleys were in back.
(Photo courtesy of Rogers George, who doesn't know it yet -- Click to enlarge)

Turning left onto Rt. 841 delights the rider with countryside right out of an English novel. This is an apt setting for “The Whip Tavern,” which is an authentic English pub, with a great menu and a fascinating selection of beer, cider, and ales. It’s an intimate place (meaning small), with a fireplace and jazz band on Sunday. Imagine our surprise when we walked in and discovered that Rogers George, his wife Val, and their daughter Hanna had been holding a table for us against all odds. Rogers used to be a friend of mine, until he causally remarked it was his intention to pirate readers from this blog for his own editorial delusions, titled, “Poor Rogers Almanac, or Mushrooms to Motorcycles.” He fancies himself a poet. Rogers lives in nearby Delaware, rides an “R” bike, and is presently building a scale model of the Panama Canal in his yard.

Rogers' wife Val and their daughter Hanna...
Hanna is listening to one of my stories and Val is thinking of the years in 
therapy this poor kid is likely to need as a result. In two minutes, she will 
forbid the child from reading this blog too. Tough break, Hanna.
(Photo courtesy of Rogers George, and he still doesn't know it -- Click to enlarge)

Laura Hirth looked at the menu and paused at “Bangers and Mash.”

“What’s a banger,” she asked me.

“You’re speaking to one,” I replied. Actually, a banger is a kind of hot dog-like sausage favored by the Brits. I was rewarded by one of Laura’s laser-like smiles for this exchange of information.

The author, Jack Riepe, 10% banger and 90% mash.
(Photo courtesy of Rogers George, anonymously -- Click to enlarge)

Lunch was great. I recommend the fish plate and Scotch egg as appetizers. I had fish and chips as the main event, washed down by Thistle India Pale Ale. It was boots and saddles 90-minutes later, as our little riding party split up and headed out. It took me 20-minutes to get back in the saddle. (Honest.) Dick and I followed a meandering road to Rt. 926 again, where a nice lady, probably wearing jodhpurs, left-turned across my bow. It wasn’t as close as some chance meetings I’ve had... But it was close enough.

Special guest, Charlie Somerdyk, arrived to join the festivities. It took him longer
to get a beer than it did to remove his pants, which he does for anyone with a camera.
(Photo courtesy of Rogers George, who writes a great blog -- What a guy!)

Traffic was thick on US-202 when Dick and I parted company, with a raised arm and a wave that signified “the boys were back in town.” I wish “Leather” Dick Bregstein the best of luck with his new bike, and look forward to thousands of miles in his company... Thousands of miles that are improved by his company.

I promised the first woman rider who participated in this event a free commemorative tee shirt. Laura won it. I expect she’d rather die than wear it.

On a Related Note...

My daughter is a writer like myself in the public relations field. She claims there are entirely too many “Dick” jokes and references throughout my blog. I’d appreciate your opinion.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- Perdition's Socks (With A Shrug)