Monday, January 12, 2009

Expanding My Riding and Editorial Horizon's For 2009

Some readers voiced criticism of this blog yesterday by breaking windows, overturning cars, and savagely beating homeless people on the street, who were mistakenly identified as my supporters when they were nothing more than former in-laws. This occurred mere feet and a thin pane of bomb-proof glass away from the desk where I was writing. Yet so strong was my conviction in the truth that I was compelled to compose even as my former mother-in-law — Kathleen Whats-Her-Name — was held face-down over a live steam grate outside. Her screams will haunt me forever... Not the ones I heard yesterday, but those she shrieked in the church as her daughter became my future former wife, 25 years ago.

Order was restored later in the evening under clouds of tear gas fired by SWAT teams from six communities.

According to a statement delivered to a local newspaper by a carload of ski-masked individuals, the riot was the desperate action of thousands of cruiser and scooter riders who believe my blog content is too BMW-centric. While I emphatically deny snorting wiener schnitzel speed balls first thing in the morning, I do admit that the Beemer marque gets more than its fair share of the ink here. There are two simple reasons for this: I own a BMW and I ride with a very active BMW club. Their leadership believes that every day I spend on the road, learning German phrases like, “Vas is losse“ (How’s it hanging?), is one less day I will not waste pursuing fast women, slow hangovers, and the kind of low entertainment that passes for historical fact in this blog.

The truth is that I became a BMW rider the same way that Davy Jones became the lead singer of the Monkees: I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. My hot squeeze was coming back from a spiritual retreat on the west coast, when she got stranded in Sturgis, South Dakota during the rally. “Sizzling Cheesecake” (not her real name) called me to say that she had never seen anything as cool and provocative as these women on cruisers and that we were getting motorcycles as soon as she got home. She also asked me to go online and check on some of the events that these women might be staging during the Sturgis rally. I readily found the “Chicken Choking Contest” and “Pickle Sucking Event.” It must have been hot in Sturgis as many women sought to cool off by having cold water poured on their tee shirts.

“Steaming Cheesecake” arrived home with a new Honda Aero Shadow, fully tricked out in the cruiser style. The implications of her actions were clear to me... I’d either get a bike and learn to ride, or get the hell out. Let the record show that I know a threat when I see one. Writers are required by law to support the alcohol, tobacco, and naked performance artist industries to an extent where very little cash remains for necessities like new motorcycles. While my squeeze could walk into a showroom and buy any new motorcycle she wanted on an American Express Card (which is what she did), I had to resort to a combination of Ponzi schemes, shell games, and petty theft to raise the required capital for a bike.

My girl's 2005 Honda Aero Shadow with seasonal luggage rack option
(Photo courtesy Leslie Marsh -- Click to enlarge)

In typical Riepe fashion, I conducted a bike-to-bike purchasing search with absolutely no research. My first choice was a cruiser. Yet the machines in the $3000 category had a decidedly used look about them. I broadened my search to include hundreds of bikes on lawns throughout the area, finding nothing that piqued my soul. These too had a noticeable forlorn, abandoned air about them.

The 1986 BMW K75 And the 2005 Honda Aero Shadow: opposite ends of the spectrum.
(Photo courtesy of Leslie Marsh -- Click to enlarge)

It was at this time that a couple of business associates of mine revealed themselves as “boys in the BMW bund.” I was shocked. They recommended a more Teutonic approach. I was told I’d be a dope if I let a particular machine -- called a K75 -- with an unusual fairing slip away. The motorcycle was 18-years-old and more than twice as much as I wanted to spend for a three-year-old bike. There is one word to sum up deals like this.

“Bullshit,” was my cleverly worded response.

I went through the motions of looking at the K75, prior to dismissing my friends. It was the most peculiar bike I had ever seen. With the classic lines of a bowling shoe, it had all the appeal of a barium enema. Sitting on it was like have having an iron wedge shoved up my ass, leaving me perched about 40 feet above the pavement.

“What a hunk of shit,” I said to myself.

The bike’s owner pulled a Luger on me. I was stunned. With the gun cocked, he made me drink a cup of red Kool Aid. My limbs became lifeless. I watched helplessly as he placed a huge pod, like a big seed, next to me. It was the last thing I saw before passing out.

Consciousness arrived to the strains of Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyrie.” Somehow, I woke to find myself the owner of an ugly bike, that made a whining, fartish noise when the starter button was pushed. I don’t know why I bought it. I could barely sit on it. I was afraid to ride it out of the driveway.

My girl let me ride her Shadow often enough to enable me to make a comparison. In fact, I did my first two group rides on the Honda. The tires on her machine were much fatter that the Metzlers on mine, hence they didn’t dance over every imperfection in the road. Her custom Mustang seat kissed my ass like a politician running for office. Her bike started like one expects a Honda to start and it would get up to and hold 80 miles per hour -- eventually.

One of my favorite pictues, astride my girl's Honda Aero Shadow, a very nice bike.
(Photo courtesy of Dick Bregstein -- Click to enlarge)

The BMW K75 was top-heavy in the driveway. It was a pain in the ass to move around in the garage. The seat was designed by the North Korean secret police and would make you sign anything in two hours. It felt like I was attempting to get comfortable on a strange toilet. Furthermore, I had just read a book called “Motorcycling For Morons,” where it clearly stated that the BMW K75 was a poor choice for re-entry riders.

Steve Assan enroute to meeting me in North Carolina -- From Oregon
(Photo courtesy of Steve Assan -- Click to enlarge)

My girlfriend is one of life’s true saints. “Maybe you made a mistake,” she said. “No one else would be that stupid to pay what you did for it. Maybe you can sell it for less and still get something?”

It was then that Lee Kozanas, an old friend and BMW rider from the Adirondacks, arrived in my driveway on a BMW “R” bike. This was the machine built by the Germans but designed by the Incas.  He’d ridden 400 miles straight in less than 90 minutes and appeared in a mist of Valhalic mysticism. Kozanas was wearing black armored textiles, matching gloves, and a flip-up helmet. He looked seamless, except for the blue and white roundel on his left shoulder.

“Do you ride the BMW like the Honda,” asked Lee.

I nodded in the affirmative.

“Are you in 5th gear by 40 miles per hour?”

I nodded again with my eyes closed.

Are you changing gears at 1500 RPM?

All I could do was look at the floor in silence. This was a trick question. The Honda had no tach. In fact, you couldn’t get an aftermarket one for it either that year.

“Are you a pussy boy,” he asked, whispering in German. "Do you scream like a little girl when you ride the K75?"

I said nothing. He shamed me into getting on the Beemer and told me that I would do this bike justice once, or that he would watch while the bike mauled me like a tiger.

“Do not change the gears on this K75 until the tach needle is a tenth of an inch away from the red line,” said Lee.

I swung out onto a thorofare with Kozanas close behind me, and settled into a straight stretch. In second gear, I ran the bike up to 7 grand and snicked it into 3rd. An enraged snarl escaped from the soul of all Germania and the bike fired itself from a Krupp cannon. I snicked into fourth and fifth without the needle losing any distance against the tach. The engine noise became Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. I could feel a pulse in the grips, but no vibration. The K75 turned like it had power steering. It stopped like it had power brakes. And it lied to me like it loved me.

That was when I noticed one of life’s most amazing truths: the K75 is absolutely beautiful, from the soul out.

The Honda was one of the politest bikes I ever rode, but the Beemer handled like the kind of paragraphs I like to write. And that was that. Some man like brunettes, others like redheads. Some women like roofers. Others like middle-aged, pudding-faced writers. It is the same when it comes to bikes.  If this K75 had an ass, I’d have my hand on it every time I went out to the garage. 

That was two years before I joined the Mac-Pac (southeast Pennsylvania's premier chartered BMW club). That was two years before I even knew anyone who rode a BMW in this neighborhood. It was Steve Assan who challenged me to meet him on my first really long ride. He rode a cruiser. It was Wayne Whitlock who accompanied me on the first part of that ride. He and his wife Lucy rode a cruiser. Tony Luna was the first to turn up at my second group ride. He rode a cruiser. The first person who ever invited me on a group ride with his friends, Grandpa43 (Dave), also rode a cruiser. The ride captain who saved my reputation in the funniest (and oddest) story story I ever published for a BMW magazine, Chris Jaccarino, rode a Honda Goldwing, which is like the Hindenberg of cruisers.

Jack Riepe, Wayne Whitlock, and Tony Luna on the Second Annual Horse Pile Swerve Ride
(Photo courtest of Pete Buchheit -- Click to enlarge)

I don't care what anybody rides... But I don't want you folks thinking I'm blind to the chrome.

So I am resolved to get myself invited to ride with a cruiser group on a monthly basis if one will have me. (This is a hint for Grandpa43 to step up to the plate.) I'm open to suggestion. And I am determined to ride out to meet Steve Assan some place in the middle of the country this summer. This should give me a few good cruiser stories in 2009.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2009
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA The Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- Perditions Socks (With A Shrug)

“I’ll speak to this Humongous. He’s a reasonable fellow.” -- The Road Warrior


BMW-Dick said...

Dear Jack:
Glad you drank the Koolaid, 'cause it's resulted in some nice rides and cool adventures.

Anonymous said...

The engine noise became Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

What a sweet line..


redlegsrides said...


What a wonderful story about discovering the right way to ride that beemer of yours! They do love to run around 4000 rpms or higher don't they?

In one of life's weird coincidences, your girlfriend's shadow was identical to my first motorcycle except for the larger windshield on hers and different saddlebags. Gretl, my first motorcycle

I stumbled upon the beemer koolaid way of life after my wife remarked during a ride stop on our way to South Dakota: "you look like you're riding a Vespa" as she followed behind me in a car as I rode with a couple of buddies. The next day, I traded in my 750 Honda Shadow for an 1150 Beemer which I would name Maria.

My wife makes a life-changing comment

Goodbye Gretl, Hello Maria

Again, great narrative....


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dick:

We have covered some miles haven't we? It isn't lost on me that you, Pete Buchheit, andMack Harrell were all on the 2nd Annual Amish Horse Pile Swerve Ride, but you guys were on Beemers.

I think we're going to have our machines stuck in the garage another few weeks.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Jim:

Thanks for writing in... There reaches a point where it is no longer the sound of hot gas going through a tube, but rather, an incredibly distinctive audible signiture matched by no other motorcycle.

Noithing may sound exactly like a Harley, but some things come close. Nothing sounds like a K75. Not even another BMW model. And one of the stupidest things I ever did was allow Brian Curry to talk me out of a Luftmeister muffler.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6:

We were having a discussion about the K75 in the garage, and Lee Kozanas (who has about 8 of these in various flavors) said to me, "You are shifting this bike way too conservatively." He added that this engine wasn't even warm below 4K. His exact words were, "The speed of the engine is right when the tach needle is pointing straight ahead."

Dick Bregstein and I have proven the wisdom of this philosophy many times over. And you are correct that this engine does regard the assignment as serious below 4K.

I dream of a K1300GT. But the truth is that the K75 is a really honest bike.

It is also true that I was mentored by the cruiser crowd while waiting to get an invitation from the boys in the bund. If it wasn't for Steve Assan, I may have never taken a long distance ride as re-entry rider.

Thanks for writing in.

Fondest regards,

Fondest regards,

Anonymous said...

When you said Krupp Cannon I was thinking an appliance that would rapid fire coffee across the room. I was surprised to find it was a real tool of war. Nice job.

Ride Safe,


Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Spectrum, do tell how you went from Blue to Red. Doppleganger, it's not just for breakfast anymore.

Cantwell said...

Ihor, I have heard bits and pieces about why he went from "Blue Balls" to "Fire Balls". I came across these while I was out surfing;

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Joe:

Krupp used to be a very reliable name in artillery. While that old industrial family made many things, they were renown for the quality of their castings.

Thanks for finding something that piqued your interest. We aim to satisfy.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

I got a package in the mail yesterday with three antique brass ride/sleigh bells from you yesterday. You even provided the wire ties to attach them.

While many folks roll their eyes at the legend of the ride bell (not unlike the legend of the Hallmark card), I take all the best wishes I can get. I'll send you a picture of the bell when it is mounted on "Fireballs." I'm sure Bregstein can use a bell for his bike and Clyde Jacobs might take one too.

Thanks for writing in and thanks for the gift.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mike Cantwell:

I can't believe you dug up those crash photos of mine. Worse, Dick Bregstein had them on Flicker. That is the wreck that brought me from "Blue Balls" to "Fire Balls."

Hopefully, this K75 will not end up the same way. (I loved that bike.)

Always a pleasure, Mike.

Fondest regards,

Anonymous said...

Jack, you have such a way with words! I so enjoy living vicariously through your trips, trials and tribulations.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Tena:

So do I. If I had to live my life as it really was, I'd opt out.

Thanks for dropping by... Always a pleasure!

Fondest regards,

Anonymous said...

(So do I. If I had to live my life as it really was, I'd opt out.)

Even the comments are funny...

Six weeks and 8,000 miles driveway to driveway just to sit and watch you perform on the patio at the Laurel Park Inn. Yes, I would do that again. Do you remember the gift that Tena sent with me?

Orin said...


If it's any consolation, I occasionally get slagged upon for not writing more about Lambrettas and Chinese scooters, but then I have two Vespas.

My ultimate goal is an R-Series Beemer, and while I initially lusted after the RTs, I have grown to appreciate the concept of the Naked Bike (and the corresponding lack of hideously expensive body panels).

But I have no money, so I'll have to drool...

Scootin' Old-skool

Unknown said...

Another fine piece of writing. At least the English anyway. It's "was ist los" and that means "what's wrong?" If you want your other expression, it's "was gibts?" harrumph. And while I'm here, take a look at my blog--there's an update; alas, no MC content.

irondad said...

You need to ride a BMW with controlled aggression. What a difference when you let the beast out, eh?

If you ever decided to write a mystery novel, I'd be up for reading it. Might even buy the book!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steel:

That trip to Maggie Valley, NC was a pisser. Each day brought a new series of punch lines and adventures. I will never forget when you told me not to be too forward around women I was meeting for the first time... That was just before Granny2Wheels told me she'd trade a lapdance for rolling papers.

And yes, I do remember the gift you carried from Tena to me. You walked in, said, "Tena really wanted you to have this," then gave me a cheap feel. I sent her back a hicky, or did you forget to give it to her?

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Orin:

Screw your detractors and write the truth! There must be a reason why you own two identical Vespas and I'm betting it's a good one. Even if it's not, I will use whatever influence I can muster through this blog to support you in any way I can that does not entail real effort nor money.

These three sentences -- reeking of power -- have to make you feel pretty good.

If it was up to me, I'd own two Vespas too! Nothing touches that classic Italian styling. Your choice of an "R" bike for the top spot on your wishlist is a curious one too. The huge oil and air cooled cyclinders of the "R" bikes were recently included on the list of 143,000 things that could heat the earth's atmoshere. The "K" bike actually helps cool it.

Thanks for writing in.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Rogers:

I checked with an expert regarding your question of the German I used. He says that your phrase, "was gibts" means "my pig entirely."

I've warned you about this before. I do everything in my power to drive people to your blog -- including convening monthly luncheons which you never attend as a guest speaker -- and still you try to sabotage me.

By the way, don't you think it's time we took the ladies back to that Irish joint down in Delaware?

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear IronDad:

Thanks for writing in. Your comment was the highlight of my day. I am working on a novel that is more internaional intrigue than mystery.

I'll keep you posted,
Fondest regards,

Unknown said...

Hey Jack:

Put me down for one of your novels too. When I get bored of riding all those twisties up here in the Pacific Northwest, I can pull over and have a giggle or two, and try not to spill coffee all over it. And speaking of "Expanding" (I don't mean you) or do I ?, there doesn't seem to be a plan to visit the Western regions. I noticed that you have a KW adventure planned, but too far for us to tag along.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

I would love to ride my bike to the northwest coast of the US and Canada. I have a few pals there (Steve Assan, Bugser and Tena Abbey) as well as yourself, and I know first-hand that the scenary is striking. My significant other used to own a condo on the slopes of Whistler. She was driving home from there when she got stuck in Sturgis.

But it would take me a full five days to get there, and at least five back, not counting a couple for a visit. Heading to Key West is a straight overnight, loading my rig onto the Auto Train. That would give me a longer time to ride back, picking up the south eastern US states for my map.

I am going to make it work some day.Then you'll be sorry. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

Fondest regards,

Anonymous said...

Jack, I sat here at the keyboard with a grin on my face as I absorbed your writing. Great read.
I was looking at the snow falling in 20 degree temperatures and was dreaming of a spring ride.
That "Swerve" ride was memorable as we enjoyed ourselves completely along with the "PS" riders.
Group rides with the cruiser group you say, watch what you ask for,it could happen.
I think I would enjoy that mystery novel also. That reminds me, you still owe me a signed copy of your "cigar" book.
Take a look at "fireballs" and think spring.
Grandad 43
PS 14

cpa3485 said...

I just recently discovered your blog and I must say I have enjoyed ur immensely. I am still in the process of going back and reading older posts, but have to admit that I haven't laughed so hard in a long time.
I have no experience with BMW cycles, but can attest to the beemer automobile. Many people, including myself, thought I was crazy, when I laid down almost $9,000 for a 15 year old 633 csi. Classic styling and unbelievable performance. They sure do make fine engines, don't they. However the joke around the house was that If it needed a repair, the part was always exactly $300 and another $300 exactly to install. I kid you not. Then this sucker had metric sized rims and tires, that could only be bought from the planet Orgazmitron or somewhere like that. Had to put a 2nd mortgage on the house to replace those
, have always admired BMW cycles from afar and If they are anything like the old car I had, then I am sure you can fall in love with yours just like I did mine. So, just keep bragging about that beast of yours. We all like to brag about our machines, don't we. And If you hear me brag about my Taiwanese scooter, just know that I am very proud of my beast as well.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3435:

Thank you for your kind note. Feel free to browse my blog, read what you like, and comment on anything. If this blog were a bar, it would be a regular joint.

I'm delighted that you have been able get a chuckle out of my stuff. Here I am, pourig my heart out so you can laugh in my face.

The BMW bike has only one thing in common with the BMW car: they are both made by elves in the Black Forest. The Black Forest is famous for two things: ham and relacement parts that are $3000 a pound.

BMW riders never brag about their bikes... It would be unseemly. Our pride is measured in the sour grapes envy of others, like Triumph riders from Key West. But please do tell about your scooter adventures. We are a well-rounded group here and worship anything on two-wheels.

Besides, gas is going to go back up sooner or later and BMW's C1 scooter might make a ccome-back. I'd buy one in a heart beat.

Thanks for checking in.

Fondest regards,

Anonymous said...

Has the pod hatched yet? I guess you would be the first to know.
Great story.
You picked the right motorcycle for you, you just didn't know it.
It was a character, you are a character. Matched pair.
Carrie aka Rebelion

Anonymous said...

Somewhere mid-country this summer fits right in with the AMA Women's Conference in Keystone, CO in August. If you feel frightened about being around so many women, you can trust me to protect you -- unless you bring the Norwegian Goddess, in which case I will hide.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Carrie:

Thanks for dropping by. As it turns out, there are even different types of K75s. My second one is a low seat version, which is easier to flat-foot, but requires a stiffer bend in the knees. If northing else, the bike does have character.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Granny:

Plan on meeting me in Deadwood. Bring a friend for Steve.

Fondest regards,

Anonymous said...

Dear John, the Geographically-Challenged,
BMW make things in Bavaria, on the opposite side of Germany from the Black Forest(Schwarzwald). Bill would be ashamed and would have corrected you mercilessly. Do keep the Rand-MacNally close!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Anonymous:

You cannot cower in your anonymity.Only three people in the world would dare t call me "John," and mention "Bill" Matz. This either came from Ihor, Ray Bucko, or Bill Bracey.

Next time leave your name so I can buy the drink for the appropriate party. (A free drink offer should flush out one of my old friends.)

Fondest regards,