This is not the way to call out for help in the house where I live. In fact, these sounds are more closely linked to foreplay, the threat of which can send my hot squeeze into the witness protection program. Beads of sweat dripped from my forehead as my body thrashed in a kind of spasm. In a burst of inspiration, I made the sound of a K75 missing on one cylinder -- something I once heard on the science fiction channel. My girlfriend responded instantly.
“Are you okay,” she yelled down the stairs.
It was apparent I was not. The symptoms were classic: a growing sense of detachment, a lack of enthusiasm for life, and a reluctance to converse with in-laws beyond a polite exchange of profanity. The illness, a combination of psychological and physiological breakdowns, is widely known as parked motorcycle syndrome (PMS). It affects more than 4 million riders in the US each year and is recognized as the number one reason why standard-sized houses appear to shrink to the dimensions of matchboxes during the winter. Some women claim they are unable to get a decent night’s sleep with husbands and significant others who have PMS, as they are constantly awakened when their guy starts the chainsaw in the middle of the night.
Nothing says "I've been thinking about us" to a woman louder
than starting a chainsaw in the middle of the night.
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)
Medical experts acknowledge that cabin fever and the Wendigo psychosis were the forerunner of parked motorcycle syndrome. Yet the true nature of the disease, and its cure, were not understood until the invention of the motorcycle. “In the history of mankind, the motorcycle is a recent development,” said Dr. Albert Hissingaz, PhD; of the Wilmington Institute of Holistic Dry Cleaning. “There was a time when men and women were unable to release their souls in an expression of speed, freedom, and reckless abandon. This was not so important in the summer months, when women would devote their lives to raising crops and children, and men could drink. But in the winter, they often found themselves snowed in, trapped in a small dark structure, staring at each other across a table, illuminated only by a dim grease lamp for months at a time. These were the circumstances in which someone would invariably find themselves being eaten, and not in the good way.”
Hissingaz contends that the invention of the motorcycle provided an emotional “steam valve” to successfully vent pent up passion best released on perfect stretches of pavement in distant mountains or along the endless strand of a Pacific coast beach. “This enables motorcycle riders to achieve a higher sense of balance between the id and the ego,” said Hissingaz. “This is why bikers make better lovers, writers, artists, musicians, and confidents than other people -- albeit in the summer months. In the winter, they can revert to a far more insidious and primal nature. A long and arduous winter season devoid of motorcycling can turn the most sophisticated of Renaissance riders into total pricks.”
Leslie, my girlfriend, is a certified “Writer-Life-Partner” and is thoroughly versed in procedures to halt runaway irrational logic, offset professional angst, and slow Monday-through-Saturday binge drinking events common to my profession. She has also pioneered a course of PMS treatment that has brought me back from the edge many times. On this occasion, my angel of mercy slipped a Steppenwolf CD into the sound system and began gyrating her hips to “Magic Carpet Ride,” the theme song of K75 riders everywhere. She continue to dance until the color slowly returned to my face. And when it seemed as if I would slip off again, she opened her shirt and showed me how a touch of lace can really accent perfection.
I collapsed back on the free-weight bench with a loud gasp and started breathing heavily. Leslie grabbed her cell phone and dialed the secret three-digit number that mobilized the Mac-Pac PMS Support Team. As most of you are aware, the Mac-Pac is the BMW group that I ride with. Her call activated an automated “Code Blue” alert, which had Dick Bregstein speeding in his car toward the house in less than 2 minutes. He detoured through an obscure driveway, pausing just long enough for team member Clyde Jacobs to jump into the back seat. Clyde carried with him a briefcase loaded with maps of West Virginia, rental properties throughout the state, and points of interest that could constitute a decent ride.
Clyde Jacobs -- Member By Default of Last West Virgina Ride Conspiracy
(Photo by Dick Bregstein on his $10 phone -- Click to enlarge)
Ninety miles away, Peter Buchheit jumped into his car and headed toward Jimmy’s Jumbo Crabs, a bar known for its hospitality, live music, and bikini contests, in Port Deposit, Maryland. It would be Buchheit’s job to make sure the arrangements were made at the bar, so that my symptoms could be properly treated by planning a great spring ride to West Virginia. These professionals moved with such practiced precision that we all arrived at the same time. The bartender, briefed while we were enroute, met us with a platter of steamed shrimp, reanimated with just the right touch of Old Bay seasoning.
Nothing beats winter doldrums and the demons of PMS like planning a great spring ride with your pals.
We commandeered about ten feet of the bar with a laptop, a Garmin, maps, brochures, and various samples of the distiller’s art. This would be our third annual ride to West Virginia and we wanted to incorporate the more successful elements of previous ride formulas with new opportunities for adventure. Prior trips included a ride which brought us to a different motel and restaurant each night, and a run in which we rented a deluxe cabin (complete with a hot tub, fireplace, and deck on the Potomac River), and cooked steaks and corn on the grill. With the economy being a factor this year, it was agreed that the cabin was the way to go, as we could eat and drink in-house, and enjoy better accommodations for less cash. We selected a four-bedroom vacation home on a river, complete with a screened-in porch, and a jacuzzi. The cost of the rental was cheaper per night, per person than staying in a decent motel (about $79). Each rider would have his own room and there are plenty of bathrooms in the house so no one has to feel like they’re standing in line.
Pete Buchheit -- Veteran West Virginia Ride Conspiracy Member
(Photo courtesy of Dick Bregstein -- Click to enlarge)
Finding a nice cabin-like house with four bedrooms was a bit of a challenge. Most rental properties have three bedrooms. None of us are kids anymore and there is nothing like a nice bed in your own room at the end of the day. A locking door guarantees you will not wake up with your hand in a bucket of warm water or out in the driveway with your pants gone and your ass painted blue. It is unacceptable that anyone should have to spend a night on a sofa after spending the day in the saddle.
Jack Riepe -- The author fills up the interior horizon
(Unflattering photo by Dick Bregstein -- Click to enlarege, then stand back)
The next consideration was the discussion of a menu and the kind of meals we wanted each night. This is normally not a big deal. In fact, it got zero consideration on our last trip. Our day rides typically spanned 225 miles and we’d hit a supermarket on the way back, stopping to pick up beer, steaks, vegetables and other stuff. Yet Pete mentioned that we were always looking for something we wished we had on that last ride. Stuff like a roll of paper towels, dish detergent, coffee filters or orange juice to temper the vodka.
“I am going to ask the rental agent about having a person pick up everything we want, according to a list, and deliver it to the house so it is there when we arrive,” said Buchheit. “We’ll pay the guy a fee and know that everything we need is waiting for us.”
I regarded this idea as nothing short of brilliant. This is also why we let Pete boss us around to some degree. If it was up to me, I’d have a bartender, cook, and valet on the premises as well. After all, this is a therapeutic vacation. Yet Clyde Jacobs raised the point that steak and lobster are items of intense personal preference, and he did not feel comfortable delegating the purchase of these commodities to a total stranger.
“You tell someone to go out and get a couple of steaks, and they might come back with a piece of meat barely three quarters of an inch thick,” said Clyde. “That might work if we were in prison but on a ride of this emotional significance you want everything to be perfect.”
Once again Buchheit rose to the occasion. “We could arrange to have the meat cut to order and delivered by Omaha Steaks,” he said. “They could also include other items from their catalogue which would pretty much guarantee a varied and slightly exotic flair to the menu.”
“But why stop there,” said Bregstein. “I personally recommend live lobsters and steamer clams from the ‘Lobster Trap.’ Wouldn’t it be great to come in from a day of riding and sit down to a New England lobster bake? Furthermore, we could order key lime pie from Harry and David.”
And suddenly, it was all there on the table. We’d ride like pirates and dine like Sultans. We’d drink like swells and smoke cigars like robber barons. At the day’s end, we’d sit on our screened-in porch and laugh over the silly things that contributed to the legend of the ride. In the ride report that followed, nothing would compare with the preposterous arrangements we’d have made for dinner.
Dick Bregstein -- Founding Member of the Mac-Pac PMS Code Blue Response Team
Dick has recently claimed being a Native American. He will not say what tribe but
plants a clue in every photograph that is taken of him.
(Photo coutesy of Patti Jacobs -- Click to enlarge)
This cold, winter day spent in a bar in Maryland would be the beginning of a legendary four-day ride in West Virginia. There are still a lot of details to be worked out. Our agenda for the next meeting will include a list of things we’d like to see on this trip, outstanding points of local interest, natural wonders, and historical sites. We’ll find the battlefields, the museums, the steam trains and the strip joints. We’ll find everything.
Just as we were congratulating ourselves on the beginning of another great ride, the band in the bar -- about six guys with banjos -- started warming up.”This has to be an omen,” said Buchheit.”
A number of folks have asked me about joining us on one of these runs and we’d be delighted. But the accommodations define the group at the end of the day and it would be up to another group of three or four riders to secure another house in the vicinity. (They are all over the place, either as single units or as vacation clusters.) We do not do a group ride per se either, even among ourselves. I have always maintained that riding with Dick and Pete is a lot like riding by yourself. (Still it is a comfort to know that help is only 40 or 50 miles ahead of you.) We ride in a lose group of two or three, knowing when and where we are all headed, and when and where we are all expected to end up. Dick and Pete like to switch off screaming through turns. Clyde has different moods. I like to amble along at my own pace, stopping to take pictures, relax, or donate an organ.
Sunday’s meeting ended all too soon... And it was the general consensus among all of us that we were ready for this ride the next day.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2009
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)