Friday, February 6, 2009

Dick Bregstein And The Juice Run... Or Dick Runs Out Of Juice

A well-respected motorcycle rider once told me that preparation is the secret to the success of every ride — regardless of the distance. This sounds good and fits well with the safety course litanies, where you are told to check the oil, the tires, the acid in the battery, the boiling point of nitrogen, and the current value of the dollar against the dong every time you get on the bike. The preflight checklist for my K75 is two pages longer than that for the B-2 Stealth Bomber. Then again it should be noted that the B-2 Stealth Bomber is not subjected to the stresses and strains of carrying my ass over primitive Pennsylvania pavement..

The pre-ride checklist for my K75 is two pages larger 
than the pre-flight checklist for the B-2 Stealth Bomber
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

My bike does get the big “annual service,” the smaller “semi-annual” services, and the “Oh-Shit-There’s-That-Noise-Coming-From-The-Fuel-Pump-Again” services (that only occur the night before a ride). This 1995 BMW K75 sees more services than a Las Vegas wedding chapel. The engine is so clean that when the oil comes out at 3,000 miles (the color of champagne) it’s used to fry wiener schnitzel at a local German restaurant. Furthermore, the battery tender has an LED to indicate when the battery is charging, when the battery is charging beyond its credit card limit, and when the battery is thinking lewd thoughts. The tender has its own web site and cell phone so it can contact me in the event of a malfunction.

The oil coming out of my engine is so clean, it is reused 
to fry wiener schnitzel at a local German brat haus.
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

With this kind of pre-ride preparation, I do not worry about something critical falling off nor failing. But “preparation” also extends to the state of mind of the rider and to the rider’s personal gear. So the night before a recent Mac-Pac Rider’s Breakfast found me systematically organizing my riding gear for an early morning departure. It’s a short 18-mile ride to the Pottstown Family Diner, but the quickest of rides can become pure agony if you’re not prepared for a change of weather, particularly rain or frost, as both were common at this time of year.

I laid out my BMW underwear, BMW socks, riding pants, Joe Rocket ballistic jacket, gloves, spare gloves, and boots. As part of an experiment to allow myself to sleep as late as possible, I arranged my clothes in the classic fireman style: all overlapping and tucked into each other. I merely had to step into them, pull up two zippers, and squeeze some Velcro before trotting into the garage.

Then I went out to an Amish bachelor party.

The details of the evening are a bit fuzzy. I seem to recall a naked woman wearing a bonnet, and a bunch of Abe Lincoln look-a-likes yelling, “Take it off! Take it off! Take it all off.” Someone put the first of 52 drinks in my hand. It was called a “Buttermilk Divebomber.” At drink #26, an Amish hottie led me into the back room for a lap dance and to “Churn der butter.”

I woke up with a case of the horrors. The horrors begin with a numbing amnesia. You’re not quite sure where you are, where you’ve been, nor the circumstances that brought you to the current impasse. Accompanying the amnesia is a brief grace period during which your body fails to realize it has been poisoned.

“What the hell did I do last night?” I thought.

My eyes had been focusing independently until this point, but zeroed in on the alarm clock at precisely 6:59:58. Two seconds later, the screaming alarm touched off a nuclear reaction in my head, which subsequently exploded.

Suddenly it all came back to me. Every sordid detail kicked me in the stomach. It took twenty minutes to be able to stand without clutching the floor... And then I remembered I was supposed to meet the Mac-Pac (my BMW riding club) for breakfast. Getting dressed was an ordeal. The dogs had found my pile of clean clothes and were fighting over a pair of briefs. They had them stretched out a full eight feet. I activated the coffee maker and realized shortly thereafter I’d neglected to put a cup underneath it. It’s amazing how a mere eight ounces of coffee can spread out over most of the kitchen floor.

It was about 35 degrees outside (not the coldest of mornings in the past two months), but between the bite of the breeze and the pounding in my head, I considered taking the truck. But I was supposed to ride to Maryland with “Leather” Dick Bregstein after breakfast.

“He won’t care if I ride up in the truck. The guys won’t bust my balls too badly,” I thought. Who was I kidding? If I showed up in the truck, my testicles would be fragmented into dust and cast to the winds. I’d be better off taking a hammer to them myself.

It was 8:55am by the time I straddled the K75. I can’t recall the exact minute that I discovered that I’d left all my cash in the cream separator of some Amish beanpole dancer the night before, but I needed to make a fast stop at the drive-up ATM. Every little thing conspired to make me late, including the 9 traffic lights between East Goshen and Eagle. I was more than an hour late for the breakfast festivities.

The response from the crowd was predictable.

“Who are you?”
“Can we help you?”
“Who are you looking for?”
“There were some guys here earlier, but they left.”
“We were going to stick you for breakfast. Now we’ll have to stick you for lunch.”
“No seats at this table.”

The only one who understood the extent of my suffering was my riding partner, Dick Bregstein.

“Want some coffee, Jack?” asked Dick, in a soothingly low voice.

“Yes, I do,” I said gratefully.

“Me too,” said Dick. “So bring me back a fresh cup before you get comfortable, Fat Ass?”

It was then I learned that all 25 riders seated at this table told the waitress their names were “Jack,” so there’d be no mistake when the separate checks were presented. I wanted to explain my circumstances and why I was late... But there is no need for apologies with the Mac-Pac. You will suffer just the same.

“Chack. How are you?” asked Horst Oberst, in his rich German accent. “Eat your breakfast... Don’t vaste time explaining... You look like bird shit anyvay.”

And so the day began.

Dick informed me that Gerry Cavanaugh and Horst Oberst would be joining us on the post breakfast ride. These two guys look like an ad for BMW. Dressed in black leather and riding an “R” bike set up for touring, Oberst (whose last name means “colonel”) has ridden extensively throughout South America. Cavanaugh is an “ambassador” for the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America, a representative for the BMW Riders Association, and the administrator of the Mac-Pac mileage contest for the MOA. His code name is, “The Snitch.” Our destination was a joint called Woody’s. Woody’s Crab House in North East, Maryland (that’s the town’s name) is a well-known destination for this crowd as it features all of the four food groups: crabs, potatoes, salt, and rum. Cavanaugh triangulated the route in his head and we were off like a shot.

Horst Oberst
(Photo by the author -- Click to enlarge)

At the time, I suffered from a “leaning” disability. This meant I seldom leaned the bike five degrees out of vertical. As a result, my turns were slow. How slow? Chris Wolfe , a British cockle monger, now living in the US under the Witness Protection Program, once said I turned slower than a two-dollar whore could make change. (Two dollars is a lot of money in the United Kingdom, apparently, a nation where “tips” refer to winners at the race track.)

“I’ll just follow along,” I said. “I don’t want to hold anybody up.”

“Nonsense,” said Horst. “Ve haff vays of making you lean.” He withdrew a taser from a pocket and showed me the brilliant flash when he hit the actuating button. “I vill be right behind you. Ven you go too slow, I’ll zap you in der ass mit dis ting.”

I attempted to lean with the best of them, and actually improved on my turns anytime I saw Horst gaining on me.

The ride was fun and quasi technical. The guys found roads with plenty of twisties. When these became tame, they rode on the sides of buildings, the faces of billboards, and on the tops of rail fences.

We stopped at a light less than a mile from Woody’s, when Jerry gave the strangest set of hand signals. He pointed at Dick, gave the thumbs down, and drew a finger across his throat.

Lifting up my face-shield, I yelled to Horst, “Gerry wants us to kill Dick.”

“Yah, Yah,” shouted Horst. “I haff been exschpecting dis for a long time now. I’ll hold Dick and you can kick him.”

As it turns out, Gerry was trying to tell us that Dick’s F650 had just died. Dick duck-walked it off to the shoulder and the boys attempted to perform an autopsy. It was determined that Dick’s electric clothing had drained his battery. He was wearing electric pants, electric socks, electric gloves, an electric jacket, an electric hat, and an electric cod piece. The aquarium heater in the cod piece drew 16 amps by itself. Everything had been turned on “high” and Dick’s bike produced a reverse magnetic field that dimmed street lights when he went past.

Now it is a recognized fact that the old F650 had a single cylinder engine made for BWM under license by a well-known manufacturer of two-wheeled transportation favored by nuns. This was a touchy subject with Dick, who resented being called “Sister Mary.”

So here we were, on the side of the road, bordering a field that was returning to nature.
A gaggle of Harley riders swept around the corner at that very moment. In a flash, Horst draped his leather coat over the BMW roundels on Dick’s bike.

“Everyvun, quickly. Stand over here und make like ve are taking der piss.”

The four us ran to the bushes at the edge of the road and appeared preoccupied. “Why are we doing this?” I asked Horst.

“I could not bear for das Harley riders to see us standing dere mit das broken down Aprilla.”

Having diagnosed the problem, the next challenge was to give the bike a jump start from another vehicle. Dick flagged down the first one that came along. It turned out to be an Amish buggy.

“Gude morgan,” said the driver, who looked like a traveling log cabin salesman. “Ist das Englander das sheist koff vanten to yump das horse?”

“What did he say,” asked Dick.

“He said you are a fine fellow,” translated Horst.

The woman in the buggy with the driver winked at me and I realized she was the butter churner from the Amish bachelor party the night before. Dick lifted up the horse’s tail in search of a battery connection, and not finding one, waved the Amish couple on.

I pulled a set of cables out of my top case, Gerry Cavanaugh exposed his posts, and Horst had current running through Dick’s alternator (which said Schwinn on it) in a second. Five minutes later, we were sipping chowder at Woody’s.

Dick Bregstein working on his F650's electrical system with Brian Curry.
Brian Curry is shown at his full actual size.
(Photo by the author -- Click to enlarge)

Nothing makes chowder taste better on a cold day than knowing you were the only one who had the cables when the old salts found themselves up shits creek. There is something for being prepared.

This story appeared as Ride Report #167 in a previous though limited Mac-Pac list. I resurrected it here for a larger audience because it is one of my favorite riding episodes and accurately depicts the true character of my riding friends.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2007
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)


Anonymous said...

How entirely predictable that you'd be heading to Woody's Crab House. Pole dancers not withstanding I think that every time we've been out together it's been to a crab house of one sort or another.

I like Horst almost as much as I do Brian Curry.

Anonymous said...

Dear John - What's an Aprilla?
The phrase you attenuated as your last sentence is actually - 'There is something to be said for being prepared.' Your economy of style and wordsmith talents do suffer when you leave out half the words. What next, ditch the vowels so we think it's in Hebrew?
Also, and I see this in slide captions in The New York Times, you lift a sentence to act as a caption for the photographs. I think that while I await each blog anxiously, I prefer to choose the sentences I wish to re-read. Might I suggest a more specific caption style? For the B-2 for instance, " Post- flight check B-2 at cruising altitude, no pavement in sight, coffee and donuts being handed around no doubt." This takes nothing away from the story but adds a photo specific opportunity for a new observation. Or for the schnitzel, "As fine a schnitzel as one could find locally or on-line." or "Table service or the benefits of an oil change, you decide?" Yes, these are gold, but get your own.
I offer the following to your readers regarding this blog. Listen to me folks, I've known John since 1970 when we were at Prep. There has never been an occasion when I have refered to him as 'Jack'. His family and other friends, acquaintances, and creditors can do as they please. All the time I have known him, he has never been this funny or inciteful. The contents of the blog hardly sound like him at all. John, John, when will you reveal who your ghost writer is? I know it's not me, though you could do worse and have on many an occasion. If anyone can trace this blog to some outsourced far-east wit and wise-ass manufacturer, do let the rest of us know. There's undying gratitude and a beer in it for you, and you can stick John with the bill. Sincerely, Uncle Cobalt

Anonymous said...

Jack, thanks for reviving this gold nugget. Still chuckling as Iam tapping on the old keyboard. Your descriptions as usual are classic.

Grandad 43 PS 14

redlegsrides said...

what a hilarious tale!

Of course, now that I laughed out loud like a maniac, several times, while at work, my credibility as a sober and responsible network engineer has apparently plummeted in the eyes of my cubicle mates.

this story was worth said loss.


cpa3485 said...

An absolutely wonderful story Jack (or is it John)!!

I was especially impressed with your portrayel of Herr Oberst's English with the heavy German accent. It rekindled images of Teri Garr in Young Frankenstein when they spoke of "enormous schwanstuckers" and Madeline Kahn and Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles when they mentioned schnitzengrubers.

I was wondering If you could help me with something, maybe with the assistance of Herr Oberst. I had 3 yrs of German in high school, but really don't remember a lot of it. Back in January there was some discussion on one of the comments sections of your blog concerning the proper translation of the phrase "was gibts". You said you consulted with an expert who said that the phrase means "my pig entirely". This bothered me a bit because I didn't remember anything like this from high school. I wonder If Herr Oberst was your "expert" for this translation, or did you just make this cr@$ up on your own?

Nonetheless, I am not sure I ever knew the exact translation for either of the words schwanstucker or schnitzengruber. Could you or Herr Oberst help me out?

Also was wondering if a schwanstucker was "enormous", is that a bad thing?

As always, enjoy your blog and any assistance you could provide woula be appreciated.

BTW, a client of mine just bought a 2004 BMW motorcycle and I told him I would hold his tax return for ransom unless he rode the cycle to my office to pick up his return so I could get a chance to see it.

Bloom said...

Dearest Jack,
Very good Story. All that is keeping it from being truly great is a photo of you in your BMW underwear. Looking forward to your next blog entry. May I request that you post your latest "masterpiece" feature from BMW ON?
Your phattest phan, Patty

Anonymous said...

Wow. 3 reports in one week. You are extremely verbose, aren't you? And your German is superb. Love the accent. Kudos.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Wolfe: (ADK)

I am getting anysy beyond believe for a great riding adventure. It appears the stars are coming into alignment for a great North Country adventure.

Amazingly enough, Mike C. has a K75 over by Wilmington. Then there is Lee K. in Jay. Of course, you have the great bike "Heppatitus." When I thnk of the three of you together, the word that comes to mind is "Triage." Ihor S. (anonymous) has put his cabin at my disposal, so I have a cheap place to stay, right in the middle of the action. I am thinking of coming up there in June, July, and August.

Quite frankly, I have my mind set on a great barbecue (chichen for me) on the beach at Wilmington. A sizzling grill, cold beer, and a campfire on the Ausable. Damn. I am so ready.
We are going to have some great riding weekends. I can't wait to see you guys.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Uncle Cobalt: (Ihor S)

An Aprilla can be any of a number of great street bikes, off road machines, competition racers, or scooters. Horst's remark refers to a rumor that the F650's engine was made by Aprilla -- for a scooter. He made this statement to see if Dick Bregsten would turn purple. Bregstein was already blue as the paper-thin electric gear he was wearing stopped being warm when the battery died.

I will always think of you when I caption pictures in the future. It's too bad you never rode on the back of my Kawasaki years ago. You would have found yourself properly pilloried in one of my pieces, and probably mentioned in a caption.

And I have been Jack to the masses since 1984. Get used to it.

By the way, I'm blocking out the dates I intend to use your cabin. Please make sure the bar is stocked.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Grandad 43:

I wrote some stuff a number of years ago, much of which was intended as a private joke between friends. I can't remember who saw what, and some of the stuff is too good (in my estimation) to leave buried.

This winter is becoming a pain in the ass and I have no new adventures to write about... Hence I dusted off this one. I hope you don't mind. Quite by coincidence, I had lunch with Horst Oberst and Gerry Cavanaugh yesterday. We laughed over this ride for about ten minutes. My only regret was that Dick Bregstein couldn't make it. He was getting hormone shots.

We should resurrect the Annual Amish Horsepile Swerve Ride nd put together something for late April. What do yiu say? Should we form a committee or what?

Fondest regards,

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom);

If you laughed out loud then my mission for the day is accomplished. You have no idea how much of this story is true. And the best of my stories would never make it into convention mo

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3435:

Thank you taking the time to read my blog and for posing your thoughtful questions. My expert for German translation is a lap dancer from strudel cafe up in the Amish part of town. Her dalect is rich with coloquillisms and could be flavored by her daytime job, as a hog whisperer. She assured me that "was gibts" meant "my pig entirely." It could mean other things in different parts of Germany, howver.

"Swanstüker" means "the source of a man's character." So having an "enormous schwanstüker" would be regarded as having a massive character, and a good thing. I hear this a lot from women I ride with. "Schnitzengrüber" means "little itch," and commonly refers to the kind of person who feels compelled to tell your wife or girlfriend how many times you met somebody who mention your "schwanstüker" in saloon conversation.

I am delighted to have been of assistance in getting you this information. 2004 was a good year for BMW's. But 1995 was a great year. What let your client tease you with his bike. Why not lok for a K75 in mint condition, gussy it up a little, and make the world look at you!

Thanks again for writing in.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Riepe said...

Dear Patty:

Thank you for reading my blog this week and for commenting. There is nothing like letters from readers (the ones that do not begin with "Dear Asshole") And thanks also for mentioning my story in print in the BMW press this month.

While I respectfully retain the ultumate copyright to all my work -- unless the check from the publisher is truly monumental -- I allow any publication that produces my work a substantial period of time before I would think of unleashing the same material on the public. Even though it can be argued that different reader demographics are involved, it's a professional courtesy that I extend. There have been rare exceptions, and one is coming up.

The story of mine running in the current issue of the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America "Owners' News" magazine generated a result that was outstanding. The amount of letters I have received in my personal e-mail, and the content of those letters, has left me somewhat speechless.

This has been one of the most gratifying moments in my career as a writer. Moreso, I felt the strength of an entire biking community behind me. I dare not fail in my most recent endeavor.

There is a possibility the publisher of the "ON" might release the piece as a PDF. They have with some of my stories in the past.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Tena:

You are a PIP and must ultimately delight in handing me over to my enenies. "Verbose" means over-wordy and uncesessarily big mouthed. I was rather hoping you meant "prolific," which means editorially fertile.

The chainsaw gang -- Bregstein, Wolfe, Sypko, Asson, and a guy named Conch -- will fall on this like a politician on stimulus pork. Thankfully, they never read beyond their own comments, and I may be safe.

Thanks for writing in, I think.

Fondest regards,

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack. Yes, unfortunately, verbose was, indeed, a poor choice of word. Evidently my mind and the online dictionary are at odds at the moment. Your command of the written word is an awesome thing, indeed, and I stand humbled before it. I'm also deathly afraid to ask what a PIP is...

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Tena:

It's too late. Leslie read your initial statement and thre it in my face. A brick would have hurt less.

A "pip" is someone or something that causes people to smile or laugh.

Fondest regards,

Anonymous said...

Prolific! THAT'S the word I meant to use, Jack! honest!! Aw, to heck with it. Where did I put that bottle of wine....

Anonymous said...

Tina, Never you mind! Verbose people are also called longwinded, though in John's case 'widewinded' would be more accurate. It is a sorry week if he doesn't post a new blog entry, three in a week is a treat worth savoring.
John, you'll always be welcome at Drone's Cottage, as soon as it is done and ready. The bar will be well stocked, what liquor can't you stand?? Oh, that's right, spiritus fermenti are not made in that form. I recall an afternoon we were in a bar in Weehawken (I think) when you had the bartender whip together the most exotic and awful concoctions out of flavored liqueurs ending with a banana nightmare of some sort. Not to worry, such dangers will be kept at a minimum. Ihor

BMW-Dick said...

Dear Jack:
This brought back memories of what was a fun ride until the battery gave up the ghost. Turned out to be a chilly ride home without the electrics. I remember several things about that trip. The first was how you mercilessly berated me and German engineering when the bike died. The Fatherland will get it's revenge. Two was that you had the good sense to have jumper cables in your top case. Three was that Horst whispered in my ear, saying, "Thank you Englander for breaking down. I couldn't have gone another mile within taking a piss."
Riding with you is always an adventure.

Conchscooter said...

Dear Asshole.
Good story.