Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dispatches From The Front... “Obstruction” Contest Winners Announced!


On February 9, 2009, the readers of this blog were confronted with question: “What was the most amazing thing you’ve come upon in the road, and how did you handle it?” The prize was to be a single Mini Maglite LED flashlight. I anticipated a handful of replies, with the most common answer being “ladders,” that had fallen from the vans of carpenters, painters, roofers, and handy men. The reason I anticipated this response was that I had read improperly secured ladders constituted the primary obstacle encounter by bikers and cagers traveling on highways and main roads.

This particular blog chapter drew the largest response of any issue posted on Twisted Roads in its brief 13-month history, with 27 accomplished riders writing in to share some incredible stories of obstacles in the road, and what they did to avoid them.

Not one rider came across an improperly secured ladder.

Responses varied from detached pick-up truck camper bodies to one actual dead body. Enough wandering animals were reported to fill a zoo, while many of the inanimate objects represented a bizarre strata of life in America. The first thing I realized was that one flashlight would never cover the response I got from my readers. So I increased the prize to 5 flashlights, establishing different categories of weirdness. And the winners are:

Category: Most Crap Encountered on the Road In A Single Lifetime
Winner: Chris Wolfe (ADK) -- Vintage Honda VFR Interceptor
Chris reported finding a fallen tree on a blind curve, a live electrical wire across the road, a queen-sized mattress in the center of the road, a complete rear axel from a pick-up truck adorning a center lane, and a dead deer (with all four legs sticking up in the air, like in a cartoon). Conventional wisdom urges Chris to move to a better neighborhood. Some of this stuff was on expressways just outside of New York City.

Chris Wolfe -- Code name "Artful Dodger" -- On his Honda VFR Interceptor
(Photo courtesy of Chris Wolfe -- Click to enlarge)

Category: Largest Item To Fall Off The Back of A Truck
Winner: Don Eilenberger -- BMW
Don dodged a complete camper body that bounced out of the bed of a pickup truck that whacked a pothole on I-287 in New Jersey. If it had been a Soprano’s episode, “Pussy” would have been sleeping in the camper.

Don Eilenberger -- Got around a free rolling camper body on I-287 in New Jersey
(Photo courtesy of the author -- Click to enlarge)

Category: Dumbest Thing To Encounter In A Road
Winner: Wayne Whitlock (Nite Owl) -- Harley Davidson
Wayne turned onto a rural country road, and got knocked out of the saddle by an unmarked wire extended across the psvement by a farmer, to contain escaped cows.

Wayne Whitlock -- Now ducks when someone says, "Can you hold the wire?"
(Photo courtesy of the author -- Click to enlarge)

Category: Thing Most Likely To Rip Your Ass Off And Kill You In The Road
Winner: Rick Cavaliere -- BMW
While cruising the Roemerville Road, between Newfoundland and Promised Land, Pennsylvania, Rick came across a female lioness sunning herself on the pavement. The lion was a retired circus cat, declawed and defanged... Otherwise Rick, may have found himself deballed, deboned, and deceased. The lion was on a tether that gave her too much room.

Category: Not Dead Tired... Not Dead Drunk... Just Dead
Winner: Dan Bateman (Irondad) -- Yamaha FJR
A cop at the time, Dan responded to a call on an authority bike, which led him into desert outside of Yakima, Washington -- at night. The desert darkness was devouring his lights, barely leaving enough to frame the body of the deceased (a gunshot victim) directly in his path.

Tee shirts will be awarded to two runners-up, who also had great stories to tell!

Category: What The Hell Happened To The Road?
Winner: Gary Christman -- BMW GS
Gary Christman was out for a typical ride -- on the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, in the Northwest Territories -- to see the home of the “Ice Truckers,” when he realized there was water in the road. It was about six feet deep and twenty feet across. He decided to stop, and that earned him a “Twisted Roads” tee shirt.

Gary Christman -- Found water on the road on a recent ride to the Arctic Circle
(Photo courtesy of Gary Christman -- Click to enlarge)

Gary Christman and his BMW GS -- Just before coining the phrase, "Screw this."
(Photo courtesy of Gary Christman -- Click to enlarge)

Category: Do I Hear Banjo Music?
Winner: Chris Jacarrino -- Honda Goldwing
Chris had just negotiated a series of tight turns in backwoods West Virginia and was in the process of taming yet one more blind curve, when he encountered a refrigerator, standing upright and burning like hell, in the center of the road. “I remembered thinking, ‘It’s very disappointing when an expensive appliance like a refrigerator craps out,’” said Chris.

It was very hard to narrow this list down to five flashlight winners and two tee-shirt recipients. All contestants will therefore receive a coveted “Twisted Roads” patch. To receive your prize, or your patch, please send your name and address, plus tee shirt size (if applicable) to


It’s amazing how often I get to meet (and to ride) with so many of my readers. We start as acquaintances in an online dialogue and then discover we’ll either be at the same rally, or someplace in the same state, and one thing leads to another. In many cases, I will have acquired a new friend. During one such gathering (The Second Annual Amish Horse-Pile Swerve Ride), I met Dick Bregstein, Wayne Whitlock, and Tony Luna -- three guys who are all wool and a yard wide. (I met Mack Harrell on this run the year before.)

I have had the pleasure of meeting many people through Motorcycle Views (under the aegis of Walter Kern). I have been relying on them for good advice or just a good ribbing for years. One of these folks, Steve Asson, shamed me into my first long-distance ride after 30 years of two-wheeled abstinence. He said, “If I can ride from Washington state to North Carolina to meet you (at the infamous BuRP Rally), then you can certainly get off your fat ass and ride down from Philadelphia to Maggie Valley to meet me. Unless, of course, you’re afraid of pissing your pants in truck traffic on the interstates.” Steve is a diplomat, and made this statement online, in front of 36,000,000 people.

At the time, I was afraid of pissing my pants in truck traffic on the interstates, but it was a secret that I had kept from public announcement. Steve took care of that.

I’ve known “Bugser” Abbey since 2005. He is a cruiser rider who once admired my methods of traveling light for a ride. At the time, I stated that an American Express card, condoms, and a good rum were really all you needed for a decent weekend on a bike that was gassed up and ready to go. Our correspondence was split by a rift over the necessity of carrying frozen White Castle cheeseburgers “just in case” (a move I endorsed). But I stayed chatty with his wife, Tena, who is an aspiring writer.

From left, Bugser Abbey (Mr. Cupcake), Tena Abbey, and Steve (The Diplomat) Asson
These are exactly the type of folks you associate with crabs. 
(Photo courtesy of Sylvia Asson, who had the presence of mind not to be in it -- Click to enlarge)

I recently learned that the Abbeys were meeting Steve Asson, and his wife Sylvia, for dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack, up in Washington State this past Sunday. (Steve and Bugser have ridden together on several occasions.) They were good enough to call me from the shack’s parking lot and put the phone on speaker. Steve and I are planning a ride through Dodge City and Deadwood this summer. I will meet the Abbeys (for the first time) in Ohio, sometime in September. They sent me a nice picture of their little gathering (from last weekend). If you look at their eyes in this photo, conspiracy is evident.

Then I started getting comments on my blog from “Bugser,” signed “Mr. Cupcake.” As it turns out, this is his new identity in the witness protection program.


A resident of New York State's Adirondack Mountains, Michael Cantwell was recently faced with a choice: Dismember his family and eat them, or go for a ride. He waited until the temperature was 1 degree above Zero degrees Kelvin, fired up his K75, and took it out on mountain roads not expected to thaw in this century. He sent me a note saying, "Ha Ha... I'm riding already, and you're not."

Michael Cantwell's classic BMW K75 at the mouth of Rusty Mulvey's driveway, 
with Whiteface Mountain, and its Olympic ski slopes, in the background.
(Photo courtesy of Michael Cantwell -- Click to enlarge)


The weather prognosticators on television, bums all of them, have just announced that warmer weather, with temperatures close to and occasionally above 50º, will be settling in for the rest of the week. The word on the street is that this could be the turning point for the cold weather this winter.


I made the decision to render my bike inoperable by removing the crash bars, headers, and muffler. These are being sent out for Jet-Hot coating, which will effectively cover up all of the chrome on this bike with a nice black semi-gloss finish. My last K75 had a black Luftmeister muffler, with matching headers, which I liked a lot. I’m not big on chrome (especially polishing it). I timed this cosmetic maintenance to coincide with getting my seat custom rebuilt (Stiffie’s Christmas present to me) by Russell (Day-Long) Cycle Products, in California. This will take at lest two weeks from the date scheduled for seat reconstruction (March 6th).

So I am out of commission until March 20, 2009. The weather will be perfect through March 19th. Expect temperatures in the mid-70s , cloudless blue skies, and topless women to bask in the change of seasons -- right up until my bike is ready to go. Then it will rain until August.

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


Anonymous said...

Dear Jack, Thank you for my flashlight. I shall use it every time we meet to check the contents of my wallet after you've left the premises.

I couldn't help but notice that, when I hit the 'click to enlarge' tag over many of the photographs on your blog the images actually get smaller. Is this a subtle reminder that your audience is, in fact, much less important to you than you profess, or a Freudian slip referencing to the 'blow to enlarge' label stapled to your pants zipper?

30 degrees F. here today, looks like Summer has arrived.

Unknown said...

Those were pretty good stories, Jack. The most unusual thing I ever encountered on the road was several miles of unoccupied highway traveling through DC.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Nicely written, Jack. Of course you knew we were deeply concerned over the information you were able to glean from us during the phone conversation, but you took pity and were kind...which leads us to believe you might be ill? Hope you get better soon!

You also did a splendid job in choosing the winners of your contest. I know I couldn't have done it, and it was a happy surprise that you were able to expand the winning categories.

Now that the contest is over, I'll tell you the strangest thing I ever saw: a half sheet of drywall cartwheeling down the middle of the Glenn Jackson bridge during rush hour traffic! Rush hour means NO lateral movement other than your own lane, and I was able to move just enough that it only clipped my front end, removing some paint, and glanced off my side mirror without removing IT. The insurance adjuster didn't bat an eye.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Chris (ADK):

I placed the photos into trhe blog at 3am this morning, and randomly clicked on yours as part of routine test. I was amazed when it shrank in stature, and then I thought, "How true to character!"

I think the problem is that I pulled many of these pictures from an existing file and inadvertantly chose the optimum size as the ultimate size. I can probably go back and fix these, but then I thought, "Who really gives a shit? Who will be small enough to complain?"

Well we answered that question, didn't we?

And by the way... That's not a label. It's a tatoo right on the master cylinder. You got it, pal. Hundreds of women coast to coast know me as "The Master Cylinder." Walk into any bar up there and ask, "Who's ready for the Master Cylinder," and watch what happens.

Thirty degrees! Have you got the beach umbrella up? Seriously, start saving for a bottle of rum. The last time I showed up you made me drink Cosmopolitans out of a bud vase.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Rogers:

The time has come for you and I to speak of many things...

Of antelopes and pinion gears; of sausages and kings.

In addition to a dialogue I've been promising you, I have stories that I owe to DucDude, Chris Carr, and Anita Sterling. All will be fun to write, if I only had a brain.

Your time is coming... Maybe today. Look to the list this morning.

Fondest regards,

Anonymous said...

Perhaps 'Squeeze to Enlarge' would be more appropriate. I guess brake bleeding IS a treat after all!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Tena:

But you were in a car... (Said with a hiss.)

Fondest regards,

Anonymous said...

Jack, and that's why I waited until AFTER the contest! Duh!!! *snicker* I knew I wasn't eligible. Sometimes I AM smarter than a couch...

cpa3485 said...

Great job Jack, and truly amazing stories.
If I had to vote for the overall winner, it would have to be the burning refrigerator.
How random is that?

John said...

Wow, I get nothing for my spinning and tumbling 5 gal bucket of paint encountered at 80 mph? It's a rig.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear John:

Listen, I felt bad enough when that can of paint fell off the back of my truck. Don't rub it in. There will be other contests. You might win something. Look at Dave Case. He had a good story and didn't win anything. You don't see him complaining. Mike Evans didn't even bother to enter, knowing how his comment would be treated.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

DC said...

Dear Patch Att'ems,

Nice close to a fun post. I wish you well on the restorations to your bike. Good choice to nix the chrome. Black is a slimming color,... unless it's on your pipe, then it looks huge.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear DC (Dave Case):

I am laughing so hard I can't think of a smart-assed answer.

Thanks for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

DC said...

Dear Jack,
(and John)

Actually, I was all prepared to complain, then I saw how whiney John's post was. ;-)

I decided I didn't win because Jack simply does not have a good picture of me, as he did for all the other fine folks he did award. Just now I mentioned to my wife that I need to send Jack a decent picture of me, so I can win the next time. She was kind enough to remind me that there are no decent pictures of me.

Dave Case

fasthair said...

Mr. Jack: Great job on picking the winners. Lot of great stories, I’m glad it wasn’t me trying to pick a winner. While a dead body may not be that common being a cop one mustn’t be too surprised to see that. But a burning fridge? I might have had to swear off the Crown Royal if I came upon such a thing.

Thanks for the offer on the consolation prize. As I said varies animals wandering around the road here in the middle of Iowa isn’t that strange, it’s almost expected. I’ll make you a deal to save you some money. On your way to Deadwood I’ll buy you the best steak you have ever had in your life when you stop on your way through my humble little town. I’ll even turn you on to the legendary Templeton Rye as a parting gift.

Don’t feel bad about the weather. We are in the middle of the 50s right now and of course I will be riding later today. I even got a nice squeeze wanting to go along today. I will cop a feel for you just so you don’t feel left out. Tomorrow it is back to freezing rain and snow.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Case:

I actually do have a nice picture of you, standing next to your bike. It ran in the post where you won the $50 gift dinner from Twisted Roads -- the most rewarding of all biker blogs.

John C. is putting me on notice that if he will switch to reading Rogers George's blog on Mushrooms to Motorcycles if he doesn't win something soon.

I say, "Go ahead. Make Rogers' day."

Thank you for writing in twice. Very good double entendré in your other comment.

Fondest regards,

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Fasthair:

I'll take you up on the steak and the rye. I think we're supposed to get that warm weather tomorrow. It can't get here soon enough.

You're the third person to tell me the burning refrigerator should have won.

Fondest regards,

Don Eilenberger said...

Dear Jack,

Thanks much for the flashlight.. but unfortunately - the photo you have of me DID get bigger when I clicked on it. I had great hopes when I heard they got smaller.

That was with my old AeroStich - the new one Andy made for me fits much better. I told him to envision the Penguin in the Batman comics and he'd have my figure in mind. Seems to have worked. And luckily I got it made a bit larger than it needed to be (at the time.)

Hoping the slider Birthday happens as soon as possible once the Steinway seat and the rest of your moto parts return (and you can convince Curry to install them..)

Thanks again - hope to see you soon. It is odd we only seem to meet at eating events. Go figure.

Anonymous said...


It was really nice of my wife to wait for me to have that goofy look on my face before clicking off that picture.

You, sir, are a fearless writer. There must be material for at least three separate blog posts here, yet you hold nothing back and we get to consume it all at once (much like that bucket of Corona at the Crab Shack).


p.s. I was going to hint to you that I live in Oregon, not Washington State, but I figured that would look rather pithy and undimplomatic, so I will refrain from doing so.

irondad said...

Dear Mr. Riepe,
I am honored to be selected as a category winner. While it's true that coming across a dead body may not be unusual for a cop, had I hit the thing there may well have been two for the price of one. The next motorcycle cop to arrive would now have won as they would have encountered two dead bodies plus a busted ass Kawasaki and a civilian bystander that only looked dead. Which could have been really funny had he suddenly revived and jumped up in front of the second cop! Anyway, I digress. Again, dangit.

However, the people HAVE spoken. It is not usual for a cop to come across a burning refrigerator. However, I have seen a frozen oven.

Be that as it may, I would be honored to decline the flashlight and let the submitter of the story be honored with a new category, The People's Choice Award. Despite the fact that they did not sign their name. Perhaps the fire was hot enough to wipe away any memories of their identity?

That is, if my declining would not, of course, be taken as an insult to your personage.

My reward in all this would be the fact that you have blessed us all, both here and on our respective blogs, with your wit, humor, and largesse. ( Having sent a poison dart into your ass, I want to be double sure that you realize the word I typed is actually largesse. Which is a good word although it does look dangerously close to the word "lardass" but I'm really trying to be nice here, I swear! )

In other words, Sir, your presence has brightened our existence considerably.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack,
What a great blog. I am also impressed with the awesome picture of that smart looking K75 with the mountain in the background. I bet Michael called you the minute he dismounted and let you hear the purr of that beautiful bike. What a bastard.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3485:

Thank you for droppig by today. I meant to take note of the fact that you are in Kansas. I've been to Kansas once or twice and discovered I like the place a lot. If I get out that way this smmer, I insist on getting a look at your skooter and taking a ride wityh you.

The guy who came across the burning refrigerator on the road in West Virginia is a member of my club and an occasional riding buddy of mine. I'll have him over for a steak or something as a consolation prize.

You wre not the only one who said he should have won.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Don (Eilenberger):

I've reached the point where the only pictures of myself that I will tolerate are the kinds taken by satellite.

I honestly believe that every rider should carry a Mini Maglite on their motorcycle. In tests that I have conducted, the LED Mini Maglite is the best flashlight value for the money. And it mets my criteria of being made in America.

I am going to celebrate my birthday with a special ride to the White Castle, in Tom's River, NJ, on saturday, March 28th (weather permitting).
I am going to make this traditional slider run and then hit a place over in Seaside Park for a real meal.

The deal will be the same, however. I will purchase 55 sliders and distribute them to the crowd.

Thanks for participating in the contest.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve (Steel):

It was fun talking to you, Tena, and Mr. Cupcake last Sunday. I was unaware that you had another facial expression that you used for photographs. Quite frankly, I think your wife was being merciful.

I though about breaking these stories down into three separate blogs, but I think this worked better. I like the "Dispatches From The Front" format and may use it again.

We have to make some sort opf epic ride this summer. I want to color in more states on my little map... And I want great pictures.

Thanks for writing in.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Irondad (Dan):

If I took the advice of my readers on a regular basis, I would have had to have put my head in the oven years ago. Most women think I should be prohibited from writing anything as I am a sexist pig. Most long-distance Beemer riders think it is ludicrous that I would think of addressng any "serious" riding topic. The cruiser crowd thinks I'm a metric asshole. And the leather and chrome boys want to pull my pants down and paint my ass blue and white.

In short, I write what I want and do what I want. If you don't want a flashlight, I'll be happy to send you a tee shirt, which is actually more expensive. If you'd rather keep your address secret, I can mail the flashlight to a post office drop box.

The guy who nearly clocked the burning refrigerator is a member of my club, and helped me lead one of the funniest rides ever featured in the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America's magazine: the Owners News.

More tragic than the burning refrigerator, I led him -- and 11 other riders -- into a coal fire that had been burning for 40 years. (Absolutely true.) Send me an e-mail address ( and I'll send you the pdf. Send me an address, and I'll send you the flashlight or the Twisted Roads tee shirt.

Always a pleasure, Irondad.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Anonymous:

I feel so bad for Michael Cantwell. I heard from a friend of mine up in the Adirondacks thatMike froze his ass to the seat, and had to have it melted off by a guy with a torch.

The local newspaper wrote it up, saying it was the first time anybody tried to lit a fire under Michael Cantwell's ass, and he still didn't move any faster.

Fondest regards,

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Riepe:

Please send the flashlight, autographed copy of your book and the $500 check I won for writing about the “Thing Most Likely To Rip Your Ass Off And Kill You In The Road”. You are a true prince among men!

Rick Cavaliere

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Rick Cavaliere:

Have you been at the crack pipe again?

Your prize was valuable coupons to be redeemed at Shop-Rite. They will be mailed as soon as you forward $48.99 for shipping and handling.

Fondest regards,

cpa3485 said...

If you make it to Dodge City, I'll meet you there and buy you a steak. Sorry, but fresh seafood is not a great option there.

Dodge City is a real treat, sort of. You can smell the cattle feedlots for miles and miles, literally and not kidding. I was born in Garden City, about 50 miles west of there. (lots of feedlots around Garden City too). You can be assured of the smell of manure and dead carcasses for at least the first part of your potential trip up to Deadwood.

They say Kansas is flat and it is really so in some areas. Around our neck of the woods we jokingly say that the highest hills around here are the on and off ramps to the interstates. (not completely kidding). But I personally prefer to think of Kansas as a wedge. The elevation above sea level is about 900 feet at the eastern border with Missouri, and approaches 4,000 feet at the Colorado border. In between though, a lot of it is very flat, or at least appears to be. They do not call it the high plains for nothing.

I can imagine a ride from Dodge City to Deadwood would be absolutely spectacular on a motorcycle.

Unknown said...

and Jack . . . is Vancouver, BC on the way to Dodge City ? And is cpa3485 referring to you when he mentions "DEADWOOD" or is he referring to something else ?
If Vancouver is "along your way" then perhaps we could quench some of that seafood taste

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

ps: sorry couldn't participate in the flashlight contest. Nothing exciting, nothing found dead on the road, we don't have refrigerators as it is cold enough outside without one, and as I am usually following someone else they would hit whatever object first which suits me just fine

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack, I have been to Wisconsin (where the wire was!) visiting our newest granddaughter. It was amazing how many people asked if we were riding the motorcycles. I told them I could not locate snow tires in time. Anyway, I finally get home and check the computer, and what a suprise to learn I am a winner. I love the maglites. I will be in touch. Have to work on March 28th, but will try to get off for the slider ride. I stayed in Seaside Heights while working at Oyster Creek many years ago. Had some fun! Didn't like the LEO's much though.

I always enjoy your writings. I hope you keep it up for years, (writing of course). Thanks for the kind words in your stories.

Looking forward to this weekend. Temps above 60!

Have a marvelous day,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Wayne:

If you're seriously planning to make the slider ride, then plan on staying at the house here the night before (Friday), and on that Saturday night too!.

I don't hold the big parties so much anymore but we can still have something in the way of a good riding weekend. I'll see if we can scratch up Tony Luna, Mack Harrell, and Karen Kennedy to meet us in New Jersey that day.

Fondest regards,

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