Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sunday's Adventure To Scale

Some sounds carry the ring of finality in the softest of tones. Air hissing from a tire... The click of a lock (with you on the wrong side of the bedroom door)... And the rapping of a judge’s gavel can all signify indefinite postponement of a good time. At 5:30am last Sunday, the sound of disappointment was rain driving against the bedroom windows. And it wasn’t merely driving, it was trying to get in with murderous ferocity.

Having turned the clock back only a few hours before, it was really 6:30am, but the total absence of light suggested a day without dawn, like the morning following the day I last said, “I do.” (I am not married to my current love, a condition of cohabitation upon which she insists. I live here at her pleasure, which I tend to stretch to the point of transparency, and which accounts for why I wear see-through harem pants, do her bidding, and let her call me, “Asp.”)

I swung my feet to the bedroom floor and tip-toed out of the room. Actually, I stepped on a white dog who is as fat as a pig, tumbled backwards onto the bed, and planted my hand squarely on a sleeping woman’s ass. Despite being on a first name basis with the lady in question, this was the equivalent of pulling a fire alarm in a Marine Corps. barracks.

“What the hell are you doing,” she asked, without opening her eyes, but using a tone that suggested she was again enduring the kind of pain associated with a gunshot wound to the head.

“I was thinking of going for a motorcycle ride,” I replied.

“For that you needed my ass and Scout?”

“There was a time when you would have been more curious than critical,” I returned.

“And there was a time when you were more man and less mass.”

I answered her with the glaring look of a lifetime, which amounted to nothing in the pitch black room. (This was just as well considering I am on my third year of double secret probation and the house is mined with trapdoors, covering chutes that lead to the street. My exit is likely to be as quick as it is ignominious.)

The rain was bad news for my riding plans. These included meeting Matt Piechota, charging up to Hudson County, New Jersey (one mile west of Manhattan), and taking pictures of our bikes against the backdrop of the Statue of Liberty (Jersey City) and the Tear of Grief (Bayonne) -- both located at dramatic points against the New York City skyline. The agenda then called for a sausage lunch at a bier stube (Zeppelin Hall) or running into the City for a sandwich and a beer at McSorely’s (the oldest bar in New York). I was then going to visit with my mom for a bit, before we headed back.

Above -- The old Central Rail Road of New Jersey Teminal and Ferry Slip restored at Liberty State Park (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

The rain stopped at dawn, leaving the ground covered with a lethal parchment of wet leaves, capped with the kind of mist that encourages improv actors to break into scenes from “Macbeth.” I had absolutely no desire to roll the bike out into that porridge just for the thrill of scraping all that crap off of it at the end of the day. At least that’s what I told myself. In truth, I’m a bit of a “faint heart” when it comes to riding under questionable weather conditions. I’ve done it enough to qualify for the title of “Reluctant Viking,” but it is very hard for me to justify leaving a nice, dry house (well-stocked with beverages) with certain death lurking at every turn.

Above -- The Tear of Grief -- A monument to the 9/11 horror from the People of Russia to the People of the US, in Bayonne, NJ. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

Yet the question at hand was, “What to do about Matt Piechota?” Matt is one of those good natured Mac Pac riders who thinks all of this is on the up and up. He participates in track days, goes on rides tagged as “spirited” and mounts a classic “naked” BMW with a boxer engine. These were exactly the kind of conditions he would laugh at and I was relatively certain he’d be at the rendezvous at the appointed time. I decided to tell him the truth, “that Scout was walking with a limp and I had to take her to the vet.”

I had barely begun to type the words when a note from Matt flashed across my computer screen advising me that he wasn’t feeling well and that his decision not to ride had nothing to do with the chicken-shit emotions I myself was likely attempting to overcome just to get on my bike.

My first inclination was to issue him an insulting challenge... But what would I do if Matt accepted? I graciously excused him from the ride, with the hope that we might try this again, at a future time when he had greater confidence in his riding skills. Then I switched off the computer so he couldn’t reply.

From dawn until noon, I consoled myself that I would have ridden if it weren’t for the weather. And then it started to clear.

If Thomas Jefferson had appointed me to explore the Louisiana Purchase, the United States would today end at the town of Fuckett, Missouri. It’s not that I don’t qualify as the adventurous type. It’s just that I can be talked out of anything with little effort. Sometimes, all it takes is the swish of skirt. With regard to the real estate deal just mentioned, if Chief Knotted Sinew had said to me, “They have these huge, hide-covered spiders out west. You’re better off drinking here with us and bathing with the women...” I would have declared the nearest stream a tributary of the Pacific and sent Jefferson my bill.

But I am versatile.

When there is no one to talk me out of something particularly life threatening or tedious, I can do it myself. Years ago, I talked myself out of painting the bathroom for so long that the existence of a paintbrush was regarded as a myth in my house. I once talked myself out of marrying a certain woman for fear of getting poisoned; and then talked myself out of telling her face to face (in favor of an e-mail) for fear of getting stabbed.

Oddly enough, I get apprehensive about my motorcycle, especially if I haven’t been on it for a while. I’ll plan some interesting ride, either a pleasant diversion or a more challenging run, and begin to imagine the fun I’ll have. This fun includes the crisp bite of the autumn air, the wind whistling around my helmet, the sensation of power in the K75‘s grips, and the way women undress me with their eyes when I buzz past. Inevitably, my thoughts will also turn to a couple of blind curves I have to run through, deer that leap out like suggestions from a marriage counselor, clouds laden with rain, and piles of leaves that wait until they hear me coming before drifting out into the road. Once I start down this pusillanimous spiral, it is but a short stretch to the conclusion that I’m too stiff to ride, or that its now too late to go, or that I don’t have to prove myself to anyone.

The truth is that I constantly have to prove something to one person... And he can’t be bullshitted.

It was 3:30pm when I roared out of the driveway and picked up the Pennsylvania Turn Pike. Even though I had gained an hour during the night, the sun looked like it was putting in a cameo appearance before heading out. The great Irish philosopher, Aiden Murphy, once said the sun can be held suspended in the sky by the throttle. I sure as hell tried. The K75 felt good on the road and I felt good on the bike. The tach was pegging the engine’s tune at 65 hundred and the speedo was like a compass needle aimed at the meaning of life.

This is a little-known fact, but engineers at BMW designed K75‘s motor to sound like Patti Smith on steroids at the higher RPM. I was in the second chorus of “Because The Night” when I noticed the landscape on either side of me had blurred in deference to my speed. The gas light winked on 15 miles into New Jersey and I pulled into the Arthur Bedlam rest area for gas. (New Jersey rest areas and fuel stops are named after “Garden State” patriots or famous residents. Arthur Bedlam is regarded as the “Father of New Jersey Driving Patterns.”)

Traffic changed around Exit 8. It increased in density until it was like driving through 8 inches of newly poured concrete. The Garden State’s semi-annual Douche Day Parade was being held in the left lane. This is where a hundred thousand douches -- all driving minivans -- take turns speeding up and slamming on the brakes, with their eyes closed. The overall illusion they try to create is a five-mile-long caterpillar, humping itself in surges. The effect is rather remarkable and may be the subject of National Geographic special.

The New Jersey TurnPike splits between Exits 8 and 8a, with cars headed to the left and all commercial traffic going to the right. I didn’t hesitate, and threw my lot in with the trucks. They were moving like the hammers of hell, and I was going faster. I zipped past New Brunswick and the exit for Perth Amboy, which I have always associated with the beginning of the shore points from the time I was a kid. (It really isn’t. The exit just sort of smells that way.)

Above -- The most dramatc views -- albeit brief ones -- of Newark Airport are from the New Jersey Turn Pike. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

Ten minutes later, I was on the outskirts of the oil refineries in Linden, separated from Staten Island (New York City) by the narrow puke strip that is the Arthur Kill, arguably the most polluted and ugliest waterway in North America. The New Jersey Turn Pike parallels the runways of Newark International Airport (now renamed Liberty International, like some kind of dopey Disney character) and the massive cranes of Port Newark. Although I’m sure renaming this most dignified of the Metropolitan area’s three airports (Kennedy, formerly Idlewild, is another, and the hellish La Guardia is the third) was a scheme of the NY/NJ Port Authority, the Garden State has some of the most pretentious monikers for the most confined regions to be found in the most densely populated square-footage in all humanity, including the alleys of New Dehli. My favorite is “The Skylands,” billed as New Jersey’s “Great Northwest.” This entire area is about the size of five family farms in Nebraska. And if you have a free week to tour it, try riding five miles on Route 15 at 5pm on any Friday night.

The mechanical wonder of the area surrounding greater Newark is a mixture of amazing things built by man, in an environment that was the inspiration for Tolkien’s Mordor. The cranes that unload container ships in Port Newark are among the largest moving structures on earth. The ships are almost on the shoulder of the Turn Pike. Landing aircraft at Newark seem to race the traffic less than a hundred yards away. Railroad lift bridges of the oddest configuration, some with three levels of tracks, are stacked next to each other like beach chairs in a mad confusion of black iron. The majestic Pulaski Skyway, built in 1932, stretches 11 miles from Newark to Jersey City like a noose. My brother, Jerry, got to Paris before I did. The first thing I asked him was, “What is the Eiffel Tower like?” His response, “Imagine the Pulaski Skyway sticking straight up in the air.”

Above -- The Pulaski Skyway stretches 11 miles from Newark, NJ, to Jersey City, NJ, like a noose. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

Yet it was here that my fears started to get the best of me. The fastest way to get to the heart of Jersey City was from Exit 15e... Which leads to two poorly placed lift bridges, built in 1932. (One has four lanes of traffic, and the other has six.) I remember both as having steel decks, and one with the approach ramps from the Turn Pike going into a right angle turn, terminating at a “Yield” sign, at the deck’s edge.

I hate shit like this.

But a gap in traffic magically appeared and I was on the first bridge in the blink of an eye. Amazingly enough, the steel deck had been replaced by a paved roadway. No problamo. I started to laugh in my helmet. And then I was on the second bridge, sandwiched between two trucks, on a steel deck that was a slippery as the cross-examination of my second wife’s divorce lawyer. I hit it doing 55 mph, and I was over the deck in a second or two. It had been 30 years since I last rode a motorcycle over this particular bridge.

Above -- The Communipaw Avenue lift bridge was built in 1932. It spans the Hackensack River with a steel grate deck that is six lanes wide. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

The first traffic light brought me to the intersection of Rt. 440 and Communipaw Ave. in Jersey City. I learned how to ride a motorcycle in Jersey City, I can assure all of you it is a highly over-rated experience. Riding down West Side Avenue, and then Kennedy Boulevard on Sunday, prompted me to think, "This is some shit for the birds."

One forgets the genteel nature of Jersey City. Arriving at the parking lot recommended by my brother, the attendant greeting me warmly by saying, "No motorcycle parking... Get that fucking thing outta here."

My first inclination was to return this typical Jersey City salutation with a cheery, "How about I get off this bike and shove that stupid little gate up your ass." But I didn't think that would help the situation. Instead, I showed the man a ten-spot, which is all he wanted in the first place. Three minutes later, I was parked five feet from the elevator leading directly to my mother's floor. We had a pleasant three-hour visit.

When I departed at 8:30pm, it was full night. Still, I had no trouble retracing my route to the New Jersey Turnpike (in Newark). At the toll booth, however, the automated ticketing device refused to issue me a toll ticket. There is a doorbell button on the machine to signal trouble.

I pressed it.

I pressed it again.

I pressed it 25 times.

I pressed it and held it down for 25 seconds.

Then I started to scream, “You fucking assholes," at the top of my lungs to unseen members of this state authority. This resulted in a fifteen-minute delay, during which they undoubtedly debated whether I wanted them to fuck assholes, or if I meant they were the assholes. This is the stuff of debate in New Jersey. Throughout all this time, there was no traffic behind me. I backed the bike all the way out of the booth, and tried coming through again. It was a that point the machine issued me a ticket.

Swinging onto the New Jersey TurnPike proper (I-95 South), I switched on the deadly HID (High Intensity Discharge) lights that I had installed over the summer. The night pavement held no secrets. It was like riding through an operating room. Their effects intensified on the darker stretches below Exit 8. A car slid into my lane (typical Jersey) and got in front of me with about 6 feet to spare. He lasted 30 seconds. My lights made an x-ray of the driver’s head on the windshield of his car.

Now the temperature was 56º when I left the house in the afternoon. It was 13º cooler now. I was wearing my Joe Rocket ballistic jacket over a long sleeve shirt. I didn’t think to put the liner in the jacket, nor to bring it in a saddlebag. The cold began to creep into my joints from my extremities. But I didn’t care. The road was clear... I was going like hell... My lights were effective... The moon was out and looking very cool... And my clutch... What the hell was the matter with the clutch?

It was just before 10pm, and I pulled into the Harriet Tampon Rest Area, just below Exit 8a. (I forget what Harriet Tampon invented, but New Jersey is impressed with it.) The clutch was clunky and uneven. The bike changed gears easily enough, but something odd was happening at the caliper end. I sensed a strange kind of binding, and then I knew: the cable was breaking. I didn’t panic. I counted to 10 and said:


I carry a spare clutch cable with me -- all the time. I have the required tools -- all the time. I have a flashlight -- all the time. But I don’t know how to install a clutch cable. It might just as well have been a nuclear reactor core or a Jarvic 7 artificial heart. I had heard of guys riding these bikes great distances, and shifting without a clutch. If necessary, I could figure it out too. But maybe it would hold. At least as far as Pennsylvania.

It did.

I babied it, thinking I could get as far as Valley Forge.

I did.

I thought, “What the hell? It’s only 9 more miles to East Goshen. Maybe my luck will hold?”

It did. It held until I parked the bike in the garage. And it is still holding.

Fellow Mac Pac member Brian Curry dropped by two days later to show me how to install a clutch cable... But there was nothing wrong with the one I had. The pin holding the caliper to the handlebars was missing, however. The caliper assembly was being held together solely by the tension on the cable. I looped a cable tie through the opening as to such time when I can get the appropriate OEM parts tomorrow.

It was a nice ride for me... 212.5 miles alone... With 106.25 in the dark.

Nothing special for most of you. But look at all the stuff I got out of it.

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


Gary said...

Good ride!!!

Unknown said...

Jack "r":

I was on pins and needles hoping that the clutch cable would hold. And it did, and you got home safely.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Nikos said...


This article has given me some morbid hope that my so called "Advanced Motorcycle Test" this Saturday in damp leaf strewn industrial England will at least be a learning experience.
At this point I'm shitting myself .
Keep it (all) up


RichardM said...

Another great story. Thank you for taking us along for the ride. And the clutch problems at night added to the suspense.

redlegsrides said...

Dammit Jack, now I am going to be late for work...saw your posting and the clutch portion had me sticking around instead of finishing the report at work!

Great post....very descriptive words used for the "parade of douchebags". Don't sell yourself short on the exploration bit, I am sure you and the indian guide Sacajawea would have gotten along "famously".

Third year of putting up with you? We really have to put in that nomination for sainthood for Stiffy.

Again, outstanding ride and reporting if we can only get you to stop and place the K75 in front of that scenery you mined from Wikipedia......


cpa3485 said...

I have been on double secret probation for 31 wonderful years.
I somehow doubt that New Jersey is like Tolkien's Mordor, but your description of it conjures up a lot of images of Orcs, Nazgul and the "Eye" of Sauron.
Since you are from New Jersey, are you an Orc?
I have never seen that "Tear of Grief", its really something to see.
Great read Jack. Sounds like a great ride with a little adventure thrown in.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Gary:

Thank you... Actually, it was a good ride. I had a lot of fun pushing the envelope on this run. At least pushing it for me.

I have two other rides planned for this week.

Thank ytou for reading this tripe, and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

I have had a number of discussions with real long-distance BMW riders who have experienced a broken clutch cable at some point in their lives. All explained how the bike can easily be shifted without a clutch. However, I didn't want to find out in the dark.

Also, on any real serious ride, where a clutch cable failure could be an eventuality, many BMW riders simply thread a spare cable trough the bike -- alongside the functioning one -- requiring only a quick connect in the event of a problem.

That would not have helped last weekend. And it is still a mystery how that pin got knocked out. It literally has to be tapped out with a hammer.

Thanks for reading and for commenting today.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

I took my licensing test during the first week in April. The temperature was 36º (F), barely above freezing, and it was pissing down rain. The test bike was the legendary hunk of shit -- the Buell Blast.

The Buell was a much better choice than the bikes offered by the state... And the instructor, a motorcycle cop, said to me, "Lean that sucker over on the wet pavement. It won't slip and you'll be amazed at your control in the turns. I was.

My guess is that you'll do fine in the advanced level. Don't give it a second thought. Let me know how you make out.

Fondest regaards Etc.
Jsck • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Richard:

Thank you for your kind note. I'm doing an overnight down to Maryland, this weekend, with a stop at Gettysburg for lunch. I realize this seems out of character for me, but I waited all summer for the cooler weather, and I don't want to miss a single opportunity to ride.

Thank you for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Domingo):

I am not big on stopping in traffic to snap a picture or two, generally because: there is no shoulder, I have a pain in my ass, or I went by the picture at red line.

But if you pull over on the shoulder around Newark Airport or Port Newark you can expect to be questioned by security people. The NJ Turn Pike is 12 to 14 lanes wide at that point, and traffic is insane.

I was so anxious about the bridges with the steel decks, that I was going to go 10 miles out of my way to get on the Pulaski Skyway. The "Skyway" was built in 1932. All of the entrance ramps (except two) are from the left lane, from a dead stop, as traffic comes from behind, around a blind backstop, doing 60 or 70 miles per hour.

You have to wait in line to get killed in Hudson County.

I have only been on Double Secret Probation for three years. Stiffie and I hasve been together for ten. Longer than any of my marriages.

I intend to take more pictures on future rides.

Thanks for the kind note. You hsave real adventures... I have to make due.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo):

I dare you to stand at the intersection of the "State Highway" where it intersects with Kennedy Boulevard, in Jersey City, and not tell me the view to west is a vision of Mordor, or hell.

At that point, you are looking at two coal-fired power plants, a gas works, endless chemical plants, closed factories, crumbling piers, radio stations with collapsed towers, no less than five landfills (15 stories high), a number of high-priority toxic super-fund sites, and a brown smudge line suspended in the air like a ribbon, indicating the exhaust cloud over the New Jersey Turnpike.

The area is lovingly referred to as the cancer strip, as neighboring communities have the highest levels of leukemia in the country.

I am going to get a picture of this specifically for you. In the Tolkien trilogy, I am Barleyman Butterbur, the bartender at "The Prancing Pony."

I have also been deeply involved for 34 years, but with 84 women.

Always a pleasure, Jimbo...
Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

sgsidekick said...

Huh. You sure had US buffaloed. Bugser and I thought you an intrepid explorer with how you were able to quickly scout out that town and find the only restaurant that would tolerate having the 4 of us in the same room at the same time! Nope. Sorry. You'll not get us to think you a chickenshit...unless it's about spiders, and there I'll join you!

Sounds like a nice, fun ride you had. It's always an adventure with/for you, isn't it? *lol*

Picinisco said...

Is it just me or is the Tears Of Grief thing kind of sexual looking.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear SgSidekick (Tena):

Adventure is where you find it... The trick is to go out looking -- and to keep your eyes open. In my case, it seems to find me... Especially when I'm determined to mind my own business (which isn't often).

Thank you for dropping by, and for commenting. It's like getting a birthday card but a lot more often.

Fondest regards,
Jsck • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Picinisco:

It seems I've had one thing on my mind since I saw this monument. Then again, I saw a man in a boat last week, and had the same thing on my mind. The week before that, it was a taco. I think its just a case of life imitating desire.

Thank you for reading my blog and for dropping by. What kind of bike do you ride?

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Stabbing the All Seeing Eye, Ihor said...

John,no description or horrified criticism can match or approach the realities that the region you traversed harbors. Both in depth and intensity, name any movie scene from LOTR, Terminator 4, Alien, The Matrix, The Road Warrior,...(stop me before the list overtops this blog's word capacity),nothing from any screen writer's or director's imagination can come close to depicting the soul crushing madness that confronts any visitor to or inhabitant of the place that shall remain nameless. The depiction of Mordor in the LOTR was insufficient and amaturish when compared with the real thing, Mordor is North Jersey Lite!!

Anyone disagree?
I didn't think so.
Now I will howl in despair and rock myself until the images fade, then only to return with consciousness.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

It's hard for someone not from here to understand what it means to cram 1,000,000 people into an area smaller than 5 square miles.., The kind of traffic this creates... Imagine the City of Key West with 1,000,000 people, require 30 different bus routes, 5 commuter train routes, a subway, and a trolley, surrounded by the wreckage of waterfront heavy industry -- including refineries. It is dificult t even conceive of the gaebage and human waste this generates.

It's hard to conceive of Weehawken... Twelve blocks long, 5 blocks wide, and a population in excess of 14,000. Or Guttenburg, which is half that size and has 4,000 residents in one high-rise complex.

We never the saw the downside, until we were on the outside looking in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Allen Madding said...


Glad you splained the tear thing. On first blush, I thought it was a memorial to the guy who created the mercury switch widely used in thermostats.

I too was on pins and needles regarding the clutch cable. "Will an adult male show up and change the cable for him?", "Will the cable break and his body be discovered deboweled in a rest stop?", "Will the engine have to be removed to replace a clutch cable on a BMW?" My mind was racing.

I was greatly relieved to learn it was simply a missing link pin. I trust you know someone who can insert a new one into the hole and secure it when a replacement can be shipped over from Germany.

Glad to know the airport search lights you mounted on the bike are coming in handy. I am giving the cage driver the benefit of the doubt for cutting you off so closely. I am guessing he didn't see you *cough* *cough*

Glad you got home safely and gald you found an excuse to cop a feel of the significant other.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Allen Madding:

The process for changing out a clutch cable on a BMW K75 takes about 25 minutes. The part is $21 and they have them in bushel baskets at nearly all BMW dealers.

However, it wouldn't have made a difference to me if they were growing on trees. I didn't have a clue, and still don't, on how these suckers get installed. And there is some doubt in the riding circles I hang with that I will figure out how to mount the retaining pin in the caliper either.

There is a lot of controversy over the "Tear of Grief" monument. There were questions regarding its design, its implemention, and even its placement (which is the apparent equivalent of an industrial landfill, in Bayone, NJ) It took me an hour to get directions to this place on the internet.

Three miles away from this gift of the Russian people, is a gift of Polish War Vets... It is a statue of a Polish Cavalry officer with a Russian bayonette i his back. (I kid you not.) Hudson County, NJ is a strange place. And it's where I gre up.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

With a twinge of agony, Ihor said...

I'm on the outside in the fashion of a corrections officer when it comes to Mordor, a reference which I have shared with many of my colleagues. I think that the WEB contains many photos of the Polish Vets' monument for any whose disbelief needs correcting. You could supply one when another tale of this region comes to mind and you force feed it to the readers of your excellent blog. Some of the loyal have been to these environs, but many are far removed and haven't a clue of the wonders that are contained in this most densely populated corner of the US.
COME VISIT EVERYONE, the more the merrier!! Meet with John and he'll be your Virgil. Dante would be sequel inspired or shown how amateurish his attempt was if he could come by.

Geographically speaking, Ihor said...

The total area of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic, and Union counties is 741 square miles. LA is 470. If you subtract the water hazzards and the remaining verger and the 'idealized' portions, it's nearly a match in size. This should help paint a picture for the unfamiliar readers.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

The last time I visited the Polish Vet's monument was back in January, of 2008. I included it in the blog I wrote. A picture of the monument can be found in the the blog:

Jersey City is a wonderful place... But it cetainly as the dog shit and broken glass capital of the world. And while some parts of it are gentrified, and others are capped with towering chrome and glass, its original Dickensian nature remains intact.

My brother still lives there and he loves it. I used to think he was nuts. But he has a strong attachment to the 300 years of history that stain the place.

Fondest regards,
Jasck • reep • Toad

Conchscooter said...

I am astonished you have a mother who still agrees to have you visit.You make the New Jersey Turnpike sound fascinating, I will want to ride it with you (and bobskoot) in the spring. By the way Harriet Tampon invented the elevator commonly attributed to her husband Otis.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conch:

I gimped into my mother's place and said, "Hi, Mama."

Her response was, "Shut up. I rue the day I ever taught you to talk. How do you ride that motorcycle without getting it jammed up your ass?"

We grew up tough.

Bobskoot would go into shock after 10 miles on the New Jersey TurnPike. The ten miles I have in mind are from the Ridgefield Park interchange to 13A, just after Newark Airport. Mother Theresa did this same route in a limo, and spent the next two weeks kicking cats.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

RossK6 said...

Thanks, Jack. Another entertaining read. I have to say that whenever I have to ride on steel bridge decking, I too get a certain sense of apprehension...usually a general feeling of vacuum in my stomach that quickly sinks to my testicles...not good at all.

MattPie said...

Jack, I'm not sure if I should be honored or horrified to be mentioned in the blog. For one thing, I can no longer deny that I know you, nor can I deny that I enjoy riding with you. :)

I can vouch for Jack's personal Mordor. I had a friend that moved to Jersey City several years ago and, oddly enough, lived a block or two from Jack's childhood home. It's everything Jack says it is, and more.

BMW-Dick said...

What a great adventure, riding in the fucking dark on the fucking NJ turnpike with all the fucking drunks and fucking druggies headed home to catch a couple of hours of sleep before running off to work or to the fucking unemployment office in the morning. Glad you made it in one large piece.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear RossK6;

Four or five years ago, I would have ridden miles out of my way to avoid a bridge with a steel-grate deck. Then I got to a pont where these were "okay" if they weren't too long and I could hit them straight on at about 50 miles per hour (on a dry day).

The turning point came on a ride to the Jersey Shore with Al Luna and Mack Harrell. I got stuck at the gate of a draw bridge with a steel grate and had to go over it slowly when the gate was raised.

Since then, I have never really given these a second thought. Provided the weather is dry. Yet the two bridges in this story are unusual for several reasons. Access to the first is screwy and outright dangerous. Traffic on the second is aggressive and six lanes wide, with vehicles scrambing to line up with exits that begin almost on the other side.

There is another drawbridge with a steel grate deck on Rt. 3, about 8 miles from these, with approaches to Route 21 that were designed in 1932, when cars did 40 mph. Rt. 3 is now the most heavily traveled road in the state, with traffic hitting that bridge at 70 mph.

They don't make it easy.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Matt:

See what you missed by not saying, "Okay, Fatass, I'll meet you at noon instead of nine!"

I have run into some problems this past week with my left arm, which is not working like it is supposed to. It went from fine, to zip, in which case I couldn't pick up a cup of coffee.

But it seems to be getting better now. I am going to do this New York run in another few weeks.Maybe you'll be up fir that one.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep •Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dick:

I never let the nature of the crowed get me down.

Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Lance said...

Great post Jack. Sorry about your clutch and ticket booth problems. The Tear of Grief monument really impacted me - thanks for sharing this.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Lance:

It was a fun ride... And what made it fun was seeing my mom, covering some distance, letting the horses run, and playing with my lights. I hope to get three more rides in this month, if I can get this preoblem with my arm straightened out.

Thank you for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Unknown said...

Jack "r":

We don't have grated bridge decks up here, but on those bridges in the Gorge (Oregon/Washington), my bike got caught up in the death spiral and it was hard to control going forward in a straight line. I'm not looking forward to going over them again soon.


bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Rob Haut said...


Good ride you had. I'd like to join you someday in a NJ ride. I remember going through north Jersey as a kid on our way to my cousins in Bayonne (a city that makes Jersey City look good). We always held our noses when we passed the refineries; Ah memories of New Jersey.

Rob Haut

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

While I have yet to ride over a really long bridge with a steel deck, say a mile in length or longer, I have discovered the short ones are really no problem, provided they are dry. The trick is to let that front wheel move around a bit, but not too much, and not to panic.

Still, I find myself thinking about them.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Rob H:

Your company would be welcome at any time. Did you ever go to joint on Rt. 3 in Clifton (NJ) called Rutt's Hutt. They have deep fried hot dogs and a bar straight out of the Great Depression. The place has been there since the 30's.

I want to orgaanize a hot dog run up there.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

RoadTrip said...


Just found your blog and really enjoy the sarcastic babble. I've learned so much from you about life, motorcycles, and the wonders of the female anatomy...and I'm only through October. I notice that most of your trips keep you within 200 miles of home, is that a condition of parole?

Keep 'em coming and stop in sometime at I'll try to keep up, but you're a handful.