Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?

I once promised my gentle readers that I would occasionally run guest blog episodes by credible authors. It was my intention to solicit well-written stories by riders who had accrued valuable experiences through thousands of miles of challenging rides. That was the plan. I have since discovered that my colleagues have no problem sharing their harrowing adventures with me (provided I’m buying the drinks), and doing the writing. This tale was told to me by one of the more colorful members of the Mac Pac -- DucDude. It is true to the details as he explained them to me. (The Mac Pac is the premier chartered BMW riding club serving southeast Pennsylvania.)

The minute hand seemed to move slower and slower as the day progressed, until finally, in the last hour of toil before the official start of the weekend, it seemed glued to the face of the clock. The man known to his friends as DucDude (acknowledging his preference for exotic Italian motorcycles) was immersed in the data on his computer screen. To the casual viewer, it appeared as if he was lost in some complex scientific text. In reality, the man was reading some internet tripe on telekinesis, and attempting to focus his mind on the clock’s minute hand, in an effort to make it skip. DucDude wanted out of the office and onto his bike pronto. He was a man with a primal mission.

Friday night was date night... It was DucDude’s opportunity to shine in the candle-light of an intimate dinner... To glow in the cleverness of a well-delivered line... To see his true self reflected in the eyes of a beautiful woman... And just possibly, to con that same women into throwing him a tumble, which would make all the preliminary stuff a smart investment in carnal satisfaction. The fact that he’d recently missed a couple of Fridays only added to his sense of urgency. With forty-five minutes left to go in the workday, DucDude sat in his cubicle, pounding away at his keyboard — while wearing his helmet, gloves, and Aerostitch leathers.

(Above) DucDude puts his 1997 Ducati 748 Desmo Quattro through its paces on track day. He named the bike "Mio Limone" after a small town in southern Italy. Photo provided by DucDude.

The stroke of five launched him through corporate corridors and lobbies like Cupid’s torpedo. He mounted the 1997 Ducati 748 Desmo Quattro, fired it up, and roared into traffic in one practiced, fluid movement. Enhanced by a muffler the size of an industrial oxygen canister, the Ducati’s exhaust screamed in defiance as DucDude twisted the throttle with a vengeance. The seemingly seamless yellow bodywork gave the bike a golden aura, as it darted through traffic like a predatory burst of sunlight. The bike’s engine started out as a 748cc powerhouse, but the rider had it bored out to an exacting 855cc nuclear reactor. The slight buzzing sensation in the grips belied the fact there was power in reserve long before the tach needle would goose the red line.

(Above) DucDude demonstrates the classic riding position he assumed throughout most of this story. DucDude is a loyal customer of Duct Tape, which is often used as an external fastener on his Ducati. The last time I saw this bike, it was on a trailer behind my Suburban. Photo supplied by DucDude.

There were three traffic lights separating DucDude from the relative freedom of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. He got stuck at all of them. Nevertheless, he kept the revs up to leap forward when the signals turned green, and to keep the Ducati from sounding like marbles rattling around in a coffee can at the bike’s standard idle. (Once before, when stopped at a long light, cage drivers all around him craned their necks to try and determine whose car was eating its valves. Another biker once advised him that adding a quart of oil might reduce the valve and cam clatter.)

Snatching his turnpike ticket from a machine, “Ducky” (as he is known to his few friends) worked the throttle like it was the bow to the violin from hell. His goal was to surf the surge of rush hour traffic, keeping slightly ahead of the snarling masses building behind him. He had eight high-speed miles to go. He covered them in 5 minutes. With visions of quimm dancing like sugar plums in his head, he skidded the bike to a stop at a toll booth under a grimy green light.

The booth’s occupant was a woman who was so fat, her body had taken on the shape and proportions of her container.

“It was both amazing and terrifying,” said DucDude, his voice expressing both shock and awe. “Here was a woman who would have been hard on the eyes under normal circumstances, confined in a vertical aquarium, with her face pressed flat against the glass. The enormous pressures outlined her ferret-like facial features with jowls flattened to the diameter of a round garbage can cover.”

“Eighty-five cents,” mouthed the ghastly maw, after DucDude passed her the toll ticket, making sure his hand remained full inserted in the armored riding glove.

He dutifully opened the back pocket of his tank bag (a male Ducati rider’s substitute for a change purse) and counted out two quarters, three dimes, and a nickel. Yet in handing them over to the toll beast, a dime rolled off the glove and disappeared under the bike.

“I said eighty-five cents,” said the creature.

“I gave you eighty-five cents,” said DucDude, who was beginning to wonder if her saliva would dissolve the glass just like the monster spit burned through metal in the movie classic “Alien.”

“You gave me seventy-five cents,” insisted the talking flesh bag.

“You want me to get off the bike and get you a dime,” asked our hero, surmising the ten-cent piece was on the ground.

The woman replied with a gesture that was half nod and half hiss, making her face look like a sucker on the tentacle of a giant squid. Scared shitless, DucDude jumped off the bike and rummaged around on the ground, where he collected an unspecified amount of loose change, far in excess of a dime.

“Here, take this,” he said, tossing the collection into the toll booth.

“You’re paying me with my money,” she shrieked. “You owe me a dime!”

Despite the fact that every inch of the toll booth’s interior was filled with seething flesh, DucDude was afraid the little door would open and he too would be sucked inside. He realized the Ghastlyville Horror never saw the dime drop, and would only be satisfied with another one from his tank bag. Accordingly, he started to count out ten pennies, which only served to infuriate the woman/thing even more.

Meanwhile, the rush hour traffic that had been far behind him had now caught up. The line of cars stretched from the toll booth to the rings of Saturn. It was when they all started to blow their horns that the toll operator waved him on.

DucDude loaded the clutch with a farewell message of torque and let it out with a smile that elegantly said, “Shove it up your ass.” The Ducati launched itself with another mighty roar, and all might have been well, except that the rider felt something graze his left knee. Looking down, he realized that the back pocket of his tank bag was open, and that all his cash for the night, and his identification badge from work, had blown out onto the pavement.

“Fuccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkk,” he screamed into his helmet.

With the reflexes of a puma, DucDude guided the bike through two lanes of traffic, parked it on the stiletto of a sidestand (for what passed as the shoulder), and threw himself into the automotive melee in pursuit of his cash. The wind, aided by the turbulence of passing cars, unraveled his bank roll into individual tens and twenties, before flying them like little green kites.

(Above) DucDude unveiled... He wanted a picture of his bike with the legendary "Fireballs" in the background. Photo by Tom Byrum.

DucDude is a great rider, but above all, he is a man. Therefore, he had calculated the exact minimum amount of cash it would take to precipitate the sex act that evening (two entrees, the cheap dessert, and an even cheaper bottle of wine), and was watching his chances of copulation success diminish with each passing breeze. It was literally “going with the wind.” With a ferocity that no one would have suspected, he rounded up all but twenty or so dollars, and was just in time to see the fiftieth car run over his identification badge from work. He grabbed this too, but his picture looked like it had been given the rubber stamp of approval from Goodyear.

The last straw, or so he thought, was the mocking face of the hag under glass, who had witnessed the whole thing.

DucDude was about halfway back to the bike, when he noticed that it appeared to be leaning at a very aggressive angle. The Ducati seemed to shiver, as its sidestand pierced the hot, softened asphalt, and the stately machine crashed to the ground.

“Fuccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkk,” screamed DucDude for the second time in ten minutes.

Fortunately, the bike’s fall was broken by the seamless yellow fairing, which fractured in three dozen places. Yet the last sound my friend heard was the hard crack of his helmet, striking the pavement next to his bike. I told him he should have saved the dime. In the long run, it was worth about $1,100.

I’d been invited to a party at the home of another Mac Pac member, that was held poolside in a yard that had been carved out of a little hillside. When it came time to leave, my arthritis refused to cooperate. I had to climb a flight of uneven stone stairs, sans handrail. As ever, my fear was of falling in the company of savage close friends, who would rush to my aid, before tormenting me forever. I began my upward climb, convinced that I’d be pitched into the crowd in two seconds flat, when a voice said, “I’m right behind you, Lard Ass. Lean on my shoulder if you want to. I won't let you won’t fall.”

That was DucDude.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2010
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)


Conchscooter said...

A great story. The only disappointment is hearing you snicker in the back ground.None of this would have happened to a properly sorted BMW rider would it?

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sir:

It will undoubtedly burn your ass to know that DucDude also has two BMW's one of which is a lovingly restored R/5 "Toaster."

The bit about DucDude coming up behind me on the stairs is absolutely true too. He is very accomplished rider who once told me it was unlikely we would ever do a long day together. (We have now done about five.) But as he tells it, 30 miles with me is a long day.

The Mac Pac rocks.

Thank you for reading my blog and for embracing my life's philosophy.

Fondest regards,.
Jack • reep • Toad

Anonymous said...


Oops, I should have capitalized that.

Ducdude never left a dollar behind.

Rubber Chicken Shit

Gary said...

I also know the value of a brother and I were going to Chicago with my mother in a VW beetle. We were 15 and 13. Beetle stopped dead. My brother having played with motors, found the points had broken, wedged a dime in the distributor and we continued on another 250 miles to Chicago.......

Great story DucDude!
Gary Christman

RichardM said...

A great story and from the pictures, a beautiful bike. I don't think I've ever seen one in real life. At least not standing still. (the bike not me)

Anonymous said...

Dear Chicken Shit,

I assure you I did indeed leave a dollar behind, $1100 of them actually. This was at the 476/276 interchange w/ 87 lanes of toll traffic cramming into 4 travel lanes at warp speeds. Even with the full body armor I did not stand a chance in that tumult looking for my errant cash..


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Anonymous:

It's so hard to tell if this comment is authentic.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Gary:

DucDude is a master story-teller.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Richard Machida:

Support for this story will lead to an official appeal for the manufacture of yellow duct tape.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

BMW-Dick said...

Dear Jack:
What a delight to read something on your blog that isn't Riepe-centric.

Ducdude is a Mac-Pac icon. Thank you for not shattering his image as you might have with others.

Did he get lucky later that evening, or was it a Reeper-like adventure?

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dick:

You ducked the fire this time. You might not be so lucky in the immediate future.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

redlegsrides said...

a great story, brilliantly retold and given the Riepe treatment....I hate tollbooths, and remember the ones in the NE portion of the empire with disgust.

Here, the only tollway is now automatic, they send you a bill if you're not registered with them...much better.

BTW, DucDude, I think they make yellow tape though I know you'd never put that on that beautiful Ducati fairing....

To make you feel better, I offer you a view of this vintage ducati:
Ducati Iron in Denver



Redleg's Rides

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

DucDude told me this story a year ago, and I promised I get right on it. He's been reading my blog every day for a year waiting to see his name in print.

Yesterday, he told me I write as slowly as I ride my bike.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Unknown said...


great story esp with the "riepe" treatment.

we need more colaborations.

I still have visions of that toll collector

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

cpa3485 said...

I love the story! Your descriptions made me feel like I was actually there staring at the horrendous creature in the toll booth. My use of language would have been real similar.
Thanks DucDude and Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

Thank God I am surrounded by guys who really do ride motorcycles, otherwise I'd have nothing to say. I got hung up in an automated toll booth in New Jersey, just waiting for the ticket, and I was ready to scream.

But DucDude's story was unusually moving in its intensity, and in the savagery of its ending. And if you think my version of its telling was funny, you have to see the look on DucDude's face when he tells it.

Thanks for reading and for writing in. It's going to be quiet arounf here with you in Hawaii. What branch of the government in canada pays for vacations?

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo):

DucDude's story represents just one of the many tales I have heard in Mac Pac riding circles. You know the routine: the more you ride, the more you are likely to experience something strange, unusual, romantic, or just adventurous.

Put 'em all together and you have an endless series of blogs. And the best stories are the ones that are absolutely true.

I just heard the weather report for you neck of the woods. Damn that sounds cold.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

John said...

I have had a bike go over on the side of the road. It was on a center stand, but one side was gravel on mud, the other was gravel on asphalt. No sucks worse. Except having an audience watching you try to pick it up only to fail because your riding boots have no traction on the wet asphalt. Thankfully a trucker helped me. Didn't cost me a cent either.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear John (C.):

We've all had one get away from us. I dropped my first BMW (Blueballs) in a Wendy's parking lot at lunch time. I swear 200 people just sat there watching me get that K75 upright.

One weekend after taking the accident management course, I was out running around with a couple of club riders, and I leaned the bike against a gas pump. All I thought was, "Thamk God no one in this crew saw that."

Well Kimi Bush did... And she started yelling, "Don't move him nor touch his helmet. I have been trained to do this."

I'm sure you cam imagine the gentle and good natured DucDude going through this on the Turnpike?

Thanks for reading and for leaving a comment.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Anonymous said...

Actually, I have a great toll booth story. It was about 1977 in January. I was heading back to school in Iowa to do my last year of undergraduate studies. Yes, I was a poor college student and the only help my parents were able to afford me was the gift of my mother's 1963 Dodge Dart, automatic with a slant six engine. It had about 140000 miles on it and it didn't start well in the cold because it needed a fresh timing chain which none of us could afford. But worst of all, it was out of inspection.
When I was ready to leave the farm in Pennsylvania to go to Iowa, it had quite a bit of snow and ice on the windshield which covered up the out of date inspection sticker. I thought "Hey!, that's great. I'll leave the snow and ice and if I can just get out of Pennsylvania and across the Ohio line, It won't be noticed by out of state Troopers."
As I made my way west, much to my dismay, I noticed that the snow and ice which was proteting me during my illegal run, was evaporating in the wind. After a hundred miles or so, my illegal inspection sticker was there for all the Troopers to see. I worried and watched as I made my way over the next few hours toward the Ohio state line.
Finaly I see the toll booth in sight and I think I'm home free. I move toward the toll booth at the far right lane thinking that will be the farthest from the view of the majority of the authorities. And as I get closer, I see what appears to be a young and quite shapely ticket taker in the booth. Wow, great luck! Then when it is too late to do anything else but procede, I see that standing behind her in the booth is a tall, handsome Pennsylvania state trooper. OH, CRAP! As I get closer and she leans out the booth to collect my ticket and money, I glance over her shoulder to see his eyes locked in a coveting look at her attractive assets. I made it back to school with a laugh and not another worry. Rod Irwin

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Roddy:

Thank you for reading my post and for checking in.

But you are once again proving my point that threre is one guy in every crowd who can relate any experience to sex.

How do you think your story is going to make DucDude feel?

You get Miss America in your toll booth, who aags her ass in the face of the US justice system (to aid your lawlessness), when poor DucDude is tortured by a beast.

Well, in truth, he probably deserved it.

It's always great to hear from you Roddy. We need to ride together soon. (Actually, we have never ridden together.)

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Unknown said...

Jack "r":

You can't get rid of me that easily. Regulations do not permit ANY carry on luggage so I am being inventive. I am bringing a small netbook but I don't think there is WiFi where we are, I have to go to the lobby. Of course I will be taking lots of photos and video and purchased another external pocket drive to bring with me. I hope you don't notice if I wear the same thing every day. I am travelling very light. Of course the people I meet won't know unless I stand too close

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

dead_elvis said...

Behold, "nuclear-grade" yellow duct tape:

Adhesively Ihor said...

Duct tape comes in yellow(and red for that matter). Lousy place to loose a dime, and the scattered change didn't belong to the Kraken in the box, not until it's in the till. Fine remote controlled tale DucDude. Hope stairs stop being an issue this year Riep.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

These are the rgulations as I presently understand them:

Effective immediately, passengers headed to the United States will not be allowed to travel with carry-on bags, Transport Canada said in a statement.

ALLOWED on board will be the following: medication or medical devices, small purses, cameras, coats, items for care of infants, LAPTOP COMPUTERS, crutches, canes, walkers, containers carrying life sustaining items, a special needs item, musical instruments, or diplomatic or consular bags.

The United States government has revised its security arrangements for all customers travelling into the US.

Only one item of hand luggage is allowed for all passengers travelling to the US from Heathrow, Gatwick or London City. This applies to passengers whose journey originates in London, as well as those who are transferring flights. They are advised to check-in as normal.

Passengers travelling to destinations outside the United States or from the United States are not affected.

So you can bring a laptop and keep us thrilled with the adventures of your pink crocs in Hawaii.

Have a good trip.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dead Elvis:

Welcome aboard to Twisted Roads, the motorcycle blog dedicated to raw adventure and romance like broken glass.

There is nothing that duct tape can't fix... Except maybe a weekend in Camden, NJ. I flashed back to your site... I am going to ride the Natchex Trace before I die.

Thank you for reading my blog, and for leaving an informative comment.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Adhesively Ihor:

Toll booths are trying places to manage a motorcycle. All that crap that drips off the bottoms of hot cars coagulates in that narrow place and tends to coat the tires with oooky lubricant. And when you put your feet down, your boots get covered with all that shit too.

I thought DucDude showed remarkable reserve.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Unknown said...

Jack "r":

I should have known to consult yourself as being the "expert" on these matters for the business traveller.

I will be wearing my photographers' vest stuffed with electronic gizmos and carrying my netbook bag .

The YVR airport authority has ordered 44 of those naked scanner machines, perhaps they have a more pocketable model for your own personal use. Since these new machines are not yet delivered I understand there is a new procedure for going through security which starts with shoe and sock removal as you enter the first turnstile with graduated removals until you arrive at the airplane portal where you will be able to re-clothe before boarding. I'll keep you posted

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Inquisitively, Ihor said...

Wouldn't an EZ pass solve the trouble of stopping at the toll? Do most or any motorcyclists subscribe to EZ pass or is it not worth the trouble to mount the transponder? Would the car model just move to the two wheeler without a second thought? I don't have EZ myself, just curious.

Anonymous said...

Inquisitively Ihor,

I do now indeed have EZ pass on all the bikes. At the time of the story, laptop computers were a tool for the super rich and Gordon Gekko was the only one who had a portable cell phone.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Jaroslav:

I do not have an EZ Pass on my bike yet, but I will probably get one next spring. My knees are such that I do not object to stopping for a few seconds and putting them down. When I stop, I open my helmet, remove a glove, pull the ticket out of the special pocket, count out the money, then replace the glove, close the helmet and go.

I seldom get a hard time from cars behind me. I ony need to get my feet down for a few a minute or so to bend my knees. However, as the weather gets warmer, sitting in a line of cars and moving two feet at a tme to get up to the toll is a bitch.

Fondest regards,
Jack • Reep • Toad

Unknown said...

Jack "r":

The correct procedure for a biker at the toll booth is:

- pull up to the attendant
- shut off engine
- put kickstand down
- dismount bike
- remove gloves
- remove jacket
- reach into back pocket for wallet
- pull out required toll fee
- if no correct change pull out bill
- pay attendant
- obtain ticket
- put ticket in tank bag
- obtain change from attendant
- reach into pocket for change purse
- put change purse in pocket
- put on jacket
- put on gloves
- mount bike
- raise kickstand
- check everthing is secure
- then start bike
- and depart

any questions ?

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Unknown said...

Nice words ... I like him too.

Anonymous said...


You forgot to check the tire pressure and oil.

E-Zpass: in my experience, a jacket chest pocket does NOT work, but strapping it the upper arm does. Of course, sticking it to a windshield would work if I had one. There is a handle-bar mounted holders too.


Jerry "Bull" Quinn said...

Jack TRUST me, you DO NOT want to ride the Natchez Trace on a bike!
Ride it in a car. That way the lousy Forty-Five-mile-an-hour speed limit, enforced by STORMTROOPER LIKE Park Rangers, and constant wildlife, "Rats on Stilts",Turkeys and Peacocks on the road, don't tax your temper and arthritic joints! The Natchez Trace SOUNDS nice but is a real pain in reality!