Sunday, March 28, 2010


“This year is going to be different,” I announced to the haus frau and the two dogs. “I am going to gear up for the first day of riding by going over every inch of the bike, by working out in the basement gym, and by organizing the garage two weeks in advance. I will get in a week of little rides before I do anything in a group, thereby honing my riding skills before venturing out in public. And I am going to get a full eight hours of sleep before going out on the first big run.”

Leslie (Stiffie) hid her enthusiastic support for this plan behind a mask of stone cold skepticism, while the dogs feigned total indifference.

“You mean this is the year that you’re not too chicken shit to get back on that bike after a four-month absence?” asked Stiffie (Leslie) in reply.

I would have spit in response to that statement, but I have grown too accustomed to living with an attractive and smart woman in a warm house, to trade it all for a gesture that would prompt a brief flight ending in a crash landing among my possessions in the driveway. I gave her a vindictive look that spoke volumes instead. And if she had still been in the room, you can bet it would have made a devastating impression.

Regrettably, there is more than a grain of truth in Leslie’s exaggerated and viciously brutal assessment. One of the most amazing phenomena encountered by new motorcycle riders is target fixation. This where the rider is so overwhelmed or mesmerized by a potential threat that they stare at it, utterly powerless to act (other than to slam on the brakes, which is usually the wrong thing to do), right up until the point of impact. (Another amazing phenomena found in physics and nature is how a motorcycle follows the rider’s line of sight like a guided missile.) I suffer from a mental kind of target fixation. For each week that I do not ride, the memory of the joy felt while piloting a motorcycle fades, while my awareness of the terror and pain associated with crashing is increased by a factor of 50.

Reading magazines, blogs, and club posts dealing with rider awareness does nothing for me but emphasize the potential life-threatening hazards, opportunities to get maimed, and the increasing chances of getting tossed through the air like a flying sack of shit (and landing in a coffin). Fixating on these images hobbles my soul with unnecessary caution that spawns paralyzing inactivity. In other words, I fixate on the “what ifs,” which preclude me from making any serious preparation.

Yet I eventually try to put a good face on things, taking the position that these are the sort of developments that happen to the other guy. This year, I posted a fun-sounding, nonsensical ride to New Jersey, the “Second Annual Great Slider Ride”, a full month in advance, when there was still 60-inches of snow in driveway. The purpose of the ride was to celebrate my 56th birthday at White Castle hamburger joint, purchasing one tiny burger for each year of my life, (56) to be distributed to anyone who attended. My thought was that a month would provide plenty of time to deal with the usual pre-ride mental issues.

The Plan: Exercise — Three Weeks Before “The Second Annual Great Slider Ride...”

The stairs leading down to the gym in the basement are steep. How steep is a matter of opinion. From my perspective, descending in total safety demands being roped to a sherpa with considerable experience on the vertical face of K12. I have never been able to find a sherpa, but once convinced a blonde trainer to go down there partially tied up. That adventure was well worth the aggravation that followed.

Leslie’s (Stiffie’s) home gym has an elliptical trainer (built to make you think you are running in a huge hamster ball that never loses its oval shape), a Nautilus machine (designed by Benedictine monks to get the truth out of heretics), a recumbent bike (that gives the impression you are pedaling a hammock), a treadmill, a rowing machine, free weights, and a treadmill.

I hate all this fucking shit.

The walls are lined with glass mirrors so you can the see the sweat pour out of your body, before it puddles on the floor, triggering the sump pump. Apparently, there is nothing more inspiring for a fat person than to see himself reflected into infinity. I was a man with a mission, and didn’t hesitate. I sat on the weight bench that is part of the Nautilus machine, carefully steadied my position, and bit into a chocolate donut. Remembering the most basic of rules espoused by the folks at Weight Watchers, I chewed each mouthful 240 times. It took 40 minutes to eat four donuts. Then I bit the bullet, and climbed back up those hideous stairs.

Phase One Of The Plan: Organizing The Garage —Two Weeks Before “The Second Annual Great Slider Ride...”

The garage has the tranquil aura of a island in the south Pacific. Boxes of stuff, mounds of gardening tools, bicycles, camping gear, and tons of art supplies are strewn about the floor and shelves in a random manner suggestive of a passing tsunami. But that’s where the tropical aura ends. The garage is unheated, and its temperature 14-days before my published public date for riding was about 34 degrees (F) at high noon. I plugged in the only heater I have, a ceramic “furnace,” that is about four inches wide and six inches tall, and switched it on “high.” This successfully raised the temperature of the metal grate on the front of the heater a good 5 degrees. By way of an experiment, I tried to augment this heat source by lighting a cigar.

Stiffie (Leslie) poked her head in the door, wrinkled her nose, and referenced my activity by saying, “Are you attempting to heat the garage by burning dog shit? I hope the stench of that cigar isn’t going to linger on the paint-job of my Subaru.”

“I’ll be done in a minute,” I said. “I can see my breath out here.”

“Try brushing your teeth with Drano,” the love of my life ventured.

Phase Two Of The Plan: Pre-Ride Shakedown Cruise — One Week Before “The Second Annual Great Sider Ride...”

The temperature rose into the 50’s and a week of steady rain had melted all of the snow, even the six-foot high frozen berms plowed up at the end of the driveway. Yet the local streets remained covered with piles of gravel and sand. It was entirely too dangerous to take a thoroughbred street bike — like my regal 1995 BMW K75 — out into that mess. Any attempt to lean into a curve would have resulted in an expensive slide and a downed bike. I was explaining this in a call to my long-time riding partner and constant foil, Dick Bregstein, when Clyde Jacobs pulled up to the front door on his equally sophisticated 2004 BMW K1200GT, having apparently navigated the death-defying gravel pits of my street without mishap.

“Can you hold on a minute, Jack?” asked Dick. “I have another call coming in.

Looking out the window, I could see that Clyde, still on his bike in the driveway, had removed his helmet and was talking to someone on his cell phone.

“Still there, Jack?” asked Dick. “That was Clyde calling me from your driveway. He says he had no problem riding through the gravel on your street and that you are a chicken-shit pussy, who is too afraid to get on his motorcycle.”

“I’m going to have to call you back, Dick,” I replied. “I’m hooking up the garden hose to test the outside faucets in the driveway.”

Phase Three Of The Plan: The Mechanical Check-Up — Three Days Before “The Second Annual Slider Ride...”

The sun was shining like an a prop in an ad for orange juice. The temperature was pushing the mercury past the 62 degree (F) mark, as the motorcycle bay door rose like the shirt of some beautiful pillion candy, revealing the glories behind. I reached down and disconnected my motorcycle — the legendary “Fireballs” — from her electric umbilical cord, and rolled the machine out into the driveway. The sunlight raised the brilliance of the lustrous red paint to the flashpoint. I had a short list of things I wanted to check before hitting the starter button, but found myself staring at various fine points in the bike’s design.

The K75 is an acquired taste even among BMW riders, who have long-since grown accustomed to off-the-wall motorcycle profiles. This machine has all the sex appeal of a bowling shoe, and the classic lines of a pallet of bricks. Known as the “Flying Brick,” this model has no lower frame, and uses the engine block (which is as close to square as you’d imagine) for structural support. It’s monoshock design and single right-side mount for the rear wheel takes the uninitiated by surprise. K75 owners sell these bikes reluctantly and usually regret that decision for the rest of their lives.

I think it is the most beautiful motorcycle I have ever owned. It’s reliability is exceeded only by the smoothness of the engine and silky nature of the ride. Despite the fact it is 15-years-old, I ride it like it came out of the showroom yesterday. It routinely hits and holds triple digits on the clock.

“Fuck the short list,” I said to myself. “I want to hear some music.”

Turning the key to the start position, the dash came alive with various system check lights winking on. The steady glow of the headlight reflected the life in the battery, which was confirmed by the voltmeter, scoring 12 volts at the first pop. The gas pump made an audible hum in the tank. I clicked the idle “advance” lever to the first position and hit the starter. The engine turned over readily enough and coughed. (I had neglected to put the “Stabil” in the gas tank last November, and wondered if I’d have problems with this suckful ethanol gas.) I moved the throttle “advance” lever to the second position and pressed the starter button again.

The engine fired right up. Within a second, or two, it was turning over at 2,000 rpm, and I dropped the throttle “advance” to the first click. (Since the machine is fuel injected, there is no “choke.” The motronic computer sets the gas flow and mixture to the temperature of the engine. The accelerator “advance” is marked as a “choke,” but all it does is turn up the idle to high.) The engine speed dropped to 1,000 rpm, then climbed again as the motor got warm. I backed off on the throttle “advance” lever at 1500 rpm to hold the idle at 1 grand even. The factory preset for idle is 900 rpm, but this speed with not charge the battery from the 50 amp alternator. At 1,000 rpm, I get the green LED on the voltmeter (12.5 volts) even with the 100 watts of the Motolights dropped into the mix.

I let the bike run for ten minutes, using this opportunity to test out the auxiliary riding lights, the brake lights, the running lights, the turn signals, and the flashers. Everything was in order. Then I tried the horn.

The noise that came out of this FIAMM sport/douche replacement unit sounded like a fart from a cricket. Either it got a mouthful of sediment and water on that last Delaware Salt Marsh run, or a mouse died in it. I kept triggering the horn button and the volume gradually improved, but it would be useless in traffic. I plan to replace this unit with a Steble/Nautilus compact air horn next week.

Switching off the machine, I started going through my short list of items to check. In 7,000 miles of riding last year, the bike burned 4 ounces of oil. It used a pint of coolant. Transmission fluid was where it was supposed to be, but somewhat champagne colored. My first action was to tighten a loose mirror. I struggled to get the right socket over the nut, and realized the nut was wearing a black plastic trim piece. Using a screw driver, I applied exactly enough pressure to this part to catapult it 20 feet across the black driveway, where it became invisible. One of the dogs found it two seconds later and had it partially chewed by the time I pried it out of his mouth. I then set about realigning the high intensity discharge lights and managed to scratch one of the black mounting brackets. It is shiny silver underneath. (I knew that can of black Rustoleum would come in handy.)

A year after he installed it, I am pleased to report that the poorly designed seat latch correctly mounted by Clyde Jacobs (the original was in backwards) continues to function flawlessly. I removed the fuse from the electric seat (which can be activated by passers-by) as the circuit is live 24/7.

This is one of the things that makes me crazy.

I had a Centech AP-1 fuse box installed to eliminate all the wire leads coming off the battery and to offer one source of fuse protection for everything. This was in addition to the existing K75 fuse box. While the power leads for the MotoLights and the HID lights run through the Centech box, the power for their relays (connected to the dash switches) is drawn through the ignition. Consequently, the lights cannot be switched on without the engine running. The Centech AP-2 fuse box provides a second section for circuits that would prevent other accessories from being switched on unless the bike was running too. The cost of the AP-2 unit was about $2 more than what I paid for the AP-1, except I didn’t know about it until after I had the other one installed.

The same was true of the voltmeter. I spent $24 for a Kuryakyn LED voltmeter, which works swell, and which adheres to the K75’s dash with self-adhesive tape. The colored LEDs correspond to a numbered scale, and are visible in bright sunlight, while dimming at night. But I would much rather have had Datel’s in-dash miniature volt meter, with red numbers, for $52. Naturally, I found this one right after I had the Kurykyn model installed. The 50 amp alternator cranks out 600 watts and came standard on the 1995 K75. The gentle reader would be surprised at how many late model motorcycles from other marques are limited by alternator output. (There are times when I am insufferable.)

The locking mechanism on the OEM top case, which I had to open four months ago with a BFH (big fucking hammer) was sticking. I reseated the the internal locking bracket, which made no difference whatsoever. I then reattached a loose seal on the top case rim with a few dabs of rubber cement. I’m sure this will come back to haunt me. The rubber cement will dissolve the seal, which will loosen the top, which will fly open, then come off, and smash through the windshield of a truck carrying nuclear waste, which will blind the driver, causing him to loose control of the 50,000 ton vehicle, which will then plunge in to the reservoir for Baltimore, before contaminating Chesapeake Bay, thereby driving up the cost of blue crab to $150 each. (This is how my marriages generally turn out too.) I should blow my brains out now and be done with it.

The front tire was down 6 pounds, while the back was short 12.

The next thing on my list was a complete tool inventory and document check. The insurance card had expired and I made a note to get another in town the next day. Going through my tools, I checked to make sure I had spare fuses (40 of them) and spare crush washers for the oil and transmissions plugs (9 each). These last are kept in a little plastic baggie, along with the brass drum retaining head for a spare clutch cable. The spare clutch cable goes in one of the side bags, along with the bike jumper cables. Under the seat I have a Cycle Pump compressor, an EZ Tire Pressure gauge, first aid kit, Progressive Tire and Suspension tire plugging kit (with three large C02 cartridges), MiniMaglite LED flashlight, duct tape, electrical tape, and shipping tape, BMW tool kit (you could rebuild the bike with this), some extra tools (vice grips and wire cutters/stripper), the bike’s manual, and the BMW MOA’s Anonymous Book , which is a directory for assistance. (I do not carry spare bulbs unless I plan to be on the road several days. With 4 auxiliary lamps facing forward, I am not likely to end up with a blind eye.)

Of all this crap, the most significant items are the spare clutch cable and brass drum head. The brass drum is a tiny part not much bigger than then head of a thumb tack. It holds the handlebar end of the clutch cable in place. Nothing but the pressure of the cable holds the drum in place. Should the clutch cable break at the handlebar end, and fall off, there is a good chance the drum will be gone too. All the spare clutch cables in the world won’t easily stay in place without one of these. So I bought a spare one and taped it into the tool kit. (Wasn’t that stupid? I should have bought ten, as I will drop the first one to the ground, where it will roll into the only open sewer grate in five miles. Should I ever have to install one of these cables by myself, you can bet your ass I will put a piece of clear tape under the clutch caliper on the handlebars to make it sure the drum doesn’t move while I fiddle with the cable.) I recently learned that there is a tiny donut made of felt at the end of the cable too. Not having one of these will probably do $2,500.00 damage to an $1,800.00 clutch. I had added ten of these to my shopping list as well.

Now it can be argued that this is a lot of shit to carry, but 98% of it fits under the seat. This is because my 1995 BMW K75 does not have ABS brakes. The ABS-equipped models have all kinds of machinery under the seat, which while giving the rider more braking options, cuts down on the storage space.

The bike was now ready to ride... But I was not. I had the jitters and was quaking like a loittle girl.

Friday: The Day Before the “The Second Annual Slider Ride”

(See line above subtitle.)

Dick Bregstein called to ask if I wanted to go out riding. I told him I was too busy at that moment, but that I would take the bike out late that afternoon, to get some time on it before the run. This was a total lie. I had no intentions of getting on the bike. This was the second time I have lied to Dick. The first time was last year when I told him that he cut an impressive figure in his one-piece, two-toned riding outfit, that he got “on sale.” Bregstein would get his revenge in 24 hours.

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

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Good Friends

It was 28º (F) when I got up this morning, with high of 49 predicted for late in the afternoon. On average, that is 25º colder than it has been most of last week. It was as sunny as hell though, and I briefly entertained the notion of going for a ride. That was when I discovered a fucking mouse in the garage had gotten into a plastic bin and chewed through my best pair of moderate cold-weather leather riding gloves. That little fuck is going to go for a ride in the shop-vac when I corner him. Do you think the neighbor's cat, who waits for every opportunity to take a piss in my garage, would catch this fucking mouse?

They are probably good friends.

The prelude for the “Second Annual Great Slider Ride” will be posted tomorrow.

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

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Great Slider Ride 2010 — Second Notice!

The first of my famous DPRs (Dubious Purpose Rides) has been scheduled for Saturday, March 20, 2010. This is the day I have chosen to celebrate my birthday with “The Great Slider Ride,” a 100-mile (plus) pilgrimage to the nearest White Castle (in Toms River, New Jersey). As is my custom, I will purchase one White Castle Cheeseburger for each year of my life (56) and distribute these to the attending masses. The first and only other time I conducted this ride, the attending masses totaled two: Don Eilenberger (of the Jersey Shore Riders) and Tony Luna of Motorcycle Views. Should they show up next Saturday, each will be awarded Grand Marshal status and be presented with a priceless momento.

(Above) Don Eilenberger, BMW Motorcycle Owners of America Ambassador and a member of the Jersey Shore BMW Riders, was 50% of the crowd that turned up at the last Great Slider Ride. He will have Grand Marshal Status if he shows up at this one.

The ride will begin at the Starbuck’s in Exton, on Route 30 (Business), about 300 yards east of the junction with Route 100. It will be “kickstands up” at 10am. (Those requiring coffee and pre-ride camaraderie are advised to get there around 9:30am.) The weather for the day is alleged to be partly sunny with a high of 63º. The route to New Jersey has been selected for its great beauty and diversity of terrain. Within the span of 100 miles, the riders will pass through stately farm lanes and former Quaker enclaves, showing the earliest signs of spring. We will pass through the edges of a real shit-hole of a city, cross the mighty Delaware, and ride through prime New Jersey tomato country. In a few brief miles, riders will encounter the desolate splendor of the New Jersey Pine Barrens and end up on the shores of Barnegat Bay — the gateway to the Atlantic.

(Above) Long-time friend Tony Luna (Vulcan Al), who I met for the first time on a PS (With A Shrug) Amish Horse Pile Swerve Ride, was the other 50% who showed up for the first Great Slider Ride. He too will have Grand Marshal Status if he shows up again. Tony has a BMW too, but he insisted on showing up on his Yamato Special, which began to shed body parts later in the day.

The poignant and touching ceremony is scheduled for 12:30pm, at the White Castle, located just west of the junction between Hooper Avenue and Route 37, in Toms River. The White Castle hamburger is a 2.5 inch square beef wafer, weighing approximately one ounce, perforated by 5 holes (to assist in cooking), on a grill smeared with crushed onions and Vaseline®. If ordered with cheese, it is served on a steamed bun (with a pickle chip and a smathering of ketchup) as soft as fresh quimm. White Castle cheeseburgers and hamburgers are highly addictive, and the average male drunkard can easily consume between five and eight.

(Above) The scene of the crime... The White Castle in Toms River, NJ.

It should be noted, however, that some White Castle aficionados claim that eating unspecified amounts of these may result in severe vomiting (when combined with alcohol) or a compelling case of the shits. (This last detail is important if you are riding a motorcycle through urban areas with a lack of natural cover.) I became addicted to the White Castle Hamburger at the age of six, when they were 5¢ each, as an alternative to eating out of dumpsters when my parents abandoned me. My father was a man of principle... And when a medical laboratory wouldn’t meet his price for me, I was turned loose to graze, with the admonition to write “if I found work.” I got a job in a bowling alley as a “waxer.” I’d be dipped in soft carnauba wax, then hurled the length of the alley for a strike. I was paid a nickel per alley. On a good Saturday, I made enough for five cheeseburgers and a half a pack of Lucky’s.

Ride Details:
The Rally Point -- Starbuck’s in Exton (Route 30 Business, 300 yards east of Route 100.)
Pre-Ride Coffee -- 9:30am
Kickstands Up -- 10am

Routing --
Route 30 East to Route 352
Right on 352 (all the way into Chester)
Right on major intersection following sign for interstate
Left on Conchord Ave. (At light by lumberyard).
Right immediately under overpass to Commodore Barry Bridge
Cross Bridge
Follow Route 322 NJ (East) to Mullica Hill
Route 77 NJ (South) to Route 40 NJ (East)
Route 40 NJ (East) to Route 54 NJ (north)
Route 54 turns into Route 206 (North)
Route 206 North to Route 70 East/North
Route 70 East/North to Route 37 East
Route 37 East to Hooper Ave.
Go past Hooper Ave. and make the dogleg turn (right) to co,me back on Rt. 37 West. The White Castle is on the immediate right.

I will need to stop and put me feet down for a bit after riding one hour. It is the price of the arthritis.

• Please show up with a full tank of gas.

After lunch, we may detour to Cameron’s of Kearny to buy Haggis (about three miles away) or we may head to the ocean at Seaside Heights for a picture in the sand.

• I am aware that this ride conflicts with the Herny’s event, but the date for this run was announced long before the Hermy’s announcement.

For those using a GPS, here is the address of the White Castle:
132 Route 37 East, Toms River, NJ 08753-6646

The return trip for me will be by the fastest route. That will be:
Route 37 to Route 70. (Traffic Circle)
Route 70 to Route 571 (left)
Route 571 to Route 537 (left -- Busy intersection)
Route 571 to I-195 (Right -- 1/2 mile)
I-195 to NJ Turnpike (about 10 fast miles)
NJ Turnpike to PA Turnpike (Exit 6)
Pa Turnpike to King of Prussia/Valley Forge Exit
Then Route 202 south to Boot Road

THIS RIDE IS WEATHER-PERMITTING ONLY. The weather for Saturday (at the moment) is partly sunny and 63º. It rain appears likely, check this blog or the Mac Pac list for an advisory no later than 7am.

Doug Braley is riding up from Virginia to make this run.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2010
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac Pac)
AKA Vindac8R (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Riding To The Ocean... And Dancing With The Painted Whore

I love the ocean... I love the sound of the waves... I love the taste of the salt on the breeze... I love it when the horizon is obscured by dark clouds that breed lightning... And I love it at dawn, in the brief few minutes before the sun rises, sometimes heralded by the green flash. And there is no better way to get to the ocean than on a motorcycle capable of mixing all of these elements into a kind of vapor, that when breathed, makes you feel like you’re 17 again.

Traveling the east coast of the United States allows one to sample the many moods of the Atlantic Ocean as it washes up on thousands of beaches from Port Clyde, Maine to Key West, Florida. The expression, “the rock-bound shores of Maine” is an understatement where the Atlantic bashes this New England state. There are no beaches in Maine, only places where quarries meet the water. There is an austere charm here which I have found in no other state, but it is an acquired taste — like lobster steamed in a pile of seaweed and cracked open with a stone.

(Above) The Atlantic where it washes into Scraggle Point, Maine. This is about as "beachy" as it gets in Maine. If you examine the picture carefully, you will see little marker buoys that identify lobster pots (traps). Leslie and I stayed in a house about 200 yards from this spot. Photo by Kate Farrell.

I did once find a semblance of a beach in Maine. It was on Moneghan Island, ten miles off the coast of Port Clyde. There was about 300 square feet of sand hemmed in by boulders, just off the footpath on the eastern side of this little paradise. There was a sign nailed to a post that read,

(Above) Another perspective from Scraggle Point. Plenty of places to unfold a beach blanket and to soak up a tan. My friend Kate Farrell has a house close by, where you can awaken each morining, at 4:30am, to the sound of the lobster boats. Photo by Kate Farrell.

“No swimming... No wading... Extremely Dangerous Tides.
Everyone who goes into the water at this point drowns.
No one is available to help you.”

That put it in pretty certain terms. I have also discovered that the water temperature is fairly frigid, and that hypothermia gets even the strongest swimmers.

(Author’s note — Despite the quaint signage, Moneghan Island is one of the most romantic places on earth. The full-time population is 65 and there are no paved roads nor any powered vehicles on the island. There are houses for rent in the summer [but not all feature electricity]. This is the place to go to find your soul again. Bring a good book, a hot-looking woman, and several bottles of rum. There are two inns on the island, but only one seems to offer internet. Moneghan Island is where people go to remember who they were before being force-fed a daily diet of bullshit.

The “Island Inn” has a fantastic restaurant. A bowl of clam chowder in this joint costs about $15. Pay it without question. Clear your mind before the chowder comes. If you are accompanied by an annoying pain in the ass, tell them to “shut the hell up,” and threaten to throw them in the water on the eastern side of the island. The chowder is best eaten in silence: the kind of silence reserved for viewing the rose window in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The clams in the chowder are so fresh they may still blink when poked by your spoon. They are so numerous, that you will think they’re breeding. This is a New England style chowder, which means the broth (which has the consistency of soft ice cream) is 85 percent heavy cream, bolstered by 15 percent butter. I think my bowl of chowder weighed 11 pounds. My ass inflated to twice its natural size after one bowlful.

How many times have you wanted to try a dish indigenous to a region, only to discover it didn’t live up to the myth? That is not the case with the clam chowder on Moneghan Island. Sadly, Moneghan is not a motorcycle destination, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

I was introduced to Moneghan Island and its chowder by Vinnie, a transplanted New Jersey original possessed by a penetrating sense of truthfulness that is occasionally painful. He no longer visits this spot anymore, claiming “the island is home to too many 1960’s era artists, whose tits hang down beneath their tie-dyed cotton skirts, to be bruised by their knees as they graze.” That was as penetrating an analysis as I have ever heard.)

(Above) Looking out into Delaware Bay from the mouth of the Murderkill River. Photo by Rob Haut.

Moving farther south, the salt marshes of Delaware don’t exactly qualify as “shore,” as they form the western bank of the Delaware River where it flows into the Atlantic. But Delaware Bay has all the elements of a misplaced seacoast: lighthouses... Little fishing villages... Tidal surges that spill out onto the street... And run-down shore-type saloons that beckon to me. The salt marshes are absolutely amazing. Endless reeds with odd pockets of hardwoods border on the blue Delaware and little farms where corn and horses are raised. At one point, an iron-legged lighthouse rears up from a cultivated field, creating the oddest possible sight.

(Above - from left) Dave Oehler, his daughter Jessie, Rogers George and Corey Lyba (plus my bike Fireballs) on the Delaware salt marshes at Bay View Beach. Photo by Jack Riepe.

The Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge offers an incredible glimpse of the marshes from the inside out. For a modest $4 fee, which entitles you to use a clean modern, bathroom, you gain access to a series of loops that skirt interior ponds, cut through a forest, and come right to the swamp’s edge. The roads through the refuge are gravel and packed dirt, and offer no challenge on a dry day. I hesitate to ride on gravel under any other kind of conditions. Bring your compact binoculars. The local wildlife are accustomed to the occasional engine noise (not that the K75 makes any), and I was able to watch a red fox unsuccessfully stalk a snow goose by one of the ponds. Scanning the horizon, my binoculars — okay, they were Leslie’s compact Swarski’s, which cost twice as much as my first car —picked up the distinctive cupola of the East Point Lighthouse, on the Maurice River over in New Jersey. This magnificent lighthouse is the second oldest surviving structure of its type in the Garden State, and is not visible to the naked eye, even when perched on a tall K75 in Bombay Hook.

(Above) A classic brick farmhouse and a new barn surrounded by cornfields, and eventually salt marshes, on Route 9 in picturesque Delaware. Photo by Leslie Marsh

Many of Delaware’s bayside communities hint at a former glamor that is now conspicuous by its absence. They have a kind of threadbare atmosphere that the late author H.P. Lovecraft liked to work into his small-town pieces. Of course, if you run down to Rehoboth Beach, you will find real waves, real sand, real traffic, and the real throbbing in the ass that accompanies a trendy shore resort.

(Above) "Back Range" lighthouse in farmer's fields (town of Taylor's Bridge), at least one mile from the water (original location). Photo by Leslie Marsh.

The enlightened State of Maryland (where I still have an unpaid ticket issued by one of those fucking camera-speed traps) has a stretch of beach that calls out to the common man. Assateague State Park is one of the few places I have passed through that offers camping within a stone’s throw of the ocean. It is nothing like secluded camping, which encourages a little monkey business by the flickering light of a campfire, but could make for an interesting weekend if a bunch of riders took over a whole little area. I may try this before the 2010 riding season is over. I have yet to camp within earshot of the ocean, but the thought of sitting in my Kermit Chair, by a flickering campfire, sipping something civilized with the surf grumbling in the background is the second best image I can think of at this moment. (The first best entails stretching out in a large tent, on an inflatable mattress, next to my semi-naked soul mate, staring out into the night, and noticing how the wanning firelight animates the red paint on my Beemer.)

(Above) Wild horses in what passers for a meadow on Assateague Island, in Maryland. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

There is an eight-mile stretch of the Outer Banks, in North Carolina, where the rental homes can only be reached by 4-wheel drive units. Known as Coroba Beach (north of where the pavement ends and the wild horses run free), this is the most perfect stretch of shoreline I have ever encountered. At various times of the year it has great surf fishing, intense solitude, and ample opportunity to watch the love of your life walk around outside half naked. Regrettably, you can’t get to this place on a bike either (unless you are riding a two-wheel drive Rokon or the unstoppable BMW GS). The soft sand runs deep between the dunes and the strand, and it holds the heat of the day to make lying in it something of a delight in the dark. Leslie and I rented a palace here, just for the two of us, three seasons in a row. This is the house. Note the other houses around it. At first, we took it for one week. The following year, we took it for two weeks. And during the last year we stayed there, we took it for three. (This was smart thinking as we were evacuated during the middle week to accommodate a passing hurricane.)

South of Duck, NC, the road hugs the dunes — sometimes a straight as an arrow, but always swept with windblown sand — as it makes its way past the lighthouse at Cape Hatteras and passes through Ocracoke Island (via a cool ferry). This is not a challenging ride by any means, yet it is a delight to the senses. Somewhere around the hamlet of Avon, NC I found a storefront fish joint called the Caribbean Something-Or-Other. I was hungry for seafood that was not fried in motor oil, which is the fashion in the deep south. They had a grouper dish, which when accompanied by several Negra Modelos (great beer from Mexico), seemed capable of regenerating knee cartilage. The place had little in the way of character to recommend it, but the grouper spoke for itself. (They should have had the head of that fish animated and mounted in the window, where it could have addressed passers-by.)

There was a charming woman behind the counter, who had one of those unbelievable southern accents, a southern smile, southern blue eyes, and a southern tan acquired by hours of slow simmering on Outer Banks sand, which qualified her for a ride on my pillion. She was apparently too shy to ask. (When I said to her, “Ain’t you somethin’” in my best Cool Hand Luke manner, she bit her lip, thought for a second and replied, “Yawl keep walkin’ all the way back to New Yawk City now, fat boy.”)

(Above) These wild horses were photographed from the kitchen of the house Leslie and I rented on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Photo by Leslie Marsh.

My ride though this part of the country was relaxing and uneventful. I was taking it easy and taking in the natural beauty of a narrow road between two large bodies of water, when a driver in a minivan, filled with Japanese tourists nearly ran me off the road trying to get a picture of a stupid-looking bird. I flipped them a bird of my own which set them all to taking pictures and nodding like crazy.

(Above) No roads for us. This is the beach on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. The house we rented is 10 miles up this strand with no other way to get there. These stumps are all that remain of hardwood trees that used to be on dry land, before the ocean started investing in real estate. If I am going to stay by the shore for a week or more, this is the setting I prefer. Photo by Leslie Marsh.

Any riders heading through the Outer Banks of North Carolina in late September or early October should be warned of vicious wildlife capable of stripping the flesh from the body of a grown man in seconds. Heading north on Route 12, I found myself roaring through the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, when I thought it might be fun to pull over and take a refreshing 20-minute piss. The famous 20-minute piss is what eventually follows two quarts of water, three Negra Modelos, and four diet cokes consumed in under three hours. Now it should be noted that Pea Island is fairly deserted, and offers the rider magnificent views of stately dunes on the right, and marshy areas extending out into Pamlico Sound on the left (if you are heading north). The Sound is home to birds having stilts for legs and tweezers for beaks — the famous North Carolina Tweezer Bills. (These are number four on the endangered species list, as they will only eat Pamlico Sound Deaf Salamanders, which are number three on the same list. It has been argued that the Deaf Salamanders would make a comeback if the Tweezer Bills could be hunted to extinction. The Japanese believe the tongues and gall bladders of the Tweezer Bill are “good for the man.” A matched set sell for $15,000 on Tokyo street corners.)

A Tweezer Bill observation area materialized on the sound side of the road, and I pulled into it, coming to a sliding stop on the inescapable sand that drifts everywhere. The road was as straight as a Baptist televangelist, with visibility limited only by the curvature of the earth. My purpose required a modicum of privacy. “Shit,” I said out loud. With the K75’s powerful three-cylinder “Exterminator” engine switched off, the silence of Pea Island had a palpable weight to it. Voicing that simple expletive seemed to send a shiver through the scrub bushes that constituted habitat for the Tweezer Bills. That should have been my warning.

Pea Island falls under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Two kinds of people work for the NPS. The first are hot-looking women who appear on the Jay Leno Show in “Smokey The Bear” hats with embarrassed wildlife in a sack. The others are “Terminator”-type cyborgs, who have memorized all 1200 pages of the code of Federal Regulations. (It was one of these who detained myself and seven of my friends for attempting to commit suicide on the Delaware River — by floating down it in inner tubes during a drought, when its average depth was 8 inches. The ranger shadowed us for 4 miles, using his binoculars to determine that the four women in our party, had perfect yahbos, barely concealed in wet tank-tops.)

I was now certain that the act of unzipping my jeans and releasing “Affanculo,” the one-eyed killer whale, had to be in violation of whole chapters of the CFR. This was guaranteed to attract a ranger with the authority to take me straight to a federal facility, where some new anti-terrorist law would allow him to plow me in the ass for two weeks before I could hang myself in a cell.

What I needed was a little camouflage.

A berm and an elevated wooden walkway snaked out into the marsh, providing the kind of cover that ideally suited my needs. With a row of bushes screening me from the road, I dropped trow and returned to the parch sand the moisture I’d consumed earlier in the day. A ritual shared by Romans, Vikings, Charlemagne, and environmental visionaries like Theodore Roosevelt, there is something regal about taking a piss outside in broad daylight. I was thinking about how I would express this ultimate Libertine sensation in a future blog when every bush in a 50-yard radius came alive with an ominous buzzing. Within seconds, the atmosphere was choked with a dense cloud of insects, the largest of which would barely cover a comma in one of my sentences. Each of these was equipped with a hypodermic proboscis and the sucking characteristics of an elected official.

They covered my body in an instant.

They were in my jeans... In my jacket... And in my mouth and nose too. They swarmed “Affanculo,” causing him to roar. The pain was incredible and I started to feel faint from the massive loss of blood. I pulled my helmet over my love-muscle, despite the tight and painful fit. Some may think it male vanity, but my first instinct was to save the pocket pachyderm and its trunk. My fastest hobble made me the perfect target for these carnivores. I was halfway back to the bike when I saw a chilling sight. Below the berm and nearly at the water line were the skeletal remains of six individuals, clad in deteriorating biker rags, and all frozen in their last action, which appeared to be watering the lawn from the groin. How many riders had innocently pulled over at this spot, uncoiled Cupid’s iguana, and lost their lives? And what of their bikes? What ghouls claimed those.

I was almost at the bike and barely a foot or two ahead of the cloud, when I realized my death was imminent. I would make the motorcycle, but I’d never mount it and pull away before the flying death would get me. With less than 10 yards to go, the minivan filled with Japanese tourists pulled up behind the K75.

“This is home of many unusual birds to make the picture,” the Asian driver seemed to ask me, pointing at the marsh to my back. While the occupants of the van had cameras, they were carrying nets and clubs too.

“There are hundreds of them right behind me, with big beaks and fat gall bladders,” I yelled. The minivan's passengers were nothing to me and I used them like chum.

I jumped on the motorcycle with my helmet still on my schwantz. It was as if a two-headed thing had come running out of the swamp. And quite frankly, the little pilot was out in front and seemed to be calling the shots. (This has been true for most of my life.) The crowd in the minivan boiled out of the vehicle, staring at my Nolan helmet which seemed to be magically suspended in mid air. They must have thought I had just consumed a bushel of beaks and gall bladders.

The K75 fired right up and roared out onto the road, as six cameras recorded my departure in a flurry of Japanese exclamations. Then the midge clouds had found them. Their shouts of astonishment turned to screams of terror as I made my escape. The bones by the berm would be a bigger pile now, increased by six skeletons taking pictures of each other even as they were systematically being ripped apart.

(Above) Cape Hatteras lighthouse, and its distinctive paint scheme. Photo by Tony Luna.

The gentle reader with a sense of geography will realize that I have skipped over the Jersey Shore. This because I have saved the best for last. Of all the beautiful places that I have described, the Jersey Shore is the painted whore of the lot — and I love her, swathed in cheap amusement piers and smelling of French fry oil. Bruce Springstein got it right, singing of a tired Asbury Park as the soul the Jersey Shore. But that soul extends through Lavalette, Belmar, and Wildwood, with its epicenter at Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Each of these communities features a boardwalk — a planked boulevard that may extend for a few miles, generally harboring an amusement pier, cheesy games of chance, greasy food stands, and (in some cases) a bar or two.

Asbury Park held the most promise of all these places, and was the first to fall into a deep decline from which it has not yet recovered. Seaside Heights was the blue-collar Riveria, and the standard two-week vacation spot for every cop and fireman’s family (in Jersey City) throughout the early ‘60s. It was where I first felt the Atlantic swirl around my feet as a five-year-old... And where I first saw the lights of a ferris wheel against the night sky. (Even then, I knew Paris couldn’t compete with this.) It was here, while in the charge of my father, that I first sat on an outdoor bar stool at age 8, and tasted an icy cold, peeled shrimp, dipped in something that looked like ketchup but tasted like fire.

“You won’t like this,” said my dad. He nearly cried when I replied I did. Not because I had a discerning appetite as a kid... But because shrimp were expensive on a fireman’s salary and I wanted more. My father was a clever man, and offered me an oyster on the half-shell. I took a hard look at this one, having no clue what organ this shellfish most closely resembled. My dad put a dash of Tobasco on it, and said, “Try this.” It would be nine more years before I would taste another, or anything that remotely looked like it.

Seaside Heights had long since acquired honkey-tonk status as a shore town for college kids by the time I’d acquired my 1975 Kawasaki H2. Yet I was a late bloomer in life, and it was not until I had that bike that I learned the taste of a woman’s skin basted with cocoa butter, how oysters and clams on the half-shell delighted the palate when chased by beer cold enough to make your teeth throb, and how the most soulful sound is the crash of the surf on the beach — muffled by a woman’s waist-length hair, cascading around your face and shoulders.

I can still remember racing down the Garden State Parkway on a Friday night in July, 34 years ago, dancing back and forth over the dotted white line to get through the mounting traffic. The H2's three cylinder, two-stroke engine screamed like a leaf-blower with its balls in a knot. I'd get the first whiff of the ocean flying over the twin bridges just south of Perth Amboy, and that was only the halfway mark. It's interesting remembering the scents that tightened my DNA in those days. My girl smoked Marlboros, the smell of which would be on her lips and hair. The Kawasaki left a blue smoke-screen that was the perfume of raw speed. And the aroma of exposed salt flats and the deceased fish who had invested there was always my first indication of the shore.

In those days, there was a three-lane drawbridge on Rt. 37 to handle all the traffic going in and out of Seaside. Exits from US-9 and the Garden State Parkway, about 200 yards from each other, dropped 55,000 cars a second every Friday night onto this road. Then a sailboat would come along, moving at the speed of continental drift, and that drawbridge would rise like a great traffic-screwing boner. And traffic would back-up throughout Ocean County, NJ to the rings of Saturn. I was a new rider then, and had a special hatred for bridges with steel-grate floors. Not only did the bridge into Seaside have a steel-grate floor, but since it was a drawbridge, it jumped up and down with the weight of the traffic. To me, it was like riding over a diving board that would grate your ass like parmesan cheese if you dropped the bike.

The traffic was as thick as shit in a narrow pipe the first time I rode a bike into Seaside. I didn’t feel like sitting in it. Glancing around in a casual cop check, I’d let the clutch out and split lanes in 50-car bursts. Then I’d repeat the process. My pillion candy was perched on the back, wearing an over-sized army fatigue coat, looking as hot as all hell. (Then as now, I was way out of my league.) It took 30 minutes to cover the ten miles from the Parkway to the damned bridge. The flow of traffic was such that I was at the head of the line when the light turned red, the gate came down, and bridge went up.

This was not in my travel plans.

The idea was to hit this steel-grated bridge at 40 mph, and to be over it in a second. Now I’d be crawling as the bike's front and back wheels wobbled over this slippery, uneven surface. The woman on the back was smoking a Marlboro, oblivious to the certain death before us. The sailboat drifted past, the gate went up, and the light changed. I snicked the Kawasaki into gear with all the confidence of an inmate on death row... And stalled it.

“Fuck,” I said.

And because this was New Jersey, 14,000 drivers behind me all said “fuck” too, leaning on their horns in a gesture of solidarity. The Kawasaki did not have an electric starter. The girl jumped off while I unfolded the kick start lever and pulled up the pillion peg on that side. She climbed back on as the machine barked into life on the first kick. Then I stalled it a second time. She was off it again in a second, while I repeated the process. This time the bike didn’t start. A strong smell of gasoline suggested I had flooded it.

An endless line of drivers behind me tried to help by giving me the finger, flashing their lights, and holding down their horn buttons. This was my signal to start saying "fuck" like I had Tourettes. I held the throttle wide open and jumped on the starter. The engine fired like it had tuberculosis. One cylinder coughed first while another wheezed. Then they all went off like a hand grenade. Rich, dense, blue smoke poured out of the exhausts as spark plugs sent little lightning bolts into oil-slicked gas in each cyclinder head.

My girl was barely in the saddle again when the clutch found the friction zone and rolled the bike onto the knife blades of the bridge deck. Fully flustered by this point, I didn’t realize the only vehicle in front of me was a straight truck loaded with neutron stars or something. The deck bowed and shot upward as the truck rolled off it. The bike bucked like a horse for an instant, and then we were on the pavement again.

I followed the road to the right and entered the sedate community of Seaside Park. Barnegat Bay provided a tranquil canvas for a full moon, and the breeze coming off the water felt cold for an instant. Our “shore house” for the weekend was actually the second floor of an old manse overlooking the boardwalk, about a mile south of the noise and colored lights. We were sharing it with 6 other couples, who were already out for the night when we got there. My girl was wearing boots, jeans (with a bandana tied to a belt loop), and that fatigue jacket, with her hair in a pony tail. Our spot was a little living room with a pullout couch, and a view of the house next door. She lit a lamp, shook out her pony tail; and took off the army jacket — under which she wore only a tan and a tiny crucifix.

I was speechless and she laughed at the desired effect. She was Italian, and had skin the color of beeswax by firelight.

“Did you think that cross was going to save you tonight,” I asked.

“I had my doubts when you couldn’t start the bike,” she said.

“What would you have done if this house had a party raging when we walked in?”

She smiled and pull a skimpy bikini top out of a pocket. “Every guy here would have thought you were a god.”

That was thirty four years ago.


I rode my K75 into Seaside Heights last summer. The bridge is still there and so are the pain-in-the-ass sailboats. All three lanes over the old Rt. 37 drawbridge are eastbound now, as there is a much taller arched structure (that doesn’t move) next to the original, carrying as much traffic westbound. Once again, I followed the road around to the bay, where hot-looking mothers (MILFS) now chased fat little babies around in the narrow bands of sand separating the water from the pavement. I couldn’t remember the cross-street, and turned left on the first one that looked promising. I rode up and down along the boardwalk searching for that house, but I couldn’t remember that one either.

My first stop was Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, the heart of this town’s tackiness.

Parking is madness in both Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. The cash crop in each town is the parking meter, and if it was up to the town councils there would be two for each car. The meters are calibrated so you pay 25¢ every 15 seconds. Each meter has a $1500 limit for four hours, I think. Each parking meter is equipped with a “Cold War-era” air raid siren that goes off the second the time has expired. This summons a parking authority cop who is authorized to auction off your vehicle right at the curb, as this is usually cheaper than paying a parking ticket.

A car pulled out of a metered spot at the corner of Franklin St. and the Boardwalk, and I edged my bike right in. These parking spaces are usually left to succeeding generations in family wills. Two or three cagers looked at me with utter contempt and disbelief as I parked in the center of the spot, leaving them no room to squeeze in and knock my bike over.

“You gonna take dat whole fuckin’ spot wit dat fuckin’ piece a shit bike?” asked one, in a typical New Jersey greeting.

“Eat shit and die,” I replied appropriately.

“Sorry, Buddy,” said the cager. “I saw the Pennsylvania plate and figured you for a pussy. What part of Jersey City are you from?”

“The part where your mutha’ used to greet the truckers at Charlotte Circle.”

“That’s how my old man met her,” the guy said, pulling away laughing.

The July sun had been beating down on the hot asphalt for six hours and it was as resilient as Jello. I pulled a kickstand puck out of my pocket and dropped it to the pavement. One side of the puck carried the legend, “Certified pussy.” The other side read, “Dooshe.” This would prevent it from being stolen by anyone who lived in New Jersey. There is no greater insult in the Garden State than to be called a “douche.” I was in the second grade at “Our Lady of Victories” grammar school in Jersey City when little Tommy Burns raised his hand and ratted me out for looking up the skirt of Vivian O’Brian, the most beautiful girl in the entire second grade, while I pretended to fumble on the floor for a dropped pencil. The nun, Sister Constance Aggressa, beat the shit out of me unmercifully. (As I recall, she used a railroad tie.) Then she beat the shit out of Tommy Burns, screaming that she would not tolerate a “douche” in her classroom.

Casino Pier extends about 400 yards into the ocean and used to be home to some incredibly junky carnival-type rides, like the Himalayan Bobsleds (which spun around in a circle to loud rock music at 40 mph), the Tilt-A-Whirl, the Round-Up (a caged cylinder which spun around and tilted upward, giving many their first sensation of g-force), and The Wild Mouse (a crude attempt at a metal roller coaster). Some variation of these still exist on the pier, but the main attractions now are multi-million dollar rides from Europe, that snap the suckers around and turn them upside down, 60 feet above safety. A chintzy miniature golf course (with threadbare obstacles) still sits atop a number of concessions (with putting greens linked by bridges).

The pier used to have an old “spook house” that had the head of a huge, ghastly demon on the front of it. The head was about 15 feet in diameter, and capped huge bat-like wings that ended in claws. This exhibit terrified me for years, and from the time that I was six until I was too old to legitimately explore this cheap thrill ride, I was too afraid to go inside. Yet my daughter — Katherine — wanted to see what all the advertised horror was about when she was eight, and I finally had a reason to satisfy my curiosity. We climbed into a well-beaten up upholstered carriage, from the ‘50s I think, that seemed to be self-propelled by a washing machine motor. It followed a jerky track through the darkness, suddenly popping out into daylight a couple of times to charge down a little incline.

As the gentle reader suspects, the damn thing was a hoax, with strobe lights flashing on and off, stupid plastic faces that lit up from behind, and spring-loaded doors you couldn’t see in the dark banging around. Bumping our way to the ride’s end, Katherine (my kid) noticed a little boy — about her age — in the car in from of us. He was crying his eyes out.

“I feel sorry for his mother,” said Katherine, “‘Cos that kid is a real douche.”

There are four timeless landmarks that have not changed on this stretch of boardwalk. The first of these is the Kohr’s frozen custard stand, which has been selling orange/vanilla swirl cones on that spot since World War I. The second is the Aztec Motel and Bar. Not much can be said about the Aztec for its accommodations. The best rating it currently has is 2.5 stars out of 5, which is giving it the benefit of the doubt. It is the kind of place where kids go to party and get laid following the senior prom.

However, my interest in this place is the open-air bar on the boardwalk.

Despite the fact that about 40 feet of the Aztec is open to the pier, it is refreshingly dark inside, with a constant breeze maintained by the ceiling fans above the bar. It smells of stale beer (in the troughs under the taps), clams, and cocoa butter. There is no better place to park your ass on a hot summer day, sip a rum and Coke or a Tom Collins, and watch thousands of women — aged 18 to 30 — walk by in bathing suits smaller than a folded bandana. My routine is to secure a corner stool where the efforts of the ceiling fans are matched by the draft coming in off the Atlantic. I will order a a double Bicardi and Diet Coke and a dozen clams on the half-shell. (These will be Little Necks and Cherrystones.) In the course of two hours, I will probably have two more drinks, and some peel-and-eat shrimp. I may chat up the bartender, if she is pretty. But pretty bartenders on the New Jersey shore tend to have a razor sharp, stainless-steel edge to them... And they will slice off the balls of a stranger in two-seconds flat.

So I generally mind my own business, and get lost in my thoughts. There is usually one other guy at the bar who is older than me, sitting there looking at a bottle of beer, smoking a cigarette, and showing no other signs of movement for at least an hour at a time.

I was there for 90 minutes on my last trip, left a decent tip, and hobbled back to my bike for the next stop. I found a young auxiliary cop (summer stock, Hitler Youth-type) looking over the K75 with interest. The subtle beauty of the K75 is so powerful that all kinds of folks are drawn to it.

“It’s a 1995,” I said, anticipating his first question.

“Where’s the inspection sticker?” the cop asked, looking over the front end.

“It’s on my balls, you skinhead motherfucker,” I said in my mind. What came out of my mouth was, “It’s there on the front left fork...”

It was. And it was as fresh as daisy when it was new — two years prior. But the forks on the K75 are black, and the sticker was dark green, with black type on it. It looked Kosher enough from a couple of feet away, however.

“Okay,” said the cop, walking off.

I hate to disappoint people, and I could tell this guy wanted nothing more than to club me into the pavement. But the cop was not expecting a middle-aged, arthritis-ridden, over-weight relic of a past life to limp out to this bike, and he would have felt funny about shoving me around in front of such a large crowd. Especially if I had dropped my cane and flopped on the pavement like a huge flounder. Cops want some good, youthful resistance to their nightsticks. It's no fun if the perpetrator deflates like an airbag after one good whack.

The second stop was a mile south of my present location. The second cluster of boardwalk amusements — Funtown USA — is on the borderline of Seaside Park. While it has a water slide and a metal-tracked roller coaster, it is primarily for little kids. Yet on stretch is the third of my personally significant landmarks. It is a character-free seafood stand selling clams, oysters, and shrimp, nestled on huge piles of ice. Three Jersey shore-type mugs shuck the clams and oysters like assembly-line automatons. (This is no guarantee you won’t find the odd bit of shell in the meat.) The counter adjacent to theirs (in the same concession) sells over-cooked corn on the cob. The corn is steamed at 12,000 pounds per square inch, and rolled in “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Lard.” It has the consistency of corn flavored paste on the cob. I usually get two.

I recommend a dozen clams, a dozen oysters, two ears of corn, and two cold beers (available inside) which will sadly be Budweiser like as not. Bud, the king of American beers now owned by foreign interests, actually saves the consumer time. Since it is already piss as it comes out of the bottle, it will not linger in your kidneys. The clam and oyster concern actually fronts a collection of tables, many of which look out over the beach, the water, and Casino Pier. But since there is a pizza-making concern in here, it is often filled with hateful kids who are running around, annoying the shit out of everyone else. This place gets crowded and chances of getting one of the few tables with the breeze and the view are not high. And then it doesn’t really make any difference, because the other tables have the ambiance of airport dining in Entebbe.

There is a current trend in shore towns from the Outer Banks in North Carolina to Seaside Heights in New Jersey to import and hire summer help from Albania, Bulgaria, Latvia, and the Russian Confederation. Chances are the kid handing you the French fries or the cheap prize that you won will have an accent like a Cold War spy. My experience with adult Russian women is that they were all nuclear engineers, cardiologists, and astronauts become coming here to assume jobs as pole dancers. If the economy continues to suck like it does, typical shore jobs will be held by home-bred professionals who really were nuclear engineers, cardiologists, astronauts and public relations specialists before the country went broke.

There is another bar down at this end, but it’s no big deal and I don’t drink without ambiance. The fourth of my personal landmarks is the carousel in the arcade at Funtown. It is the real McCoy and a delight to look at and ride.

By now it was 8pm, and the piers were beginning to wind up for the night. I threw my leg over “Fireballs” and buttoned up my mesh armor. I was about to turn the key, when a voice that sounded like hot honey on a pancake said, “What kind of bike is that?”

The source of the voice was a stunningly beautiful hottie who had the kind of ass that I would wear as a hat for any occasion. And she was accompanied by another bucket of glowing rivets, who had the kind of smile that could illuminate the dark side of the moon.

“Huh,” I said, desperate for traction.

“We were trying to figure out what kind of bike this is,” she explained.

“It’s a BMW,” I said, looking around for the hidden camera. Sometimes reality TV shows have really beautiful women say things to guys like me to see if we can be provoked into doing something really stupid, and I was just about to show her how I can knock a seagull off a piling without using my hands.

“See,” she said to her friend. “I told you BMW made motorcycles.” Turning to me she added, “I think my grandfather has this bike.”

Her grandfather! Her friggin’ grandfather!

They both giggled and melted into the crowd, leaving me standing there like the ultimate jerk.

Snicking Fireballs into gear, I headed south with the boardwalk on my left. (It is simply a wooden sidewalk atop the dunes at this point.) But I couldn’t see the ocean and there was enough traffic on the street to be annoying. I found my way back to the bridge and headed west. My headlight was slicing through the Pine Barrens fifteen minutes later, and shortly thereafter, I was on the New Jersey Turnpike, doing well over 90 miles per hour. Even so, it would still take me two hours to get home.

Now some of you will fail to see the pleasure I got out of this run... This may be because you are mature riders who only find comfort in rural settings, or twisted roads through life's isolated canyons. Or it could be because you are as boring as hell, and have never danced with the painted whore as the ocean slams the beach in the background.

Some New Jersey readers might take exception to this piece. They will throw the poshness of Avalon and Long Beach Island in my face. Others will talk of Atlantic City and Wildwood. And shore purists will salute Cape May. Avalon and Long Beach Island have barbed wire in their jock straps. Atlantic City is a boardwalk on the South Bronx. Wildwood is just okay. And Cape May is Lake Placid on the ocean... A couple of beautiful old houses... A row of old hotels... Some very nice beaches... And a real sense of community, bound by slow moving traffic. Fucking swell.

Give me the painted whore.

I’ll take Seaside Heights and Seaside Park every time. I’m planning a ride to the Aztec Lounge again late in May. That’s because I won’t be able to wait any longer. And I’ll do it again in July, when the scent of hot cocoa butter is heavy in the air, and women walk by in outfits too small to hide a tampon fuse.

(Above) Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola from the un-reality series "Jersey Shore." Sammi is the only one in the cast from New Jersey, and she makes "Snooki" look like a badly packed suitcase. My motorcycle keys are hanging from her navel. The building to right in the background is where I like to eat clams, oysters, and corn. "Funtown USA" directly behind Sammi. Photo from the MTV site.

(Author’s note — There was recently a reality show called “Jersey Shore” produced under the auspices of MTV. In my opinion, this series was total bullshit and a very half-assed representation of Seaside Heights. Jersey girls are among the most beautiful of any in the world. In Jersey City, “Snooki,” one of the stars of this series, would be a “ten drink poke.” This means the average guy would have to have ten drinks before he would talk to her in a typical Jersey Shore bar. Every girl I ever knew in Hudson County, NJ was ten times prettier than “Snooki,” and 50 times smarter. Only one cast member in this series was from New Jersey. She is Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola, and she did justice to the Garden State.)

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2010
AKA The LIndbergh Baby (Mac Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With a shrug)


I would like to apologize to my readers for wandering off my Monday/Thursday Twisted Roads publication schedule in the past two weeks. Many of you wrote, or called, and said "WTF?" Well, sometimes I get distracted. And sometimes, as the winter draws to a close, I run out of stories and must ride to get new ones. Reader and friend Bob Skoot called me to suggest I change my blog to include articles about pink crocs, garden club pictures, how to make club sandwiches, and other things, to take up the non-riding slack.

When I stop writing about the smell of two-stroke oil, the inside of biker bars, biker women who either beat the shit out of me or pulled their shirts over my head, and the hot cookie from Nebraska who whispered the word "motorcycle" to me on the phone — and made me buy one — it's because I'm dead.

Let me know if I made the right choice. If you agree with Bob Skoot (author of Wet Coast Skootin'), please begin your comment with "Bob Skoot is right." If you agree with my approach, begin your comment with "Screw Bob Skoot."

Jack • reep • Toad