Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Trying To Break A Guiness Book Record

BMW Motorcycle Riders Go After Guinness Record In Fundraising Endeavor To Beat Pediatric Cancer

Snarls of high-powered motorcycles will tear the morning quiet of Hatfield, Pennsylvania on May 2, 2010, as hundreds of BMW riders from 18 counties (in six states) converge on this suburban community with the intent of smashing one barrier, while taking steps to eliminate another. To be smashed is the current standing count of the “largest group and collective parade” of BMW marque-exclusive motorcycles, as stated by the famous book of Guinness World Records. And while the bikes are assembling for the count, their riders will be contributing to a local hospital dedicated to stamping out pediatric cancer. According to Todd Trumbore, the primary organizer for the record-breaking attempt and fund-raising effort, this is an opportunity for bikers belonging to a tightly-knit riding community to band together and contribute to an even tighter community: children with cancer.

“The purpose of this event is two-fold,” said Trumbore. “It’s an opportunity for BMW motorcycle riders to be counted, and a chance for them to contribute to a cause that really counts.” Trumbore brought his idea of breaking the existing Guinness record to Bob Jones, the CEO of Montgomeryville Cycle Center, who immediately saw the potential to benefit a worthy cause. Jones pledged the use of his facility, and his staff, while offering to host all participants with a complimentary lunch.

“The BMW motorcycling community is undoubtedly one of the country’s tighter-knit groups,” said Jones. “As a rule, BMW bikers tend to be a solitary lot, riding great distances at speed — but by themselves. You will find them at many fundraising events, but they represent a true minority and tend to prefer the background. This is one event where every rider will have two things in common... A desire to eradicate cancer in kids and a motorcycle made in Bavaria.”

In keeping with Jones's perspective, it's not surprising to discover that the record number of BMW motorcycles gathered in one place, and ridden together (according to Guinness), is a modest 128 which was staged in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, on June 12, 2004. Yet records of this nature are set to be broken. Grass Roots BMW, in Cape Girardeau, MO, is currently awaiting confirmation of 241 riders in a subsequent record-breaking attempt event last September. If Trombore has his way, that record will pass to the Mac Pac.

"This number is almost routinely challenged by several BMW riding clubs in the United States, that conduct regional rallies at campgrounds or other places," said Trumbore. "Except that most of these guys don't show up in a single line. We're going to convene the largest BMW-exclusive group of riders, that have been recorded by Guinness, and take them on a ride through the Pennsylvania countryside." Riders will be counted as they register at the rallying point, Montgomeryville Cycle Center. They will be counted at the beginning of the parade/ride, and at the end, he added.

Trumbore is expecting more than 250 riders and has planned a routing that is conducive to keeping a large group together. There are six chartered BMW riding clubs within an 80-mile range of Montgomeryville. The Mac Pac, which serves the southeast Philadelphia area, has 250 active members by itself. The fund-raising, record-breaking endeavor has already received the support of these groups, several of which are now organizing group rides to attend.

BMW riders are an eclectic lot and it is expected that the event will draw an unusually high number of antique and vintage bikes, as well as some of the most sophisticated modern motorcycles currently available to the US market. "There will be those arriving on the new S1000RR, and a few showing up with sidecars that are more than 60 years old," said Trumbore. He has been riding BMW's for more than 30 years and has a collection of 34 vintage bikes he enjoys riding regularly.

The event is open to the motorcycle-riding public arriving on licensed and insured BMW motorcycles.

Registration will begin at 9am, rain or shine, Sunday, May 2, 2010, at Montgomeryville Cycle Center, 2901 Bethlehem Pike ( Rt. 309 ), Hatfield, PA 19440. The telephone number is: 215-712-7433. The official count will begin at 11am.

For additional information, contact:

Todd Trumbore

Event Coordinator


Bob Jones

CEO Montgomeryville Cycle Center & Event Coordinator



It is with no small degree of pride that I signed my name to the growing list of Mac Riders who will serve as volunteers, helping to organize and administer the Guiness Record Book-breaking attempt described in the piece above. Mac Pac members have a true sense of compassion, and raised $1400 in 90 minutes, by sponsoring Leslie/Stiffie — my hot squeeze—in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk. They routinely ride to the assistance of any member in extremis (be it a household move or working against rising waters in a local flood). And they have played pivotal roles in bringing training and technical events to riders across the country.

If you ride a BMW — be it new, vintage or antique — I urge you to turn out at Montgomeryville Cycle, on the morning of May 2, 2010. Your presence will make a “mark for the marque,” and your pocket change, $5’s, $10’s, or $20’s could make the difference to some kid battling pediatric cancer. This will be one of the greatest gatherings of “the Teutonic Unicorns” for a fun event benefiting a good cause. While “Twisted Roads” has covered some truly inane group rides, the one on May 2nd, 2010 may be the shortest, but it will certainly be the most memorable. I look forward to seeing you there.

Fondest regards,

Jack • reep • Toad

AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac Pac)

AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)

AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)

Friday, April 16, 2010

My First Moto-Joint...

Every neighborhood or town has a distinctive piece of road known for its peculiar characteristics. The most common of these is a straight stretch in some industrial locale (that shuts down over the weekend or on Sunday at least) or along some abandoned rail right of way that attracts the hot shots racers on both two and four wheels. Where I grew up, this length of pavement was Secaucus Road, which ran as straight as an arrow between Jersey City and Secaucus, New Jersey. Only two miles from midtown Manhattan, Secaucus Road was lined with swamp and had a slaughterhouse at one end, and a pig farm on the other.

Most towns have a “Dead Man’s Curve” too. In Hudson County, New Jersey, this was on Kennedy Boulevard, the dividing line between Union City and North Bergen, around 58th street. The traffic lights on Kennedy Boulevard were set to sync in those days, and it was fully possible to get up a decent head of steam — 55 to 65 miles per hour — early in the morning, and later at night. Then you’d hit that damn curve, which was tighter than a loan shark’s ass. So many people were killed there that it was one of the first places I ever knew to have a Jersey barrier... Even before US-1.

The old iron 14th Street viaduct in Hoboken, NJ ends at a “T” intersection about 25 stories in the air, clinging to two inclined roadways on the face of the lower Palisades. To the left is Jersey City and to the right is Union City. The nightmarish traffic jams that occur on this structure (which looks like it’s about to fall down) are legendary. This is 25% of the only four ways to enter the holy city of Hoboken, and it is about midway between the Lincoln and the Holland Tunnel river crossings into New York City. (It should be noted that the retaining wall on the cliff face here has fallen down a couple of times.)

(Above) The "Helix" dropping down into the Lincoln Tunnel. This picture is so old, that the third tube of the tunnel is not yet open. Photo from Wikipedia.

(Above) Night view of Manhattan from the cliffs of Weehawken, NJ.

These places are on my mind tonight as I have had a bit of an adventure on all of them. My race on Secaucus Road nearly ended in the swamp. I have almost been squeezed flat between a bus or two and the divider on "Dead Man's Curve." But the first time I ever leaned a motorcycle far over (like the big kids) was on the "Helix" coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel. But I wasn't quite myself at the time.

I was working on my first major literary project in 1976, and had engaged the services of an artist I had known in high school to illustrate the material. Ramone R. had a great talent for illustration and a rare sense of humor that often came out in his work. He was a minimalist when it came to line drawings, yet these were among his best stuff. Ramon lived in midtown Manhattan at the time, in a shithole of an apartment that defied description. A lot of my friends lived in Manhattan. I used to think they had contests among themselves to see who could find the shittiest place to live. My pal Scott Volk used to seek out apartments that were so shitty, roaches refused to live in them. (But I beat them all. I rented a place off Congress Street and New York Avenue in Jersey City that my father described as the prototype of Ralph Kramden’s dump in the television classic “The Honeymooners.”)

On the day upon which this story takes place, Ramone R. and I had been working for 6 hours straight and failed to find the connection between his art and mine.

“Fuck this,” said Ramone. “We’re getting no place fast. What we need is inspiration.” With that, he pulled out a plastic bag filled with shredded vegetation, and rolled a doobie as big as a hog's leg.

Now I was a late bloomer. In fact, there was talk that I was never going to bloom at all. I was 20, and had never smoked pot. I had long since discovered the benefits of the ancient Irish distilling process and would routinely go on a tear. But I didn’t smoke cigarettes and had never been a fan of inhaling the cigars I had started to enjoy. So for me, passing the bone or bong in a group was a given.

Ramone R. looked at me in disbelief when I told him this.

“You’re gonna get an education today,” he said. “This is really dynamite grass.”

The high I got from Ramone’s doobage was unlike anything I had experienced before. My ears went numb. I was utterly relaxed but pensive. I started to speak like a late night talk show host at a time when Joe Franklin (on WOR) was regarded as one of the kings of after-midnight talk TV.

Then Ramone’s girlfriend walked in, sniffing the air like a beagle.

In truth, she looked a lot like a beagle too. I expected her to lift a hairy leg and piss. She claimed to be a devout communist and had named her cat after Stalin’s wife. (I was tempted to ask if Stalin's wife shit in a reeking box under the sink in a kitchen.) Lots of women who looked like Ramone's squeeze were resigned to being communists in those days, apparently. They plotted to kill all the good-looking women and all the shallow guys who bought them nice presents too.

She wasn’t Russian but had taken a Russian first name that meant “Red Death To Those Who Thought With Their Dicks.” Not only did I think with my dick back then, but I used it as a kind of compass needle to point out the hottest female asses in large gatherings of people.

Ramone’s girl sat down opposite the two of us, and took the smoldering roach from his hand. “Red Death” inhaled in such a manner that the lit end glowed like a ruby in a fantasy novel, and served as a portal for all the smoke in the room to enter her body like she was some kind of a human air filter.

She then pulled off her shirt to reveal breasts that had never been confined in a bra, but which had taken on the shape of the drooping Chechnyan economy instead. I was never picky about things like this, but I wouldn't have picked these. (In those days, my standards were wide open. A pulse was pretty much the baseline requirement.) I recall she had a mole on one. Not the kind of mole that looks like an inflamed freckle, but one that was covered with fur, having the approximate dimensions of a hedgehog. (I had just seen the cult film classic Eraserhead and the pot I had smoked convinced me this mole could jump off and run around the room snarling.)

I was never one to judge people by their looks... Especially when it came to women who would take off their shirts on one hit of a joint. But I had met Ramone's girlfriend before. She was the most disagreeable communist who ever lived. Her face was constantly twisted in an expression of disapproval and the purity of her political beliefs were alleged to be proven by her aversion to hot showers, shampoo, and soap. She never called me "Comrade," but this was because she knew her mission in life was to publicly denounce those of my cushy ilk — if we were unfortunate enough to survive the revolution.

Ramone had met her at a party (a real party not the communist kind) and decided that she was the best option for getting laid that night. Their relationship kindled when he put on a beret and told her like he wanted to live like Ché Guevara. (Personally, I have never had to get laid that badly.)

“You should stay and meditate with us,” she said. "We'll smoke some more and get in touch with what's important." I suspected that meant I could look at her tits until I bought dinner, in the true spirit of the Revolution.

Now under the circumstances, I would have had a natural curiosity to see where this was going. But it was as if she had triggered a reflex reaction. My dick flipped me the keys to the bike down on the street and demanded we leave at once. I remember looking at the clock and saying something diplomatic like, “Don’t anybody get between me and the door.” I swear she hissed like a snake with a slow leak.

It was the summer, and the streets simmered in full daylight at 7:30pm. The pot had given midtown a softer quality and I felt oddly isolated from my surroundings. The curtain had gone up on Broadway, but the Saturday night crowd had yet to shuffle in. As usual, the Kawasaki 750 H2 started on the first kick, and I roared down to 9th Avenue, easily moving in and out traffic. I felt like I was part of a strange ballet, and this was so preposterous that I found myself laughing behind the cheap plastic face-shield, snapped onto the open-faced helmet.

In the next instant, I dove into the Lincoln Tunnel. It was like flying through a tube designed to magnify that bizarre two-stroke sound “Ying... Ying... Ying... Yinggggggggggggggggg.” The dim lights on the edges of the tunnel roof flashed by like an effect from a Stanley Kubrick movie. I came out the other side, feeling like a circus performer being shot out of a huge cannon... Then I flew up the “helix” doing about 65 miles per hour. Twenty minutes later, I was at my girl’s place. She was not a communist. She had been a star on the college equestrian team... She didn’t have a cat, and if she did, it wouldn’t be involved in a plot to kill the Czar. She had the kind of flawless breasts that ancient Greek sculptors would spend entire lifetimes trying to recreate in stone. She gave off a faintly scented pheromone that had an all-American girl air to it. The compass pointed straight and true to the red, white, and blue.

I was still pretty stoned when she opened the door, though the sensation was starting to fade.

“What are you doing here,” my squeeze asked. “I didn’t think I’d see you at all tonight. I figured you and Ramone would get into some kind of trouble in the city.”

“You have no idea what ideological hell I escaped. Do you have any ice cream or Oreos,” I asked, putting my arms around her waist, burying my face in her hair.

She kissed me and asked, “Are you fucking high?”

This is a story about an evening in my youth upon which I rode a motorcycle. Neither the author nor the editorial review board of Twisted Roads advocates the unsafe operation of a motorcycle while under the influence of substances that normally make individuals like myself susceptible to suggestions offered by topless women. The names have been changed in the odd event that someone I know, like Ihor Sypko, will figure out the real players, and inadvertently spill the beans. There is no moral to this story. And if the gentle reader wants to know if I learned anything from this experience, the answer is “no.”

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

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bird Caught In BMW Gas Tank

A glance at the odometer told me how much gas was in the tank. It read “63 miles,” which was how far I had ridden since topping off on my way back from my last run. In theory, this meant I had approximately three and a half gallons at my disposal, which at a reasonable 70 mph, translated into a 147-mile range. This should have been more than enough for the ride of last Thursday, April 8, 2010.


I have been riding this bike for a little more than 2 years now and can pretty much predict how it will behave under most conditions, including the extent of its thirst. It gets between 42 and 45 miles per gallon — unless I really twist on the throttle. “Fireballs” starts to hit the bottle heavily when the speedo gets above 90 mph, especially as its 71 horses dig in their hooves to move my ponderous ass. I am delighted to report that even at 7 grand in 5th gear, the machine responds “enthusiastically” to throttle inputs. But this spirit gulps 94 octane with reckless abandon.

Though the 1995 BMW K75 has a gas warning light, the meaning of this glowing red omen has become a subject of contention (at least for me). The factory preset position would trigger the advisory when there is still slightly more than two gallons of gas available (90 to 100 miles of range), which made me nuts. I can’t really explain why it made me nuts, other than I was always afraid I’d forget how long I may have been riding on it, or how fast I’d been going during these intervals.

An adjustment of the tank float by my mechanic appears to have lowered this margin to a gallon of gas, or a mere 40 miles — which is what I wanted. That way, I am compelled to get gas as soon as the damn thing lights up. And perhaps that should have been the end of my gas tank drama. Yet nothing is ever that simple.

The bike has a fuel pump in the gas tank that seldom makes a sound no louder than a low hum. This can become a chirping as the gas light goes on, and the fuel level drops in the tank. I have been told that this is a routine development as the pump works harder to suck the gas off the bottom. I have also been told that the gas in the tank serves to cool the fuel pump as it labors. And finally, I have been told that in 99 and 44/100ths percent of the time, any increase in the sound of the fuel pump means a blockage in the fuel filter, which is also located in the gas tank.

I have been told these things by BMW riders whose collective ages go back to the signing of the Magna Carta, and whose aggregate mileage is equal to three times the distance between the Earth and Saturn. They are Dr. Albert Hissingaz, Wilhelm Peltzer, and Heinrich K. Schmidt. (It is rumored that the K75 derives its alphabetic designation from Schmidt’s middle initial.)These statements cannot be contested.

Those not familiar with the unusual characteristics of the K75 will be surprised to learn that the gas tank gets as warm as a hot water heater in normal summertime operation. It was blistering hot on the day of The Great Slider Run. Temperatures were more appropriate for early July, as opposed to late March. And there was still three gallons of gas in the tank when my fuel pump started to make the “chirping” sound.

“What fucking fresh hell is this?” I asked in my most analytical tone. By the time I got to the White Castle in Toms River, the chirping of the fuel pump was quite audible over the running of the engine.

“That sounds like a blockage in the fuel filter,” said BMW sage Don Eilenberger. “It is easily fixed by replacing the fuel filter.”

By the time I got home, the chirping could be heard over a drive-by shooting... And it was constant, regardless of the gas level in the tank, though by this time the gas level warning light was glowing like a fresh rivet.

Which brings us back to last Thursday’s ride. The fuel pump was quiet for a few miles, than started in with the chirping noise again. Those of you with a strong sense of mechanical appreciation are now thinking, “Mechanical issues don’t heal like a flesh wound, stupid.” Well, there’s always a first time.

We stopped on the shoulder of the expressway for me to put my feet down. Hearing the sound, Dick Bregstein said, “You need a new fuel filter. But it’s easily fixed.”

(Above) The mighty Conowingo Dam is the largest structure of its kind in the universe. The angler in the water is actually a statue 324 feet high. Photo from Wikipedia.

Our destination was the Union Hotel (Tavern and Restaurant), in Port Deposit, Maryland. This was a short run (about 110 miles roundtrip) that would bring us to the shoulders of the Conowingo Dam. Turning left at the heavily wooded banks of the Susquehanna River, the road plunges beneath arches of oaks and maples whose roots have felt the marching feet of blue-coated troops heading off to the Civil War. This short stretch of a few miles provides the rider with glimpses of impressive stone railroad bridges in the woods, and the soothing sensation of pockets of cool air, where streams pass under the pavement before splashing into the bucolic Susquehanna. The road runs into historic Port Deposit, which is about three quarters of a mile long, and two blocks wide. Many of the buildings in this little town, are built from stone, hand-cut from cliffs towering over the main street.

We weren’t going that far.

The Union Hotel sits on a little bluff halfway between the dam and Port Deposit. I am not chagrined to let the gentle reader know that the tavern part of the Union Hotel is well-known to Harley riders in the region. The bar is typically surrounded by hundreds of Harleys — both stock and exotic —on any Saturday or Sunday. A piece of Wonder bread will be toasted to a crisp in seconds, if exposed to the sunlight refracted from that sea of parked chrome. I am an open-minded man, however, and will drink with the devil when I am hot. My objective was to snort a beer cold enough to shrivel my iguana on its way out.

(Above) US-1 crossing the Conowingo Dam. The pavement is wide enough for a 747 to land on. Photo from Wikipedia.

The parking lot was empty when we turned in. We were greeted by signs which advised that no rider wearing club colors would be admitted to the premises. These were repeated on the door of the bar — which was closed. But the restaurant (in a separate building) was open. And it was here we got the surprise of our lives. The Union Hotel was built of hand-hewn logs in 1790. The structure remains authentic inside and out. It is like dining in a museum of Americana. Our server, Heather, was dressed in period costume and presented us with menus, which include rabbit, venison, bear, and alligator tail, in the appropriate seasons. We ate light. Gerry Cavanaugh and Dick Bregstein had Maryland crab chowder, which they rated as “very good.” I had an open-faced pepper steak sandwich that was excellent. This restaurant was the kind of place you’d take a woman you really wanted to impress. We were there about 90 minutes.

(Above) The restaurant building for the Union Hotel (Tavern and Restaurant). Photo from the internet.

The chirping resumed as soon as I hit the starter button. Gerry looked at the gas tank in amazement, and said, “You got a blocked fuel filter, but it’s easily replaced.”

The ride home was fast, but not as fast as I had envisioned, nor quite as uneventful as the run down. The lack of municipal funding has the cops out in force. They were everywhere, and the stretches of pavement on which Dick and I have had some fun in the past were crisscrossed by radar beams. The attention of the authorities was warranted on at least one curve, however. Traffic was stopped as cops and fireman dealt with a pickup truck that was against the embankment — on its roof. Two young gentlemen, both in handcuffs, were cooling their heels in the back of a police car.

While there was never any hesitation nor lack of power from my bike, the chirping from the gas tank became a constant shrilling. It sounded like a song bird caught in wringer. My thought was that the electric fuel pump would draw more current as it worked against added resistance of a clogged fuel filter, either blowing a fuse or frying a relay. I had no idea if this was even a possibility, but not knowing inspired me to utter a fervent, “Shit, I just want to get home.”

I did.

I switched out the fuel filter and changed the oil (that filter too) on Sunday. Actually, Clyde Jacobs changed them while I made him a hot dog and poured a cold beer. My intentions were good though. I told Clyde I wanted to watch the process, but he asked, “to what purpose,” and I had no good answer. The bad news is that the fuel filter did not seem substantially clogged. We ran the bike for ten minutes but there was no chirping. I will be very surprised if a $600 fuel pump does not sacrifice its life for a $29 fuel filter.

Actually, the fuel pump for a K75 is not $600... It is $19,289.

Anybody want to bet me it’s not the fuel filter?

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

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Second Annual Great Slider Ride Unfolds

Friday, March 19th — The Night Before The Great Slider Ride

Some men pursue vast wealth. Others seek power and influence. And still others lust for women of great beauty. Since I have two out of three, all I want out of life is a solid 8 hours of sleep the night before a big ride. That doesn’t seem like much, does it? Yet a good night’s sleep on the night before an exciting ride eludes me just as the Holy Grail slipped through the fingers of a million crusaders. But it has always been that way regardless of the occasion. Christmas Eve, Valentine's Day in the Catholic Girls Academy, and the night before opening day of deer or trout season would find me up and fussing about something, with the result that I would be dog-tired when the action stated at dawn.

Despite my commitment to hitting the sack as soon as it got dark, I had a few things to write... I had some gear to organize... And I had a few things I wanted to do in the garage. The Time was 7:15pm, when I started going through my e-mail. The next time I looked at the clock, it read 1:10am. “Holy shit,” I thought, “How the hell did that happen?” Naturally, I hadn’t moved from my seat in 5 hours, so none of the remaining gear got organized and nothing I wanted to do in the garage got done. (One of these minor tasks included wiping four-month old dead insects and crud now firmly welded through time to the face-shield on my helmet. But I didn’t know this yet.)

The thing I had wanted to do most was reacquaint myself with the motorcycle through a series of local rides, varying in distance from 50 to 100 miles, before straddling this thing in front of a lot of witnesses. This sounds simple enough, yet I had a savage case of the jitters as this season opened. The jitters, as I know them, are a combined fear of dropping the bike in a curve, the anticipation of that first outrageous jolt of pain I get as my arthritic left hip bends to get my foot onto the peg, and that blood-chilling confrontation with death that comes when the first asshole in a car or worse — a minivan — makes that left turn in your face.

The clock was set for 5am, which gave me four hours of sleep. There was a time in my life when four hours of sleep would have been plenty. But I have to grudgingly admit that time has passed. And to the casual observer, getting up at 5am for a ride with a posted departure time of 10am might seem somewhat demented. But there is always the unexpected with me. I wanted to get to the rallying point an hour early, which made my estimated time of arrival 9am. Plus I have some other challenges. My pain and anti-inflammatory medications take a good hour before having any kind of effect, and simply getting my riding boots on can burn 20 minutes. (And these boots do have a Velcro fastening and a zipper.)

The lateness of the hour, coupled with the need to get up so early on a day when Leslie could sleep, prompted me to crash in one of the spare bedrooms. Even so, the bed was crowded as I climbed in with fear, anxiety, and stress (owing to the concern that I had left some detail unaddressed). Nothing calms a man down like savage sexual release, however, and in my mind, I decided to fuck the fear.

I no longer keep a loaded pistol under the pillow. Which is why I didn’t shoot the alarm clock went it went off 240 minutes later. Clocks don’t really ring anymore. This one chips like an electronic cricket. It is the kind of sound you’d expect a kidney stone to make if you could piss transistors. The ambient light in the March atmosphere at 5am isn’t useful enough to do something important, like diffusing a bomb. But it is sufficient to adjust the clock to chirp again an hour later. I did this, knowing that I would wake from a deep sleep every 10 minutes or so as some kind of hellish reflex mechanism against oversleeping. This is the sleep equivalent of waterboarding, and I was ready to sign anything, or admit to any crime, by the time 6am rolled around.

Three cups of coffee later, I started to go through my last minute checklist. Only one item was unchecked: #241 -- Run out route sheets for all riders.

There was 62 inches of snow on the ground when I initially posted the details for the Second Annual Great Slider Ride back in February. While the ride was open for anyone who wanted to show up, my primary target had been the Mac Pac, the chartered BMW Motorcycle Owners of America’s riding club serving Philadelphia. I thought It would be cool if I got 5 or 6 of the guys to ride with me into New Jersey. (Only two guys showed up on the original slider run, and they lived in New Jersey.) My usual partner in two-wheeled crime, Dick Bregstein, would be a sure thing. Matt Piechota is another sport usually good for a ride like this. And Corey Lyba had been one of the first to respond.

Then something very odd happened.

The idea of riding 100 miles to one of the world’s scalier burger joints to celebrate my birthday apparently had some mystical appeal. Doug Braley called in from mid-Virginia to tell me he would make the ride, and that he was bringing one of his buddies. They'd be arriving the day before (a 300 plus-mile run), and leaving the day after. ECO Dan chimed in from North Carolina (even further south). He’d be coming up for the festivities too — in one of the two priceless ECOmobiles in the United States. Club members I hadn’t seen in four months began to surface, claiming they’d be at the staging point. Guys I had never ridden with before (Roddy Irwin, Eric Hoet, and Brad Jocoby) checked in. Jim Sterling III (the engineer who built my K75 step) was riding up from Delaware. Joe Sestrich dropped me a line that he’d be riding despite having his left arm in a cast. Chris Jaccarino sent a message saying he was "in," regardless of having limited use of his left arm owing to shoulder surgery. “I’ll ride the Gold Wing,” said Jaccarino. “That bike handles so easily I only need one hand anyway.”

By Friday night, there were 20 bikes signed up for the Great Slider Ride. Four more were going to meet us on the other side of the Commodore Barry Bridge in New Jersey. And another six would be at the White Castle in Tom’s River. This was going to take a bit of managing. My thought was to break the riders down into two groups of 10. Brad Jocoby had entered my original ride routing into his laptop Garmin program, and sent me the line-by-line directions. I made 20 copies of these and thrust them into my topcase. (Jacoby also provided a site by which the charted route could be directly programmed into one’s GPS.) It was my thought to dto ask Brad Jacoby to lead the second group (which he was only too happy to do). Leading 20 bikes through two or three urban areas loaded with traffic lights is a real pain in the ass. (The best number for a great group ride is two. You can easily accommodate 5, if you split that number into two groups of 2 and 3 respectively, and agree on the places you’re going to stop at for lunch or dinner at the end of the day.)

Saturday, March 20th — The Second Annual Great Slider Ride Begins

I rolled the bike out of the garage into 41º (F) of blue skies and bright sunshine. The forecast had been for temperatures as high as 71º (F), but a shiver ran through me as I touched the cool metal of the highly waxed tank.

“Just the morning chill,” I assured myself. I have made the mistake of dressing too lightly for early spring rides and have frozen my ass off as a result. “Not today,” I thought, slipping into my fall/winter Joe Rocket ballistic jacket. This was my first stupid decision of the day, and it was predicated on the fact that I didn’t want to get cold. It never occurred to me that I’d be too hot. Even so, I took the vent panels out of the shell as 41º is still a bit warm for this jacket — even without the liner.

The moment of truth had arrived. I swung my leg over the bike and sat in the seat for the first time in 4 months. Mounting was easier than I expected. A slight twinge in my back asked the question, “Will we be sitting like this for a long time this morning?” My biker psyche responded with a curt, “Fuck you. Just ride the motorcycle.”

The K75 fired right up and quickly idled down to 1000 rpm, on the first setting on the idle advance lever. I don’t give a shit what the manual says, warming up the engine at a quick idle for three-minutes at the beginning of the day gets the most out of this motor. (It should be noted that this bike is 15 years old.) The bike is ready to go when the idle climbs to 1500 rpm with the advance lever set in the first notch. Snapping my left leg up to the peg sent a jolt of pain through my spine. I cannot lift this leg to the peg on the fly and my left hip was really stiff after not having had to do this for four months.

(Above) At the rallying point, the author astride "Fireballs, a 1995 BMW K75" — surrounded by the cream of the Mac Pac. (From Left - Rob Haut, Jack Weiss, the author, Dick Bregstein and Mark Mehalik. Photo by Joe Sestrich/

I snicked the K75 into gear and rolled off, navigating with caution through the gravel and grit in the street, left over from winter snows. Getting on the bike had been fairly effortless and the gravel that had so paralyzed my thoughts was absolutely nothing. I adjusted to the movement and control of the bike with the physical aptitude of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. Every traffic light on my way to the Starbucks in Exton was green, which was great, as I didn’t have to put my feet down once during the ten-minute ride. I bounced into the coffee shop driveway, thinking I was one of the first to arrive.

The lot in back was choked with motorcycles.

“Well Fat-Ass,” said Bregstein, “Glad you could make it. You're not going to fuck this up today, are you?”

Doug Braley was standing with his eyes aimed at the ground. He’d ridden from Virginia with Bill Mauser the day before, and they had spent the evening getting tuned up at a local bar. “Things got ugly,” said Braley, gently shaking his head in recognition of a hangover that registered 6 on the Richter scale. Braley has an interesting accent. He described his hangover like a Confederate general surveying the wreckage of Gettysburg. "But we came to ride," he added, "And here we are. I just hope you don't fuck this up today, Jack." Braley and Mauser were joined by Linus Johnson, of Freehold, NJ, who rode in to meet the them the day before. Johnson was riding a Harley Road Glide, or something like that. It looked rather quaint. (I was surrounded by guys who had ridden hundreds of miles just to get here!)

Now there was also another gentlemen who introduced himself as "Vince," who rode in from New Jersey that morning to make this ride. I originally thought he was part of the Braley entourage. (He wasn't.) Had I been aware of that I personally would have introduced him around. I did not catch Vince's last name. But Vince, if you read this, please contact me through my email address on this blog.

(Above) A gathering of the "Roundels," and what "Roundels" there are! The parking lot od the Starbucks in Exton, Pa looked like a BMW Christmas list on March 20, 2010. Photo by Dick Bregstein.

(Above) Ken Bruce and his signature smile roll into the staging area on a mighty BMW GS Adventure that has seen both coasts. He has an amazing ability to not get flustered over anything. Patti Minner, in Ken's shadow, is riding pillion. Picture by Joe Sestrich.

“Happy Birthday,” said Kimi Bush to me, in her best Marilyn Monroe tone. She had just pulled up on her legendary pink F650GS, known as Tuff Cookie. Kimi has a smile like the bubbles in champagne. She popped open my top case to find me a bottle of water, and handed it to me, whispering, “Don’t fuck up this ride today, Slim.”

(Above) Kimi Bush and Patti Minner listen to the author with rapture. Yet Jay Scales, who rode down from Allentown, is masked with skepticism. Scales' expression clearly says, "Riepe is going to fuck this up today." In the background, Matt Piechota is demonstrating how he would conceal a gunshot wound to his shoulder. Photo by Joe Sestrich.

Rob Haut was the only one who showed up in a cage. “My rig won’t be ready until tomorrow,” said Haut, “And I hate to miss this run, but I wanted to get here and say, ‘Hello’ before the start. Then he turned to me and said in a much lower voice, “Are you okay to ride? Because you don’t want to fuck up this run today.”

Matt Piechota slapped me on the back and said, “Happy Birthday. Did you know the guys are running a pool that you’re going to fuck up this ride today?”

Roddy Irwin was among the last to arrive. “I’m having battery trouble,” declared Irwin. “I brought an auxiliary system to get started but I don’t want anyone to stop with me if I breakdown enroute.” Irwin insisted I announce this to the group, and I did so, knowing full well that no one would leave him by the side of the road.

It was a like attending a family reunion in which you genuinely liked everyone who was there. As was to be expected, the predominant marque was BMW. And the majority of these were the incredibly popular and super-utilitarian-looking GS models, with their warehouse store-type side bins, capable of holding one or two tons of gear. There was one Harley in the Electra Glide style, one Honda Gold Wing, and one Honda Shadow. The setting looked like a SWAT-team convention, with everyone wearing the regulation Aerostitch leathers or ballistic riding gear. The only one in jeans was me. While there is nothing sexier than a woman in boots, tight jeans, and a halter top that can barely accommodate the contents, black ballistic gear shows a lady’s best qualities right down to her soul.

With kickstands up exactly at 10am, I led the first group out onto US-30 — The Lincoln Highway. The second contingent came out hot on our heels. A quarter of a mile up the road, I glanced into my rearview mirror and saw that line of headlights (and riding lights) disappear back toward the convex horizon, knowing that each brilliant ball of light was a friend of mine, who’d put their confidence in me for this goofy ride. (Joe Sestrich would shortly suggest to Brad Jacoby that the second contingent should pull over and create more of an interval between the two groups. There were 12 bikes following me and eight trailing behind.)
But I have to admit, there was a feeling of power at the head of this long line. As we stopped for the first traffic light, an old lady in car in the next lane rolled down her window and sweetly said to me, “Now don’t fuck up the ride today, Fatboy.”

And that was it... The curse was on me.

The stretch in Pennsylvania started in a strip mall, ran through some marginal fields, farms, and orchards, then plunged straight into Chester. This place is a city the same way that Jersey City, Queens, and the Loop Section of Chicago are cities: congested, tight, and devoid of the traditional qualities one associates with pastoral beauty. It is a community to those who live there, but many of the looks we drew were less than warm. In fact, the street-side tableaus are more in keeping with the sets of the silent film classic “Metropolis,” directed by Fritz Lang in 1927. We spent ten minutes in Chester, before crossing the Commodore Barry Bridge into New Jersey.

(Above) Mark Mehalik, riding in the second contingent, pulls over to widen the gap between the two groups. He is on a magnificent BMW K1200S.

(Above) Chris Jaccarino and Melinda Bonanni waiting for the line to surge forward again. Chris is riding a Honda Gold Wing. Photo by Joe Sestrich

The Delaware river is fully navigable by ocean-going vessels at the Commodore Barry Bridge, which is the fourth largest cantilever bridge in the world and the longest in the United States. Shooting up the long ramps is the closest thing to flying on a motorcycle. The roadway towers over a dozen industrial structures on the river’s edge, including some kind of sports complex currently under construction. I have a tendency to open the throttle and go like hell over bridges like this, but there was traffic and the cops ruthlessly monitor the speed on this crossing. Coming down the New Jersey side, one descends into a pleasant checkerboard of vegetable farms (incredible tomatoes in the summer) and bedroom communities that lead all the way into Glassboro, a college town with a troubled history. In the recent past, there was a problem here with rapes and beatings of students from a criminal element in town. One student, a male about 18 years old, was beaten to death in broad daylight on the Rowan campus. (My daughter got her Masters degree here, and I lectured at two of her classes.)

(Above) The Commodore Barry Bridget, named for a local Revolutionary War Hero, spans the mighty Delaware River between Chester, Pa and Bridgeport, NJ. It is the longest cantilevered span in the United States. Photo from Wikipedia.

Yet before we reached Mullica Hill, it was necessary to pull over a mile into the “Garden State” to pick up four other riders. It was here we met Tom and Kathy Mohn with their ECOmobile, and ECO Dan, with his ECOmobile. (Kathy Mohn rode her Honda Shadow.) These are the only two machines of their kind in the United States. Running about $84,000 each, they are fully enclosed motorcycles (with BMW engines) that drop landing gear at each full stop. Leather interiors, air conditioning, heat, wipers, and defrosters are standard. We were also joined by Jim Sterling and Clyde Jacobs, mounted on more traditional Beemers. While pulled over here, we were passed by the second contingent, who rolled by flashing their lights and blowing their horns. We wouldn’t see them again for nearly 3 more hours — a sad development considering the whole ride should have taken 2.5 hours and we were already 45 minutes into it.

(Above) The rarest of birds — two ECOmobiles parked side-by-side — awaited us along with Clyde Jacobs and James Sterling III, a mile from the Commodore Barry Bridhe in New Jersey. Photo by Dick Bregstein.

We turned south in pleasant Mullica Hill and headed for the part of New Jersey given over to farming and cranberry cultivation. It was my thought to provide the Mac Pac with an easy run through one of the prettiest sections of the state. It was a fantastic day for a motorcycle ride, with piercing sunlight and temperatures now in the mid-60s. In fact, it was getting downright hot in my solid black ballistic jacket when we’d stop for the occasional light. There were hundreds of motorcycles out and about. Actually, we passed dozens of Harley Davidson groups – parked at various coffee shops. They’d look up and wave, then stare dumbstruck at the two UFO’s following right behind me.

I have to tell the guileless reader that I took shameful advantage of this situation. Pretty women in cars, on street corners, and by the side of the road would wave at the two ECOmobiles, and try to take pictures with their cell phones. Naturally, I’d wave back, occasionally standing on my pegs and pointing to my crotch. I wonder how many of these cell phone shots actually have me in one of my classic poses. (I’m surprised I haven’t surfaced on You Tube yet.)

At one intersection, we passed a woman who I will cruelly refer to as "farkle ass." Her ass was approximately the same size as mine, and fashion-wise, that calls for nothing less obvious than a camouflage net. She was wearing skin-tight jeans, the ass of which was adorned with brass studs, chains, silver medalions, fancy stitching, and two illuminated panels which read "Pass" on the left and "Danger" on the right. There were numbers on her butt as well. There was speculation that these were either the weight restriction of the seams or a zip code.

The ride was going well enough, when I fucked up on a huge scale.

I am without a doubt the worst rider in the Mac-Pac, and leading a long column of experts makes my edgy. Plus the heat started to climb with each mile, and the sweat was bubbling out of my fall ballistic jacket. We were on US-40, looking for NJ-54, when I saw the sign for NJ-55. I panicked, wondering if I had read the map incorrectly. “Could there be two state highways right next to each other, numbered 55 and 54, both heading north?” I asked myself. I concluded not and lead the group onto NJ-55 North. And thus with one simple move, I gave the French kiss of death to our schedule and pleasant ride.

A divided four-lane highway, we shot up to 65 mph — and went right back to where we had started from — Glassboro, NJ. I threw in the towel at this point and asked Ken Bruce to take charge with the GPS. He did so with a laugh, and led us over to US-206. At one point, he stopped and asked me, “The GPS wants to take us on the Atlantic City Expressway. Does that sound right to you?” It was then I made the third mistake of the day. I said to Ken,”Is there another way?” There was, but the Atlantic City Expressway would have gotten us to US-206 in ten minutes. Ken took the local roads at my request. We plodded along for over 30 miles at under 40 miles per hour.

It was at this point that the medication I took at 6am started to fade. The pain ran from my knees to my balls, then up my back. I was gritting my teeth, but welcoming every chance to put my legs down. And then it hit 75º degrees. I began to radiate solar energy through my ass to the earth’s core. We hit the next-to-the-last outbound leg of the ride (NJ-70) with visible relief. This is a nice shaded run through the pine barrens and it is possible to occasionally tickle the speed limit. It was here that Clyde Jacobs waved me to the shoulder with the news that we had lost one of the ECOmobiles. We waited five minutes, when Corey Lyba yelled, “What are we waiting for?” The missing ECO Mobile was right behind him.

I used to love NJ-70. It runs through scrub pine forest, sanded clearings, little lakes, and cranberry bogs. Traffic was heavy this day, and we were crawling along at 50 mph, or five miles less than the speed limit. Sixty cars ahead of us, some asshole in one of those little boxy toy trucks was crawling along, with his eyes riveted to the pavement, which was otherwise clear to the horizon.

He was either a new driver or a total dope. There was a good possibility he was both.

In 20 minutes, he was passed by two cement mixers and a tractor-trailer. A S.Q.U.I.D (So Quick Until I Die) wove past us at the speed of light, and almost bought it when the "dope in the box" forced him into the other lane. (The SQUID was at fault.) It seemed like forever before it was our turn. Not once did it occur to this dope to pull over. Six motorcycles passed him at one shot and the guy never even swerved right to make it easier on any of us.

(Above) Dick Bregstein is in the lead as the last group of BMW riders pulls into the White Castle, in Toms River, New Jersey. That's Kathy Mohn hot on his tail, astride a Honda Shadow. Photo by Joe Sestrich.

(Above) Tom Mohn carefully noses the ECOMobile up to the author's ass to try and prevent Riepe from falling off the back of "Fireballs." Mohn put his machine at great risk here as conventional wisdom claims Riepe's ass isn't worth $84,000. Mohn said he wouldn't do it after Riepe had eaten a slider. On the sidewalk are Katherine Riepe, (the author's daughter), Jonathan Bryce, Ihor Sypko (author's friend for 40 years), Sarah Gaddis (the author's niece) and Eileen Riepe (the author's sister). Photo by Joe Sestrich.

(Above) Kimi Bush's pink F650GS "Tuff Cookie" really stands out in a crowd. The bike was painted by her husband Corey Lyba. Brad Jacoby's Significant other, Jessie, on the left, with Chris Jaccarino, his Significant Other Melinda, and Joe Sestrich (in the gray sweatshirt). Photo by Erik Hoet.

(Above) Katherine Riepe, the author's daughter, modeled the "Riepe Pit Crew" tee shirt in its debut presentation. She is seen here in a rare photo with her dad. Katherine went among the masses distributing White Castle cheeseburgers, hamburgers, and fries. Katherine looks like her mom and her Aunt Kate. Jack Weiss and Erik Hoet are in the background on the left. Kimi Bush is in the foreground (with her back to the camera). Photo by Don Eilenberger.

(Above) Mac Pac Rider Kimi Bush has the kind of smile that makes a guy wish he always had something clever to say. I told her that once. Her response was, "Peddle your bullshit walking, Pops." Photo by Joe Sestrich.

(Above) Mac Pac Rider Chris Jaccarino, who made this trip with a left shoulder recovering from surgery, offers to steady "Fireballs," while the author prepares to make one of his highly entertaining dismounts. Jaccario claims he never gets any credit in this blog for being the first to suggest making a "step" for easier mounting; nor for bleeding the brakes on the previous bike (Blueballs), when an incompetent tire vendor split the calipers at a BMW Rally. "I'm tired of bailing out your fat ass and getting no recognition for it," said Jaccario. Chris Jaccario also once said to the author, "You and I will never ride together," in tribute to Riepe's level of riding skill. Since then, Riepe and Jaccarino have ridden together on several great occasions. The best was the "Great Centralia" ride, recounted in detail as a feature in the BMW MOA's monthly "Owner's News." Photo by Joe Erik Hoet.

(Above) I got off the motorcycle without incident. I am looking at Harold Gantz, who is saying he has never seen anything quite like my dismount technique. I parked close to Gantz's bike and he gasped when I sort of did my falling dismount in its direction. To the far right of the picture is James A. Sterling III, who designed my portable step and chain. Photo by Erik Hoet.

I took the lead again when we hit NJ-37 in Tom’s River. It was a short 6 miles to the White Castle. The last turn before the driveway was a bad New Jersey Dogleg. I made it with my right leg down (as it was now hurting to move either one). We rolled into the White Castle to cheers and whistles. The parking lot was swarming with motorcycles and everyone was clapping and laughing. I unzipped my jacket and two gallons of sweat poured out onto the ground, where it evaporated on the asphalt with a loud hiss.

Joining the Mac-Pac were 6 riders from the New Sweden BMW group, including Don Eilennberger, Harold Gantz, and Tony Luna (of Motorcycle Views). My daughter Katherine, my sister Eileen, my niece Sarah, and one of my oldest friends, Ihor Sypko, were also in attendance. Katherine was wearing a tee shirt that read, “Riepe’s Pit Crew... Fireballs... 1995 BMW K75.”

(Above) The line of bikes (all with tachs as OEM standard -- except for the Harley and the Honda) take the breath away from onlookers not used to Teutonic royalty. Jim Sterling III is in the foreground. Photo by Tony Luna.

(Above) The Tom Mohn's ECOmobile brings the story of deep space to a New Jersey parking lot where any space is at a premium. For a an hour or two, the ECOmobiles were the most expensive and exotic vehicles in six New Jersey counties. Photo by Tony Luna.

(Above) ECO Dan's ECOmobile raised the property value of the White Castle in Toms River by a hefty sum while it was in the parking lot. The clean lines of the machine are part of its incredible appeal. Photo By Joe Sestrich.

Never before has any White Castle ever seen such an eclectic collection of motorcycles. There was some of the fastest BMW’s ever made (Tony Luna got his up to 146 on a track). There were some of the most expensive (The Ecomobiles). Some extremely vintage machines (a Moto Guzzi from the New Sweden Group). And the ultra practical R1200GS’s which formed the majority. This was one of the rare occasions when the “R” bikes outnumbered the “K” machines. (There is no accounting for taste.) But beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was a red letter “Roundel” day. The line of riders ordering sliders ran through the restaurant, out the door, and into the parking lot. The manager of the place asked my sister what was going on. When she explained it was my birthday and that these guys had ridden in from all over, he replied, “We’re glad to have them. It was real slow here before.”

(Above) Corey Lyba, another BMW R1200 GS rider, questions the culinary significance of the White Castle Slider. Photo by Joe Sestrich

(Above) Matt Piechota waits to see if anyone will die from eating a slider before he removes his jacket. After this ride, he jumped on his BMW "R" bike and headed north to Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Joe Sestrich.

(Above) Mac Pac Rider Mark Mehalik strikes a dramatic pose in front of the bike lineup. To the right in the background is Tony Luna. Photo by Joe Sestrich.

(Above) Veteran rider Joe Sestrich never visits a White Castle burger joint without bringing a roll of toilet paper and a jar of liquified frogs. Note the Velcro® fastening on Sestrich's left arm. The sleeve is cut to conceal a cast. Sestrich has had a cast, a bandage, or crutches for every riding season during the past three years. Photo by Roddy Irwin.

(Above) Brad Jacoby (left) and Significant Other, Jessie Moran, led the second contigent of BMW riders to the White Castle in Toms River, New Jersey, arriving 20 minutes before the first group, which got hopelessly lost under Riepe's Direction. Photo by Joe Sestrich

(Above) Legendary arborist Roddy Irwin in front of his K75, which required a unique battery fortification system to start. Photo by Joe Sestrich

(Above) This was Roddy Irwin's auxiliary charging system. Photo by Joe Sestrich.

(Above) My White Castle Birthday Cake, compliments of Ihor Sypko. Photo by Ihor Sypko.

I ordered 65 sliders, nine more than my age, and Katherine went among the crowd handing them out. (My kid is as hysterical as she is beautiful.) My niece was astounded. “Why would anyone have a birthday party in this place?” asked Sarah, looking around in amazement. (This was to imply that the White Castle was a real shithouse.)

“Your crazy Uncle would,” said my sister. “It has something to do with irony and sarcasm, two things which used to get the shit beaten out of him on a regular basis when he was your age.”

(Above) The author (BMW tee shirt), Clyde Jacobs (Red BMW tee shirt), and Dick Bregstein (Blue BMW tee shirt), listen to Ihor Sypko relate his dream of owning a BMW motorcycle and riding with us. Photo by Erik Hoet.

(Above, from left) Ken Bruce, Jay Scales (red BMW tee shirt), and Corey Lyba discuss the author's major character flaws while planning mutiny against the ride captain. Photo by Erik Hoet.

(Above) Second Time Slider Rider Don Eilenberger listens intently as the author describes how he got laid ten times in one night just because he rode a K75. The story was so good, the woman behind Don was listening in too. Photo by Erik Hoet.

(Above) Dick Bregstein was so impressed with this year's Slider Ride turn-out, that he announced a similar run to "Chuckie Cheese." Dick Bregstein is Jack Riepe's usual accomplice on most of his rides... Except for the year that Dick crashed and was replaced by one 25¢ call to Clyde Jacobs, who is on his left. Photo by Erik Hoet.

And it was at that point that ECO Dan led every one in a chorus of the “Happy Birthday” song. I was almost moved to tears. Anyone would have been, if they had heard that noise. It was during the singing that I could see my niece saying those two words to herself, over and over again: Irony and Sarcasm.

(Above) The author displays the best condiment to have on hand when "slider" dining. (From left in the background) Kathy Mohn, Jonathan Bryce, ECO Dan, and Sarah Gaddis. Photo by Joe Sestrich.

(Above, left) Jonathan Bryce (who has just gotten his motorcycle endorsement), Eileen Riepe, and Ihor Sypko discuss the fact the the author has not turned up in any of the groups participating in the ride. Eileen Riepe (author's sister) is not surprised and is of the opinion the whole thing is a scam. Photo by Joe Sestrich.

Joe Sestrich tried a slider and gagged. He told me that he is a texture person and that the texture of the beef, the bun, the onions, and the cheese of the White Castle slider were identical, giving it the consistency of hand-held mush. In fact, Sestrich wondered if someone else had eaten the burger before he got it. I heard no other complaints, though several participants limited their intake to two, fearing a vicious onset of the shits on the ride home. Let record show I ate 6, and drank a quart of Diet Coke. (I love White Castle sliders.)

(Above) Three riders of distinction: Doug Braley (red bandana), who rode up from the metropolis of Big Island, Virginia, the author (with cane), who rode 128 miles, and ECO Dan (brimmed hat), who rode up from North Carolina. Photo by Joe Sestrich.

The air conditioning was running in the White Castle, and I found the coldest seat in the house. It had been my intention to tour the line of bikes outside and to shake the hand of every rider, but four hours in the saddle left my knees shaking. (You read that correctly: four hours of constant riding to cover 128 miles as the crow flies.) After an hour or so, many in the group were anxious to keep going. Braley and the boys were off to visit other friends in Freehold, NJ. Ken Bruce and company were eager to get back. Kimi Bush, Corey Lyba, Erik Hoet, and others were headed to the Seaside Heights (8 miles east), to have their pictures taken on the Atlantic Ocean.

(Above) Harold Gantz has one of the most beautiful BMW K75s in existance. Photo by Joe Sestrich.

Bill Dudley III rode up from New Sweden on this beautiful (1971?) Moto Guzzi Ambassador 750. The word on the street is that he is working on some kind of improbable sidecar arrangement. Photo by Joe Sestrich.

(Above) Here is a closer view of that beautiful Moto Guzzi 750 Ambassador, ridden by Bill Dudley III. Photo by Joe Sestrich.

(Above) This is Tony Luna's red hot K1200R. He showed me his GPS recording 147mph on a nearby track. Tony and Don Eilenberger were named Grand Marshals of this event as they were the only riders who showed up for the first slider run. Photo by Tony Luna.

I was in no hurry to go. Rare are the occasions I get to chat with my sister, my niece, my daughter, and Ihor Sypko — let alone all together. (My sister was having difficulty believing this many sane people would turn out for something that I suggested.) The last riders to head out were Clyde Jacobs, Dick Bregstein, Harold Gantz, Don Eilenberger, Tony Luna, and myself. In fact, those guys all waited to see if I could get my ass on the seat without assistance. And they did so nonchalantly — holding hands in a circle, singing, “Kumbaya My Lord, Kumbaya.” My niece, Sarah, hid her face in her hands, quietly sobbing and whispering “This is my uncle.”

Some of the Slider Riders headed east to Seaside Heights and the Atlantic Ocean. I wanted to go with them very badly, but just wasn't up to it. I didn't have an extra 20 miles and another couple of dismounts in me. They made it to the boardwalk (please see my blog: "Riding To The Ocean And Dancing With The Painted Whore," ) and basked in the sun.

(Above) With Casino Pier, Seaside Heights in the background, These Slider Riders get a taste of the real Jersey Shore. Picture by Erik Hoet.

(Above) Where the sky meets the ocean and the sand beckons, (from left) Jay Scales, Matt Piechota, Kimi Bush, Corey Lyba, Brad Jacoby and Jessie Moran, Melinda Bonanni and Chris Jaccarino. Guys, I'd have given anything to have been in this picture. Photo by Erik Hoet.

Now incredibly stiff, my legs did not loosen up on the ride home. There were two occasions where I was just able to get the right one off the peg at a stoplight. I was riding west with Bregstein and Clyde, and we were out to make tracks. There would be none of this “let’s look at the fucking trees and scenary” on the way home. I just wanted to get there. My two partners didn’t trust my sense of direction anymore either. They’d take turns pulling up at a light to ask, “Do you really know where we are?”

Our route cut across the northern end of the pine barrens, through the Russian village (no shit) at Cassville. The pain in my hip was so bad that I cut a strip off my belt to chew on as I rode. The boys followed me onto the shoulder just before Jackson, NJ, where I scarfed down a couple of pills with the last of warm water in my top case. I rested here for a full ten minutes as we were now to enter the interstates, and stopping would be out of the question.

We took I-195 to I-95 (the New Jersey Turnpike), and split up at Exit 6 for Pennsylvania. Clyde lives on the Delaware Border, and he went down to Exit 2 to cross at the Commodore Barry Bridge again. I was dehydrating badly and started to fall asleep on the motorcycle. There was that sensation of doing a 1000 miles per hour, yet the speedo read 58! I opened my faceshield to catch the wind, and it was hellishly hot, like from an oven.

“Wake the fuck up, and ride the motorcycle,” I said to myself.

Traffic was as thick as sludge and Bregstein was a mile ahead of me. I twisted the throttle with a vengeance and fought for a clear lane. I caught up to Dick less than 10 miles from my exit. He was doing 92 mph. All of my local trips seem to end the same way... With Bregstein tossing me a wave, hitting his horn, and peeling off to the left. This is how I am likely to remember some of the best days in my life. I pulled into the garage 20 minutes later, with the gas light glowing and the fuel pump squealing. I'd covered 228 miles.

My face hurt. It was sunburned under the clear face shield. I got off the machine with the jerky motion of a flesh-eating zombie from the original “Night Of The Living Dead” flick. I forced myself to put this magnificent motorcycle on the center stand, and staggered into the kitchen. It was there I found a note on the table that read, “We’re having dinner at Monica’s tonight. Change your shirt and hurry over. Do not pretend you didn’t see this note. And don’t even think of not coming, or your shit is in the driveway. Love Stiffie.”

My scream could be heard three streets away... I buttoned my clean shirt with numb fingers, and crawled out to the Suburban, leaving a faint blood trail.

Author’s Note:

This was one of the best Birthday’s I have ever had. I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who showed up to make this ride. A man has no concept of wealth unless he has friends — and I’m rich. Doug Braley, Bill Mauser, and Linus Johnson have a way of making you feel like a VIP. And I can think of no greater honor than to be escorted by the two ECO Mobiles of Tom Mohn and ECO Dan. I would also like to thank Brad Jacoby And Ken Bruce for their assistance on this run.

Everyone in my group deserves a medal for their patience. I’ll be better at this next year. Or not.