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.


Chuck Pefley said...

Whew! Worth the wait, Sir! What an entertaining saga of adventure run amok, and possible only with real friends! You are a lucky guy, Jack. We should all have such camaraderie!

My condolences for your recent bout with small rocks; not the fault of White Castle gourmet burgers, of course.

Thanks for sharing ..... I'm still trying to suck coffee from between the keys of my keyboard! And if that isn't enough amusement for you, the word verification Blogger has assigned to this comment is "unenuff".

I'm not so sure -:)

Anonymous said...

I know one of the two virtues you possess. Her name is Stiffie. Fill me in on the second?

Very glad to see you didn't fuck it up. Looks like good times and good people. I smile from over here.

Happy Birthday, belated, Jack. Your wonderful round self makes life an easier ride. Ha. I threw in sentiment. Come shoot me now.


Chris said...

Another great post. Somehow the draft was posted to the RSS feed. This version looks much more complete and without the xxxxxx :)

You best start planning for next year if you're going to top this one.

Happy birthday!

BMW-Dick said...

Dear Fatass:
Four hours of riding in a motorcycle Conga line through New Jersey arteries in dire need of a stent to suck down a slider in a Toms River parking lot. What a fucking joy! Glad I could be there to celebrate your aging. Keep it up - the aging that is.
PS I'm lobbying YouTube for a wide screen option for you.

ADK said...

Errrrrrr, that picture of you and Chris Jaccarino, is he a proctologist?

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Chuck Pefley:

Thanks for reading and for being the first to comment. I have been out of sorts for the past couple of weeks and have had a hell of a time focusing on motorcycle stuff. I'm glad you iked the story. The Mac Pac is a great bunch of guys and they made this ordinary run into an Odyssey.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dee:

Thank you for the kind birthday sentiment. Rad Twisted Roads early and often. It will keep a smile on your face. Better still... Why not put that Rebel 450 on the road and join us?

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Chris:

As I said earlier, I haven't felt like writing anything in a while and this piece may have broken the evil spell. However, I am not comfortable with the placement of pictures and there were a lot of them for this post. I kept making mistakes. At one point, I erased 10 paragraphs of type, without meaning to.

And I kept finding mistakes and misspellings. Some in every paragraph. At one point, I hit the "publish" button by error. I regret this action and was gratified that you checked out the final version.

I find it amazing that guys like these (the Mac Pac) will go along with anything that sounds like a good idea.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Hey Bregstein:

Did I pass you this morning on Paoli Pike (Wednesday, about 8:50)? A guy went by on an "R" bike just like yours, wearing tha same two-tone Aerostitch. I waved and hurried on my errand (getting breakfast sandwiches). Mike Cantwell and his family have been our guests for a few days. I figured for sure you were on your way over here.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear ADK (Chris Wolfe):

I am so sorry you weren't here for this ride. We would have tormented your ass.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sachin:

Using my blog for this type of advertisement guarantees that none of my readers will ever call you. Maybe you can figure out some way we can be friends in the future.

Fuck you.
Jack • reep • Toad

Nikos said...

Super Utilitarian? You mean "Tractor" don't you Jack?

Happy belated Birthday and I'm so sorry that I could not be with you!

Yours as ever from England, N

Doug Braley said...

Jack: Great weather, great ride (even though you fucked it up) great people. I wish I lived closer. (not really) As I told you the other night on the phone, you forgot to call me back by the way, after eating 2 sliders I felt like I'd been "eat by a coyote and shit over a cliff" Get some guys together and ride down to VA. I'll meet you halfway and we'll kill some brain cells. BRALEY

cpa3485 said...

It took friggin forever for this post to load on my phone, but was well worth the wait. Sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday. Good rides, good friends and family are what's really important.
A belated happy birthday to you and glad you are feeling better.

Premeditated Scootin'

Conchscooter said...

I think you deserve the Nobel Prize for Drama. I am contacting the King of Norway immediately. You might not want to be sleeping in the spare room in case they decided to call you after breakfast, Norwegian time, with the good news. Stiffie might tell them to fuck off if she picks up the phone.

RichardM said...

Excellent reading. Thank you for hitting the "publish" button by accident as even the draft was enjoyable reading. Looks like it was a great day and a great ride. We still have snow up here in the frozen north...

Unknown said...


as mentioned verbally before, Happy 56th Birthday. I can't believe you only had 6 sliders and a gallon of root beer. I'd be stopping every 10 minutes to let some of that root beer out.

Why do you have to tease us with your adventures when there is no possibility for us to attend. A couple of hundred miles would be do-able, but not a few thousand.

It was a family affair with most of them meeting you there for a burger. I presume they had a slider or two.

You are so lucky to have such dedicated friends, but remember, there are more of us over on the Wet Coast, just waiting for your appearance

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

MattPie said...

Jack, I thought we'd agreed that I'd disavow any knowledge of knowing you. Then you post of pictures of me on your blog. Great.

(I'm with you on the next slider ride, but I think I'll be leading the Northern flank around Trenton to complete the pincer movement)

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Matt:

Next year, I'm just taking the Pa Turnpike and the NJ Turmpike so I have the strength to make it to the shore. I want to do a Barnegat Light run with a seafood stop in June. Maybe you can held co-lead that.

Thanks for coming on the 20th.

Fondesrt regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Electrs Glide In Blue said...

I almost gave you a call, your post showed up in my reader on the 5th, but when clicking on it I was sent to the official White Castle website.
You guys east of the mighty Missasip are so lucky, out this way we're lucky to find'm in the frozen food section.

Anonymous said...

Hey, glad you decided to climb on the bike again. In your prior post you uttered fears of riding. Not unusual considering age, infirmity and abstenance. I suggested then that it was "stinking thinking" and the only cure was to get your lazy ass off the sofa and ride. Well, you did. Happy Birthday!

Us older (I'm 67) riders spend much time dwelling on our mortality and are constantly reminded by significant others of how dangerous a hobby it is. Two days ago there was a motorcycle death locally (car made a left turn in front of the bike - driver was uninjured, rider DOA). We will hear about this for days. We will all think about it in quiet moments. Yet 10 of us went for a 100 mile lunch ride today.

Ride your bike, eat sliders. Never forget: Ubi sunt sub ubi

Pathfinder - 2000 R1100 RT

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Pathfinder:

When the time comes to ride, I will invariably throw my leg over the saddle and go... But I do piss and moan about it in the beginning. The slider ride was a long, first-ride season opener. Yet I would not have missed it.

I will be riding every day at this point.

Thanks for reading and for leaving a comment.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear EGIB (Jeff):

The "Slider" is an acquired an addiction. One I acquired years ago. But I lived. Oddly enough, I am now slidered out and will be able to get through a year without having to eat out of little boxes again. The weaher is routinely hitting 85º here and it is warm, riding weather.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bob Skoot:

I never expected the Mac Pac to turn out in the numbers that they did... But it was a very gratifying experience. My sister and niece drove 90 miles out of their way to get to the lunch event too.

The truth is that nearly all of these guys will hop on their bikes for the slightest occasion. Some of the rode to Pittsburgh for ribs recently.

You are welcome to ride with us anytime you like. You just have to give yourself a six-day headstart.

Thank you again for the birthday sentiment. Our next ride to the Jersey Shore will be a crab run to Barnegat Bay (and lighthouse).

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Richard:

I'm glad you had a good read with my stuff. Hopefully my story-telling and motorcycle riding dry spell is ended. I'm doing a fast ride to Maryland this afternoon.

Fondest regards.
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conchskooter (Michael):

The King of Norway called me this morning. He insisted on coming on the next slider ride himself. His Majesty insisted I call him "Eddie," and he wants me to fix him up with a couple of broads.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3485:

This year's "Slider Ride" was one of the best times I have had on a motorcycle. Then again, something of note always happens when the Mac Pac takes to the road. My ride captain skills have been downgraded to "amateur" status, but I can live with that.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Braley:

I wuill be freezing a case of sliders to bring to you on my next ride to Virginia. Please don't thank me now, just wait until I get there. I absolutely intend to take you up on your offer of a visit.

Don't say you haven't been warned. It was great seeing you, Buill, and Linus. Thanks for making the trip.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

We delayed the start of the ride in the hope that you would turn up. But don't worry. I saved a slider for you in my topcase. (It is still there.)

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Todd Trumbore said...

Sorry I missed this ride Jack, but after reading your very colorful accounting of this event, I almost feel as though I was part of the pack. Very enjoyable and comical tale of what must have been a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday.
I raise my glass hoping there are many more of these to follow.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Todd:

This ride ran even longer than one of yours, which are generally held within the same state. And qiote frankly, yours have more character.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

NedM said...

Always enjoy your writing.
Is there some way I could obtain reports/articles you've written for the BMW ON? (I'm not a member).I'm sure they are very entertaining.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear NedM:

Sure... Send me your e-mail address. Mine is at the top of this blog. I'll be happy to send you some.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Cantwell said...

Great ride report. If it wasn't for the pictures, I wouldn't have believed any of it.

Thanks for taking care of us for a few days. Gemma made a snowman this morning. BTW She asked me to sing this to you, "Na na naa na na naa na...."


Nikos said...


As ever you are so thoughtful! I'll try and come over next year to pick it up along with the XL size Twisted Roads T shirt that I have promised myself.

Best wishes from England. N

Bugser said...

Dear Jack,

Congratulations on (for the most part) not fucking it up.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Michael (Cantwell):

Having you here was as lot of fun. I'm glad we all got a chance to run up to Strasburg together. It is one of my favorite places. It was getting late in the day, and we did not get to visit the Choo Choo barn, which would have dazzled you forever. (No shit.)

As you are aware, I have a short tolerance for most kids. Most kids singing in a car would have driven me crazy. Yet Gemma's rendition of that little song she learned in school (about St. Martin) was positively enchanting. And even so, we still got a laugh out of it.

Yet on he ride home, when she did her rendition of Naw or Nan. That was fucking hysterical. And when Jennifer asked her (in that quasi-parential tone, designed to stop singing), "What was the name of the song," and Gemma replied, "Nan," in a way that implied an unspoken, "Stupid," I thought I was going to split a gut laughing.

I want to do a series of shore runs this summer... Including a ride that starts at Seaside Heights, runs down to Cape May, crosses into Delaware on the ferry, and runs over to Maryland's Easrtern Shore.

This would be less of a serious ride (owing to the outrageous traffic in the area) and more of a pleasure run (under 200 miles a day). And I am also planning on a return to the Adirondacks at some time in August.

I do hope we score some miles this summer.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

Send me your address (to the e-mail address posted on the top of my blog). I'm mailing shirts and books tomorrow morning. Leslie has a PayPal account. Send her the cash to her PayPal when tyou get them.

And I do hope to have the opportunbity to ride with you at some point in the future. But not in Britain. I drove a rental car for a week in Ireland, and had no problems (except when pulling into driveways, where I was always in the wrong place). But I would consciously chant this little litany I made up to make sure I would always be fine on the road. I can't imagine gong through that each time I leanen into a turn on my bike.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bugser:

The riding season in Pennsylvania has exploded upon us. For the most part, we are dealing with early summer-like conditions with the odd, colder rainy days. I wore mesh for the first time since last October on Thursday.

I do like participating in both lsarge and small group rides, but I really bit off more than I could chew on the last great slider run. Both distance-wise, and number wise. But it still turned out "Okay."

I did single-handedly turn a 2-hour run into a 4-hour crawl. What riding adventures have you had lately?

Fondest regfards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Radar said...


Laughed the whole way through! You do have an interesting place to shop for tomatoes - they were quite incredible.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Radar:

You were the only one who caught it apparently!

Glad you laughed.

Fondest regards,
Jack • Reep * Toad

Unknown said...


I always go to your links, you just never know . . .

and I love your kind of tomatoes too, any samples ?

Wet Coast Scootin

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

I thought the tomato link was cool and funny. It's the sort of thing I associate with motorcycling.

Of note, I took a brief ride (112 miles) on Thursday. I did not experience a breakdown but the bike developed an odd sound from the fuel pump.

It was suggestive of a blockage and my thought was the fuel filter. I made it home easily enough — never a loss of power — and switched out the fuel filter yesterday. I changed the oil too. Read the last two sentences carefully. What they really say is that Clyde Jacobs changed the oil, oil filter, and gas filter.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • toad

Bill Fin said...

Dear Mr Riepe,thank you very much indeed for your most interesting and intertaining stories with bikes and friends,told with great humour.

Sir,you have my complements and best wishes from a 66y.o. short arsed biker from Musselburgh, Scotland.

All the best
Bill F.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bill Fin:

I seldom go back and read post comments in older stories that I have written, but I was delighted that I found yours. Shallow writers like myself can never hear often enough that readers appreciate their work.

Thank you for the compliment.

What kind of bike do you ride? Any of the BMW's are tall for my 28" inseam. The one I currently ride is the lowest they ever made. With my fat man seat on it, I have to slide forward at a stop to flatfoot the damn thing.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

A very belated happy b-day! You always make riding with other sound fun. I do believe you were jinxed and that's the only reason you lost your way ;-). It's clear, the joking was all in good fun. That Whte Castle will be talking about your group for years!

Best to you, Jack.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jack! I'm trying to catch up on my reading of your always hilarious blog. I still have a ways to go reading about your birthday, but I have to take issue with one thing -- the beautiful yellow BMW -- AND A BLUE HELMET???!!! Just kidding -- you know what a stylista I am. I miss you! Good to see Tony Luna's face again. Keep on writing wrongs!