Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Riding North To The Grand Canyon... Of Pennsylvania

The 9pm deadline, hit and for the first time in my riding career I adhered to it.

“Goodnight,” I said to Leslie (who also responds to “Stiffie.”) “I have that ride tomorrow and I am going to get a full eight hours sleep. Please do not wake me up for the customary hour of ‘jackhammer’ sex tonight.” (She calls me “Cupid’s Jackhammer,” unless “Shithead, Dope,” or simply rolling her eyes is more appropriate for the moment.)

“Oh, I won’t,” she replied. “You have my word on it.”

With that, I set the clock for 5am, turned off the light, and willed myself to sleep. This was a dramatic change in behavior for me. I would normally be at my keyboard, going through stuff for work (at least until midnight), and then I’d hit the sheets with the TV on, fighting the anticipation of the ride and any other last minute considerations, until nodding off around 1:30am.

The bike was loaded, gassed up, and ready to go in the garage. There was only one possible hitch: The fuel pump had been recently replaced and was as yet untested for performing under a load (understatement) on a hot day for any distance. Also, I hadn’t ridden in six weeks, so technically speaking, it could seem like this was actually the first ride of the season.

My riding season has gotten off to a peculiar start. While I do not normally ride every day, I seldom let a weekend go by without a run to someplace — even if it is a quick 50 miles up to the Amish country for lunch with my riding buddy Dick Bregstein. But that hasn’t happened this year. Prolonged winter snows and sand on the roads deprived me of the early spring rides. A major setback in finances (due to the economy) precluded getting the machine serviced. (I considered myself lucky to keep it insured.) My K75 was simply sitting in the garage,

Warmer temperatures brought rain on a lot of the early spring weekends, which pretty much drowned any enthusiasm I had to ride. And then there was the bad news. On the few rides that I did go on, the fuel pump in my classic 1995 BMW K75 started to shriek, indicating the potential for a major repair, which I did not feel like funding. I hate making repairs of any kind to my motorcycle, because I believe that screwing around with it releases the “anti-ka” demons that destroy the harmony of the bike. (Yet it can easily be argued that a 15-year-old motorcycle, ridden hard and like hell, is going to need maintenance — preventive or remedial — sooner or later. The details of the fuel pump replacement are concealed in a previous blog posting.)

They say bad news comes in “twos” and mine was no exception. My arthritis has been advancing with the same relentlessness as a BP oil spill. During the course of the winter, it has settled into my shoulders and back. I am learning to live with the pain, numbed by Celebrex and Tramadol, but some activities seem to aggravate it more than others. Riding this motorcycle and certain sexual practices (that require a trapeze and a trampoline) are at the top of the list. I have only ridden this bike four times in the past six months, and what my body remembers most is the pain of each little run.

It's a bitch when your desire to get out on the bike is tempered by the torture that you know will invariably follow. I used to think that constantly riding the bike stretched my joints, and kept them supple. The discomfort would come only after three or four hours in the saddle. In a recent conversation with long-term riding friend Ricky Matz, he said, “The real drag about riding these days is the realization that I am going to hurt for a couple of hours until I get used to the seating position on this bike again.” I started to think that all I needed was to get used to it... To ride as often as possible.

Regrettably, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I was up at the first grey hint of dawn and beat the alarm clock by five minutes. A full night of sleep added to my resolve and sharpened my sense of purpose. In another behavioral change, I refused to think of the challenges that lay ahead of me this day. Fears of dropping the bike or running off the road normally vie with my final preparation. “You are going to race the wind today, and experience the sensations that few mortals understand and share,” I thought. “That’s all there is to it.” Popping my pills with a cup of hot coffee, I stepped out into the yard to “taste” the weather. A nondescript bird called to me from the split-rail fence, and I called back — with a stone.

My regular readers will recall that I have written about the “jitters,” an underlying fear I get regarding my ability to stop quickly, lean into turns, and make the best decisions. This is not because I suck at riding, but because pain has a way of affecting the way I sit on a bike, and how I react to situations around me.

I slipped into my riding gear and was able to put my boots on (in less than 20 minutes) without assistance. This last chore was a great omen. Yet the jitters were standing out in the driveway when I rolled out the bike.

“Fuck you,” I said to them. “Get lost. I have done this thousands of times and today will be nothing but routine.” I reminded myself that next to sexual gratification with a Yugoslavian gymnast, nothing compares with riding a motorcycle. I will never have the jitters again.

Mounting the motorcycle can be an ordeal for me if I haven’t done it in a bit. This means horsing around with my portable step and getting lined up to put my left foot on the peg. It can also entail getting the bike out of the driveway (with both feet down), positioning the machine on a straightaway, straining to elevate that left foot, and getting the bike moving with enough of a runway so I can get my right leg up to the peg. The thought is to bend the joints easily at first. Watching me start off is like viewing an old newsreel of the Hindenberg coming out of the hanger.

But not this day.

“Just ride the fucking motorcycle,” I muttered. Having warmed the bike up, I levitated my left leg to the peg, closed my helmet visor, and took off. I could feel my left hip pop as the bike bounced into the street. “Eat shit and die,” I said to myself, twisting on the gas. The five-mile ride to the Pennsylvania Turnpike was uneventful.

This was how I began a four-day ride up to the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. In approximately 100 miles, I would meet up with Pete Buchheit, “Leather” Dick Bregstein, and Clyde Jacobs at the “Ranch House,” a diner on Route 11/15, just outside of picturesque Duncannon, Pa. They had offered to ride the whole distance with me, but they wanted to take the most picturesque route. I wanted to take the fastest way, but couldn’t see ruining their ride. So I decided to ride the first segment by myself, which meant the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Many Beemer riders, and others I suppose, detest the interstates because of the lack of challenge, the sameness of the terrain, and the boredom of maintaining the same speed range over a long period of time. I love the interstates. I get to go fast, hear the sound of my engine, and be a biker again, while racking up the greatest number of miles in an hour. I’m generally good for an hour before having to put my legs down, and I like to have 60 or 70 miles under my belt. It also gives me a chance to pick up the cadence of the bike before I immerse myself in the complexity of stop and go traffic.

It was 8:25am as I banked onto the Turnpike. The temperature was 64 degrees. I buzzed around a line of trucks, and gave “Fire Balls” the gas. The speedo read 85mph, and I toned it down some, as a cash-strapped Pennsylvania has cops lurking behind every bush and post generating revenue through summonses. I settled in for the 78-mile run to Harrisburg.

I got eight miles, before I had to pull over. There were two Harley’s parked in front of the first rest area. There was a hot-looking pattootie sitting astride one. I was going to ask if I could borrow her Buck knife, to cut off a length of my belt so I could chew on it to alleviate the pain.

Above — At the Ranch House Diner, it was discovered that Clyde Jacobs (shown wearing a shirt designed by a peacock) had a left riding light out and that Pete Buchheit had a right riding light out. These guys are so cheap that they rode next to each other for 400 miles, so they didn't hve to look for spares. Photo by Pete Buchheit.

“Fuck this,” I thought. “The pain in my hips was staggering.” Twenty-minutes later, I set off again. It was about 40 miles to the next rest area and I was up to 85mph (and counting the mile markers) as I pulled into it. This would set the tone for the beginning of this ride. In all, I stopped 4 times in 78 miles to stretch my legs. Each stop was for 20 to 30 minutes. I arrived in Duncannon an hour and 45 minutes late. I had tried not to arrive unannounced, first calling Pete’s cell phone, and then Dick’s, to advise them of my condition... And to tell them that I was going to turn around and go back home.

They didn’t answer, and in doing so, compelled me to ride as far as Duncannon.

There was none of the torture and banter I so richly deserved when I pulled in. The guys listened to my plight, and made helpful suggestions. These included:
1) Finding something tall and strong enough so I could hang myself
2) Giving me a leg up into the dumpster behind the diner
3) Pushing me out into traffic

They assured me that my bike would be well taken care of and that they would race back to the house to comfort my girlfriend.

Clyde Jacobs made a very convincing argument for continuing, however. He pointed out that the distance we had yet to ride was a mere 90 miles, while the way home was almost a hundred. Buchheit brought up the fact that the road ahead was highway and expressway for 80% of the way, and that we could go as fast or as slow as I required. Bregstein mentioned that our final destination, the Happy Acres campground, had a bar on the premises and that he’d heard the barmaid, a former Yugoslavian gymnast, had great tits.

There was really no decision to make.

US-15 gives the appearance of a expressway, but is is actually a simple highway suffering from false pride. Traffic lights and a 55-mile per-hour speed limit prevent the average rider from taking advantage of sweeping curves and straightaways that are not lined with shoulder-to-shoulder strip malls. Lower US-15 (above the PA Turnpike) offers some delightful views of the Susquehanna River, which can appear both bucolic and expansive at the same time. Yet these views give way to the stop and go traffic in little towns like Lewisberg, where we found ourselves inching along behind trucks, belching clouds of exhaust that barely dissolved in the still summer air.

Riding with the guys introduces a certain element of pride, and I am very disinclined to be the pussy who has to stop for every ache and pain. So I managed to squeeze out 50 miles before calling a halt. This was at a gas station in Allenwood, where US-15 hit PA. Route 44. We were following the fastest directions to get to Happy Acres Campground and Cabins, and stuck to US-15... We would find out that hooking a left onto Rt. 44 would have been a far more delightful alternative. As it was, we would take a fast, but sterile stretch of I-180 to Rt. 44, bailing right onto a side road in Waterville, Pa.

The guys started to lose me within 15 miles of our destination, as the road was one delightful little twisty after another, and traffic was virtually non-existent. I’d find Clyde or Pete waiting for me at all the crucial intersections. Our last pull-over for the day was in front of the restaurant associated with Happy Valley Acres, in a parking lot paved with highly decorative loose gravel. There was a small concrete pad in front of the place and I aimed for that, as I was in no mood for fancy side-stepping on a slippery surface.

Above — We arrive at the restuarant affiliated with the Happy Acres Campground. From left, Clyde Jacobs, Dickie Bregstein, and the author. Photo by Pete Buchheit.

That was when we discovered the campground’s office sits atop a rise from which access to all cabins and sites are via descending, winding, trails of loose gravel and washouts. I find going uphill on a packed gravel road to be preferable to going down a steep descent on loose shit. Getting to the office was easy. Then the fun stuff started. I watched the other three guys begin maneuvering through the loose crap. Pete and Clyde, on their Beemer GTs, had no trouble. But I had my eyes on Bregstein as the ass end of his big “R” bike started a slow fishtail.

“Fuck me on an anthill,” I whispered to myself as a confidence builder, while I started my descent. The gravel was really loose and the road was bisected by a washout, which my front wheel found like a compass needle and started to follow into the trench. I stopped on the brink of a slow drop onto the rocks. With both feet down, I climbed out of the washout and traversed the road. Once again, I paused with my front wheel nestled in a pile of loose powdered boulder.

Above — The bar inside the joint framed in the previous shot. I thought we'd never get there.
Photo by Pete Buchheit.

I took stock of the situation, and noticed that this hill bent off to the left, on a nice grassy lawn that ended in a smooth driveway. The grassy lawn was part of the outdoor effect created by a cabin owner, who did not appear to be at home. Knowing that it would be easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission, I snicked the K75 into gear and rolled over 75 feet of manicured lawn. (Dropping a bike onto soft grass is better than dumping it on hard rocks. And the grass offered better traction too!) I got by without incident.

Above — The perfect composition of this photo depicts true inner peace and happiness for all true riders. It shows the epitome of the motorcycle builder's craft, a 1995 BMW K75 (Fire Balls) and Bilbo Baggins's cottage. Photo by Clyde Jacobs.

The two cabins we rented were a few hundred yards up the road. While Happy Acres did have tent camping sites, it was more of a place for RVs and trailers. But unlike the typical parking lots that the owners of these vehicles are usually consigned too, this joint was fully forested and nicely laid out. There was a pool and a game room for those burdened with offspring, plus showers and other amenities for guests in tents.

Above — Pete Buchheit is the sage and philospher on these rides. He starts many conversations with, "Now if I were only here without this collection of assholes..." Buchheit is known for going into country liquor stores, where screw-cap wine is regarded as "top shelf," and asking, "Can you recommend a good pinot noir that can handle a native fish course but not balk at a mild cigar?" Photo by Dick Bregstein.

But the main event was an inventory of little cabins which were a substantial improvement over the typical (barely furnished) sheds provided by some outdoor camping facilities, while not quite on the scale of a real house. We had to rent two cabins as each was limited in the number of “bedrooms” available, and each sported one small bathroom. This is the third year that Clyde and I have been sharing motel rooms and cabins. I generally do not like to share close quarters because I have odd working hours and strange sleeping habits. If I feel like writing and have a computer handy, I think nothing of composing at 2am. Plus I may get up to take a piss two or three times a night. This is addition to my preference for keeping the atmosphere set at zero degrees Kelvin. But Clyde is a tolerant and considerate soul, and I have added him to the list of compadres (Ihor and Ricky Matz) that would make a perfect addition to any deer camp.

Above — The author (left) and Dick Bregstein successfully resolved many of the world's problems over a cigar and a snort. The water bottle at Riepe's elbow is filled with rum. Photo by Clyde Jacobs

This cabin was designed for Bilbo Baggins, if he was on his honeymoon. There was one standard-sized bedroom (which I seized) complete with a hot tub and a 12-inch TV screen that got C-SPAN and Canadian porn (muskelunge fishing). This left poor Clyde with a loft that was reachable only by a six-foot vertical ladder on the wall.

“Sleep on the couch in the living room/kitchen/dining room,” I said to Clyde.

“The mattress is better in the loft,” he replied. “I can handle the ladder.” At that point, a cock crowed three times, a mirror cracked, and blood dripped from the ceiling.

Coming from New Jersey, I have an acute sense of what I need to be happy and I am not shy about making the arrangements. There was a young groundskeeper named “Nick” buzzing about the place on a four-wheeler and I flagged him down. I then introduced him to a $25 gratuity and explained I wanted two bags of ice, a load of firewood, six bottles of Coke, and transportation for four down and back to the restaurant, which had a bar. Nick was somewhat taken aback by all this, as deals of this type do not come his way often... But he got right into the spirit of things. (A gratuity does not cover the purchase price of amenities.)

Above — Clyde Jacobs striking a dramatic pose. The look of profoundity on his face will be negated by every other picture taken of him. Photo by Dick Bregstein.

The Happy Acres Restaurant is contracted to a lovely, and interesting person, named Victoria. It has a somewhat limited menu, designed to appeal to local tastes, but what it has was nicely done. Pete had a steak. Clyde had spaghetti and meatballs, while Dick and I had liver and onions. Everything was competently prepared and served in a highly relaxed manner. Now there are times when a highly relaxed manner won’t cut it, but the bartender was a cool Jake, who poured with a generous hand, and we didn’t give a shit.

Above — See what I mean? This is the face Clyde typically wears (center). It rained this entire day and we all sat out on the porch hoping to lure a carload of coeds or Swedish flight attendants into the cabin. Not one stopped. We couldn't figure out why until Dick took this picture and we all got a load of Clyde. (Left) The author, Clyde Jacobs, and Pete Buchheit. Photo by Dick Bregstein.

There is nothing to seal the deal of a nice ride and to heal the abrasions of the road like a rum and coke the size of my ass. I had five of them, taking a terrible chance that these might present me with one hell of a headache the next day, which appears to be a reaction between the booze and drugs I take for the arthritis. But we were the only customers in the bar and dinner had taken on the parameters of a private party.

It was here I told one of my few jokes.

The joke:

Dick Bregstein was out riding one day, and pulled into a bar to drain the lizard and to savor a taste of something cold. Two stools over from where he sat, a classic blond beauty was sending out signals that she didn’t want to drink alone. Dick noticed that the woman had selected a corner with subdued light to work her magic, though in lighting up a cigarette, revealed facial details that showed she was a little older than he had originally estimated.

She was 69-years-old to be exact, a fact that surfaced in an hour of vibrant conversation with Dick. My riding buddy couldn’t help but notice that she had a great shape and a light in her eyes that suggested a pool of inner fire. He wondered if she had a younger daughter, who might join her at the bar.

Almost as if she had read his mind, the woman leaned into him and asked, “Have you ever had a biker sandwich?”

Dick replied by raising an eyebrow.

“A bike sandwich is where you find yourself in the shower between a mother and her crazy daughter. Want one?”

Dick replied with a grin.

She jumped on the back of Dick’s bike and directed him to a cottage on a quiet country road. Taking him by the hand, she stepped through the door and yelled:

“Hey Mom... Are you still up?”

Some trips are great because of the ride. Others are great because of the scenery. And then there are those that are unforgettable because of the romance. This trip wasn’t that far, though it was far from technical. It lacked the excitement of a ride along the edges of a Himalayan gorge. There was no romance. But it had all the ingredients of a raging pisser of a good time.

(Above) — With the campfire crackling and the table set for dinner, we get ready for a night of serious carousing. Photo by Dick Bregstein.

We had a campfire each night, and the aroma of burning woodsmoke mingled with the pungent scent of cigars (rolled between the thighs of Cuban maidens). The tinkling of ice in the odd collection of Fred Flintstone jelly jar glasses (found in the cabin), cooled strong cocktails and punctuated conversation that drifted from the road to politics, and from naked women we rode in the past to motorcycles we hoped to ride in the future. The flickering firelight makes you see strange things... It made me see the images of men grown older by another year, yet each had the eyes of a twenty-year-old ball-buster just waiting for an opportunity to strike.

(Above) — Two wild and crazy guys pose with two beautiful motorcycles. (Left) 2004 BMW 1200GT (Red Molly) and owner Clyde Jacobs, and the author with his 1995 BMW K75 (Fire Balls). Note bottle of diet Pepsi and unidentified black water bottle next to the author. Photo by Pete Buchheit.

And there was humor laced with horror too.

One night, the urge to take a piss with moose-like intensity snapped me out of a sound sleep. I had just managed to get myself upright and headed for the can when I heard an ominous creaking from the loft. Clyde was headed for the same destination. I pulled open the bedroom door to discover a naked ass, swinging like a pendulum — at eye level. Screaming in terror, I drew back my cane to whack it with a vengeance, when it detached from the ceiling and crashed to the floor. Clyde had missed a step on the ladder and replicated the final performance of the “Flying Wallendas.”

Now Clyde is not a kid anymore. It is rumored that he is 47 years older than his wife Patti, who just turned 31. And here he was, laying in a heap.

“Clyde,” I yelled, “Are you okay?”

“I think so,” came the muffled gasp from the floor.

“Don’t move,” I cautioned. “Let me get my camera.”

Clyde got up with the reflexes of a cobra, and I never did get the shot of the century.

Pete led us on a great loop up to the city of Wellsboro. We backtracked through Waterville to Route 44, going left to Route 973, and then taking that to Route 287 north. Happy Acres is located on State Route 4001, which goes right into Rt. 287, but the road was closed owing to a bridge washout. Riding north on Route 287 was very pleasant as the road incorporated the occasional twisty, with long stretches through the woods, broken at intervals by little towns with varying degrees of color. The road surface was very good for Pennsylvania and leaning into the curves, such as I do, was a delight. Traffic was almost nonexistent. It should be noted that we saw no dead deer by the side of the road. Pete learned that a burgeoning coyote and bear population have really put a dent in the deer. A local gent informed him that chances of seeing a coyote or a bear were much greater than coming across a hooved rat.

(Above) — Three Teutonic stallions at rest before the fire at the end of a long wet day. (Photo by Pete Buchheit).

As far as I am concerned, deer constitute the number one threat to motorcycle riders. The number two threat is the legion of senior citizens coming out of any one of the numerous Alzheimer Parks that have sprung up around West Chester. These folks drive like extras from the original “Night Of The Living Dead” movie. An outspoken resident in this neck of the woods, who prefers to remain anonymous, recently advocated the release of Bengal tigers in the local parks, and in the local supermarket, in an effort to curb the number of old dinties haunting the roadways.

We headed west along the fabled US-6 to Galeton, where we bought steaks to do on the grill, for what would amount to our farewell dinner. Route 144 heads south to Route 44 and is a splendid run through hills and woods that invite relaxed two-wheel cruising in a rural country setting. There are at least two hairpin curves — where the speed limit drops to 10 miles per hour — strategically placed where you are most inclined to hit them doing 60mph. And peeling around one corner brought me smack into an intersection where the pavement had been stolen by bandits, and replaced by gravel. This stretch was only about 75-feet long, and I blazed through it clamping onto my handlebars in a blind panic.

(Above) — The campfire as viewed through the windscreen of Dick's iconic "R" Bike. Photo by Pete Buchheit.

Three miles later, the pavement just ended and became gravel for a mile-long stretch. I dropped down into second gear and rolled into the hard-packed quicksand of my dreams. Clyde passed me doing 60 miles per hour, to show me it could be done. Pete followed, flipping me an encouraging finger. And then the ultimate humiliation... Bregstein passed me too!

The ride ended an hour later at the bar of the only saloon in Waterville, Pa. The other three guys drank beer. I absorbed gin through my skin like a lizard. We were three miles from the cabin, and it took me 20 minutes to get back on the bike. Every joint in my body ached.

We headed home on day four, after 24 hours of drenching rain. Pennsylvania has a thing for naming places after other places. The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania looks nothing like the real Grand Canyon. Black Forest, Pa. is about as far removed from Bavaria as you can get. And Jersey Shore, Pa, on Route 44, looks nothing like Seaside Heights, New Jersey. We passed through it looking for a place to have breakfast. (According to a local sage, Jersey Shore got its name from an early settler, who came from New Jersey, and thought the beaches of this settlement on the west bank of the Susquehanna reminded him of home.)

Route 44 at this point is nothing more than your typical country highway. But then it starts to meander and climb through Tiadaghton State Park. Gentle curves become a bit more pronounced as the road gets steeper, and it was here that the guys lost me. I have the bike with the smallest engine and the greatest weight to least horse-power ratio. I found myself shifting far more often and running higher RPMs than the other guys to just to keep up. This is a very pretty road and a steady uphill that was shrouded in mist and occasionally offered a surprise vista. I found myself goosing the K75 in third, and shifting up to fourth every now and again just to keep up the revs.

Cresting one ridge only to see another above me, the bike steadily carved its way left and right, holding to 45 or 50mph. And then I was at the top. A valley, veiled in the morning mist opened before me, revealing a patchwork quilt of small farms and settlements marked by the occasional steeple. The road dropped more steeply than it had climbed and I found myself reeling in that unique euphoria of flight that every rider comes to know. A break in the clouds concentrated sunlight into a beam that fell somewhere ahead of me, as I began to level off surrounded by farm fields and pastures.

Route 44 takes a 90 degree right here and runs for about 600 yards, before bending 90 degrees to the left. My three pals were waiting at this obvious junction, and started rolling off as I approached. I went through the intersection, pulled over, and dropped my feet (but not the bike). Bregstein’s tail light mocked me as the three comancheros disappeared around a curve. I’d been riding for an hour which is my limit for a stretch. The idling engine seemed louder than usual, but this was only the added noise of the growling in my stomach, as we still hadn’t found a place for breakfast.

I deduced I was in an Amish community as a towheaded kid about 7 years old, barefoot, and dressed in black pants and suspenders ran out to check the mail box. He was the first kid I had seen in the last five years who was not carrying a cell phone, nor texting anyone. He also looked like he had more common sense than three congressmen I had seen on TV. The kid looked at me like I was a carnival act pulled up in front of the family barn. It occurred to me that I have never seen a fat Amish person, and that this kid had probably never seen a human my size.

I don’t know much about the Amish, but I had sudden wish that least one small group of them owned a restaurant about 200 feet from where I was sitting on my bike. My wish expanded into a fantasy in which a comely, well-tanned Amish woman of about 30, was passing me a platter of hot donuts, before opening her bodice to reveal a set of flawless hooters, kept airborne by hours of picking vegetables in the garden (nature's gym). And in that instant, I would have been perfectly happy to trade my K75 for a trotting horse and a buggy with a BMW roundel on it.

But that didn’t happen. I restarted the bike, willed my gimpy left foot to the peg, and took off after the boys. I found them gassing up in Allenwood.

(Above) — The author... Who had a great time. Photo by Dick Bregstein.

I can never repay Pete Buchheit, Dick Bregstein, and Clyde Jacobs for the kindness and consideration they extended to me on this trip. These guys waited longer, rode slower, and exchanged more unspoken expressions of frustration than on any other ride. Bregstein volunteered to ride back with me on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and is now writing a book called, “How I Pissed Away Ten Years Of My Life In Two Rest Areas East of Harrisburg.”

This wasn’t the most exotic ride the four of us have ever taken... But as I expected, it was one of the best for having a plain good time... At least it was for me.

# # #

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


niteowl said...

Jack, always enjoy your stories.

Nothing like sitting around a campfire with good friends.

Ready to ride to Maggie Valley? Don't know if I'll get there this year, have to have three operations (two knee and a disc replacemnt)at some point. Trying to lose some weight first.

Haven' found a trike for Lucy yet. Damn things are expensive.

Good luck with the diet.

Best regards, Wayne

BeemerGirl said...

Wonderful writing. Actually snorted and almost choked on my water picturing Clyde's hovering patootie. I hope he didn't hurt anything. So who won the race to the bathroom? :)


Nikos said...

You are indeed fortunate to have a set of mates like that!
I need clarification about the Yugoslavian gymnast as following the demise of Tito it's quite hard to pin point where to find them.
By the way I like the way that you have inverted your pedal rubbers - I have removed mine to save $$ on buying a lowering kit for the 'pegs!

All the best from England, N

BMW-Dick said...

Yes Jack, it was a fine trip with good friends who have sworn an oath in blood to ride again before our tired bodies completely fall apart.

The only correction I would make is to your version of what happened is - When the woman I allegedly met at the bar shouted up to her very classy mother, the mother responded by shouting back, "Don't fuckin' bother me. I'm up here with some guy named Cupid Jackhammer trying to find his love wand under the results of forty years of twinkie, ho-ho, and rum excesses."

It was great trip. As usual I regretted the end.

motonomad said...


My only regret is that we didn't get a photo of the two impressive natural assets belonging to our waitress, Adrienne, at the Happy Hours restaurant.

Eagerly anticipating our fall tour,


Nice trip, Ihor said...

and thanks for my annual compliment! Some indoor shots of the prefab cabin would have been interesting. Putting one of these up would take a few days at most in the ADKs. But it looked large for only one bedroom. Angle two together and you've got an adequate homestead.

Michael Evans said...

Enjoyable read Jack...I felt as though I was there at Happy Valley Acres with the four of you...although in truth I am glad I wasn't. The thought of you and Clyde sharing a bathroom immediately makes me think - Superfund Site.

I do hope to get in a ride with you some time again. Of course when my bike breaks down and I spend an hour plus fixing it on the side of the road, when you finally catch up to me I can take heart knowing you would think I was just being kind and waiting up for you. There's that and the fact that you wouldn't be able to get a photo of my bike disassembled roadside.

Here's to your best riding day of this season being the worst of all your seasons to come.

Unknown said...


I'm envious that you had a most excellent weekend bonding with friends, telling stories, reminiscing about the past, having a few meals, and riding.

You didn't mention how the diet was progressing . . .

Oh well, live for today and eat less tomorrow, that's my motto.

and you have some of the best friends in the world

Wet Coast Scootin

Anonymous said...

This was a gem, Jack. I enjoyed every word and I really did read every word, giving up my usual 30 minutes of ballet barre to savor it in, uh, tutu.

An invitation and a couple of observations:

You, Stiffie, and any cronies who might join in are invited to New Year's at the Blue Moon, Mr. B.'s old-hippie compound. It is to be experienced. People have been impregnated, people have had their hair set on fire by stray fireworks, and everyone picks pig and acts in true redneck Rabelais fashion.

So you had a stop-and-go trip, but not for the pissoir. This was good. You can save that for France.
I would prefer you to creak around PA than to pee on its roadways.

Happy Acres sounds like a cemetery, or at least a place for retired farm animals. I am relieved to learn that it is a campground where boys can be boys and where men can fall from lofty perches and where you can eat, bless you, liver and onions.

cpa3485 said...

Looks like a fantastic arrangement for camping, but without the hassles of a tent and sleeping bags. The ability to sit out at night enjoying the stars, a fire and a nice drink, but then just crawl onto a nice little bed when you want to sleep would indeed be very nice. And good friends to come along and give you no respect makes it even better. I am jealous of your camaraderie with your riding buddies. I'm very glad you had a good time.
The only thing missing might be more women with questionable reputations.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Niteowl (Wayne):

I was just thinking about you the other day... It doesn't seem likely that I wiull be able to get down to Maggie Valley this year, as I'll never be able to get the time off from work. I have a new boss and employment being what it is, I don't want to upset the apple cart any.

This is just as well as it would take me three days to get down there (just like the first time).

The diet is coming along well. I'm losing weight every day. I had a bad scare and I don't want t go through it again. I am amazed that new trikes are in the $28 to $32k price range. I looked at a couple casually, and then realized I was ready for that transition yet.

But as the story says, I'm ready for a break after 200 miles in the saddle. I got a note from Mack Harrell tonight, and he is throwing in the towel. His GS is up for sale.

I would be delighted to go riding with you soon. It has been too long. Are you getting any saddle time at all?

Fondest regards,
Jack • Reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Beemer Girl (Lori):

It was never really a race... When guys have the option of taking a leak off the porch it becomes more of a social thing. I was really afraid Clyde had injured himself. Yet once again, we walk through the valley of death.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

The trick with inverting the rubber sleeve on the pegs will easily give you another inch to fool around with. It looks a bit like hell, but it works okay. New rubber is tough to twist around. But well broken-in pegs can be maneuvered.

I twist it back if the bike is to be parked where a crowd can gather. Th bare peg is too slippery for my huge mastadon feet, however.

And it goes without saying that I have great riding buddies. We are one of the few BMW riding groups that does not have a douche among them. (Douche is an American word indicating a kind of chosen one.The higest form of compliment is to be called a "Disposable Douche.")

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dick:

That joke came to me compliments of Gary Christman, who thought you's fit in nicely with the details. "Thanks a lot, Gary. You were right! It got Dick's goat."

Hey Dick, remember that highy annoying ride I told you I wanted to do, the one up to Hudson County and Bear Mountain, New York? I think I may try it in two weeks.

Plus, I am going to take all of Labor Day week off to go riding in the Adirondacks. I'm going to stay with Ihor, in Wilmington, New York. And the plan is for me to ride all the way up there.

Fondest regards,
Jack • Reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Motonomad (Pete B.)

Did I ever tell you that I think the road name "Motonomad" is in the same category as naming a sail boat "Starquest?" (Plese see previous comments about being a douche.)

I had a blast on that ill-fated ride to the Grand Canyon. And a strange thing is happening... I'm getting more energy as the weight comes off each week. Whether or not this translates into more perseverance in the saddle, time will tell.

I have a modified schedule for Labor Day, starting out the full week before. You could join me on that ride north, and still be home in time for the holiday weekend.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

It was great chatting with you today, and I have begun to make plans for the Labor Day weekend. I might even leave on Friday, September 27, 2010. But I probably wouldn't get there until Saturday night anyway. I am started t get excited about the prospects about the late summer in the Adirondacks.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

redlegsrides said...

another outstandingly funny ride report!

“Don’t move,” I cautioned. “Let me get my camera.” Classic!!!

You really are fortunate to have the riding buddies that rode with you....


Redleg's Rides

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

I started out determined to write a brief summary of the ride, and I ended up with over 5,000 words. I have no idea how this happens. But riding with these guys was great fun on this trip, as I expected it would be.

Like I said, we don't go anyplace exotic, but we do have adventures. I'm starting to feel so much better that I am losing weight, that I think I might have a really cool summer after all.

Thanks for reading this tripe and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Nikos said...

Yes Jack, I have always thought that disposable douches are the way to go, far more hygenic IMHO...

Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo):

There is nothing like a hot shower, a cold drink, and air conditioning at the end of full day's ride. The hot tub looked as if it had possibilities too, but not with these guys. (It had a sign over it that said, "Do not wash your dogs in this unit.")

And when the rain comes, as it invariably does, watching a movie or playing cards is best when you can walk aound with a cup of coffee in your hand, which canot be done in a low tent.

We have become spoiled.

Thanks for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Gainesville365 (Suzana):

There were a few things I'd have changed about this place, and one of them was all the damn gravel. But you can't have everything. A decent bar within this proximity to the woods is always a plus.

Admittedly, a place called Happy Valley Acres would not have caught my eye in my 20's, but things are different now. If had had a honey on my pillion (passenger seat on the bike), this place would have seemed like Paris in the '30s.

Glad you liked the piece.
Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

I rather imagine you are setting sail for an adventrure of yoir own soon. I have been getting messages from my friends and fellow Mac Pac riders who are already out at Redmond. I think we have 5 or 6 guys who made it out there. They were averaging 600/700 miles a day. A bit beyond my limit now.

I look forward to your reports.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mike Evans:

I would like nothing more than to add your name to our roster of riders for a long weekend run — at least once. Bregstein and I have a number of scores to settle with you and a trip of this nature would provide the perfect opportunity. Besides, Dick and I have neve seen a bike with 12 carbs before.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

So how do you like your K75?

Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Nikos said...

The only saddle time I have had so far is the 50 mile ride home from the repair shop (the owner was selling the bike on behalf of a customer). The engine is real gem but the handling was twitchy due (I hope) to a shot rear tyre that today has been replaced.
However, the rear brake pedal travel seemed excessive so I adjusted it only to find the rear master cylinder shot - so that has been replaced, (some "bleeding" issues - should be resolved today with my pressure bleeder)
I fixed the ELECTRIC SCREEN by cleaning up the corroded switch and the seat has been taken off to be raised. I removed my peg rubbers too! Should be ready to go next weekend when the weather here will be nice again (ha ha).

Thank you taking an interest

Best wishes from England, N

jay said...

Jacka$$, Worth the time to read. No Maggie Valley for me too. Sad to hear Mack gave up. Karen's broke leg must have been the last straw. The last open road I took the Moonbeam was April 14th. I've been taking it on the twisties up & down 5 floors of the basement garage in the condo. The Yamato Specials is still the workhorse commuter and the Ninja streetfighter on the tracks at least one weekend a month. Have a safe ride to Ihor's and tell Stiffie I said "Hello".

Fond regards,
Tony AKA ... Vulcan AL

Jack Riepe said...

Hey Tony!!!!

What a pip to hear from you. I am planning to do a week-long ride at Lake Placid over Labor Day. Any chance you could make that?

Mack held out to the last. He put up a hell of a fight, but there reaches a point where the weight of the bike becomes a real issue. And I think he could tough it out even more, though I suspect he doesn't want to risk dropping Karen.

And let's face it... The GS can be a handful.

Don't be a stranger... Let's get a ride in someplace.
Send me a phone number.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

What kind of a tire did you have mounted? I've run my wheels down to the treads, but have yet to experience really twitchng handling. My rig goes into the shop next week to get the coolant, brake fluid, and transmission fluid replaced.

I'm going to have the mechanic poke the radiator fan too... I can't recall the last time I head it switch on.

Now, what the hell is the epic tale about the right mirror?

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Nikos said...

Dear Jack
The right hand mirror is now in good shape and I shall feature it in a future blog posting.
The rear Bridgestone BT45 tire/tyre was quite squared off and worn to 2/3mm in the was a bit twitchy but it could have been my stiff riding. I've replaced it with the same type BT45 to maintain harmony with the front. If she still twitches I'll change the rear shock...
Kind regards, N

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

Let'd hope replacing the tire solved the problem.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Conchscooter said...

bobskoot is hung like a donkey and wild like your son. amazing stuff. sonja is uh very demanding. I am in wyoming.i am in love with gosling black label rum. it makes everything stunning. even the desert. cheyenne says you write like her former owner.
love from the road.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conchscooter:

Rum really seems to agree with you... And I'm glad you and Bob Skoot have finally gotten together. It appears the influence of the Crocs cannot be overstated.

I can hardly wait to read his account of the story!!!

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

mtlcowgirl said...

Dear Jack,

Dropping Karen is only a small part of the decision, as far as I'm concerned. His knees are so shot he can feel bone on bone. That means his balance is way off. Riding solo is not fun for him anymore, never mind two up. Mostly though, we need the dough. Like he said, it's stupid to be sitting on $9,000 of machinery that we're not using.

Not to worry, as soon as we unload her, we'll get Mack some after market parts, aka knee replacements (credit Leilehua) and we'll get another bike. Something a "tad" lower. It's a long way down from the bitch pad, let me tell ya.

Your pal,


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Karen:

The advent of arthritis is never fun. Mack has my deepest sympathy. My knees have been bone on bone for the past two years and make the most interesting sounds when I bend them. Worse is my left hip, which has the most restricted movement of all my joints.

But there is nothing left to do other than to grin and bear it. Mack is a tough old bird... My moneys is on him.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Unknown said...

Jackie rIEPE:

I'm tired. Our ride home was an 8 hour affair. Not many miles but we took the slow route and included a visit to the Seattle Pike Place Market to see Chuck. On the way home, after we went our separate ways, I stopped in Bellingham to pay my dues. I am a member of the SOB's (Scooters of Bellingham), and the BIG rally is this coming weekend. After I crossed the CDN/US border I stopped to visit another friend. We left Tumwater, WA around 9am, and I got home around 7:30P , unpacked the bike and had a small dinner.

I had a great time with Conch as you will read about it shortly. I am still trying to present it in a coherent manner. We missed you. I also got to meet Irondad, THE LEGEND. You know that the earth trembles with his every stop. And I noticed that he is breaking down slowly. He actually said that if he got a pair of crocs that they would be black to match the colour of his bike. So we are making good progress

Wet Coast Scootin

Classic Velocity said...

Jack, a great story telling as usual. I'm glad to see you still bring the essentials with you on long trips (Rum and Coke). I certainly missed that combo at the rally this year !!

Wayne (classicvelocity)

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

I see I missed a call from you last night. We had a family thing to attend to... And got in late. I read your account of the meeting with Conchscooter... For a second there, I didn't think it was going to happen. This bred a degree of confusion as a previous comment from Michael said he did meet you guys.

It would appear you have become quite the Blogspot Ambassador, and the impetus for many blog authors to meet this summer. I was so sorry I couldn't join you guys.

You covered a lot of territory. I shouldn't wonder you are tired. BVut I evied you this ride and the mileage you accrued. My diet is working and I am losing weight. And for reasons that no one can explain, I am also experiencing a lot less pain. Naturally, this has me thrilled. (I haven't lost the kind of weight that would bring about less pain. But I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth.)

My bike went into the shop this week to get all the big fluids changed. This included the coolant, brake fluid, and transmission fluid. And a slight problem was found with an electrical connection. More on this later.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Wayne:

This summer's ride to northern PA was an epiphany for me. I returned determined to lose weight and to be able to ride this rig like a real BMW rider. I regret that run was the last taste of rum I am likely to have for a while.

My other objectives are to write more and to carry my art to a number of moto mags.

Glad you made it to the MOA Rally. It's a cinch for me next year.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

chris sorbi said...

HILARIOUS YOU ARE! WOW! seriously! I love your writing style but sorry to hear about the BP arthritis situation. I need to check back in more often!

Acai BURN said...

nice one thank you for sharing.