Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Yellow Spot In The Snow...

Rain was nothing new to this rider, who had succumbed to his passion for motorcycling 35 years before in Great Britain, where oppressively damp, foggy weather sets the tone for humor, romance and the national pastime: unbridled cynicism. Yet this was not Great Britain, but the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York, one of the most beautiful and remote places in the northeast United States. The rain fell with cold insistence, filtering through dense mountain mists that barely yielded to dawn. It was a little after 7 am on the morning of October 15th, 2010, and the temperature was in the low 40’s (Fahrenheit).

The hamlet of Keene is nestled among minor mountains, between four and five thousand feet high that rise in a wild pattern that borders on random. On days like this one, thick mists rise from the trees and hang in the air like incense in a cathedral. It is very beautiful to see — for the first time, and for about five minutes. But locals know these mists are the precursors of lingering, moody weather, and the dark emotions that contribute to life here.

The rider stood in the basement doorway, taking a final drag on a cigarette.

The damp aroma of forest duff overwhelmed the smoke of the Marlboro, but yielded to the reassuring vapors of gasoline and oil in the room behind him. Illuminated by a dim overhead bulb was a 2000 Honda “VFR Interceptor” and a 1971 Triumph T100c. The Interceptor was a modern tribute to speed and mechanical efficiency. The Triumph leaked oil onto the concrete floor with grim determination. The rider had thought of putting a disposable diaper under the antique, but the ghosts of Kipling, Churchill, and T.E. Lawrence intervened. “Do you want a diaper when you’re 55-years-old,” they asked. That time was a mere three years away.

It is the fashion among some riders to name their machines. He called the Triumph his “Strumpet,” as the motorcycle would fuck him at the drop of a hat. The most recent occurrence had been at an antique bike rally in Ohio. The bike had run flawlessly for a month, then refused to start after being trailered for 24-hours. The rider hadn’t named the bright yellow Honda... That had been done for him by a friend, who called it “Hepatitis.”

He pushed the Honda into the driveway.

Fall comes early in the Adirondacks and the aspens and hardwoods in the High Peaks region were well past their autumn colors. The dense rain would beat a lot of the remaining leaves from their branches, forming a slick paste of death in every curve. Cinching his helmet with an extra tug, the rider surveyed the weather with the quiet resignation of a man cursed by circumstances. He would have taken his truck into the office today, but it was as dead as Kelsey’s nuts. And he could have taken his wife’s car into the office, if it hadn’t served as the unanticipated backstop when he’d tried to jump-start the truck.

It was turning out to be one of those days when the innocent expletive “oh” would nearly always be followed by the qualifying noun “shit.”

Chris Wolfe is a medical practitioner with a strong sense of commitment. Babies with their first sniffles... The elderly with the aches of age... And working men requiring the odd shot or the occasional stitch were relying on him to be there at 8am. He threw his leg over the bike, sneered at the rain, and pressed the starter. Snicking the bike in gear, the modern day equivalent of the country doctor roared off into the gloom for the 25-mile run to Moriah, NY. The ride was slower than normal as there was a lot of water on the road, and the wind was beginning to pick up. Yet Wolfe was still able to enjoy the twisties along the river and the mountain pass at Chapel Pond.

It was a busier than usual day in the clinic. Wolfe took his mid-morning coffee on the fly, burning up what few extra minutes he could spare in casual conversation with patients who were really ill. He has a strong rapport with many, who seemed to find some measure of reassurance in his crisp British accent. He was something of an exotic in the Adirondacks, and in his younger years had shamefully used the crease in his speech to slice through conversation in mountain café society, and as a shortcut to getting laid.

On this particular day, nearly every patient greeted him with a remark about the weather, which was getting murkier and murkier with each passing hour. A cold front had collided with a band of moisture about ten thousand feet above the mountains, turning the rain into the first snow of the season. In Moriah on the warmer shores of Lake Champlain, it was still raining. But at higher elevations like Lake Placid, the snow was already an inch deep on the street.

“I’m ducking out of here about 3 o’clock,” Wolfe announced to his colleagues. “I expect this rain to turn to sleet and I want to get through most of it in daylight.” Five miles into the run home he noticed it was a lot colder than it had been earlier in the day, and he began to worry about black ice. Yet the tire bite remained strong as he started his climb into the mountains.

Not far from its intersection with I-87 (The Adirondack Northway), Route 73 runs into US-9 at a place called “Dysfunction Junction.” It is the strangest confluence of two roadways ever designed by an engineer, and only its remote location prevents huge pile-ups. Heading north toward Lake Placid, Route 73 leaves “Dysfunction Junction,” paralleling a beautiful stream, gradually climbing a series of rises (and accompanying curves) to peak at Chapel Pond. This body of water is a natural reflecting pool for a sheer rock wall rising a couple of thousand feet straight up. Then the road plunges (very steeply) into Keene Valley, for a fairly level ride for the next ten miles. The drop in elevation is checked by a couple of hairpin curves, on the edge of a cliff. For added safety, a stone wall (built by the Phoenicians in 1204 BC) tops the cliff. The other side of the road is a rock embankment.

On a clear, dry summer day, this is one of the most breathtaking motorcycle rides in the country.

Wolfe instinctively dropped into a lower gear as he approached Dysfunction Junction, which to his horror, was covered with snow. “The transition from rain to snow was almost instantaneous,” said Wolfe and it was coming down very heavily.” He had a decision to make. He could peel off on US-9, which was fairly level (minor hills) all the way to the county seat — Elizabethtown — but which ended up climbing the shoulders of Giant Mountain. This terminated in a straight downhill run, almost like a ski jump, which had fired logging trucks 300 feet into the cornfield beyond. Or he could deal with the much shorter run, and less draw- out drop of Route 73.

“The decision was made for me,” said Wolfe. I caught up to the car ahead of me and decided to ride in its right tire track, as the snow was already two inches deep.” The car was headed up Route 73.

Wolfe alternated between first and second gear for the next ten miles. The climb up to Chapel Pond wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” said Chris. “There was no other traffic than the car in front of me and the driver proceed at a slow but steady clip. He had his flashers on and I was following at 18 or 20 feet behind.” They went through the first curves in the road in this bizarre formation, with Wolfe keeping the bike as perpendicular as possible. “There was no thought of leaning the machine. This is a street bike, with street bike tires, made for flawless pavement. Not this stuff,” he added.

The road surface had not cooled as fast as the air, and the car’s tires were getting through to blacktop in many places. The road also weaves through the mountains which deflect the wind, so the distribution of snow on the road was uneven — being a dusting in some places, and several inches deep in others. That changed on the drop into Keene Valley.

“The snow was a constant two or three inches deep and it became critical that I stayed in this guy’s tire track. The other driver was very careful to maintain a slow speed on the downhill stretch as I am sure he had no desire to hit the wall with his car either,” said Wolfe. “Naturally my concern went a little beyond that as the wall is the ideal height for a rider to go flying over, once free of the bike.”

Wolfe tried holding the bike in second gear, with both feet off the pegs.

“That was a mistake and I didn’t try the experiment for more than 100 feet or so. My balance was skewed and I had to keep wiping the snow from my face shield with my left hand,” said Wolfe. “It was easier to control the bike with both feet on the pegs.”

There was another problem as he got down off the mountain. On the level stretch, the driver in the car began to accelerate, widening the gap between the two vehicles. “As the space between us opened up to 50 feet, the car’s tire tracks started to fill in as the snowfall increased,” said Wolfe. He found himself questioning his place in the cosmos by uttering, “What the fuck” every 30 seconds or so.

“That was the longest ten miles in my life,” said Wolfe. “And I don’t really know if the driver was consciously helping me deal with the problem, but I’d like to think he was.”

Wolfe got the motorcycle back to the barn without dropping the bike. In his estimation, riding in the snow is an overrated pleasure that he can live without. “We’re now in the time of the year when the state begins to salt and sand on a regular basis, and this could be the end of my riding season. Then again, we could have a couple of weekends that are cold but dry and I might get another run in,” he said.


The woman pulled into her driveway with an audible sigh. The Chrysler wasn’t really made for North Country winters. It may have performed better with snow tires, but this Nor’easter had caught everyone by surprise.

“Did you have any trouble getting home,” asked her husband.

“The roads were awful and I took it real slow coming over the mountain,” she replied. “There was some asshole on a motorcycle tailgating me from Chapel Pond all the way to Keene.”

“On a motorcycle?”

“Yeah, a piss-yellow motorcycle. He was right up my ass too. And whenever I pulled away, he got right in behind me. What an asshole,” she said.

“Did you get the pizza,” her husband asked, ending the warm, sympathetic part of the conversation.

“Yeah,” she replied after a long silence. “Next time you can get your own pizza.”

“Hey, you’re lucky it’s not March 14th,” he added with a wink.

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

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gear Today, Gone Tomorrow...

Motorcycle gear is as specialized as the stuff NASA uses to equip astronauts and as personal as a toothbrush. Helmets, jackets, pants, and boots are now made of materials that didn’t exist five years ago and are guaranteed to be form-fitting, water-proof (or at least moisture-resistant), while capable of standing up to giant insects, rocks, and space debris. New body armor is said to be so good that at least one company is making car bumpers out of it. Practicality need not be sacrificed for fashion. Some men’s riding gear is designed to subtly augment “abs and pecs” in a manner that suggests every saddle-free hour is spent in a gym. Many riders who favor motorcycles built in the US choose “cod piece” riding pants, that provide a groin compartment suitable for stashing a pipe wrench. A lot of these guys find themselves jammed against bars by hot women new to this kind of fashion statement who ask, “What have you got in there?”

They can honesty reply, “My tool.”

Contemporary motorcycle gear for women not only provides the utmost in riding comfort and protection these days, but accents each curve like rubber skid marks on the Dragon’s Tail. Women who may otherwise appear average-looking in a business suit (though there is no such thing as an average woman biker) become red hot in riding gear, while smoking-hot women (all of the ones I know) reach the temperature of magma in an Aerostitch suit. Many gear manufacturers catering to current men’s physique trends in the United States are now using Clydesdale horses as sizing models, so riders whose asses hang down on each side of the back wheel are still encouraged to annually spend thousands of dollars attempting to look the part.

A rider will find that perfect fitting helmet, that ideally-cut jacket, those great pants, and the most comfortable boots at least once in a lifetime. If that person is smart, they will buy five of that item instantly. It is a well-known fact that once a rider discovers equipment that he or she loves, it will vanish forever to be replaced by some shit that sort of looks like the original, except:
• Instead of costing $159 (USD), it is now the price of the average divorce;
• It only comes in colors typically found in a bag of “Skittles” candy;
• It now has new zippers that dissolve when wet, or jam when pulled upward with a right hand;
• The “XXX” size is made for someone in an Asian city who last ate three years ago;
• It has new “design” features that offer no value to you or anyone you know.

Sometimes gear disappears from a catalogue like an unsolved murder, with manufacturers immediately discontinuing it, firing all the people involved in making it, and destroying all of the records, molds, or patterns used in its design. I once called a jacket manufacturer to inquire if any of a previous model run were still available. The person on the other end of the phone told me “no.” Then they pleaded with me not to call back.

“Why,” I demanded.

A shot rang out, and I heard an ominous thud, like a sales rep hitting the floor.

“That’s why,” said a different voice, and the line went dead.

This is especially true with motorcycle gloves. I once read that medical science has determined there are 2,823,921 nerve endings in each fingertip. This is what helps the average male determine the difference between an erect nipple and the buttons on a remote control in a dark room. (I have no idea how the boys in secret medical laboratories have arrived at this exact figure, but I have never looked at my fingertips the same way since. I still remember the first time I touched an erect nipple in a darkened corner of a high school dance, with all 2,823,921 of those nerve endings. Each one worked.)

Considering the tips of one’s fingers are the second most sensitive part of the male motorcycle rider’s body, you would think that glove manufacturers the world over would be dedicated to providing hand protection that also offered the highest degree of sensation. Yet motorcycle gloves remain on the forefront of compromise. There are gloves that fall into the “Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle” category, with fish-scale skid plating, lightning bolts, and raised armor over every joint. There are also gauntlet-type gloves made from exotic leathers. I almost bought a pair that had moose-hide on the back, white rhino-hide on the palm, and individual strips of sperm whale-hide for increased sliding protection. (They were $4,000 and I scrimped and saved for them by eliminating 30-days of alimony payments to an assortment of former wives.)

But I halted my order at the last minute, as one of the 50 or so motorcycle magazines I get each month had just run a piece on the unbelievable protection offered by Kangaroo leather. Sure enough, I found a pair of motorcycle gloves made of “nearly indestructible” kangaroo leather, lined with the pouches of jumping marsupials who succumbed to natural causes, after being hit by cars on Australian freeways. The cost was astronomical. (I’d have had to get married three more times and cut out those additional alimonies to afford these gloves.) Australia seems to be the home of exotic leather and I contacted a BMW rider there looking for advice. He gave me the name of “indigenous craftsman,” who was willing to help.

Mulitangilowe Walllawallaballa, or “Ted,” as he likes to be called, offered to make me a pair of gloves out of platypus leather for $50. I gladly sent the money only to have the gloves arrive with four fingers in place — and the rider’s thumbs to be inserted in the still attached platypus beaks. The gloves were not as sensitive as I imagined, and gave a strange puppet-show like air to operation of the clutch and front brake.

Above — "Pursuit" Gloves by Icon offer excellent control touch, good ventillation, and a skin-tight fit for me in 3X (which I prefer). They are lightly armored but a good value for $55. Photo taken from the "New Enough," website, a vendor I have been buying gear from for the past 6 years.

I currently own four pairs of motorcycle gloves. My summer gloves are Icon “Pursuit” perforated leather (full fingers) with minimal armor on the knuckles. I got them from “New Enough” for $55. Made in China, the sizing seems to have gotten better this year. The 3X size is skin-tight on me and offers excellent feel for the controls. The glove is made of sheepskin leather, with a goatskin palm, and offers a Velcro® closure at the short cuff. These have two zillion little holes in them and work very well for my style of riding. The will not however deflect a death beam from Skeletor.

The gloves I wear for transitional fall riding (45º to 60º) are Icon’s “Sub Stealth” model, which is the same as the above (without the perfs) for $45, also from New Enough. Performance is about the same too. The best transitional fall riding gloves I owned were simple deerskin leather gloves from Timberline. Dick Bregstein gave them to me. They were stolen off my bike when it was parked in a shopping center in Frazier, Pa. I sincerely hope they were taken by a someone who had freezing cold hands that day and was desperate to get warm. (In which case, they were welcome to them.) I was only a few miles from home and managed okay, as I carry spares for just about everything.

Above — Icon's "Sub Stealth" gloves are virtually identical to the "Pursuit" gloves but without the perforations. I can wear these down to 45º, or a little cooler, in perfect comfort with excellent handelbar touch. Price was right: $45. Photo from "New Enough's" site.

The second best transitional gloves I ever owned were branded by Harley-Davidson. These were a slightly heavier kind of nubuck suede that were great in temperatures down to 35º. I wore them cold one day at noon, when the temperature warmed up to 35º, and came back in the dark when it was much colder than that. I nearly got frostbit hands. But for warmth, flexibility, and sensitivity (in their temperature range), they couldn’t be beat. I left these on a shelf in the garage last winter and mice ate them, shredding the fingers for nesting material.

Interestingly enough, I recently returned to a couple of local Harley-Davidson shops to see if I could replace those gloves. (That effort was as gratifying as yodeling up my own ass.) But then I thought, “Harley is a company that embraces practical change. They might have something better.” I decided I wanted to try on a pair of “Men’s Torque Gauntlet Gloves.” I found these online and I liked them because:
• They appeared to be simple leather.
• They did not appear to be bulky.
• They came back over the sleeve of a riding jacket
• They did not have a huge Orange Harley-Davidson Eagle logo or skull cast into the leather, (offering a rather nice embossing job instead.)
• They were $65.

Above — The "Men's Torque Gauntlet Gloves" from Harley-Davidson really appealed to me too... I just couldn't find a pair to try on. Harley does market some very good gear. They had a mesh jacket one year that I absolutely loved. But it the largest size in came in was a 48. Photo from the internet.

This too, however, was like yodeling up my own ass. I couldn’t seem to order *them online, and was constantly being referred to one of three local Harley Dealers. This was okay with me... I like looking at new Harley-Davidsons (who doesn’t?) and I believe in supporting local dealerships. (I have a enduring fondness for the Harley-Davidson company, especially their dealership in Willow Street, Pa.) Not a single dealer had the gloves. (This was in September.) All offered to order them for me.

“Will you order them in two different sizes so I can see which pair I want,” I asked. That question drew blank stares. I said “Thanks,” and moved on, with money for gloves still burning a hole in my pocket.

Above — Gerbings Nubuck Heated Gloves for $119, are my choice for most colder weather riding days as they seem warm enough for my hands (even without plugging them in). This winter will tell. I am impressed with the way Gerbings packages their products, giving you a number of connections options and making things as "plug and play" as possible. Photo from the internet.

Gerbings got that $65, plus another just like it. I bought a pair of heated Nubuck gloves for $119, which came complete with a wiring harness, even though I will connect these to my Gerbings heated jacket liner. These gloves are a tad heavier than I would have liked, but not to the point of being overly bulky. I suspect they will be warm enough for my hands, which are always hot, without being plugged in. But in truth, they could easily replace my heaviest, and most impressive winter riding gloves. (I should be as warm as toast with these gloves, the jacket liner, and the heated seat. I still think it was really smart to install the voltmeter.)

Lee Parks Design is one of the most recognized brands in heavy touring motorcycle gloves. I got my fourth pair of gloves on a recommendation from the Mac-Pac’s legendary Doug Raymond. (Raymond has crossed the Rockies in a snowstorm, and rode from Philadelpha to Prudhoe Bay, above the Arctic Circle in Alaska — and back — in 14 days. Both trips were on a venerable BMW “R” bike.) They are also the cold weather gloves of choice, preferred by Horst Oberst, a man who has ridden in some of the mountainous parts of the world at a time when motorcycles were regarded as truly primitive. (Oberst also has a marked preference for the BMW “R” bike as well. There is no accounting for taste.)

Above — The warmest motorcycle gloves I have ever owned... The Deersports®PCI Black and Tan gloves from Lee Parks Designs. Photo from Lee Parks Designs Website.

At a pricey $184, my Deersports®PCI Black and Tan gloves by Lee Parks Design remain the warmest, non-electrical gloves I have ever worn. At 70mph, in ambient air under 25º, my hands felt warmer than room temperature. These gloves claim to combine a unique stitching technique, along with equally unique leather products, plus a some highly-advanced thermo-liner, to provide the warmest, strongest, and most comfortable motorcycle gloves on the market.

They might.

Here are some of the fine points as presented by their website:
• 2.75+ oz. deerskin (palm) and 4.0+ oz. elkskin (back) are more abrasion-resistant than cowhide
• Outlast® phase-change lining material changes it properties depending on temperature giving it an incredibly wide temperature range (35-75 degrees)
• Thinsulate Flex® insulation on the backside of hand helps keep heat in without adding bulk to the palm side of the glove

Lee Parks Design makes less expensive models, including several short-cuff street gloves, which I did not consider for one reason. The warmest gloves I have ever owned, are also the bulkiest, and insulate my hands from the clutch and the brake. Wearing these gloves, I can tell when I have entered the friction zone only as the motorcycle has started to move. You can deal with bulky gloves over time... You cannot ride with frozen hands. (Naturally, the muscle memory in your left hand tells you when you are in the friction zone too, but it’s nice to feel the clutch grip. It may be argued that the less expensive Lee Parks gloves are also less bulky. I simply don’t know.)

Also, I would be remiss if I neglected to point out that a number of Mac-Pac riders did not like various pairs of Lee Parks Gloves, finding fault with the stitching. (The company website claims they are delighted to make inexpensive repairs.)

It should be noted that none of my sub-freezing riding has ever been conducted in wet conditions. I love riding but not when there is the potential for ice on the road. I have no idea how these cold weather gloves work when wet. It is my plan to ride while wearing the Gerbings, but with the Lee Parks gauntlets in my side bags as back-up.

I do not promote myself as an expert on motorcycle riding or biking gear. Those people are few are far between... And with rare exception, they are tedious to listen to and worse to read. Rather, I make my recommendations based only on my personal experience — which is limited in some regards, but very typical to the common man in many others.

*Note to any Harley-Davidson representative — While I have spent my last dollar on gloves this year, I would be delighted to road test and review a pair of the Men’s Torque Gauntlet Gloves. I’d be delighted to either return the gloves at the end of the season — with my review — or buy them.

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

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Misadventures of Michael Beattie and Mr. Toad

The aura of excitement hung about the house like those dense fog banks that occasionally surround the Golden Gate Bridge. The cause for this heightened state of anticipation was the pending visit of Michael Beattie, the author of that widely read and respected blog "Key West Dairy" and a hard riding Triumph motorcycle enthusiast. For those who have been in prison or literary exile, Key West Dairy provides a daily look at life in the center of the “Conch Republic,” a seething hotbed of cultural preservation, artistic revolution, architectural conflict, and odd local traditions designed to siphon tourist dollars into the municipality’s coffers.

Beattie was out to break his personal best on his second Iron Butt riding endeavor. The Iron Butt Association is dedicated to safe, long-distance motorcycle riding, and features a number of carefully certified events and programs that are prerequisites for participation in this 50,000-member international organization. On this trip, he was out to score 1500 miles in 36-hours. Sanctioned rides fall into the “Saddlesore” and “Bunburner” category, and require strict documentation to qualify. I refer to Beattie’s most recent run as a Glowing Red Butt ride, in honor of a rite of passage I suspect he undoubtedly enjoyed as a boy at a British boarding school.

Beattie’s original research produced an arc of travel encompassing San Antonio, Saint Louis, Albany (NY), or Montauk Point (Long Island, NY). A more precise study of the weather, traffic, and road conditions led him to choose Binghamton, NY (the sister city of Singapore, I think) as his final destination.

I took a personal interest in this ride for several reasons; the first of which was the mentor/young grasshopper online friendship Beattie and I have forged over the last two years. He has come to rely on my judgement for all kinds of things ranging from politics to the proper focus of photography. (Politically, Beattie stands somewhere between that great philosopher Michael Moore and that rascally government reformer Stalin. His photographs used to be dedicated to dumpy tourists, spilling out of brightly colored Bermuda shorts, but now does offer the occasional infusion of hotties, of which there should be no shortage in Key West.)

Other reasons for my interest in this ride relate to the basic charter of this blog: raw motorcycle adventure, research in two-wheeled transportation, and a commitment to exploring the performance parameters of various motorcycles. (This ride would provide me with an in-depth look at how certain marques dissolve upon impact with dampened leaves and highway runoff.)

The clock officially started at 9:50pm (2150 for my European readers) on Saturday, October 9, 2010, with a call from Layne, Michael Beattie’s long-suffering spouse, who informed me that the sideshow was about to hit the road. You could hear the distinct sound of a Triumph Bonneville in the background, and a bellowing voice that reminded me of the late Benny Hill. Michael is a descendant of Italian royalty (castle and all), who was educated in Britain, and who settled in the US, once he determined that most Americans regard anyone with a British accent as a kind of James Bond . He has had a remarkable career as a yacht skipper, a journalist, and a civil servant. His native Italian accent has yielded to the equally worldly tones of a Cockney cockle-monger. (Cockles are a kind of shellfish and not at all what the gentle reader was probably thinking.)

By 10am on the following Sunday (all times are approximate), Beattie was in the mountains of South Carolina and claimed to have frozen his ass off. Real adventure seldom happens when you are at the top of your game and every sense is fine-tuned to the task at hand. And so it was with Michael Beattie on this last Glowing Butt Ride. He arrived in Binghamton in time to qualify for the Iron Butt criteria, and felt good enough to go for a ride through the Catskill Mountains. The next I heard from him, he was exploring the limitations of room service in a discount hotel where the hourly rate exceeded the weekly charge for the same accommodations. (Beattie had never before stayed in a hotel room that had a coin-operated sink.)

My original plan was to ride my K75 and meet him at a rest stop on the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Allentown)... But a last minute writing assignment started to squeeze my schedule and a nasty flare-up of my arthritis in my right knee began to seriously hinder my already limited mobility. We pushed back the meeting time to later in the day and I decided the smart move might be might be to take Leslie's SUV. And then it happened...

Michael Beattie went down.

According to eye witnesses, Beattie’s Triumph Bonneville (estimated to be moving at 2 miles per hour) lumbered out of control across the parking lot of a topless joint. Michael desperately attempted to execute what would have been a very snappy gradual stop — with the engine barely ticking at idle. Yet the complexity of the maneuver must have confused the rider... Or perhaps he was thinking of huge derrieres attached to dumpy tourists spilling out of brightly colored Bermuda shorts... But his line of travel took him through a half-inch deep drainage slough, lined with mud from the weekend’s rains, covered by a layer of fall leaves.

The Triumph reared like a Shetland pony, hurling Beattie to the ground, then coming to rest atop his right ankle, pinning him under the wreckage of smashed motorcycle parts. Beattie found himself on all fours, in the muck, screaming like a debutante on prom night. An elderly couple lifted the bike off him, got him out of the mud, and refused his 25¢ tip.

But the damage had been done.

The force of smashing into the ground sheared the rider’s peg from the kick plate. State Troopers would find it a quarter of a mile away, embedded into a 234-year-old pine tree, planted the day representatives from Pennsylvania signed the Declaration of Independence. (There are some who believe this is no coincidence.) The right front turn signal lens was also shattered. Oddly enough, the lens was colored “amber,” which happened to be the name of the topless dancer performing at that moment in the bar. (Another coincidence? You decide.)

Beattie called me at once. He sounded seriously rattled.

“Michael,” I said, using the same tone that has proven effective on stampeding cattle, “Calm down. Are you hurt?”

“My right ankle. I think it might be shattered,” he stammered. I knew exactly what he was thinking: that free healthcare in Canada was only 350-miles to the north. (As a Bolshevic in the classic sense, "free" stuff from the government, like in Greece, really appeals to him.)

“Forget the ankle. It’s fine. And just remember, you don’t speak French. The flesh-eating French-speaking zombies of Montreal would tear you apart.”

That got his attention.

“Now tell me,” I asked. “What is the damage to the bike?”

“I’m trapped here,” Beattie wailed. “The rider’s peg is gone from the bike. I’ll have to make a stirrup from an old shirt and hang my foot from the handlebars.”

“Don’t be absurd,” I said. “Pop out the passenger’s peg and use that one. It should fit fine. All you need is a pliers and a screw driver.”

“Will you talk me through it,” Beattie asked.

“I just did.”

“But what about the turn signal?”

“The bike will start without having a lens over the turn signal,” I said.

“Will it,” asked Beattie, the skepticism dripping from his voice. “It’s not a BMW, you know.”

“Trust me,” I replied. I promised Michael that I would find a local Triumph dealer and get the parts he needed to make a permanent repair for Wednesday. He stopped crying almost immediately.

Two hours later, we shook hands in a rest area on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Michael Beattie and the Triumph Bonneville make the perfect couple. It is a retro bike and he cuts a retro figure, despite wearing contemporary gear. He pulled up to the SUV and dismounted, displaying only a touch of a limp. His 2007 Bonneville represents the height of the retro motorcycle-builder’s craft. The elegant understatement of the Bonneville is extraordinary. It is to motorcycles what the Jaguar XKE is to sports cars. Slightly mud-scarred from its encounter with the ground, the machine bore superficial scratching on the windscreen, and a smashed turn signal lens. We agreed it could have been much worse. The ride back to the house was fairly uneventful, except for the stretch where Beattie passed me in excess of 80 mph and gave me the finger.

Above — Leslie Marsh, my significant other. Seeing the initial extent of Michael Beattie's limp, Leslie thought he'd be grounded for a couple of days. A multi-media artist, "Stiffie" is seen here holding a soldering iron. This photo is a self-portrait.

Michael’s limp got worse before it got better. He admitted it felt like a lightly sprained ankle (which is like describing a lightly delivered kick in the balls). Over a fragrant dinner of Stiffie’s/Leslie’s (my red hot squeeze) Hodge Podge soup and freshly baked pumpkin bread, Beattie regaled us with his most recent tale of the road. Headed toward Binghamton, the threat of rain caused him to take a three-hour snooze under a low-standing shelter in a field. Daylight revealed it to be a cow. And a visit to a local sheriff’s office to get his Pepper Butt papers signed resulted in him getting a good going-over by night stick wielding cops.

Above — Michael Beattie unsuccessfully attempts to activate a force-field to defeat this photograph, as he puts a bag of ice on his right ankle. Photo by the author.

“I fail to understand your fascination with women who lift up their shirts when you pass by on your bike,” said Beattie. “It happened to me in Virginia yesterday and I think it’s an overrated thrill.” As it turns out, the woman was about 92-years-old and had ridden a Triumph to Woodstock, when she was 56. Michael’s classical riding style convinced the woman that she was saluting a contemporary. “She could have used knee braces for a brassiere,” he concluded.

Above: Beattie in metamorphosis... Michael holds up his "Inflata-Pants." These are the actual size of the rain pants that Beattie will stretch over his ass and inflate by some mysterious means into form-fitting raingear. Photo by the author.

I was amazed at lightly Michael had packed for this trip. Both of the Triumph’s sidebags were stuffed with maps, cans of kippered herring, and biscuits (which is the British word for hardtack “cookies”). His other change of clothes, and his rain gear were tucked inside a bright yellow duffle bag, upon which was stenciled, “Contents: Human Organs.” Beattie explained that he’d gotten the bag at an auction of surplus gear held by the Key Fungo Coroner’s Office. “I paid two dollars for it in 2005,” he said, with obvious pride. "And it came with a gallbladder."

Beattie was limping so badly at dinner’s end that he was using one of my canes to get around. Leslie was convinced he was likely to be grounded for a couple of days, but Michael was putting a good face on it. A dog person from the inside out, he formed an instant bond with Atticus (our German shepherd) and Scout (the rescue mutt).

“I am impressed by the size of this dog,” Beattie said, standing on the kitchen table to pet the Atticus as he passed by, with the Triumph in his mouth. “And the smaller white one has such sharp teeth. What is the command for getting her to let go of my ass?” (Scout is trained to release perceived burglars when they say. “God I wish I had a K75.” But they have to say it sincerely.)

Shortly after breakfast on the second day of his stay, I introduced Michael to Dick Bregstein, a fellow BMW rider and a celebrated member of the Mac-Pac, our charted BMW-riding club. Dick ran us up to Hermy’s, the local BMW and Triumph dealer, so we could get the replacement parts for the damaged bike. Hermy’s is located in Hamburg, Pa, a scant 65 miles from the house. Beattie was astounded to find a full-service dealer, in the middle of nowhere. While utterly taken aback by the long row of lethal-looking BMW motorcycles on display across the front of the shop, Michael swooned when he saw the five current Triumph models parked toward the rear of the showroom.

We had no sooner stepped through the door when the parts manager held up two plastic bags, containing the replacement peg and the turn signal lens. They even extended to Michael the Mac -Pac riding club discount. Hermy’s is a great place to run into riding friends and acquaintances. Paul Paradise, a rider from Delaware, was trading in one 10-year-old BMW for 6 new Triumphs, which utterly astounded Beattie. Michael was chattering away at Paul, regaling him with stories of life among the cannibals in Key West, as Bregstein and I made faces behind his back. Before we left, Paradise told us he nearly pissed himself trying to keep a straight face. The trip to Hermy’s has a way of taking up the whole day, especially if you stop for lunch. I’d often said that if Hermy’s had a bar, I spend the night there.

Dusk found Beattie and I drinking beer in the driveway, making slight adjustments to our bikes and wiping the grit off the easy-to-get-to spots. A crescent moon rose and basked each machine in a dim glow.

“May I share something with you that I have have told no other person,” asked Michael.

“Certainly,” I said, conscious of the fact that while my reply suggested confidentiality, I had actually promised nothing of the sort.

“You know how I make fun of people who name their motorcycles? Well I feel like something of a hypocrite.”

“Go on,” I encouraged. “There are no secrets between men here in the driveway.”

“Welllllll,” he stammered... “I do have a name for my bike. It’s Neville... For that great British statesman and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.”

“Peace in our time.”

“Exactly,” said Beattie. “I knew you would understand.”

“You bet,” I said, with my best Iscariot smile.

I showed Michael the more subtle operating points of the vintage BMW K75. Chief among these is the self-retracting side stand. It comes up if you pull in the clutch. Beattie was like a cat with a ball of yarn. "Can I make it come up one more time," he'd ask.

"Now, Michael," I replied. "This is the 30th time you've made the kick stand retract."

Then he would stare at the side stand one more time in utter amazement while pulling in the clutch, as unseen forces would bring it up. (The purpose of this is to prevent the rider from pulling away with the kick stand down. The system predates micro-switches that kill the engine under the same circumstances.)

That moon became a ghostly galleon a few hours later, and we awoke to a grey overcast. A bitch of a cold storm-front was moving through with more than an inch of precipitation expected in the next 12 hours. It was my plan to ride with Michael down to where Route 222 hits I-95, in Port Deposit, Maryland. I wisely decided to take Stiffie’s Subaru, as my left knee was as stiff as Farouk’s dick. Michael’s destination was the AutoTrain station, in Lorton, Va., a three-hour run. I took Michael down through a series of beautiful back roads that ran through horse country, passing the last stable of that racing legend Barbaro, then through Amish farmland. There was absolutely no traffic outside of West Chester, Pa. The sun was out in places, and many of the trees were gearing up for their fall colors. We bypassed the snarled traffic of Wilmington, De (all of that state in fact) and eliminated over a third of the slab in Maryland. We crossed into Maryland at a sign that indicated we’d also hit the Mason-Dixon line.

The first fat rain drops splattered on the pavement when we were 8 miles from I-95.

Pulling into a gas station, Beattie topped off his tank one more time and slipped into his rain gear. He admitted he was wearing more layers of clothing now than he had ever put on in his life. The crowning touch was a pair of over-gloves that had a claw-like look to them. (The last time I had seen anything like this it was on the midway of a cheesy carnival in Trenton, NJ. The act was “The Amazing Lobster Boy.”) Now wearing his costume, the Beattie sideshow took to the road.

Above — Cold but not yet raining... Beattie is wearing the warmest riding gear he's got, anticipating ambient temperatures as low as 54 degrees, at the beginning of his run to the AutoTrain. This is the famed Triumph Bonneville named "Neville." Photo by the author.

The rain had become a horizontal torrent by the time Michael Beattie banked out onto I-95. I sat and watched from the overpass as he faded into a murky dimension of dense rain and tire spray. Triumphs are all about tradition. The running light on the back of Michael’s Bonneville is patterned after the stern light of Lord Nelson’s flagship. It was clearly visible in that fading light for a good eight feet. The next time Beattie and I spoke — three hours later — the trainmen had just strapped his bike down for shipment to Orlando. Michael had changed into dry clothes, but decided to still wear his lobster claws as they really scared little kids.

Above — Early for "trick or treat," Lobster-Claw Beattie, the mutant Triumph rider, sets off on the first stage of his victory run to Key West. Beattie's policy is to never buy a helmet if the manufacturer's logo is larger than his eye glasses. Photo by the author.

I had been waiting for this historical run for two months. Yet I felt gypped that this damned arthritis prevented me from getting at least one good ride in with Michael Beattie. It had been my attention to take him along some of my favorite Amish roads around Lancaster, but circumstances worked against us.

Beattie is a genuine pisser of a guy and I do look forward to doing that Amish run with him next year... And also riding through “Alligator Alley” in Florida with him on my tail, studying the configuration of a real running light. He is a conservative rider by nature (certainly in Key West, where distances are limited by traffic and water), who recently discovered that his Triumph likes to run at 85mph. He also discovered that he likes to accommodate it too.

Few are those guests who leave a void that is hard to fill after they depart. I found myself hoping that Beattie could have delayed his departure by at least one day, but his schedule was unforgiving. Before he mounted up, Michael came into my office and presented me with two priceless gifts: A palm tree coffee cup, and a snow globe designed to look like the southernmost point on Key West. I am delighted with both. I've had my coffee from the palm tree cup every day this week. (My daily coffee is a cross between the ancient Japanese cha ceremony and the annointimg of the Dalai Lama. It's the perfect cup for it.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

“Go To The Light... At the foot of the stairs”

It was either Benjamin Franklin or Cotton Mather who claimed that just looking at a stack of firewood, piled high, made a person feel “warm and prosperous.” I have looked at firewood piled as high as an elephant’s ass in early October (when I lived in Lake Placid, New York, where winter can break a saint’s soul), and in the middle of the following April, when nine cords had been reduced to a handful of sticks and the snow on the roof was still two feet deep. It never made me feel wealthy one way or the other.

Nothing makes me feel wealthier like looking at all the riding gear I have purchased over the last 6 years. In a pile, it takes up less than one percent of the space consumed by 9 cords of firewood, and cost 25 times more. Sometimes I imagine all this stuff (2 rain suits, 2 mesh jackets, 1 ballistic jacket, 2 jacket liners, 1 Gerbings electric liner — plus all the connectors — 2 helmets, 4 pairs of gloves, 4 pairs of boots, and 4 pairs of Diamond Gusset Defender jeans) as loose $50 bills. Then I jump off the stairs and roll around on it.

Above: Regardless of what gear I wear, I look like the "Stay-Puft" Marshmallow Man masquerading as a S.W.A.T. team member. Photo from "Ghostbusters Franchise 1984."

I bought this stuff to protect myself, to add to the enjoyment of riding, and to look more like a true BMW rider. It has protected me. And the right gear does add to the enjoyment of riding. But as far as the image goes, all I have managed to do is look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man masquerading as part of a S.W.A.T. team. Yet there is a certain satisfaction in having the right gear for each season, and in knowing where it is in time to use it for the current season. For me, knowing the location of my gear is like knowing the Ganges River is in India. It is quite another thing for me to put my hand on a specific part of it. (Dedicated Twisted Roads readers will recall I thoroughly organized the garage, cataloguing all the gear out there. But my riding gear is not kept in the garage.)

Summer became fall here last weekend with all the subtlety of a car accident. The temperature at dawn had been a routine 69º, before falling to 44º Fahrenheit without prior warning. (For the benefit of my readers in Texas, Key West and Hell, I consider 69º to be frigging hot.) In a perfect world, the change of seasons would happen gradually, with each day losing a degree or two until motorcycle riders experienced a conscious need for warmer gear. Under these circumstances, riders would gently be reminded to check the location and condition of the next season’s gear, before having a sudden need for it.

Here it was, barely ten minutes before kickstands up, and cold to the point where the crickets were no longer chirping, but stamping their little feet and muttering “Fuck this, I’m going to get eaten by a bird today.” I had just opened the garage door and realized that a short-sleeved tee shirt under a mesh jacket wasn’t going to cut it. There is a windproof/waterproof liner for the Joe Rocket mesh jacket that I wear, but the thought of cold, clammy, plasticky sleeves on my bare, muscular arms was equally unappealing. What I wanted was my Joe Rocket Fall Meteor 5.0 Jacket, with the zip-out vent panels in the front.

I just hadn’t seen it in about a year. (In fact, I remembered getting a note from it... The jacket was in Las Vegas and getting laid just fine without me.)

A mad search through the closet produced a rooster tail of shirts, blazers, and dress pants flying out behind me like tunnel detritus generated by a digging badger. The very last item, of course, was the object of my search. “Aha,” I gloated. Then I realized all of the vents were open and the two zip-out panels in the front were gone. “Muthafuck,” I whispered to the pitch-black interior of the closet.

“Leslieeeee...” I shouted up the stairs, where the Evening Star of my life had yet to deal with the reality of dawn (considering it was 6:30am on a Saturday morning). “Do you know where the two zip-out vent panels for my Joe Rocket fall jacket are?”

“I traded them for milk and bread at the supermarket last week,” she groggily replied.

There was a moment of silence while I thought about the horror of this, when she lovingly said, “How the hell would I know where you left the zip-out vent panels for your Joe Rocket fall jacket?”

“Then you didn’t trade them for bread and milk at the supermarket last week.” I said with obvious relief.

While she didn’t actually respond to this, I swear I could hear the sound of a silencer being screwed into the barrel of a 9mm Browning semi-automatic pistol.

Examining the jacket in the first rays of dawn, I found the vent panels tucked into a pocket. “Never mind,” I said, stepping over the pile of clothing on the hall floor.

Joe Rocket makes very good gear, at great prices, in sizes large enough to actually fit the motorcycle, so mega-fat riders like me can wear effective, official-looking biker apparel. More than just a question of buying the first garment that fits, Rocket gear is well-thought out, well-made, and comes with little clasps for your keys and waterproof pockets for an MP3 player or a cell phone. (It is with the deepest regret that I did not see the "Meteor" Jacket in the 2010 Joe Rocket line-up. The closest thing they offer is the Ballistic 8.0 jacket. This comes in a "5XL" size, which I swear to God, I will never need again. But others might. Not all Joe Rocket jackets are available in this super, fat-assed sizing.)

The change of seasons also calls for a change in the gear I carry on the bike too. My Sigg water bottle is now replaced by a Nissan Silver Bullet stainless steel vacuum bottle. I am fanatical on the subject of coffee. Unlike New Jersey, where the state legislature has passed a law requiring a Dunkin’ Donuts every three miles or where most diners serve excellent Joe, coffee sold in greasy spoons and gas station convenience stores throughout Pennsylvania generally tastes like shit. (Signs at the state Line that read “Welcome to Pennsylvania,” should have a line added that cautions, “Home of the shittiest coffee.” Riders will also concur that hot coffee is never available at the most spectacular views, the most beautiful forrest glades, or any of the other places where one is likely to stop and get off the bike.

Hence I recommend carrying the Nissan Silver Bullet stainless steel vacuum bottle.

This clever, tapered design goes nicely into my top case, keeps coffee warm for about 4 hours, and fills easily from the Nespresso Coffee-maker I have in the kitchen. The stainless steel interior won’t explode into a million pieces in a drop or a tip-over either. But it had been a year since I’d last seen my Nissan Silver Bullet stainless steel vacuum bottle and it had inexplicably moved from the last location of record.

“Leslieeeee...” I again shouted up the stairs. “Do you know where my Nissan Silver Bullet stainless steel vacuum bottle is?”

Her reply was preceded by a long sigh that was actually more like a “hiss...” The kind of sound a python makes when deflated by a mongoose. “Yes, I do,” she said in a hoarse whisper. “I will tell you if you step into the light at the foot of the stairs.”

Now I have watched every Alfred Hitchcock movie ever made, and I can tell you there is a time to step into the light at the foot of the stairs and a time to give it the pass. This was definitely one of the “pass” moments. I grabbed a little pillow from the easy chair in my office and tossed that into the light. It had no sooner landed on the floor when it jumped to the accompaniment of two loud popping sounds, and began leaking feathers from a couple of closely-spaced holes.

“Never mind,” I said from the shadows. “I’ll find it.”

It turned up in the garage, in a plastic bin marked “Ancillary Riding Gear.” Picking it up was just like shaking hands with an old friend. But It had a slightly unbalanced feel to it, like it was partially filled with a gelatinous substance that slid from top to bottom as one solid, quivering mass. Opening it in the kitchen sink revealed a year-old shapeless mass that smelled like coffee, but resembled penicillin-streaked yogurt. (For the BMW-riding engineers reading this story, I will end the suspense by saying the brownish gunk was no longer hot.)

Above: The 16-ounce Nissan Stainless Steel Vacuum Bottle — order it from Campmor and save a bundle. Photo from the internet.

I filled and refilled the vacuum bottle with boiling hot sudsy water, leaving the stopper to soak in a sterilizing agent overnight. The stainless steel liner emerged sweet-smelling and clean after a few treatments. (I have been through this before.)

Above: This is my idea of the ideal ride destination — the outdoor "Tiki" bar at the Chesapeake Inn, in Chesapeake City, Md. The ladies were walking around in bikinis and tiny little shorts in July. I thought a BMW K75 was a babe magnet, but the Beemer is not nearly as effective as a 65-foot boat. Photo by the author.

There are at least two times a year during which the motorcycle rider is likely to be slightly uncomfortable. One occurs after a touchy swerve and panic stop, when an unscheduled bowel movement is most likely to appear between the rider and the seat. The other is when the day starts out cold and ends up hot — or hot enough to break a sweat — when the rider is swathed in cool weather gear. This happened to me on a recent lunch run from West Chester, Pa to a seafood joint on the water in Chesapeake City, Md. Once the sun was up, the temperature climbed into the high 60’s. I ended up opening every vent in the jacket. There is one for each sleeve, two removable panels in the front, and two zippered openings in the back.

Above: The object of this phot, taken from the shadows, was the background — The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. These boats are a classic example of how the rich pull up for lunch at the outdoor bar of the Chesapeake Inn, in Chesapeake City, Maryland. Photo by the author.

The vents do not pass through to the rider’s shirt, but circulate the air around a windproof inner liner. (I know this works as I have opened the front vents, leaving the rear ones closed. This causes the jacket to inflate like a life raft.) This vent design is very clever. You could be out riding on a marginally cool day, and get caught in quick rain shower. The interior liner of the jacket prevents rain water from passing through and soaking the rider. I could have carried my mesh jacket in one side bag, while wearing my fall jacket, but I get tired of planning each ride like it’s a space shot.

Above: This shot was taken from my seat at the outdoor "Tiki" bar of the Chesapeake Inn. This view looks west toward Chesapeake City. That is the Route 213 (Md) bridge in the background. It is high to accommodate the ocean-going ships in the canal.

My first cool-weather riding day was not without adventure. I met “Leather” Dick Bregstein, Pete Buchheit, Clyde Jacobs, Dave Oehler, Ron Yee, Gerry Cavanaugh and Tony Forsberg, “The New Guy” from Colorado for an early fall run to a seafood joint on the water in trendy Chesapeake City, Maryland.

“Anyone care for hot coffee,” I asked, holding up the Nissan Silver Bullet stainless steel vacuum bottle?

“Not if today was the first time you’ve opened that in a year,” said Gerry Cavanaugh.

“Suit yourself. Do any of you have clap or a respiratory ailment that would benefit from traces of homegrown penicillin?”

There were no takers.

Above: Gerry Cavanaugh, a confirmed BMW GS rider, does not support the modern trend toward penicillin for curtailing contagen. Photo by Dick Bregstein.

This was the first day after a 24-hour period in which our area had received between 7” and 9” of rain. I had planned a gentle ride along heavily wooded roads that paralleled streams and rivers. This was a mistake. Most of these were still covered by washed-out gravel, fallen tree branches, and hundred-yard stretches of river slime. A whole section of my planned ride, in Delaware City, (De) was still underwater. We ended up taking the most direct route, a mix of interior back roads and highways. My joints were so creaky, I could hear them grinding over the sound of the engine whenever I moved on the seat.

Bregstein could hear them too. “I think your swing arm pins need lubricating,” he said.

“Dick, this is a BMW. It doesn’t have a swing arm.”

“Don’t mention it,” he replied.

The day was sunny and bright enough to sit on the water... But the breeze made you wish for a long-sleeve shirt. My pace was so slow and awkward on the way down, that I actually had to pull over to relieve the cramping in my hips. I waved the other guys on. Ron Yee was good enough to hang around and ride in with me 20-minutes later. HIs role was assumed by Clyde Jacobs on the way back.

Above: Pete Buchheit rode up from Baltimore on a 2003 K1200S to join us for lunch. Photo by Breg Dickstein.

Above: Dave Oehler, a K1200LT rider, first led us to this saloon last year. Photo by Dick Bregstein.

Clyde and I took it easy, and stopped off at a couple “performance artist” exhibitions on the way back. These artists are so poor that many perform wearing only panties, or less. Admission to these events are free, but one is compelled to give the artist a dollar every few minutes, especially if they are performing on the bar in front of your $11-dollar Diet Coke.

Above: Another great picture of Jack Riepe, taken by Dick Bregstein, the author's most frequent riding partner and occasional friend. Photo by Dick Bregstein.

The garage door went up on my return to reveal that Leslie’s car was gone — indicating she was out and about with friends. I stepped into the house to find “Scout,” our 100-pound white rescue mutt (with aspirations of being a Labrador Retriever), running around with the tattered sleeve of one of my Armani shirts in her mouth. In the next room, Atticus, a 150-pound German Shepherd, was laying on the pile of clothing I had left earlier. One of my silk ties was neatly knotted about his neck: a message from Leslie.

I will be avoiding the light at the end of the stairs for the next two weeks.

It's been a few weeks since I last published a new blog. I allowed myself to get distracted by a lot of insignificant stuff. This happens every time I try and take the safe route through life. You would think that after years of riding a motorcycle I would have realized that the best aspect of life is experienced from its edge.

For those of my readers who are members of the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America, my column in the ON (Owners News) resumes with the November issue, with a passionate love story guaranteed to inflame the coldest soul. There was some doubt as to whether the conservative nature of the publication would lend itself to such graphic literary depiction... Yet such was the emotional tone of my prose that men and women of all ages are tempted to place themselves within its context. At least one boy-toy is definitely in its context... Again and again.

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