Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One More Thing To carry...

A buddy of mine came over to help me do a few things on my 1995 BMW K75, and we started by opening the stock sidebags on the back, where I thought I had stashed some gear. The retaining strap on the left bag is no longer attached, so the cover will open all the way to the ground, if you are not careful. He didn’t know this, and gear fell out onto the floor. One piece of equipment made the distinctly hollow sound of a glass jar ringing on concrete, as it rolled along the garage floor.

“What was that?” my buddy asked.

“That’s the most important part of hotel camping.”

My friend found the jar under some shelving. It contained cocktail onions...

There comes a point in every ride where the person in the saddle begins to think about the end of the day. For many, the end of the day is the beginning of yet another ritual, in which the rider sets up the tent, rolls out the high-tech back-packing air mattress (that is a paper-thin layer of foam in an air mattress that sort of self-inflates when you open the valve), and spreads the sleeping bag on top. Then sometimes a campfire is made. Or a camp stove the size of a soup can is fired up, and the rider prepares a rewarding pot of Ramen noodles to which a packet of freeze-dried peas have been added. The rider may then pull a flask from one of the side bags and close the day with a sip of Bourbon, Scotch, or Irish Whiskey.

Yet before climbing into the sleeping bag for a well-deserved rest, one more pot of water is heated, into which a wash cloth is dipped, before being smudged against a tiny bar of Ivory soap (liberated from a hotel on the last business trip). The rider stands naked in the starlight, and attempts to wipe eight hours of saddle sweat off their frame, using the last four ounces of warm water left in the pot for a rinse. It is in the dim light of a solitary candle lantern that they notice the 62 dead mosquitoes in the last sweep of the cloth. This starts the mad scramble into the tent. The tent, like the tires and the brakes on the bike, represents a state-of-the-art investment that is resistant to driving rains, high winds, and corrosive dingo urine (which could inadvertently be applied during the night). The only weak link in this incredible tent assembly is the zipper on the “no-see-um” micro-screening, which tends to jam in stampede situations — like now.

But the rider has dealt with this situation before and will get the screen door open in less then 10 minutes. Once inside, they will repeat the operation in reverse, and succeed in getting the screen closed in only eight minutes. The rider then kneels in a kind of quiet supplication, almost in prayer, while systematically killing the 38 mosquitoes that flew in during the door debacle. The rider now squiggles into the ultra-light-weight sleeping bag, which is woven from micro-fibers spun from chemicals that didn’t exist six months before. These fibers wick bad moisture away from the body, before converting those molecules in carbon bullshitoxide, so butterfly bushes will sprout up where the tent was pitched. The sleeping bag cost as much as a good used car in 1972. The rider is an experienced outdoors person, and despite the warmness of the night, remembers to zip up the sleeping bag, as even a slight drop in temperature, say 6 degrees, can cause leg cramps. What the rider forgets is that the sleeping bag uses a zipper made by the same manufacturer (in Quang Fu province) who produces the door fasteners for this very tent. The motto of this manufacturer’s quality control team is “Good is good enough.”

The rider then dozes off listening to the “ting, ping, ting, ting, ping” sound of rain drops hitting the gas tank on the bike. This is the rain that wasn’t supposed to start until 4pm the next day. It is a wild, romantic kind of sound, which is good, as the rider is going to hear it non-stop for the next week. The rider is soon lost in that rare deep sleep that is only found in those wild lost places common to the Berkshires, The Adirondacks, or the Appalachians. Their dreams are of rushing streams, from which naked lovers emerge and whisper, “Wake up... You have to take a piss.” Riders who are men... Men who have camped in the dead of winter... Men who have camped in the dead of winter after having a couple of beers... Understand the necessity of setting up the tent with a slight pitch away from the front, and simply kneel in the doorway, adjusting their trajectory. Technically speaking, this maneuver is a bit more difficult for women. A friend of mine’s wife was alleged to be quite good at it, however. Until the night he groggily asked her, “Honey, did you move my boots from the tent vestibule?”

“Your boots?” she replied.

I start thinking of the trail’s end around 3:30pm. This is not because I fear setting up camp in the fading daylight, but because most of the good hotels are already full by late afternoon, especially in the summer. And because I will not just stay in the first place with a “vacancy” sign. My ideal property is a 1950’s-style motel, but built in 2002. I want a first floor room with direct access from the parking lot. This guarantees one trip to unload, carrying in both of my side bags. Just inside the door is the thermostat, which I will set to “zero degrees — Kelvin.” Any mosquitoes that followed me into this room are going to freeze in mid-flight. It’s nice if there is a flat screen TV the size of a ping-pong table hanging on the wall opposite the bed, but more important to me is the absolutely free internet connection. I want my web browser to jump right out of my computer and kiss me the second I open this laptop. I do not want an ethernet cable connection or hear any bullshit about using my computer in the lobby either.

It’s not that I am addicted to e-mail, My Face, or Twaddle. I could really give a shit. But I have been a commercial writer for 35 years, and my clients, especially the last ones, felt compelled to demand assignments from me whenever I went on a long ride. I have had one two-week vacation in 28 years. And on that “vacation,” I was compelled to write three press releases and two speeches. But in that time, I have come to rely on my computer for news, weather, maps, photo-processing, movies and music that suit my tastes. But more so, I have lost the ability to compose my thoughts with a simple notebook and pencil.

I once went canoe camping on a four-day fishing trip with my life-long pal, Ihor Sypko. We arranged to have an entire island to ourselves in the middle of Saranac Lake, a fairly huge expanse of water in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks. Since we brought everything out in a canoe, gear weight was not an issue and we planned to live like kings. Our tent was a 50-pound outfitter’s rig with an 11-foot ceiling. I even brought a 300-page volume of the work of Mark Twain (a miniscule fraction of this great author’s works). On the last night of this adventure, I wanted to capture some passing thoughts for Leslie (my red hot squeeze), who was some 400 miles to the south. The only paper I had was the end sheets of the Twain volume. Ihor and I were sitting on respective logs, next to a flickering campfire, the only light on this part of the lake. Cigar smoke mingled with wood smoke and the light of the flames were refracted in a tinted single malt Scotch bottle.

“Do you have a pen?” I asked Sypko.

Ihor pulled a “Pilot Point - Fine” out of his fishing jacket, like a magician releasing a sparrow from an egg laid by a rabbit. The moon rose out of the mountains and bathed us in the kind of light that is only possible in a daguerreotype.

“How would you describe the color of that moon?” I asked Ihor.

Sypko studied the moon like it was an unexpected question on the entrance examination to paradise, and replied, “Persimmon.”

I looked at him and said, “The only thing that rhymes with ‘persimmon’ is prison.”

What I wrote down at that point was, “Stiffie, you have to trust me on this one... Never ask Ihor to describe the color of the moon.”

I remember this clearly, because it is impossible not to have a memorable camping trip with Ihor Sypko; and because I recently came across the Twain volume on my bookshelf. But that was the last time I have written a damn thing without the assistance of a computer.

There are other considerations to motel camping. These include endless hot water for showering, and slipping between industrially laundered white sheets as crisp as fresh lettuce. There have been times when I too awoke to gray dawns and rain peppering my room’s window. I resolved them by taking the room for another day, and working at the desk provided, while the storm moved elsewhere.

The final requirement of my motel criteria is proximity to a country tavern with a decent kitchen and an informed bartender. In so many chain restaurants, the bartender is a twenty-something moron, primarily interested in waiting on other twenty-somethings with breasts. While this is understandable to a degree, it is also unacceptable. I went into one chain place at the end of a hard ride, and asked the bartender for a Gibson martini.

“What kind of vodka do you want in that?” he asked, with all the enthusiasm of a cigar store Indian.

I looked him right in the eye and said, “A classic martini is always made with gin, unless a vodka martini is specified.”

Since there were a couple of twenty-somethings with impressive hooters sitting at the bar, he decided to give me a fight. I asked him to get out the bartenders guide. A brief search revealed a stained and battered drink manual that clearly defined the classic martini as a gin cocktail. His stupidity was then replaced with sullen arrogance. It got worse when I offered to buy the two ladies at the bar their pleasure. One of them was this asshole’s girlfriend. You should have seen the look on Pencil Dick’s face when they accepted, and had what I was having.

Once the trail ended for me in western New Jersey. This is almost a ludicrous description of what is one of the country’s smallest states. But there was a time when New Jersey communities — especially places like Peapack-Gladstone and Chester — were more beautiful than any place in the world. At a glance, you could understand why colonists would take up the musket and fight to the death for these places. That was before the countryside became fucked up by relentless developers who cut down centuries old oaks to build historically barren tracts like “The Commons At Grouseberry Crossing, A Planned Community Representing The Expression Of A Generation In Sheetrock.” The plan for New Jersey today is to make it possible for lard-laden individuals like myself to waddle across the state, stepping from one strip-mall rooftop to another. Places like Cape May are the exception, where the preserved character of the community is recognized as the core of real estate value.

There was an alleged Tex-Mex chain joint in the strip mall across from my over-priced chain motel, but I was wounded in the soul on this ride and sat down at the bar in search of a cure. The bartender was another twenty-something, exceptionally attractive in her own right, who openly looked at me like she was smelling shit. If I hadn’t been so tired and gimpy, I would have spit in the tip jar and left.

“Would you like one of our famous frozen tequila daiquiris,” she offered. It was then I noticed there was a vat of green stuff swirling at the end of the bar. This was going to be one of those drinks that could pass a state trooper’s breath-a-lizer test.

“I’d like a Gibson martini, with four onions please.” You would think I asked her for Lourdes water. She had never heard of a drink that had onions in it. And it didn’t matter anyway as there wasn’t a cocktail onion in the joint. I then asked for your run-of-the mill classic martini. I explained this came with olives. She got cross-eyed. The drink came out with a black-stuffed olive, the size of a plum, in it.

“These are the only olives we have,” she said, turning her back and walking away.

I looked up at the rows of liquor bottles behind the bar, the stacks of rocks, cocktail, and shot glasses, and the neat piles of napkins in their plastic holders. The fucking place looked like a bar. So I asked to speak to the manager. She was a thirty-something looker who explained to me that they were out of cocktail onions and olives. But they had really great tequila daiquiris for $10 bucks.

Now before the gentle Twisted Roads reader storms away thinking I am unreasonable in my demands on society, I am the personification of patience and understanding when treated with a modicum of deference. One trail ended for me in a community far south of Pennsylvania, at a Holiday Inn Express, across from a gin mill called “The Travelers Bar and Rest. I liked the very idea of naming a joint in favor of this concept, until I realized the letters “aurant” were out in the neon sign. I went in anyway.

Once again, the bartender was a twenty-something, wearing jeans, a loose-fitting white blouse, and the kind of smile that made me feel like I should have been a better man throughout most of my life.

“Was that red motorcycle yours?” she asked as I sat down. “Where’d you ride in from and what can I get you?”

This was a smart kid who knew why she was hired and the appropriate steps to take to make somebody feel welcome. I ordered a Gibson martini.

“If you can tell me what goes into it, I can make it,” she said, dangling that smile like it was a passport to a place where nothing bad ever happens. Everything went fine until we got to the onion part.

While making small talk all the time, she looked in every cupboard and drawer behind the bar, then carried my drink into the kitchen, where a muted consultation ensued. She returned with a look of doubt on her face, and put my drink down on the bar. A paper-thin slice of Bermuda onion, nearly as wide as the glass itself, floated on the crystal clear gin and vermouth.

“That’s not right, is it?” she asked, looking out of the tops of her eyes.

“It’s perfect,” I said. “Exactly what I wanted.”

“Really,” she chirped. She went back into the kitchen and came out with the cook — her twin sister. They had never heard of an onion in a cocktail either, and wanted to watch me drink it. I drank two. I was the only customer in the joint, and we all chatted for an hour. The twin who was the cook made me a cheeseburger. The bartender’s name was Jackie. Her sister was Jill.

What are the odds of that?

It was then I mentioned that a lot of places no longer seemed to have cocktail onions nor olives.

“Why not carry your own,” suggested Jackie, in a voice lined with silk and tea roses.

The idea had merit. While I do not advocate mishandling a motorcycle in the party way, there is nothing that says you can’t be prepared for a proper good time at the day’s end. As a committed BMW rider who routinely carries a tool kit with tools for every fastener on the bike, a spare clutch cable, bulbs, duct tape, fuses, a flashlight, a GPS and a laptop, it makes perfect sense to carry a jar of cocktail onions.

“So where’s the gin?” asked Clyde, holding up the neoprene-wrapped jar with the onions.

“In the bag on my side.”

Author’s Note:
I am currently suffering from an attack of asthmatic bronchitis, triggered by a cold. I have put a nice doctor to a lot of trouble and am driving my paramour (Leslie) absolutely nuts. I have avoided people with colds and flu for fours years, as this has happened to me once before. (That round went 45 days.) I recently had a nice visit from an old friend who I admire and respect. The son of bitch walked in here hacking and coughing like it was a salute. I have woken up each morning convinced I was dying, and screamed to prove it. There is nothing like straining for a taste of the old oxygen to put the day in perspective. I resolved the mater by not sleeping for 36 hours For those of you who have not noticed, I’m a bit on the chubby side. I consume a lot of air. And when I get spooked, that amount doubles. There have been times this week when I felt like I was breathing through the eye of a needle. I handle most things badly. But this is exceptional. I really suck at this business of toughing out the healing process.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2011


BeemerGirl said...

I've only been on a couple of motorcycle camping trips. How come you perfectly described each one?? Except you missed the downright cold temps that had already killed the mosquitoes. I'm taking it that it doesn't get any better since you have switched to the brick and mortar style of "camping"...

Was Stiffie's note still in the back of the Twain volume?

-Steel Cupcake

RichardM said...

Man, that is quite the transition from a friend stopping by to work on your bike to making a Gibson martini. Another enjoyable story. I especially enjoyed the description of motorcycle camping. Especially after reading about Lori's camping experiences.


Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

Excellent story chocked full of Riepeisms.

If I may be so bold as to point our one minor correction.

You noted that zippers are constructed in the Chinese province of 'Quang Fu'. The well-versed, mosquito bitten, rain-soaked motorcycle camper would immediately recognize the error.

Zippers are are constructed in the province of 'Phuc Yieu' whose name was derived from a small, nondescript village in Vietnam.

I hope you are feeling better soon.

Unknown said...

Jack r:

all the while, while reading about your camping experiences I was wondering if you had every toughed it out as you were always more of a Hotel camper, rather than a wilderness camper. Your descriptions of the young bartenders were so sensuous, I could nearly see them.

Hope you are feeling better

Riding the Wet Coast

Allen Madding said...


Another great story. I too have spent too many nights in a small tent on uneven ground with rain falling that was no included by the misguided and overemployed weather guessers.

The arthritis in my lower back has wrapped up the tent sleeping chapter in my life. I don't think I shall greatly miss it. Nor my cooking beanie weanies on a sterno stove.

I once travelled to Tampa to work a big tradeshow. Our CEO wanted to go out to a legendary steakhouse that will remain nameless. When drink orders were placed, I asked for a Black and Tan. The mortician looking waiter heard my request, he looked as if I had asked for a turn with his wife. He left our table and returned with what looked like a readers digest. It turned out to be a listing of every beer they carried. He then began to verbally chastice me by making the case there was no such thing in there listing. I informed him that any barkeep worth his salt knew a Black and Tan was half Guiness and half Bass Ale. He looked blankly at me as if I had smacked him across the face with a wet flounder. I eventually ended up with 3 glasses, an empty, one Guiness, and one Bass. I had to mix my own while the mortician watched in complete bewilderment.

Good bartenders are hard to come by.


Honestly, Ihor said...

All the best camping and hunting trips in my life have been in your company, except the ones I took alone. The solo trips were more challenging and lacked only your esteemed presence. Here's to more in the future, by boat or boot; destination not important.

Goya makes the best and cheapest cocktail olives and onions.

And Ihor said...

The moon was the colour of perssimon, a tawny, orangy yellow with a hint of atmospheric silver. Eat one soon to restore your recollective aptitude.

Anonymous said...

It was so nice to hear from you Mr Riepe, as Jacquie and Gillian's two little boys have been growing up these long years with no Daddy to greet them in the evening and no Pa to pay the dental bills each Spring.
I'm sorry the attached invoice is so large but the years have been many, as have the bills.
I did try to bring my girls up right but they will sleep with sad eyed lard asses on seductive BMWs who happen by their place on a cold summer evening.
Looking forward to your check I have alerted the family law firm to your location,

Stacy said...

Dear Jack,

Are you sure you weren't with us on last summer's excursion through Eastern Oregon? You know the one. Maybe that's where my potty-mouthed view of mosquitoes came from.

Is this lack of cocktail knowledge common on the East Coast? Yet another reason to come visit us on the West Coast. Then again, I rarely get a good version of my own drink, the sidecar. (Yes, your grandma and I enjoy drinking them, thank you.)

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steel Cupcake:

There was a time when I would have loved nothing more than a motorcycle camping trip. Because those trips meant there was a hot babe on the back, a bottle of something good to drink wrapped in a bedroll, and a tent, made of canvass and very well made, trhat I paid $25 for on Canal St. (NYC) tied to the sissy bar.

But most of all, it meant I wasn't walking, because I used to backpack in the hardest terrain I could find when I was a kid. My choice to stay in a hotel these days is made out of consideration for rotten joints and a tired soul.

I have experienced everything I wrtite about, when write about camping. Just ask Ihor.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Richard M.

Please excuse me if this story was overlong. I wrote it during a night without a wink of sleep, when staying awake was preferable to trying to wheeze my way through choking mouthfuls of spit. And I just liked doing it. And I've had bike/camping trips that wwre primitive to the point of being silly.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

redlegsrides said...


I'd never heard of a Gibson Martini....now I know, I must try one soon....

A very graphic and quite accurate depiction of "camping" and all its glories....ten years in the Army cured me of that though. I too prefer to motel it when on overnight trips. It's been quite some time too since I've done one...hmmm.


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

The Armed Christian said...


I hope you are feeling better soon.

One of my favorite Christmas presents this year was a stainless steel flask with which to ensure that I find nothing but my favorite rum while on the road.

There is nothing better than being prepared...

Hang in there


Bluekat said...

Great write up. Where do these romantic notions of camping come from? It always ends just as you said, cold, wet, and with a bajillion mosquito bites, and yet we will look back with fondness to the great times had.

I'm about 98% teetotaler, but even I know there is something wrong with a place that can't even get a classic drink right. It sounds like a dying art form.

Take care, and hope that you're feeling better soon!

Mixology is on the rise, Ihor said...

Especially in NYC. The uninformed bartender is a rarity, backed up by a reference book or not. Your luck or karma is the lodestone that leads you to one who never learned what a Gibson is. Onion or olive, gin or vodka, the classics are simple. I've seen concoctions prepared using 6 or 8 ingredients and a half dozen steps to get to a finished glass. A better choice is a Belgian beer, less chance of a screw up.

I was forced to carry cans of anchovies to a pizzaria in Ausable Forks because the prior management had them on the menu but not in stock. I was apparently the only patron ordering a fresh garlic and anchovey pie. Gave them the cans to keep in emergency reserve if I was to place an order. The new capable owners fully stock according to their menu, know me and my wants without my personal support.
BYO is the sign of half measures.

Anonymous said...


I second Allen Madding's comment that good bartenders are hard to find. This is partly true because, IMHO, good bartenders are born, not made. One can have a mixologist's degree, but still not have the essential "bar patron radar" necessary to instinctively know which customers are in need of attention. We all have endured the frustration of being in need of an adult beverage refresh for an unacceptable amount of time.


Affer said...

Re Martinis:
Europe's greatest exponent of the classic Martini may well have been the late Sir Denis Thatcher - the husband of the Lady who taught George Bush Snr how not to wobble. I was a reception when he took the young waitress who had been handing out champagne cocktails to one side, and asked if she knew how to make a Martini. When she responded 'No', he went straight behind the bar with her, and started to patiently demonstrate the art - to Denis, that was three of gin plus a waft of the vermouth bottle's screw top and one olive - whereupon her boss, the bar manager, appeared and flew into a rage at the girl. "What do you think you are doing?" he screamed. "Don't you know who that is? Get back to your job!!"

Denis gave the man his 50 gigawatt stare. "Of course she doesn't know who I am - and that doesn't matter at all! What matters is that I need a Martini and you haven't shown her how to make one. So I suggest you bugger off and let me get on with doing your job for you!"
Exit manager, to gales of laughter and cheering from the guests!

Canajun said...

Ah yes, motorcycle camping. Great memories, but absolutely no wish to ever do it again. I figure I've earned my 3-star minimum accommodations.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

You are getting off lightly, my friend. Only you and I know the full details of what happened that nbight, and I am gping to preserve the shreds of your dignity by keeping quiet about them.

This is because they didn't entail a motorcycle, which is essential to this blog, and because this wretched malady of mine has me wanting to keep my keyboard time to a minimum today. The headache is back and I could scream. It is my understanding that I could have this dry cough for another two weeks, even with the aid of a nebulizer. It feels like I have swallowed a plateful of clarinette reeds, and the vibrations coming out of my chest force me to sleep upright in a chair a night.

I would scream if I had the wind.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Woody:

I am delighted you liked this piece. And I hope you can see that all of it is written from personal experience.

For one exception, I have never owned a cheap tent. Consequently, I have never had a zipper jam on the door. But I have camped with folks who had the $129 specials, and you could hear those guys screaming, "This fucking zipper..." at the top of their lungs.

Thanks for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobbyskoot:

Man oh man, would you be surprised.

On my wall is a picture of Ihor Sypko, Bill Matz, and myself, standing in a dense fog. We are atop Mt. Marcey, the tallest mountain in New York State, and in the Adirondacks. It isn't high by comparison with the peaks in your neck of the woods, but it was an 8-hour uphill hike, and we did it carrying 60-pound packs. We were 17.

Ihor Sypko and I used to cross-country ski miles into the outback. One night, we camped in a lean-to and the temperature dropped to -30ยบ (F). Ihor build a fire about 5 feet high. We sat in front of it, wearing our heaviest gear. There was no wind that night, and we ended up sitting by it in our sweaters, while our boots steamed on our feet. We were drinking beer.

I found a picture of Ihor and I, going back-packing — and deer hunting!. We are breaking into the woods with 50-pound packs, plus our rifles, slung to the packs. (That was the night we got caught camping in the ice storm.)

My knees and hips remember those trips too. Then again, I was on the varsity fencing team in college.

Thanks for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mother of Jackie and Jill:

Thank you for your kind note. I might consider paying a dental bill for either of these two delightful ladies, as the romance they provided was strictly oral in nature. As to their offspring, you can argue all you like, but it would take more than a mouthful to convince me.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Anonymous said...

Well done, Jack!

Camping is an activity best performed by youngsters immune to joint pain/hangovers and willing to freely share body heat and fluids.

As for mixology...as a nation, we've been reduced to dispensers of all beers - Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light, Miller and Miller Light.

I have no patience for purveyors of horse piss - - and having reached the over 50 milestone, I no longer suffer fools gladly. The combination of bland beer and intolerance means choosing one's watering holes carefully - and nurturing barkeeps who know what the hell a pastis is. If you choose to venture south to visit the Limey Italian - make a point of visiting Suzette at Michael's in Key West...no onions needed.

Chuck on Fleming.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Stacy:

There are days when one gets the image and taste of a certain cocktail in one's mind... And there is nothing as distressing as to be served some half-assed piss in a glass, that some halfwit of a bartender considers acceptible. The drinks I find most commonly fucked up are:

1) The Negroni (Compari, Gin, and sweet vermouth)
2) The Planter's Punch (juice of one half lemon, juice of one half lime, muddled with one tablespoon of sugar, one full shot of Meyer's Dark Rum, orange juice to within an inch of a tall, narrow, glass, a tap of grenadine, and ice)
3) The perfect Tom Collins (the juice of one large lemon, muddled with one tablespoon of sugar, a healthy shot of gin, clubsoda to the top. Thoroughly stirred, served wih a slice of lemon in a tall narrow glass, common to the 1940's.)
4) The Gibson Martini (two full shots of a great but not overbearing gin, like Boodles, Plymouth, or Bombay Saphire, a splash of dry vermouth, shaken with ice, strained, and served in a fucking martini glass with three or four cocktail onions on a skewer)
5) A beer and a ball (a glass of beer, about 10 to 12 ounces, correcly poured with a head running over the side, accompanied by an ounce and a half of straight Irish Whiskey.

Thanks for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charle6 (Dom):

Thanks for reading Twisted Roads, and for writing in. There is nothing like a good Gibson martini at the end of the kind of the kind of day when you wish you had a flamethrower. I used to order them specifically, when I sat down with reporters in a bar.

Try one... Better yet, try three. The first of these is always an eye-opener. And they are an acquired taste, like the K75.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

cpa3485 said...

It is my humble opinion that gin is a substance that serves no earthly purpose other than being a poison served on mankind. I have held steadfast to this opinion ever since my college days when a slight over indulgence in the substance led me to swear off the vile liquid forever. I maintain that no olive or cocktail onion could ever make any improvement, but I have to admire the perseverance of a person that would make the effort of keeping a jar handy, even on a motorcycle. Mighty impressive bit of planning.
Since I always try and eat (and drink) healthy, my tastes for alcohol lean more to various renditions of rum in combination with various fruit juices for the health factor.
Enjoyed this edition of Twisted Roads!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Shannon:

There is nothing like having the right flask, of the right stuff, in your right hand, at the right time. I have found a distinct advantage in the purchase of two Sigg water bottles (stainless steel), in the liter category for carrying rum and gin for a weekend. The stainless steel botle will not shatter in a drop, and tha means no questions from the authorities about a boozy smell over the bike.

The cough is going to haunt me for a couple of weeks. The real problem is the loss of sleep at night.

Thanks for asking, and for reading Twisted Roads, and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear BlueKat:

I would still love to go bike camping, it's just that the wear and tear of one activity does not lend ityself to support the other, in my case. In fact, writing about it is getting me warmed up to try a little saddle camping one more time... At least.

Well, it sort of sounds good. But under the rght circumstances, there is nothing as romantic as a night under the stars.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor Again:

I have been to some very cool gin mills, in the backwoods of West Virginia, where asking for a Belgian Beer would be akin to declaring yourself a communist.

In fact, I have had some great local beers in the middle of nowhere, where Belgium is regarded as a some place that is pretend French. It jusr seems to me that a place that is made out to be a bar, should really be a bar.

I remember the story of you going into Ausable Forks with your own anchovies, and a diagram of where they went on the pizza. And that riminded me of Ray B.'s story, where he went into a pizza place in Nebraska, and they asked him if he wanted "cheese" on it.

Coming from Bayonne, NJ, I think Ray's response was something like, "What the fuck else would you put on it?"

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear "MotoNomad" (Pete):

How right you are... Then again, some customers can be real pricks too. I remember one joint in West Virginia, where the bar tenders tried to sell a couple of raffle tickets to a few bikers from "the big cities" of Baltimore, and London Grove, Pa.

The bikers busted her chops relentlessly... Saying things like, "If first prize is piglets, do we have to take them today?" Then they wanted to know if they each gave her 50¢ for the $1 ticket, could the prize be shared.

Wait a minute. That was you and Clyde. And if you remember, I bought that ticket and won $125. Wasn't that a fun ride?

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Affer:

What a great anecdote to illustrate a shared sentiment. It is up to the establishment to provide a barman who has the interest, the personality, and the background to make the kind of cocktails that elevate man above the savages. This is the "contract with the patron."

Thank you for reading Twisted Roads, and for sharing this story.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Canajun:

Somebody once said to me, "There is nothing like the aroma of bacon and eggs, and hot coffee, over a campfire in the morning."

I replied, "Ever hear of room service?"

Thanks for reading and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Chuck on Fleming:

I know that you and Michael Beattie prefer to ride absolutely alone, and stretched things to ride with each other recently. But I would insist on the three of us meeting at least for a brief three-hour interlude at the most authentic Key West wateringhole you could think of.

Thanks for reading my blog, and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3485:

I too had days like that in college... But we all graduate or move on to something else. To me, gin is the ultimate summer evening drink. But rum, either in Coke or as a planter's punch, does have a lot more flexibility. Provided we are talking about real rum, and not the kid's stuff like "Captain Morgan's Vanilla Flavored Pre-Piss."

The trap to rum — especially in coling summer fruit drinks — is that it can sneak up behind you, with a blunt instrument.

Thank you for reading my tripe, and for writing in.

Fondest regarsd,
Jack • reep • Toad

We should go, Ihor said...

...to Monk's in Philly. Check out their web site. Ray and I had a superb meal and great draft Belgian beer there.
I love to sample local beers, anything beats industrial brew-swill.

I'll tag along on your bike-camp trip, TdF support vehicle style.

Nikos said...


I shall come to the States laden down with tins of spotted dick and spam (pork luncheon meat)and my wife will bring 39kg of ten year old stollen cake.

I feel sure that none of these items will be available for us during our visit to Pensylvania for a very good raeson - they are disgsuting and are banned by the FHA.

yours as ever, N

Nikos, Ihor said...

no need to bring Spam, it is as common here as air. Boots highly effective orange mint throat lozenges are a rarity. Become acquainted with kiska, scrapple and kobasa when you are here. John will explain.

Tom Monachino said...

Jack, I thought my brother-in-law was the only person who carried bar onions with him when he travels. (He also carries an atomizer filled with dry Vermouth) I have enjoyed your writng for a while, first response. Thanks for one assured laugh whenever you post.


Knowledgably, Ihor said...

A pizza without cheese is known as a tomato pie, a local delicacy here in the environs of Trenton. It is close to the original variety from Napoli. Ray's experience might have been with someone who originally hailed from either city.

Nikos said...

Ihor (have you ever read Winney the Pooh?)

I presume that you are the stand in editor for Jacky whilst he is indisposed.

I first had spam when I had the misfortune to go to a boarding school as a 11 year old(only for 2 years thankfully as we all revolted against incessant fagging by the bent and alcoholic staff and burnt the place down: it was served as a treat with tomato ketchup at Sunday breafast. I had assumed that as it is so so revolting it must have been a British colonial confection for the servants only. I'm sorry that it is widely available in the former colonies.

TTFN, Nikos

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

You would be more thgan a welcome addiution to any bike camping trip I would go on. In fact, you know my policies regarding these things. I would inist on the largest,tent, plus a full-size queen air mattress, plus an industrial strength stove, table and folding chairs. All of which would fit nicely in your truck. Your rig would become the SAG truck (Support and Gear).

That would be a pisser.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

As Ihor responded, spotted Dick is available at any big supermarket here (or the local truck stop) and Spam grows on trees.

However, Ihor is singing the praises of Boot's throat lozenges, which I'd be popping by the gross this week. I put a lot of faith in Ihor's judgement. I'm looking foreward to seeing you this summer.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Tom Monachino:

Thank you for your kind note, and thank you for reading Twisted Roads, the motorcycle blog that guarantees a bit of something different. I had never thought of carrying the vermouth in an atomizer, but you learn something new every day. I'm delighted if I can make you laugh on occasion.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

Thank you for the culinary history lesson. A pizza without cheese is known locally as a "fucked up pizza." Since moving to West CHeset, Pa over a decade ago, I have become accustomed to pizza whipped up competently enough by "Peppermill," about a mile from here.

But I recently started throwimg my custon to "Anthony's," in Malvern, Pa, which is worth the extra aggravation of driving 10 minutes, and parking in their fucked-up parking lot. The best (state-run) liquor store around here has a fucked up parking lot. Everry square inch of downtown West Chester is a fucked up parking lot. This place is as bad as as any spot in New Jersey for fucked up parking.

And you know when parking is really fucked up whn you can't get a motorcycle in between cars anyplace.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Nikos said...


If spam grows on trees where does the spaghetti come from?

The certainty of my journey to see you has inched forward today as I spent a jolly (and ultimately successful) afternoon filling in the electronic "not guaranteed to get a visa when you turn up here but pay us $14 please" (ESTA)form.

Boots orange mint lozenges?

get well soon, N

Correction Ihor said...

The Boots' lozenges I prefer are orange menthol. I edit nothing, John is on his own literary journey.

Nikos said...

Correction Ihor

I'll take a walk around Boots tomorrow and enquire about volume discounts. They are used to my funny ways at my local as today I had to buy the Mrs Nikos (who during our last visit together shouted out "why do we need KY jelly")some wax hair removal pads. I feel sure that there must be some use for these on the motorcycle. I was buying the KY jelly to aid with inserting my vibration puppy hand grip covers over the grips.

Regards N

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Did you know you can carry the complete works of Twain on an ebook or a smartphone? Just saying...if you're camping and space is an issue. Course, it's nothing like having the actual book along.

Hope you're feeling better.

Your long lost friend.

Classic Velocity said...

Dear Jack,

There is nothing like waking up at first light at an MOA rally to look out upon a sea of tents full of like-minded souls. It is also best to get up at first light to use the showers and bathrooms before the hoardes of maniacs just like yourself who were at the beer tent until closing !!

Be assured Nikos, Ihor said...

The Boots are for Mr. riepe, the worst patient that ever was.

Seems he has misplaced his owner's manual and can make neither head nor tail of himself.

Like steering the Exxon Valdes without a map while blindfolded,his friend Ihor.

Unknown said...

Sorry to hear about your rough luck with the illness. You seem to have an exceptionally terrible immune system. As much as I'd like to, even jokingly, call a pox on your house, I'll just give the regular: Get well soon.

All that crap about tents was nice enough, but I'm more concerned about the bars you frequent when on the road. Perhaps it's time to let someone else make the judgement calls about which bars are upstanding and come to terms with the grim understanding that you, while a good story teller, are not strong in decision making skills.

I'm particularly fond of the bit of advice you got on onions. Would I be wrong in assuming that a 20s-something of the male persuasion sharing the same advice may not have seemed quite so... thoughtful? It does have merit, though. You can get by without a lot of shit, but even Trapper John McIntyre (MASH 1970) understood: Going to war, bring olives.

Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

GB said...

I have found "Aleve" aka naproxen sodium (NS) does pretty well for the pains from worn or damaged joints. One bottle got me from southern AZ to Redmond last June. In July I had a hip joint replaced. The NS wasn't enough to climb that particular hill but it did delay the inevitable.
I hate to mention the "E" word but after two years of dealing with similar respiratory issues I was able to pitch the nebulizer (sic) by returning to MILD aerobic exercise.
I enjoy your public persona and wish you all the best. Perhaps the Arizona weather could be beneficial as well.

Always forward,

Anonymous said...

Jack, enjoyable piece, as always.

I'm typically a beer and wine drinker. When moto-camping, I usually fill my top box with ice and beer (makes a great cooler.) I also tend to pack a bottle of red, a corkscrew, and a large, unbreakable plastic wine glass. Hey, not need to live like animals.

My Dad's drink of choice was the Gibson. The day he died, I found a comfortable bar and had two. One for me and one for him. I haven't missed that celebratory moment of remembrance for the last nine years. I too have noticed that too many bars have no onions, and I, too, was once handed a drink with a wedge of white onion in it. The 20-something chippie was nice, and cute, and I drank two as we chatted with the regulars. I tipped well, as I always do when someone tries hard.

- Carpetbagger

Chris said...

Great story Jack! I hope you are feel better by now, and that the snow plaguing the midwest avoided PA.