Friday, February 24, 2012

Moto Sex On The Beach...

At the height of last summer, I found myself inhaling clams on the half-shell, between swigs of Baccardi and Coke, at the bar of the Aztec, which in my opinion is one of the great modern dives of the Jersey Shore. In the early ’60’s, Seaside Heights, NJ, was nothing less than a kind of Riviera for the families of cops and firemen from Jersey City. My folks always rented a little house here for two weeks, about six blocks from the beach. The houses were tight and unair-conditioned, but so was most of Jersey City and this place had the advantage of an ocean and a beach. It also had a boardwalk with rides, which to an eight-year-old was the equivalent of Disneyland or a world’s fair.

But meaning no disrespect to the folks of this community, Seaside Heights has matured into the painted whore of the Jersey Shore. My writing skills put me in a similar editorial category. (Not that you could find whores in Seaside Heights, which I think would be an added attraction.) The Aztec is an open-air bar fronting the amusement pier and squats on the boarded runway, perfect for viewing some of the skimpiest bathing suits to barely cover a squirrel. I had gotten there early in the day, around 11:45am, when it was still possible to find a nearby parking spot for my K75 and a barstool overlooking the action for myself.

More than anything else, I wanted a glass of tomato juice (flavored with horseradish, clam broth, worcestershire sauce, and a strong hint of Moscow), but the famous Jersey Shore heat had already turned the inside of my helmet into an oven, and I demanded a Tom Collins instead. And I wanted a huge shrimp cocktail right alongside it too.

“A pound of peel and eat?” asked the bartender, pouring the gin, and speaking around a toothpick.

Peel and eat shrimp are typically the little runty ones, that while good, are usually hot and not what I had in mind.

“No... I want ten “jumbos” or even “colossals” if you have them,” I said, “in a shrimp cocktail as big as my ass.”

I knew I was pissing in the wind looking for colossal shrimp in a joint like this. I doubted I’d find them anywhere in blue collar Seaside. A colossal shrimp is to what you will find in a chain restaurant or a joint as to what the Hindenburg Zeppelin is to my cigar.

“No colossals,” said the bartender, who was turning out to be the warm conversationalist I’d anticipated.

The Tom Collins was a regulation shot of Gordon’s gin (less a hair at the rim), industrial strength sour mix, and club soda over ice. It was the kind of collins I would have expected in Rahway, the New Jersey State Penitentiary. But mixing a Tom Collins is about art, and there are damn few artists tending bar in Seaside Heights at 11:45am, on a Saturday. Certainly none at the Aztec. This is why I drink simple Baccardi and Coke in the summer... Only a moron can fuck it up, though it is possible. I once had a bartender, who looked like he was 11-years-old, pour me a spiced rum and vanilla Coke. This was like drinking “flit.” And he was pissed when I made him take it back. (Make sure you write in to me if you remember what “flit” was. A free copy of my book to the first reader who mentions it in the comments.)

The shrimp cocktail was perfect. Each jumbo shrimp had been steamed to perfection and iced to the temperature of Hagen Daz. Firm, sweet, and offering but momentary resistance to the teeth, these were the flavor of the shore. And the red cocktail sauce wasn’t bad either. I added a few drops of Tobasco sauce to kick things up.

“Another collins,” asked the bartender. (He may have been training to become a game show host, but was using up his conversational abilities quickly.)

“Baccardi and Coke,” I said. “A double.”

Asking for a double these days can be dicey. In Chester County, Pennsylvania, where Amish separatists are working their way into power, a number of bars will no longer pour a double. But on this day, the Constitution was fully respected in the Aztec.

I was halfway through the shrimp when a young guy, about 23, put his hand on the stool to my left. “Anyone sitting here?” he asked.

“Not until now,” I replied, hiding my disappointment that it would be him.

He smiled and put a helmet that must have cost $980 on the floor. You know the type of helmet: red and black graphics preferred by “Garkull, the Killer Lord of Centuri 9.” His bike was a red and black Killabusa 9400, with a back tire as thick as a tree trunk. His riding gear consisted of a sleeveless tee shirt and baggy shorts, with sandals on his feet. He had the physique of an amateur weight-lifter and the nonchalance of an investment banker. (Of the two bikers, guess which one of us was going to get laid 56 times this weekend?)

He ordered a “Sex On The Beach” and it was all I could do to subdue a smirk. But then I thought, “Why not? I’d order that two if I thought I could get it.”

“What are you drinking?” he asked, pleasantly enough.

“Spiced rum and vanilla Coke.”

“I’ll try that next,” he said with a smile. “That your old BMW parked at the curb outside?”

“Yeah... It is. How could you tell?”

“Well, you’re the only guy at a shore bar wearing yak leather crash boots and Kevlar® branded jeans, with a pair of leather gloves in your belt,” he said.

“You called it,” I said, thinking, “Go fuck yourself, kid.”

“My grandfather had a bike like that,” said the kid.

“Did he ride it to Lincoln’s inauguration?”

The kid recognized a joke (even though it wasn’t on FaceBook) and busted out laughing... “I don’t think they had motorcycles back then.”

“Sure they did,” I said. “That was the year BMW introduced fuel injection as standard equipment. Most of the industry followed in 2008.”

The kid was okay, and went on to tell me he was here to “hook up” a woman he’d met at a party the week before. She’d been with her boyfriend of several years then and needed a few days to throw him from a moving car, or so the kid understood.

I didn’t recall that the mating rituals of my early 20’s were as cut and dried as that, but then again, I was a slow bloomer. In fact, I was like one of those plants that blooms once every ten years, before eating the farmer’s cattle.

The kid was in the process of telling me how he is able to make a perfect “stoppie,” with the back wheel four feet in the air — while texting — when the woman showed up. And in truth, if I was 23, I would have thrown her asshole boyfriend out of the car myself. She was a redheaded pheromone whose very shape was defined by a tan. With a smile crafted by a graphic dental artist and eyes that tied a knot in my DNA, she introduced herself as “Dina.” I grinned in acknowledgement as I couldn’t make my mouth utter a sound. He finished the drink, and the two of then went down to the “Killabusa.” Her riding gear appeared to be sunscreen #23 and a bra from Victoria’s Secret. She wrapped around him like an ad for foreplay and the two of them roared off.

There is nothing like seeing how an expert does something to show you how you are not doing it. And yet the kid’s technique lacked something in the way of elegance... Missing was a hint of poetry... Gone was the Bogie and Bacall back and fourth that requires a man to shift gears while sitting at the bar too. Naturally, I’d have liked to have had the benefit of the kid’s perspective, but on my terms... In my words.

Above: Silver screen legend Lauren Bacall. Photo from Wikipedia.

Above: Humphrey Bogart knew how to communicate with women. Photo From Wikipedia.

This whole incident caused me to look back with a sad kind of introspective.

I have very few regrets in my life, but one of them is never really experiencing sex on the beach... Nor on the dunes... And not under the boardwalk. (I also regret not writing for television and the screen at age 25, and I regret not locking my first mother-in-law in a closet with a hive of killer bees.) I have had some really good times at the shore, but never the fantasy I had in mind. Still, I was a kid with a motorcycle once, and had the kind of times that so many people fantasize about. The K75 didn’t look like the type of bike that would get me laid in Seaside Heights. Maybe in Maine, though.

There is nothing like the sensation of the life of a motorcycle, surging into your own, through the handlebars. It is my dream to ride a modified BMW K1200 from Seaside Heights, NJ to Eureka, CA, getting laid on the beaches of both places in the process. (It would be cool if it was with the same woman.) And in making this dream happen, I am going to unleash so many others, with each one attached to a story. I hope that young kid took that woman back to someplace intimate, poured her a spiced rum and vanilla Coke, slipped her panties off — and discovered she was a guy. Every story needs a surprise ending. I wonder what mine will be.

Twisted Roads Prize Winner Announcement —
• KW Bob wrote in and correctly told us what "Flit" was... He won a rare, autographed copy of Politically Correct Cigar Smoking For Social Terrorists.

Do you have a copy "Signed and Personally Inscribed By The Author?"
• Autographed books by dead authors are worth a fortune, and "those in the know" claim Riepe is fading fast. He was barely able to pour his lunch today, and drank most of it from the bottle.. Why take a chance? Order your copy today. Send your name, address, and telephone number to (.) Write "Book Order" in the subject line.
• Tell me something about yourself (favorite cigar, motorcycle you ride, golf club you hate, buddies you ride with, etc.) for the inscription.
• The first book is $30 (plus $5 S&H)
• The second or additional book(s) is $15 (no additional S&H)
• If ordering a second book, include the first and last name of the gift recipient (for the autograph)
• Pay no money now -- Each book ships with an invoice, and postage-paid payment envelope.
• Foreign orders cheerfully filled at somewhat higher shipping cost.

Order now before it's too lateeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.... Aaaaaaarrghhhh. (That was a drill. But it could have been serious)

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Another Foot... And He Might Have Made It!

Tearing up the back curves in rural East Tennessee requires little effort as the majority of these seem to semi-dissolve under the light pressure of motorcycle tires. The rider is constantly assailed by visions of sheer wonder — either from a landscape that changes with each twist of the throttle, or from local ladies on horseback, out tending the garden, or just hanging over the back fence. Regrettably, each of these views seems to dangle at the edge of some dramatic change in elevation, requiring one to burn through left boot toe leather working the shifter as hard as Blue Tick hound can scratch. This can generate a substantial thirst, especially on a summer day. And nothing takes the edge off a moto-thirst like homemade lemonade (fortified with something) and a slab of country ham.

I was somewhere between Tate Springs and Kyle’s Ford, TN, when the smoky aroma of a country ham nearly pulled me off the 1995 BMW K75. The source was a tavern that was old when bands of cutthroat preachers used to lie in wait hereabouts to rob and annoy solitary Indians. While New York City restaurant guides would have described this place as “intimate,” it was tighter, darker, and smokier than the last cigar I had out of Jamaica. There didn’t appear to be an open table, nor a seat at the bar. Now while only one thing in the world has a more seductive aroma than country ham, nothing ignites the short fuse of my impatience like waiting in line. (I don’t wait in line for the other thing either.) I turned to leave when a voice dripping with colloquial welcome said:

“Pull up a seat, if you don’t mind sharing a table.”

The speaker half rose, extending his hand. “Louie,” he said, taking a pile of ballistic gear from the other seat at his already cramped table.

“Jack,” I said. “Most folks call me “Reep.”

We exchanged the usual pleasantries and in the course of disclosure I told D.H. “Louie” Wendland that I was the publisher of Twisted Roads, in seasonal exile at Cape May, NJ.

“Keep your voice down,” he hissed. “These are are polite, God-fearing people... Yet they have limits. Who knows how they’d react to having a fast-talking, K-75 ridin’, snake-oil merchant from New Jersey moving among them?”

The waitress arrived with the local specialty, ham that had taken the “cure” in a spa of an adjoining smokehouse, surrounded by vegetables made popular in novels like Steinback’s Grapes of Wrath (collard greens and black eyed peas). As to emphasize Louie’s point, she arrived in time to hear the two words “New Jersey,” which was enough to make her wince.

“Some things are best left unsaid,” said Louie, “unless there is no avoiding it.”

Above: D.H. "Louie" Wendland, with his 2008 ZG 1400. Photo submitted by Louie Wendland.

D.H. Wendland is a man of eclectic tastes. At one time, his stable held a 1989 K100RS, a R1100 S, then a R1150R a 2007 K1200GT max loaded. He has just acquired a 2006 Triumph Tiger. “Louie” had read Twisted Roads once or twice and believes my work will improve with age. I believed my New Jersey reflexes would enable me to stick him with the bar bill.

“I have a story for you,” he said, looking me dead in the eye, with the gaze of a man who has a story to tell. “You can use it in your blog. But I’m going to change all the names to protect the innocent few.”

“That’s fine. I’m going to change all the facts so it will end up reading like the federal register anyway,” I replied.

“It involves a group of close friends and a ride in which two motorcycles get too close to each other... By a foot,” said Louie.

“Does it involve a tanned blond, who gets a tramp stamp tattoo of her boyfriend’s name, not realizing the artist has misspelled it?”

“No... it doesn’t,” said Louie, after thinking a bit.

“You might be surprised,” I replied.

On this particular day, a pride of metric sport bikes (sans a representative from Munich) assembled in a county of East Tennessee, known to favor the antics of Hooligan riders. (“Favoring the behavior of Hooligans might be a bit strong,” said Louie. “It'd be more truthful to say ‘They’re slow at making an actual arrest for anything less than murder.’”)

“The Hooligans rode in a loose phalanx formation, not endorsed by any particular riding discipline, which occasionally required participants to raise their front wheels from the pavement. One of these individuals was known in local riding circles as ‘Cyril The Gimp,’ owing to a previous miscalculation regarding the need to make an abrupt 270-foot stop in a 30-foot long blind alley,” said Louie. “He used to be known as ‘Cyril The Dope,’ but that was before it was discovered he could still kick the shit out of the unwary.

“Well Cyril had just raised his front wheel in salute to all the free spirits of the world, when the rider in his left front quarter, suddenly slowed and pulled right, into a convenience store. In hindsight, this action made it something of an inconvenience store, as the bikes slammed together and flailed to the ground,” said Louie. “Both riders were tossed to the pavement, where Cyril slid for bit before coming to a stop against a handy tree.

According to the story, it was here that a passerby, an elderly lady who tends bar at church bingo, noted that Cyril’s left foot was twisted all the way around, with the toes pointing behind him. She called this to his attention by gesturing downward and screaming.

“From the time he was a boy, Cyril has always associated screaming pedestrians or pointing bystanders with the arrival of the police, and regained his wits quickly,” said Louie.

“Reaching down, he spun the prosthetic foot — his trophy from the alley incident — back into the proper alignment. Then he picked up the fallen bike with a familiar resolve,” said Louie. “The poor old woman was utterly speechless, and that was when one of Cyril’s riding buddies told her, ‘He can do that with his head too.’”

“Are you absolutely sure that story is true,” I asked Louie.

“As sure as Rocky Mountain oysters come in shells,” he replied.

“I’ll use it in Twisted Roads...,” I said. Then I mentally debated if I should send Louie a free box of Big Jim’s “Insanely Delicious” Chocolate Chip Cookies or a copy of my book. “Fuck it,” I thought. “The cookies are really special. He’ll get a copy of Politically Correct Cigar Smoking For Social Terrorists — for Cyril.”

“Great story,” I beamed. “But now I have to take a piss, if you’ll excuse me.”

There is a distinct advantage to locking up your gear on the motorcycle, especially if your exit entails climbing out the men’s room window. I knew the joy of reading his story in Twisted Roads would be more than ample compensation for sticking Louie with the meal ticket as well as the bar bill.

I heard the sobbing seconds before I saw her, a beautiful blond in a halter top, sitting on the ground next to my K75, crying her eyes out.

“Whose Cupcake are you,” I asked, “and why are you crying?”

“My asshole boyfriend just dumped me, over a tattoo — that I got for him,” she said through a flowing curtain of tears.

“Well that can’t be reasonable,” I said. “Tell me what happened.”

The blond — whose name was Charlotte — had just gotten a rather elaborate tramp stamp tattoo, complete with French curves and little bears, around her boyfriend’s name, which was “Teddy.” But the tattoo artist, who got drunk as a lord working for six hours inches above her flawless ass, spelled “Freddy” instead. The boyfriend automatically assumed she was cheating on him, and stormed off in a huff.

“I think that tattoo is absolutely beautiful,” I said, brushing it with my eyelashes. “Allow me to introduce myself... My name is Freddy. Do you like red motorcycles and insanely delicious chocolate chip cookies?”

Prize Announcements...
There were two winners of Big Jim’s “Insanely Delicious” Chocolate Chip Cookies this month. Each was a reader who submitted a superb letters to the editor.
• The first was Colin Cronenberg, whose genuine letter was used in the last “Dispatches From The Front” column.
• The second was SnowQueen, a reader of significance who has been intriguing everyone with her comments and insight regarding my early riding career. (There are some who are going to yell “foul” at this one... Too bad. It was a judgement call from the publisher. Note to SnowQueen — The Valentine’s touch was very sweet... I wasn’t expecting that. Do not give Stephen any of the cookies.)
• Big Jim stated that cookies were shipped February 21, 2012.

• Get a Letter Posted on Twisted Roads
• Get A Story Published on Twisted Roads

Win A Prize!
Send your letter to, marked “Dispatches From The Front...”
Send your story to, marked “Fifteen Minutes Of Fame...”

Moto Gear Annoucement:
I got this from a friend tonight, who is listing a pair of BMW Touring Cases for twin-shock airheads with BMW or Krauser mounts.
Alleged to fit: R75/6, R90/6, R80/7, R100/7, R100, R80, R65, R65LS, R100RS, R80RT, R100S, R100CS, R100RT (Not Krauser)

Above: These are the lucky bags that have gone round the country, and have successfully gotten my friend laid in 23 states. (I guess he didn't rub them hard enough in the others.) Photo supplied by Twisted Roads reader.

The seller states:
These have working latches with keys. All straps and hinges work.
Bags are heavily customized with stickers, decals and emblems including Porsche, Barracuda, Mercedes-Benz, Helix, Malibu, Bettie Page. Left bag has bottle opener.
There are repaired cracks and logos bolted through the plastic. Owner bought these bags used 20 years ago and customized them while traveling America.

Twisted Roads is not offering this gear, but is doing so as a favor to an old friend.
Please contact the seller directly through here:

Public Service Announcement — On Behalf Of The Working Man!
It is common knowledge that I am in exile in Cape May, NJ, this season. And as a writer, I frequent the dunes, the salt marshes, and the lighthouse — at all hours of the day or night. On one of the worst nights of the year, I watched a black-hulled vessel, with a white superstructure, claw its way into the Atlantic, rocking in the swells. I could see it for a long time, as the working decks were ablaze with light. I had no idea that 65% of the nation’s clams passed through New Jersey... Or that some of the most succulent oysters — Cape May Salties — are taken from here.

The wind was fierce that night, and rocked the truck like crazy. I could only imagine what it was like to work the machinery on the exposed decks of that fishing boat. But the next evening, Twisted Roads photographer Roy Grothing and I split a dozen Cape May Salties and a dozen clams (accompanied by scarlet Negronis in Martini glasses) at the landmark Lobster House,in Cape May, and toasted that crew.

Twisted Roads is the blog of working men everywhere... And no one is more deserving of your support than Garden State fishermen. Jersey seafood runs all year and you should treat yourself by asking specifically for New Jersey produced fish, shellfish, and processed clams. It’s like candy without the sugar. Any riders interested in participating in a New Jersey Seafood Night should contact the publisher of this blog at

I got this letter today from Gef Flimlin today, and thought it was worth a mention.

In addition to being a Twisted Roads reader and a BMW “R” bike jockey, Gef Flimlin has worked since 1978 as Rutgers Cooperative Extension Marine Agent in Fisheries and Aquaculture and is also a Full Professor at Rutgers University. He helped form the NJ Aquaculture Association, East Coast Shellfish Growers Association ,sits on several national extension aquaculture committees, is currently on the Executive Committee of the National Shellfisheries Association, and two subcommittees of the US Aquaculture Society where he was recently on their Board of Directors. He has worked in many phases of shellfish and shellfish aquaculture including field experiments, disease tests, new species trials, production gear design and implementation, seafood handling to reduce food contamination, shellfish marketing and post harvest processing. He has over 40 extension publications focusing mainly on shellfish aquaculture, given over 90 class presentations, over 95 professional conference presentations, written 40 articles, 4 peer reviewed journal articles, and 35 published abstracts. He has worked with all extension personnel listed through USDA/NRAC.

Above: Gef Flimlin, Professor/Marine Extension Agent, Commercial Fisheries and Aquaculture, Rutgers Cooperative Extension — and his flawless BMW "R" Bike.

Communication from Gef Flimlin...

Each summer we in New Jersey seek out Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables because we know they are locally produced, are of high quality, and our purchases support NJ farmers. But what to do during the winter?

Even when our farmers are planning next year's crops, the NJ Commercial Fishing Industry is still working through the tough months of the winter. During this season, some folks think about eating fish on Fridays, others eat it all year because they like it, think its good for them, and enjoy cooking it. Presently over 85% of the seafood consumed in the US is imported. We actually spend way more money supporting fishermen's families around the globe than we do our own domestic fleets, and it certainly isn't locally produced.

Above: One of Cape May's proud fishing boats comes in from the Atlantic. Photo supplied by Gef Flimlin.

So when you go to the supermarket, your usual fish market, or favorite restaurant, specifically ask for Jersey Seafood. At this time of year, you can get clams, oysters, scallops, porgies, fluke, sea bass, skate, maybe tuna and swordfish, as well as frozen squid or canned clams and scungilli. Try something different, seek out a new recipe. Just say, "What do you have today from NJ?"

And if you think that locally produced food is important, if you like to eat seafood, and if you think that this idea has merit for NJ's fishermen, their families, and our economy, buy NJ Seafood, and then share this idea by forwarding this to your friends. The fishermen will appreciate it, and it might surprise them that you want to support them.

Thanks very much,

Gef Flimlin
Professor/Marine Extension Agent
Commercial Fisheries and Aquaculture
Rutgers Cooperative Extension
1623 Whitesville Road
Toms River, NJ 08755

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012
All rights reserved

Monday, February 13, 2012

License... Registration... Insurance Card...

I acquired my first motorcycle on impulse 38 years ago, and had taken none of the first steps that would be regarded as de rigueur today. These included getting the necessary paperwork for riding a motorcycle. I’d had the bike about two weeks before it even occurred to me to get the appropriate permit for a motorcycle operator’s license. It was not that I totally dismissed New Jersey’s authority on this level, but there was no requirement to have a motorcycle endorsement, nor a permit, by the insurance company nor the state at the moment I acquired the bike, filed the title and registered it. Consequently, I assumed it was a low priority.

Getting the permit seemed like a good idea, but the requirement at the time mandated me to ride only in the company of another, fully licensed rider, on an adjacent bike. I didn’t know any other riders then. Besides,what the hell is the value in having another rider close by on a different bike? Is he going to yell, "Hey stupid! You’re in a front wheel skid. Let go of the brake?” But I rode to the Division of Motor Vehicles office (on my bike, by myself) to secure the necessary permit. And with the investment of a few minutes and a few bucks, I had a piece of paper that sort of gave the impression that I was playing by the rules. At the time, the State of New Jersey assigned each motorcycle permit holder a riding test date at the time the permit was issued. My riding test date was December 18th, a day when 9 inches of snow was blowing across the range in drifts. The motorcycle Gods had apparently dismissed the necessity of getting an endorsement.

It was my thought to tell any inquisitive cop rash enough to pull me over that the other rider broke down and rode the wrecker back to the shop, leaving me to deliver the life-saving medicine to the orphanage. My response was “Fuck it. They’ll never take me alive.”

I was on Interstate-80, threading the tach needle through the pinker section of the dial, when I discovered the distinctive red and blue lights of a New Jersey State Trooper in my rear-view mirrors. Have you ever noticed that some police cars look absolutely sinister? Regardless of whether the issue is an out-of-date inspection sticker or a drive-by shooting, the cop can make it seem like he's chasing an accomplice of Osama Bin Laden. I glanced down at the speedo, and confirmed I was going fast enough to qualify for the death penalty in six southern states.

“I am so fucked,” I thought, as I began to throttle back the Kawasaki H2 onto the shoulder. There was no inspection sticker on the fork and the excuse I had devised for the permit seemed utterly feeble at that moment. (It was my understanding that New Jersey State Troopers could shoot you and dump the body in the nearest trench, if they felt like it. These were the days when the NJ State Trooper test entailed running through a room full of puppies while wearing army boots.)

My feet were barely on the ground when the voice of the cop, amplified by a portable sound system used to motivate political prisoners in Bolivia, demanded I remain on the bike, with my hands on the gas tank. Quite frankly, I had no notion of what the hell I was going to tell this guy, except I knew that no variation of the truth would do.

“License... Registration... And insurance card,” the officer demanded, without blinking. “Do you have any idea how fast you were going?”

This is a trick question asked by cops who are going to fry your ass regardless of the answer. However, there is no solace in knowing this. Nothing you can say is going to sway them from their purpose of issuing you a piece of paper that will cost you two or three hundred dollars, at the business end of gavel, swung by a judge whose face will give the impression of not having taken a satisfying dump in the last two weeks.

I simply looked at the cop blankly, and waited for trick question #2.

“What reason could you possible have for going that fast on a public highway?” asked the cop. I swear he was fingering his gun, either to pistol-whip me with it, or to fire a warning shot into my knee.

The cop was young, in his 20’s. There was a lot going on here. This was a case of state-fueled testosterone compelling him to address me like I was shit on his shoe versus the untamed stallion blood surging in my veins — which was percolating the statement “Kiss my ass and just give me the ticket,” right behind my teeth. Though it would be several years before I launched my career as a public relations specialist, the serpent inside me was thinking at the speed of light. I had to find some common ground on which to stand with this guy... Some sympathetic stance on which we could agree.

“My old girlfriend is home on a surprise visit from college and I haven’t been laid in four months,” is what I told the cop. And with my wallet open, I removed a small black and white photograph (actually a proof) of an 18-year-old female acquaintance, in a tasteful pose of full-frontal nudity at a time when pubic hair was still a novelty in Playboy.

The cop stared at the picture for a full 60 seconds. And then he blinked.

“Well you’re not going to get laid if you’re crushed under the wheels of a truck on this highway,” said the cop. “Slow down.” Then he let me go.

I pulled away, careful to stay in the boring realm of 55 to 60 miles per hour. It felt like the tires were glued to the pavement compared to the exhilarating pace I’d previously set. I thought about the picture. It was not my current girlfriend (of that moment), but of one I would chase for years. I have no idea why she gave it to me if I was never to taste the fruit. But here I was, a young guy, with long hair, racing to a destination alleged to be a assignation, on a screaming Jap motorcycle — with some cop wishing he was me.

I pulled into my real girlfriend’s driveway ten minutes later. She was 21-years-old at the time, and two years older than me. Her hair tumbled down her back like a waterfall of burnt sienna, against a complexion of warm honey. She was every inch as beautiful as the woman in the photograph and had a smile that molded itself into perfect kisses... Kisses with the sweetness of a summer peach... Kisses that occasionally covered me in a blaze of candle-light. She’d have cut my balls off in my sleep had she known I had that picture in my wallet. And she’d have been right to do so.

Naked images of discarded girlfriends are traded like baseball cards on the internet today. Yet this was in the day when everything had to be committed to film and captured by chemicals. I had taken photography in college and persuaded this beautiful woman (with the sienna hair) into posing once, wearing naught but perfume. I printed the photo myself. That picture is long gone... As is the one I carried in my wallet... And there is not a single picture of me on that Kawasaki motorcycle. So much of my younger life now exists only in my mind, and my mind so easily becomes the witness for the prosecution these days.

Why is it the night before Valentine’s Day that visions of beautiful, naked women of past romances torment me as freezing cold winds blow in from the Atlantic, making my sense of exile complete? I have written that the motorcycle is a metaphor for life, but it is also the perfect vehicle for romance. The pillion is the threshold of foreplay. I can hardly wait for my next bike and next spring, regardless of the season in which I encounter both.

Postscript: I had company this weekend, 50 percent of whom was a striking redhead — the paramour (since college) of one of my closest friends. He was here too, and will probably comment on this blog. She looked (down) at me through eyes that are a maelstrom of emotion, and presented me with a heart-shaped, chocolate ginger cake.

“This is for you,” she said. “I thought it especially appropriate as it seems to have collapsed in the center.”

It would appear I am a clay pigeon for every woman in the world now.


Jack Riepe will be the guest speaker at the New Jersey Shore BMW Riders monthly dinner on March 14th, 2012, at 6pm. Held at Schneider’s German-American Restaurant in Avon, NJ, the subject of Riepe’s presentation will be “How Abstinence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder... For So Many Things.” The guest speaker has promised not to savage BMW “R” bikes in his presentation, nor to imply their riders are aptly depicted in prehistoric cave paintings.

Riepe’s dietary limitations of pickled herring, wiener schnitzel and spaetzle are presenting less of a challenge to program chairman Don Eilenberger than his request for a blond waitress, in traditional Bavarian dress, with even more traditional Bavarian hooters. It is thought Eilenberger himself will wait table in drag. Rumors that Riepe will be transferring his membership to the NJSBMWR from the Mac-Pac are rampant. Sources claim the delicate feelings of the guest speaker can no longer sustain commentary beginning with “that fat son of a bitch on that poor K75,” which is the way he is commonly greeted in Pennsylvania.

©Copyright Jack Riepe/Twisted Roads 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Payoff Of Living Dangerously...

• To read the exciting adventure piece on living dangerously, continue below.
• To read how you can own Jack Riepe's legendary K75, click here.

It was 1975 and my year of living dangerously. Without any prior motorcycle experience, I had acquired a nasty, 750cc Kawasaki H2, two-stroke street bike from a dealer who would have sold nuclear waste to a school lunch program. Then I snatched one of the most beautiful woman on a liberal arts college campus from the arms of an Adonis (a man who combined the rugged good looks of a professional condom model with the personality of a toilet seat). It appeared that I was on a roll.

What was left?

The answer to that question was flying lessons.

Rocketing around on a primitive motorcycle gave me a feeling of invincibility that fed other hungers. I was intrigued by the sensation of weightlessness that came from cresting hills under maniacal power and the miniscule “G” forces that I imagined I felt when leveling out at the bottom. The Kawasaki’s two-stroke engine had a guttural stutter that came from three cylinders that apparently hated each other. Missing was the traditional scream of anguished metal when loading the clutch and downshifting to achieve that “time warp” effect. It occurred to me that the only way I could experience the sound of an engine in a power dive and the feeling of being jammed into a seat as I yanked the stick into a blood-draining climb was to assume the controls of an aircraft.

“Who would be stupid enough to let you at the controls of an airplane?” asked the brunette beauty I had stolen from the arms of the campus matinee idol. (She was gorgeous, soft-spoken, incredibly sweet, and painfully honest at times.)

It became apparent that I would have to enroll at a legitimate flying school, and persuade the adult in charge that I would be both attentive and relatively responsible. There were two flying schools relatively close by. The first was at Teterboro Airport, which was a sleepy suburban aviation crossroads at that time. (Today, Teterboro Airport is under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and is one of the busiest hubs for corporate aircraft in the world. CEOs traipse in and out of this place with their feet barely touching the ground from limousine to corporate jet.) The flying school there had a selection of familiar Cessnas and an atmosphere that was a cross between a driving school and a remedial math class. The thought of hours of classroom work, coupled with chatting on a radio while sitting on the flight line, wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

But the second flying school was right up my alley. Not five minutes east of Teterboro lies the town of Little Ferry, New Jersey, on the banks on the bucolic Hackensack River. Here, behind a bar that had huge illuminated sign that read “Tracey’s,” was an honest-to-God seaplane base. The base consisted of a shed, a mechanic’s shop, a dock, and a gas pump. Tied to the dock were three or four standard-looking high-wing aircraft on pontoons.

This was more like it. Flying lessons from an airport which was nothing more than a straight stretch in the river, with the final approach coming in over the US-46 overpass. And there was even a bar to enjoy a few post flight snorts when the class was over. I was 19-years-old. I had cash in my pocket, a new motorcycle, a hot brunette for a girlfriend, and an apartment in one of the swankiest neighbors in the Garden State. And now, I was about to master the skies as well.

The gentle Twisted Roads reader cannot imagine the swagger factor as I arrived for my lessons on the back of a street demon, only to exchange my riding goggles for a pair of aviator sunglasses. But the best is yet to come. The aircraft used to train dilettantes such as myself was one of the most forgiving airplanes ever built. It was a 1946 Aeronca Champ. While the airframe was tubular steel, the cabin and flying surfaces were doped canvas. This airplane was older than me by ten years.

Above: An Aeronca Champion on floats. Picture from the internet... Not the plane I flew.

My first lesson was little more than an hour-long get acquainted ride, in which the pilot, who was 23, ran me through the particulars of the aircraft. The preflight check started at the front, by sticking the oil in the engine. (The stick was withdrawn, but not pulled out, so as not to drip oil on the inside of the cowling.) Then a little valve was turned to release an ounce or so of fuel into the river. (This was to make sure there was no water in the gas, an issue with aircraft engines around rivers.) The gas cap was removed, and I was instructed to insert my finger. The tank was full if my finger came out wet.

Then we examined the propeller, which was metal, not wood. The pilot/instructor explained to me that spray from the floats could occasionally get into the prop, where it had the consistency of gravel, and could easily chip the knife-like edges on the blades. When this happened, the prop was removed and the chipped edges filed. There was evidence that this had happen at least once with this prop. Then he pulled an inspection cover off each of the pontoons and used a hand pump to remove excess water from each float.

I got inside, sitting in the front seat. The “Champ” had a narrow cabin, and the student sat in front, with the instructor pilot sitting directly behind. The pilot watched me “belt” in with a seatbelt that was barely more than a webbed strap. He then explained the starting procedure by pointing to a switch and a throttle.

“When I yell ‘Off and closed,’ he explained, you will confirm the switch is ‘off’ and the ‘throttle’ is closed by yelling the same thing out the open cockpit door. When I yell ‘Contact,’ and only when I yell ‘Contact,’ will you flip that switch and yell that you’ve done so.” He then untied the floats and — balancing on the right one — yelled, “Off and closed.”

I repeated the litany, and he hand-turned the prop two full turns.

“Contact,” he yelled.

I hit the switch and repeated the same.

He yanked down on the prop and jumped back as the engine roared like an Amish firing squad. The rotating prop produced an instant draft, even at idle, and the untied plane began moving at an accelerate drift. The pilot scampered back to the right elevator, and grabbed it, causing the plane to swing out from the dock. With a practiced movement, he stepped onto the float and squeezed into the seat behind me.

He roughly pointed out the seven instruments, noting that two of them didn’t work. The important ones were the altimeter, air speed indicator, the turn and bank indicator, the tach, and the compass. The gas gauge was one of the non-functioning ones. The other was the clock. The run-up procedure consisted of switching both magnetos on and off, which caused a ripple in the RPM. (This was to determine they were working.) Then I was instructed to switch on the “carburetor heat,” which would noticeably slow the engine down, and then to switch it off again.

There was no radio.

All of these activities were included on an abbreviated check-list, which I might add was shorter than the recommended lists for pre-flighting a modern motorcycle. The last item was for resetting the elevator trim to “zero” and for retracting the water rudders at the back of each pontoon.

“Ready?” yelled the pilot.

I nodded, and he reached to my left, opening the throttle to the “full” position. The unmuffled engine noise became really impressive. This box kite of a flying relic instantly became a huge hornet with one purpose. The nose came up and the instructor put the aircraft “on the step,” which is a planing attitude that keeps the spray out of the prop. The key to propellor preservation was either a fast taxi or a really slow one.

The plane’s gentle heaving gave way to a purposeful surge and the vibration was incredible for a second. There was a brief sense of power-boating and a slight slamming as the chop on the river smashed into the floats. And then there was nothing but the fierce growl of an engine that had once again broken the suction of the Hachensack River — as it had down thousands of times before.

We were climbing at the same speed I had ridden to the flying school on my bike: 75 miles per hour. The rate of climb was gentle, but insistent. The engine in this aircraft had scant more horsepower than my Kawasaki, yet seemed to be accomplishing a lot more. The pilot told me to switch on the carb heat at 6,000 feet over the George Washington Bridge, before throttling back on the engine speed. Even in the full heat of summer, the carburetors could frost over at altitude with the engine cut back, providing a bit of unnecessary drama. He put the plane through a number of gentle maneuvers, designed to gauge my ability to look straight down at 6,000 feet, protected only by canvas and a plexiglas windscreen.

I was thrilled.

The landing was cool too. Unlike land-based aircraft, which essentially stall over the runway, floatplanes hit the surface of the water under full power. Any technical difficulties can be resolved by going right back up again. And it assumed that on rivers like the Mississippi or the Nile, you have plenty of room to get up and down. There were procedures for restarting the engine in a stall, like recovering in a shallow dive to get the prop turning, and some things to remember about the wind when taxiing. A really good crosswind could dip the opposing wing if you weren’t careful.

I had twelve lessons like this and was doing well on take-offs (with more practice required on landings) when the God of motorcycles and aging aircraft decided to yank my leash. It was one of those great summer days when you just knew you’d have a terrific flight, a fast bike ride down the shore, and two days of languishing in the arms of pure naked sensuality. The deal was to head down the shore right after the flying lesson, and my brunette girlfriend was packed and on the back as I roared into Little Ferry. The flight would be a full hour and the plan was to drop her off at the adjoining bar, Tracey’s, where she’d dawdle over coffee and a cigarette, before meeting me on the dock.

There was a bit of a crosswind and rumor of a passing thunderstorm north of us. The plane seemed a trifle cranky but the instructor wasn’t concerned. He confirmed our last maneuvers in my log book and let me preflight the aircraft. We roared off for 40 minutes of stalls and and tight turns before a sprinkling of rain on the windscreen suggested heading back. I flew the pattern to check for other aircraft on the river, or boats from one of the marinas in the area, and saw a familiar figure waiting on the dock. She looked firecracker hot as I passed at 500 feet and 75 miles per hour.

I lined the “Champ up with the US-46 overpass and ran through the landing checklist... And it got real quiet. This was because the engine was no longer running.

There are times in man’s life when he wishes he could say “Fuck” in 40 languages. This was one of those occasions.

“Restart procedure?” I yelled back to the instructor.

“You haven’t the option,” said the instructor. “You’re clear. Just fly it down to the water. Your first shot has to be your best. And you don’t have to yell. The noise stopped.”

And then I made one of the best decisions of my life.

“You do it,” I said.

“Sure thing,” he replied, looking over my shoulder. He handled the controls with quiet confidence and we fluttered down to the water with nary a ripple. Then he restarted the engine while standing on the float and taxied to the dock.

“Wow,” he said, looking out the open cabin door at my girlfriend. “I sincerely hope this is my next lesson.”

I said nothing, but delighted in the wild kiss I got (and the pinch on the ass I gave) upon disembarking.

“Did you make that landing?” she asked, breathlessly.

“I called the shot that got us down in one piece,” I replied.

The pilot/instructor looked at me and laughed.

“Ever fly a seaplane?” he asked my brunette lover. Knowing the answer, he invited her to sit inside. He propped the engine, started it, and ran back to grab the elevator.

“Do I have to fly it myself?” asked the brunette, laughing from inside the cockpit?

He jumped in and the two of them roared off for twenty minutes of sightseeing.

She was all smiles when the “Champ” landed without incident.

“Did you like it?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said. “And he told me to come back when I got sick of motorcycles.”

Two hours later, the Kawasaki blew a back tire. I was on a secondary highway doing about 55, when I heard the pop and got the rear-end wobble. Chopping the power, we rolled to a stop on the shoulder. My girlfriend helped me push the bike 300 feet to an independent custom Harley shop, where the owner laughed, offered us a couple of cold ones, and changed the tire and tube — in exchange for a good chunk of my weekend spending money.

It was dark when we got to the shore — Seaside Heights — grabbed dinner in a bayside seafood shack, and found the house. We were about to shower, when she said, “I just got my period.”

Some weekends look so good at 700 feet and 75 miles per hour.

Author's Note — The brunette in this story was the elusive "SnowQueen," who has decided to stop posting in the comments section of Twisted Roads. I can only assume she has stopped reading as well. Someone annoyed the hell out of her. Wanna bet it was me?


I am not an easy person to photograph. But my former paramour managed to take one of the best shots of me ever captured. I like it a lot and use it as my official photograph. (See picture below.)

Photo by Leslie Marsh Photography

But my kid, who is one of the most amazing daughters anyone could ask for, felt compelled to take an official photograph of her own, one-upping poor old dad. There is a reason why some species devour their own young.

Photo by Katherine's boyfriend Tom... Picture cleaned up by Roy Groething of Jersey Pictures.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Change In Riding Plans This Spring...

Last week started with a loud pop, not unlike the sound of a cork exiting a champagne bottle. I was out and about with a close friend who remarked, “Did that sound come from your hip?”

It was the left hip to be exact, and my next step (a cross between a limp and a bridge collapse) reflected the jolt of pain that followed the sound effects. Unlike previous jolts, this one lingered for a day or two, as the hip joint took its time in resetting. A visit to my orthopedic specialist resulted in an x-ray that looked like a crime scene photograph.

“This is a normal hip joint,” said the doctor, manipulating a scale skeletal model depicting the bone structure of an 18-year-old competitive pole vaulter. The joint moved smoothly and with the kind of precision reflected by a half-million years of bone evolution. Yet I couldn’t help wondering what happened to the rest of the “pole vaulter” that only this section of his left hip remained on display in a medical office. I wondered if I’d visited a urologist would a perfect model of male genitalia be on the guy’s desk.

“This is your left hip,” said the doctor, using a pointer to highlight the ghostly white spots of a film that hung over an illuminated panel. The x-ray depicted the hip bone of a brontosaurus that had been pickled in brine. “In a worst case scenario, the joint is reduced to a cartilage-free assembly of a loose bone-on-bone connection, that may audibly grate as it generates pain. Your hip has replaced the cartilage with broken Coke bottle glass and carved the rounded ball joint into a perfect cube.”

The doctor frowned and added, “If you were a horse, I would just shoot you now.”

The past two years has been an ongoing attempt to halt the spread of the arthritis with various formulas of Glucosamine, Chondrotin, fish oil, snake oil, herbal teas, honey and vinegar, juice from South America, real drugs and exotic massages from a place in Philly. The result has been a losing battle as the disease has made slow headway in both knees, both hips, and other joints as well. Compounding the problem is a body chemistry that absorbs fat calories from the air. Consequently, my options are limited. According to my orthopedic specialist, the only mechanical joint that will effortlessly function in my body now is nose gear from a Boeing 747.

Part of my arthritic evaluation was a process that measures the restricted mobility of various joints. It appears I’ve suffered a loss of motion that makes it almost impossible for me to get my left foot on the high peg of my beloved K75. BMW’s have fairly high pegs enabling the motorcycle to nail 46-degree curves without scraping anything. (The left peg on my bike is three inches below my left ear.) In prior years, the joint seemed to stretch as I rode more often. That is no longer the case. A friend of mine, Mike Evans, recently stated that the rigid nature of my left leg gives me a strange stance in the saddle. He followed me for 30 miles one day, convinced I was about to make a right turn at any second.

My first thought was to lower certain aspects of my K75, such as rebuilding the forks and carving the seat. (This is already a “low seat” version of this model.)Yet options for lowering the pegs are either not practical nor economically feasible. (I have exhausted all reasonably priced options for dropping the pegs on a K75. There are none.) In fact, I am opposed to dramatically altering the geometry of this fine motorcycle for what may amount to one or two more riding seasons. The only option that seems to make sense is switching to another bike. I tried a “cruiser” with a seat that was as low to the ground as a bull dog’s nuts. This didn’t work either. The far forward controls pose a different set of challenges to these knees.

On a hunch, I sat on a 2004 BWM K1200 with lowered forks, a lowered seat, and lowered pegs — with a lot less difficulty. This motorcycle is somewhat longer, heavier, and more powerful than the K75. In fact, it has a 60 horsepower advantage over my current bike, which is something I would just have to get used to. (The thought of being able to accelerate quicker and go faster — shedding a year in age for each mile per hour over the 100 mark — holds little appeal for me. Furthermore, I’d have no interest in owning a bike that would make me feel like I was 17-years-old just by looking at it. Nor would I lend any consideration to the fact that the 2003, 2004, and 2005 K1200s are the most beautiful “K” bikes to claw their way out of the Teutonic design suite.)

If I had to have a 2004 BMW K1200, however, there would have to be some modifications. The most practical of these would be in lowering the pegs, the forks and the seat, so I didn’t need a step to mount it. As members of my riding club — the renegade Mac-Pac — are quick to point out, a lowered bike shouldn’t impact my riding style, as I have to take a curve at 30 degrees, let alone 46. There are plenty of existing kits for lowering K1200 pegs that do not require the services of a machine shop and the skill of a tool and die maker. Lowering the forks would also allow me to custom choose the ridel, while the saddle would eventually go to the folks at Russell Day Long. My thought is to end up with a hot-looking BMW that is only about 27 or 28 inches above the ground, with pegs that do not require me cover my ears with my knees.

My K75 was a labor of love and reflects it with a ton of custom extras incorporated into its frame. A K1200 would follow the same pattern. My choice of a color would be the rare “Orient Blue” or a “Jet Black.” On the gas tank would be an air-brushed black widow spider (in some shade of deep red), with the telltale hourglass in black or orient blue on it’s abdomen. The factory panniers would be in the flattest of black paints, each adorned with a white skull and cross-bones. The license plate would read, “POIZN.”

I would eventually equip the bike with a Russell saddle, PIA HID lights, Moto -Lights (mounted on the front brakes), and another set of LED riding lights. This would require a custom side-bar light mount (similar to that on the new K1600s.) I’d also want a heated seat and a digital thermometer for ambient temperature. This would be my second “dream” bike. There is nothing prohibitively expensive about acquiring and equipping this machine... I just can’t own two motorcycles, especially if it is painful to ride one of them. This will mean selling the K75, something I swore I wouldn’t do.

I am now onto several potential candidates for a K1200, which means the time has come to list the K75. I am planning to list it through a local dealer this week. The machine is a 1995, BMW K75 — Low Seat Model — in “Mystic Red,” with 25,126 actual miles on the speedometer. It’s extras include:

Inspection/Registration: current
Condition: Very, very good — Garage kept, never dropped

• Eastern Beaver Relay in headlight
• Moto-lights ($450) - separate relay
• PIA HID lights ($650) - separate relay
• 36 Flashing LEDs auxiliary stoplight ($100)
• 36 50% running lights, 100% stoplight LEDS on plate bracket ($135)
— 72 extra LEDs total —
• Centech Auxiliary fuse box
• Russell Day-Long Saddle (electrically heated)
• Auxiliary volt-meter
• Fork Boots
• Works Perfomance Shock
• Square custom mirrors
• Stone Guard for throttle bodies
• Parabellum Scout Fairing (Tinted Plexiglass - clear spare included)
• “Authority Style” crash bars (powder coated black)
• Muffler -- Jet Hot Black
• Factory sidebags (really tight mountings)
• Factory topcase
• Pigtail for tender connection or heated gear
• 6,200 miles on the tires
• New Front Brakes in 2010
• New clutch cable
• Clear plastic belt buckle scratch guard on tank (at seat)
• RAM mount for GPS

Above: Left side of "Fireballs," the legendary 1995 BMW K75 of song and story. Note PIA H.I.D. lights mounted on rare "authority" bars, powder-coated in black. Light switch is integrated in dash panel.

Above: Right side of "Fireballs." Note theme of "Black and Red" is carried through to the Moto-Lights mounted on the front brake caliper mounts. The width of the Russell-Day-Long Saddle is enhanced by the fact it is a heated seat.

Above: The business end of "Fireballs." One of the last low-mileage K75's in existence... And a real find equipped like this one.

Above: "Fireballs" wearing her traveling bags. All three keyed to the ignition lock.

This motorcycle has been featured in my column BMW MOA’s publication — The Owner’s News (ON) — and has been regularly profiled on “Twisted Roads.”

Asking $4200... Interested parties contact:
No international sales...