Room service is the apex of civilization, requiring nothing more then to slip into a robe and to sign a chit for the privilege of extending the morning’s “Ka” through the first meal of the day. There are times when quiet reflection is worth about $2 grand a second, and “in-room dining” provides the perfect aura for enjoying breakfast on the American plan, in your underwear. The fragrant aroma of eggs, sausage, pancakes, and coffee filled the room like incense in a pagan temple, where I was the oracle. I pulled the drapes aside, letting in the light of a flawless Adirondack morning, along with a view of the mountains and Mirror Lake, in the center of town.
|My 1986 BMW K75 with the Rare Sprint Fairing|
And yet the focal point of the view was my blue 1986 BMW K75 (with the rare Sprint fairing). It’s headlight stared blankly up at the window, reminding me that my life was not entirely without purpose. In many regards, life is about limits. The average room service coffee pot is limited to about four large cups of java. I bolted the first cup to jump-start my soul. The second and third cups accompanied breakfast. The final cup washed down a handful pills (celebrex and pain killers) to numb the arthritis raging in my knees and hips. This pharmaceutical dessert would enable me to stagger around in a mockery of mobility, but it would also permit my knees and hips to bend enough to let me ride.
I buzzed out of the hotel driveway an hour later.
This was the second day of a week on the road, and the first time I had ever ridden a motorcycle through the Adirondack Mountains of New York. I love the town of Lake Placid, nestled in the center of the High Peaks region. The inaccessibility of this place (hours away from anywhere by car and without a viable option for a public airport) has kept it as pristine as possible. Coupled with visionary “Forever Wild” legislation now over 100 years old, the integrity of these mountains is preserved in the state’s constitution. The Adirondacks occasionally get crowded... And they have their honky tonk touristy attractions... But they are home to moose, deer, bear, wolves, mink, fisher, martin, trout, bass, and splake — all within an eight-hour drive from Manhattan. And they offer some of the best motorctycle riding to be found anywhere.
That simple sentence — “I buzzed out of the hotel driveway an hour later.” — is a lie. (I tell a lot of them.) It took me twenty minutes to get my boots on and ten minutes to mount the bike. That means I took my time swinging my leg over the seat, bending my knees, and flexing my hips. Then I studied the situation. The driveway of the Crowne Plaza Resort is a steep drop to a curve on Main Street. I would be bringing my feet to the pegs two or three times in 300 feet, which can be a tough trick for me, just starting off. (I like to ride two or three miles with my legs up right out of the gate, to stretch the joints.) As usual, the thought of getting my feet up and down was much worse than the actual effort, and I found myself cruising along the Main Street in Lake Placid a few seconds later.
The gentle (or savage, or indifferent) reader should know that I used to live 18 miles away from this town, in a log cabin, on a dirt road. It was the only log cabin around with three phone lines into it, serving two computers and a fax machine. I ran a business in New Jersey from here, writing speeches for clients in Washington, Paris, Berlin, and Singapore; and placing stories in major newspapers regarding every aspect of the business travel industry. It had been my life’s ambition to live in the Adirondacks, deriving a decent income from someplace else. I pulled it off for twenty years. And then circumstances changed. My life’s focus evaporated in four simple words... And they are the same four words that have changed my life so many times: “I met a woman...”
There are three compelling forces in my life that continually bring me to the brink of salvation or utter ruin. They are my love of writing... My love of motorcycles... And my love of women. I would be forced to write if I had to read my work aloud to statues. For me, life exists solely for interpretation and retelling. And there is nothing like hurtling down a road on the back of a motorcycle. Twisting the throttle morphs the rider intro a half-human/half-machine god, who sizzles through molecules of air like an electric charge, arriving at another reality, in a cloud of spent ions. There is no other way to describe it and debating me on this is pointless. Simply stated, motorcycle riders have more orgasms, taste more of life, experience more highs, and spend more time in traffic court and emergency rooms than other mortals. (I don’t make the rules, I just play the game.)
And then there are women.
I generally prefer one at a time... So I can lose my mind, heart, and soul without distraction. Woody Allen once said, “In life, there are the horrible and the miserable. The horrible are the deformed. The miserable are everyone else.” Women are the precious elements that elevate man above the “miserable...” Unless, of course, they have pitched him into the quicksand misery of failed romance in the first place. There is nothing in the world to compare with the first turbocharged kiss from the captain of the college equestrian team, as she presses your hands against her jodhpured ass... Unless it is having a coworker you’ve had a crush on for years, pulling off her shirt and nailing you in the office... Or a newspaper reporter who’s busted your balls for years, jumping you on the city desk (after midnight on a Saturday)... And then there is having the most bewitching woman you have ever held in your arms taking your soul in the most enchanting Adirondack places: along streams in the mist, in glades where wild strawberries (the size of buttons) flavored her bare skin, and on a bear skin rug — before a roaring fire.
It was the memories of this last woman that were haunting me as I careened through a right angle turn onto Route 73, retracing my steps from the night before. (Please read previous blog). I was as stiff as a board and the turn has some wobble in it as I coasted to a stop at the last traffic light in town. (If one were headed straight south, the next stoplight would be 150 miles away.) The tide had long since gone out on that Adirondack love story, yet it is my firm belief that passion is like energy, and that it never really goes away, but comes back time and again for those who believe in quarks, quasars, black holes, and the black magic of motorcycles. It is the memory of the few women that I would have preferred not gotten away, however, that gnaws at my soul on cold, moonless nights. And I might have kept them all, but one, if I hadn’t been a total prick. (Naturally, I'd like another shot at "the one" that was destined to get away.)
The light changed, and the K75 spoke to me in German accent one normally associates with Marlene Dietrich. It said, “Wake the fuck up and pay attention. Your chances of getting laid on this trip are about the same as Congress coming up with enlightened legislation. However, your chances of blowing through a curve and going off a cliff are excellent.”
|Above: Silver-screen star Marlene Dietrich|
The K75 sounded like Marlene Dietrich, but took on the image of Milla Jovovich when it appeared in my mind. (It is astounding how often images of Milla Jovovich have appeared in my mind.) The bike whined as the clutch bit into the friction zone, and I shot past the two towering Olympic ski jumps. Skiers in training were barreling down these inclined ramps (one 270 feet high) despite the fact it was July. The ski jumps and the landing strips on the sides of the mountain were covered in green brushes. (You read that correctly: “green brushes” with the bristles pointed upwards.) The skiers must hit 62 miles per hour before they can become airborne. I pulled over and watched as a 17-year-old with a death-wish briefly became a human clay pigeon, falling at least 12 stories through thin air, to land upright, on slightly bent knees, before making a perfect stop — on brushes.
“He may get laid tonight,” said the K75.
“Kiss my ass,” I thought, snicking it into gear. I launched myself into a 62-mile-per-hour start and began the descent into the Cascades. As previously mentioned, the Cascades are three stepped lakes piled into a narrow valley, lined with aspens. The road drops like a stone, with a few sweeping curves to the right and left. The pavement is good, wide, and steep enough to make a rider think the bike only has a front wheel. A light tap on the brakes causes the forks to dip like investments on Wall Street following a jobs report.
The Cascade Lakes are always pretty, but become incredibly so at dawn and twilight. (I married the second former Mrs. Riepe on the shores of Middle Cascade Lake, in a secret sunrise ceremony, conducted by the Honorable Judge Arnold Rothman, who sold me a fishing license the day before. She was Russian, blond, intensely pretty, focused, and under the impression that I could be fashioned into something useful.) It was no challenge to hold the bike on the hill with its flawless German brakes, but I preferred to let it build up a head of steam, before dropping down a gear. My reason for this was simple: I love the sound the engine makes when the RPM suddenly jumps, and I am addicted to the “grab you by the balls” feeling the bike imparts when it suddenly drops 25 miles-per-hour. Let’s face it... These are two of the reasons we all ride.
I wanted the descent through the Cascades to go on forever.
The breeze was cool... The road was mine... The challenge was minimal... And the satisfaction of the ride was vast. The bike responded to each of my slight handlebar inputs with Bavarian precision. Yet the sign announcing the 30-mph speed limit in town popped up fast enough, and you ignore these at your peril. I looked for people I knew as I rode through the towns of Keene and Keene Valley, to no avail. (This is the drawback to being able to ride on a day when everyone else is stuck in work.) I passed the now empty “Cozy Bear Bookstore,” where more than 400 people attended my first book-signing (Politically Correct Cigar Smoking For Social Terrorists). The event made the 6 O’clock news in Plattsburgh. The bookstore is something else now. (It is across from the Noonmark Diner, in Keene Valley, which is the best breakfast in the Adirondacks. Not only do they bake their own bread, but they make their own jam and maple syrup too. There are three kinds of breakfast served in heaven: Southern Breakfasts... New Jersey Diner Breakfasts... And the Noonmark Diner Breakfast. Riders should enjoy the triple crown of breakfast dining now, in the event they don’t qualify for heaven later.)
The K75 snarled into the incline leading up to Chapel Pond, and I took these curves at 60 miles-per-hour. There is a sheer drop-off on the left, framed by a vertical cliff, from which a glass-like waterfall tumbles into a ravine. Careless motorists are saved from plunging to certain death by a three-foot thick native rock wall guaranteed to cause certain death at point of impact. It is all very picturesque.
Once, passing this waterfall with my six-year-old daughter on the front seat of the Suburban, I pointed it out to her, explaining that a rock climber had fallen to his death there just the day before. She looked at the site through huge solemn eyes, before asking me, “What was his name?”
Details like that were always important to her.
I had no idea, but I didn’t believe that a dad should ever look like a dope in front of his little girl. I never hesitated and replied, “His name was Lefty.” For the next 16 years, my daughter would tell people, “That’s where Lefty fell off the cliff.” She was astonished to finally learn I had just made that name up. (His real name was Mucca Fignotti.)
Route 73 gives the impression it was laid out by the Chamber of Commerce. It passes by three or four natural wonders, winds through the kind of towns Bilbo Baggins would prefer, and offers proximity to a great breakfast (the Noonmark Diner) and a legendary saloon, called the Baxter Mountain Tavern. (Technically, this is on Rt. 9N in Keene, just off Rt. 73.)
I pulled into a clearing by Chapel Pond, and dropped my feet.
Chapel Pond sits in a depression at the foot of another vertical rock wall, surrounded by conifers and hardwoods, with three or four campsites accessible by car. I have been admiring this place for 40 years. It was here that the most beautiful woman I have ever known gave me the adolescence I never had, in the back of an SUV, when the rain fell like a curse. And just stopping here, in that same spot, I could feel my DNA tying itself into a square knot.
“Fuck it,” I thought. “You’re only making yourself crazy.”
I snicked the bike into gear, and continued on. There is another change in elevation on the other side of Chapel Pond, as the road drops into a valley as tight as my riding pants. A rock-lined trail peels off to the left, following a stream. The same blond scorched my soul in the same SUV as the moon rose above the trees here too. I remembered the moonlight in her eyes, the scent of her hair, the quickness of her breath, and mellow richness of her laugh. And I remembered how I wanted that night to go on forever, like the road through the Cascades: with minimal challenge and thrills without immediate consequences. And I remember thinking, “This one will last forever.”
“Is there any place in this 7-million-acre state park and forest preserve where this blond, or some other wet dream, didn’t honk your horn?” asked the K75. “Because if there is, I’d like to get there at 110 fucking miles-per-hour.”
It is impossible to argue with a motorcycle, especially one that takes on the image of Milla Jovovich, in her heartwarming role as the clone next door — “Alice” — in Resident Evil. We took a left on US-9 and the motorcycle changed the tune playing in my head. It went from “She’s My Girl” by the Turtles, to “Everything Louder than Everything Else” by Meatloaf, emphasizing the line, “If the thrill is gone than it’s time to take it back.”
Riding to a different tune occasionally causes you to sing one. I found myself tearing through the back end of Essex County, NY, thinking of nothing but the road. Two hours later, I saw a sign outside a little bistro, promoting “Meatloaf” sandwiches. I thought this was prophetic and decided to stop. The joint was on the corner, and I swung around to the side street, hoping to park in the shade. It was here I encountered a purple Harley-Davidson Sportster, from which a firecracker of a redhead was in the process of dismounting. The Harley had a New Jersey tag on it. The rider was as thin as braided leather and as hot as Satan’s kiss.
The firecracker was already seated at one of three tables when I sashayed in. I sat at an adjacent table and fired off my best “battered baby seal” look. The Harley rider appeared to be searching for a spittoon. I ordered the meatloaf sandwich, subconsciously humming “Paradise By The Dashboard Light.” The redhead suddenly took her meal outside.
Oddly enough, we both ended up mounting our bikes at the same time. (I decided that I only wanted a few bites from my sandwich.) “Headed to the BMW rally in Vermont?” I asked her with a smile.
She responded with a long pause, before asking, “Is there something about my bike, my gear, or my demeanor that suggests I could possibly give a shit about anything you might have to say?”
Stunned, I stuttered, “What part of Jersey City are you from?”
Her bike answered with a thunder clap from the pipes, and a slight fishtail of the back tire as it pulled away.
I tried to re-inflate my dignity in the silence that followed.
“Well you haven’t lost your touch,” said my K75. “At least you didn’t get laid here, which is good as the meatloaf was pretty decent and we can come back tomorrow without you feeling like shit.”
I really loved that K75... I must have. I wouldn’t take shit like that from Milla Jovovich, unless she gave me the opportunity, of course.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012
All rights reserved.
So my first thoughts had me picturing every curve and thrill of the Adirondacks on my own motorbike. The second had me wondering if there was anyplace I could go in that 7 million acre park that you haven't defiled? Then I thought of the top of Blue Mountain....mmmmmmm
Dear Beemer Girl (Lori/Steel Cupcake):
I have never defiled anyplace in the Adirondack Park... I have sanctified a number of spots with moments of passion that would have shown up a steel mill for sparks. And now that I am getting older, I miss all of those ladies, including the one who took a gun off the wall, pointed it at me, and pulled the trigger. I had unloaded it the week before.
But these things happen. I'm still alive, and that woman dreams of getting boxes of ammunition on Valentine's Day.
By the way, I made out in the parking lot of the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake with a local blonde I took to London for a weekend. Does that count?
I think it would be cool to put together a "Jack Riepe/Adirondack Memorial Ride, doing a complete loop of the park. I'd love to have a bunch of riders — including you and Mr. Oilburner — with me.
Thanks for reading and writing in. What the hell are you doing up at 1:37am?
I believe the restaurant was the Arsenal in E'town. The redhead sounded as though she might have had one too.
What the hell are you doing up at 3am? Getting the eggs out from under the hens while they're still warm? I rode with Chris later on that week, and rode over to Vermont with Lee Kazanas.
I rode with you on the next trip. And I am going to ride with you next year.
So, did you like the piece? I'm happy the redheaded firecracker didn't kick the shit out of me.
With my best sugar coated Cheshire cat grim I could be asking you the same thing with regards to time and posting. Unless you use th automatic post bit. :)
Unfortunately I have been brought low by a stupid cold that turned into a sinus infection. I've never had a sinus infection. And would cheerfully hurt someone so as to never have another one.
I think the longest stint of sleep I am managed in the last 5 days has been 2 hours...and it has mostly been on the sofa. I'm getting really tired of this sofa...
I hope we are both feeling better soon and rid of these damn afflictions. Unfortunately I realize that I am probably closer to that than you are, and I wish that were not the case. Not that I wish my was longer, mind you...
I think that I have made out in the same parking lot! Thought mine wasn't with a local boy. That was the same weekend as the American Mountain Men with live axe throwing demonstrations. I hope you never took a paramour to that, otherwise it would have given them an idea of a new sport to pick up.
Do you actually send boxes of ammunition to said ex-lover? For a gun that she doesn't own? ;)
I would love to ride with you on your comeback tour. Oilburner and I are still vacillating on vacation plans due to work be timing issues. There is still a possibility of a trip north instead of west. And that would give me a chance to bug that crap out of you if we passed your way. :)
You still planning on attending the BMW rally?
Hmmm, the "Jack Riepe/Adirondack Memorial Ride", sounds like it would be quite the tour....but with so many stops to illustrate each and every defilement/santification site......
Great story and depictions of the road's conditions....couple of times I thought to apply a little rear brake to slow myself down on the downward curving portions since you ride so fast.
Quite true re orgasmic moments one can have on the motorcycle...had myself one yesterday evening. Come by and see the post about sunsets.
Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner
She obviously took to you - I'm considering using your chat up line this Saturday when visiting the Harley Magic Bike pageant at Rudesheim this weekend.Do I need to pay you a royalty?
Where did you go in London?
Kind regards as ever, N
Dear Mr. Riepe:
It's a busy day, I have a lot of work to do, I've been trying to watch dollars in this unsteady economy, and you go a write an uncensored account of a summer ride that has me wanting to depart the work life on two wheels and find a luxury hotel.
The thought of slipping into a robe without a care in the world with a view of the mountains is intoxicating...
The Crown Plaza Resort looks pretty nice.
Your genetic compulsion to write, to tell stories, to experience and reinterpret are readily apparent in your blog. And in person I should add. Mixing it with riding is a treat for those of us who follow your writing.
Milla Jovovich does ride a BMW K1200R. Perhaps that's why she pops into your brain...
But I digress.
Riding clearly fuels a part of your writing. And memory as well. I can't quite decide if this ride was pain or pleasure. Probably a mix.
Great story and a fine way to keep myself from doing any work at all...
Scooter in the Sticks
Another great read. I brought up Goggle Earth and followed some of your route through Chapel Pond, New Russia, Elizabethtown and onward. Beautiful looking area. Maybe a future retirement trip...
I couldn't help but think that you are remeniscing about your past life, the memories and wishing it could be again . . .
get well. can't wait to see you one day soon when you get better. Too bad your rides aren't further west.
Riding the Wet Coast
My Flickr // My YouTube
I am wish I could relive certain parts of my life... Like the parts where I jumped from the wreckage before it exploded. I have very few regrets.
In fact, the only thing I do regret is not realizing that Corporate America was a nest of fucking snakes from Day One.., And writing for television instead of writing to make business leaders appear smart and human.
For the past few years, the guys I usually ride with have taken a jaunt ti West Virginia, one of the most beautiful places in the US... But next year, I am going to do a ride throughout the Adirondack Park, and maybe Vermont too. And I guarantee it will be a pisser... And I guarantee there will be some pillion candy involved too.
I'm starting to feel that old black magic.
Dear Steve Williams (Scooter In The Sticks):
I am always thrilled to get a note from you in that your bring such credibility to my stuff, such as it is.
I wasn't kidding in my opening statement. There is nothing like waking up next to a bare-assed honey on a great motorcycle ride... But waking up alone in a damn-fine is no second best either.
I highly recommend the Crowne Plaza in Lake Placid. And for anyone who has the cash, they should check into one of the deluxe suites. Bed sheets should be as crisp as newly minted $20 bills.
You are very kind in praising my style, though many moto purists find fault with its lack of techno riding references. There are many riders who attempt to write, and who cannot tell a compelling story. I am a writer who has experienced the damnedest things on a motorcycle.
I want my readers to feel what I feel, and to take nothing of the riding experience for granted. I would recommend that anyone who is thinking about getting a motorcycle for the first time actually ask a friend who has one to let them twist the throttle while the bike is idling. If they can't feel the spark, then they should stick to cars.
Steve, I want one more riotous motorcycle weekend before I die. I don't mean in a tent, with naked women screaming around a bonfire... Though I'll take that if it is on the menu. But I want a screaming ride (and I mean dancing all around triple digits on the speedo), to a beautiful part of the country, where I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the road, and seduced by a perfumed lovely in a $400 hotel room at night... To repeat that run every day for a week.
And when the ride is over, I want the previous 58 years erased from my mind.
I don't know what it is like for you on your scooter, but riding on a motorcycle sets my mind free (unless I am riding in the kind of traffic where death is lurking at every turn).
There is something about me that inspires murder or assault in about 50% of the women I meet, and eventually marry.
My first wife once admitted she killed me in her mind 40 times before breakfast. My second wife once tried to duct tape me into the truck when I passed out, letting personal gases take my life. And the last woman in my life trained a monkey to drop poison in my mouth as I snored. And I still love all of them.
I took a blond I met at a party in Lake Placid to London for a weekend. We had a suite at Thistle's Hotels Hyde Park property. As a travel writer, I had a great reputation with Thistle and can recommend any of their properties with total confidence.
Dear Chrlie6 (Dom):
I did go to your blog and I did comment on the last two episodes. I envy your proximity to great pictures.
The best rides through anyplace are the ones that leave you dreaming, or wishing for one more shot at something.
I will ride the Adirondacks again next year... And I can assure you, I will have be making new memories, to haunt me later.
Dear Beemer Girl (Lori/Steel Cupcake):
Oh my God! The weekend that I made out with a woman in the parking lot of the Adirondack Museum was the time I gave a demonstration for the American Mountain Men Ax Throwing Competition. I was so drunk. You don't think for a minute... (Laughing my ass off right now.)
Ys, I am still planning on attending the BMW MOA event.
Are you serious?? You were part of the Ax throwing demo?? That is too funny! Glad you never taught that trick to your love interests.
You describe the joy of riding like no other can. Soon I shall have to make a trip to lake Placid to tell you you are full of shit.
Dear Beemer Girl (Lori/Steel Cupcake):
I was just pulling your leg... But my first date with my second wife was to a Renaissance Fair, where she learned to throw an ax.
Dear Conchscooter (Michael Beattie):
What a delight it is to finally get a glimpse of your plans without a hidden agenda. I am going to do an Adirondack tour ride next year, and I am thinking of taking over a whole hotel. I think it would be fun to go up there with a mobile party.
Naturally, everyone can go their own separate ways up there, but the party at night would be a pisser.
Usually get to your blog posts sooner. Playing dog sitter this week while Rony is doing his UCCC. The piece was awesome! If you ever truly arrange this little jaunt of yours count me in !!! Will ride from Florida up there just to have the chance to ride along. And someday you are going to have to tell me exactly what it is you keep doing to these women to make them want to off you in such creative ways. There must be much more to your devious ways to get them thinking in such a manner. Me, I could listen to your stories and you all day...for at least a couple of weeks if not longer, grin.
Time for a visit to Lake Placid I think. It's been a long time since I was last there.
Again, a great story.
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