Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Last Of Anything...

It is not always clear when you are about to experience the last of something. I used to savor the acquired taste of Liederkranz cheese and Ballantine’s India Pale Ale in McSorley’s Old Ale House (Seventh Street and Yale Place, New York City). Liederkranz is a semi-soft cheese, that when properly ripened, runs creamy when left at room temperature. It develops a soft edible crust, not unlike brie. It also smells like the first whiff of a dead Pharaoh when the tomb is opened after 4500 years. Liederkranz is best consumed in a tavern where the fixtures haven’t been dusted in 150 years (McSorley’s). It should be eaten with slices of a Bermuda onion on crisp saltines, accompanied by mustard so hot that it was used to gas troops in WWI. The original Ballantine India Pale Ale (which I considered to be the best of its kind anywhere in the world) was aged 1 year in oak barrels. It tasted like heaven. When Ballantine’s (Newark, NJ) went belly-up, Falstaff brewed it.

McSorely’s offered both of these.

Then one day, the cheese was gone. The company that made it threw in the towel. Apparently, Ihor Sypko and I were the last two people on earth who ate it. Ten years later, Ballantine India Pale was gone too. A woman who once loved me got the last case of it on the east coast, and we drank it together. America’s desire to remain fat while drinking light beer (pre-processed urine) eliminated the need for brewing an ale that was more expensive than the current price of aviation fuel. Had I known that either of these two national treasures would shortly become extinct, I would have stretched out those final moments.

Above: McSorley's Old Ale House - 7th Street and Yale Place. One of the oldest saloons in New York City. Certainly the most colorful. Will liederkranz cheese return?

The same can be said for two women I’ve loved. One twisted my DNA into a Gordian knot that left my balls looking like a pretzel. The other untwisted them, and undid all of the damage done by the first. (I drove both of them crazy and each of these once-in-a-lifetime romances ended in a crash and burn that registered .9 on the Richter scale.) Sinking into the numbing quicksand of their kisses, it never occurred to me that these were finite. Nor did I realize how I’d miss these far more than the cheese and ale.

Above: The Atlantic Ocean off Cape May, NJ in the moonlight. Photo by Roy Groething.

The ocean haunts and taunts me with a persistence that has lasted for years. I am fascinated by the vastness of the sea, its moods and its color changes. I love the scent of the wind blowing in from the Atlantic or when the breeze carries the pungent salt aroma of the marshes. There are a thousand ways to experience the ocean. You can surf it, fish it, swim in it, and tan next to it. I prefer to ride alongside it, just out of reach. I just never realized that my last run through Cape May, NJ would be a kind of finale for disease-ridden legs. Otherwise, I’d have gotten into a lot more trouble.

Above: The low dunes of North Cape May (Lower Township) over a calm Delaware Bay on a gray day, when the clouds dissolve into the water.

 Above: On a clear day, Delaware Bay is a kinder, gentler, littler Atlantic... from the low dunes of North Cape May (Lower Township).

I was straddling a 1995 BMW K75 fifty feet from where the Atlantic washes into Delaware Bay, in North Cape May. The day faded to gray and it was impossible to see the state of  Delaware only 15 miles distant. The dunes, carefully preserved by a community that has its priorities right, are incredibly romantic. Just like my first sexual experience, I was there alone. But there is something about me that some women cannot resist. An elderly lady with a walker approached, fired off a flirtatious smile, and said, “Isn’t that cute. A man of your age riding a motorcycle.”

I respond by forcing a twinkle into my left eye and by smiling back. I am 58-years-old. I imagined what it would be like to watch a giant squid drag this old bitch into the water, wrapped in 50-foot-long tentacles. But there is never a giant squid around when you need one.

Delaware Bay has the docile nature of a seascape designed by Disney, unless there is a storm brewing. The bay is shallow and gets whipped up right quick. Huge ships rest at anchor  in the channel while waiting for a pilot to guide them to the port of Philadelphia. The effect is that of gentler, littler Atlantic just off the pavement. The view from here is amazing. To the left (facing north), is a strand of beach unspoiled and uncluttered, offering a view that changes as the clouds cavort or just hang there. There are days when the gray haze is the same color of the water, and the bay ascends into heaven like an Escher painting. There are other days when the bay is pissed-off about something, and you’re glad to be on shore. The best place to view all this is from the saddle of a motorcycle. The second best place is from a joint called “Harpoon Henry’s,” a seasonal gin mill and seafood restaurant open until October 20th, 2012.

Above: The higher dunes and scrub trees just outside the "Rotary Park."

I have written about the town of Cape May before. It is a community of preserved Victorian homes (many now Bed & Breakfasts) and hotels that date back to the Civil War. There are some cool places to eat and a boardwalk that terminates at “the cove.” This is one of the prettiest views of a lighthouse on the entire east coast of the US (including Cape Hatteras). The best time to see it is just before the summer season starts, or as it is about to end... like now. The place is mobbed in the summer-time. Yet this is one seaside community that is beautiful in the winter too. Especially if it is a mild winter, with temperatures barely in the 30’s.

There is a coffee house in town — Higher Grounds — where you can get  a cup of great organic (free trade) coffee and a number of organic breakfasts and lunches, made to order. Get there in the afternoon, and you’ll meet the owner, Katie. Katie is the kind of beauty that makes most men wish they had something clever to say. I always have something clever to say. (I think Katie hates clever.) Give her a day or two notice, and she’ll bake you an organic chocolate or apple pie ($$$). She bakes phenomenal cookies. The place is a hangout for local musicians, artists, and writers. It is also the most comfortable source of WiFi in town. Tell her the gimp who wrote the cigar book sent you.

The best seafood place in town is the famous Lobster House ($$++), right on the wharf. Get there early on an off-season weekday and try the Cape May Salts. These are local oysters (raw, on the half-shell) that more than compare with anything from Prince Edward Island. Raw oysters are an acquired taste and any raw seafood should be consumed with a hint of caution. Oysters on the half-shell are rumored to have a great side-effect on men. I ate 12 of them on my last visit but only the first nine had the desired effect. (In my opinion, the raw oyster looks like something Georgia O’Keeffe would have painted. I have no problem popping this stuff in my mouth.)  These are some of the best oysters that I have ever tasted. I recommend a dozen oysters and a Negroni (Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth) while sitting at the bar. My only complaint about the Lobster House is that when the place is busy, it’s like eating in Newark Airport. On an off-season day, you can get an inside table right on the water.

The lobsters here do not come from Maine. They come from Point Pleasant, NJ, which supplies 10% of the nation’s lobster. New Jersey-caught lobster, as well as local scallops, oysters, and clams are premium products. They are second to none. But I digress. Had I known that this would be my last motorcycle ride for the next 18 months (hopefully), I would have been more purposefully melancholy. The trouble with the last of anything, be it kisses from a naked woman or great motorcycle rides, is that you don’t know if it will be the “last for a while,” or “the last forever.”

Above: The "New Jersey," the smallest of the Cape May - Lewis ferries arriving at dusk. Photo by the author. 

There is a place called the “Rotary Park” in “Lower Township,” just on the north lip of the canal. I pulled in here and dropped the side stand, without dismounting. It was my thought to light up a cigar, watch the Cape May-Lewis ferry come in, and reflect on a life that was taking a dark and dirty turn. The view was appealing though the wind was getting up. Gusts were rocking the bike and it wouldn’t take much to dump it. I had the cigar in my hand when a local citizen cheerfully pointed to the sign restricting the use of tobacco products. I smiled back, wishing I had the supernatural powers of “Squid Man,” able to summon a giant squid with a whistle. The giant squid would grab the old bastard with one tentacle, and pull down this stupid sign with the other.

The cigar was a maduro robusto that had come to a bad end in my pocket. The wrapper was peeling and I had been chewing on it. My thought was to toss it (unlit) into a trash barrel. My aim was good but I was off on the windage. The bruised stogie arched sideways in the breeze, bounced off the rim of the can, and hit the pavement. Gulls scrambled for it. One tough customer snatched it up in his beak, and strode around looking like the late, great actor Edward G. Robinson. I could almost hear this bird say, “Mmmyeah... Shaddup... See... I’m the Big Boy now.”

I was about to go when I heard the growl of another motorcycle. A rider was approaching on a baby cruiser, which turned out to be a black Suzuki Boulevard S40. I’d never seen one of these before and was amazed by it’s compact lines. It was cool-looking for a 250cc machine. The rider parked it like it was a time-bomb with a pressure sensitive fuse. The rider was in jeans, a short leather jacket, and a black helmet with a tinted face-shield. Once settled on its side-stand, the rider pulled off thin biker gloves to reveal nicely polished finger nails. This neatly explained my initial interest in the rider’s ass.

“Nice bike,” I said, taking care not to actually say, “Nice ass.”

“Thanks,” she said. “Is the BMW logo on your bike from the same company that makes cars? I didn’t know BMW made bikes.”

“This is a prototype from 1995,” I replied. “It’s the only one. They never made another motorcycle.”

Now I can’t explain why I took this tack. She was nice enough and in her mid-forties. She explained she was a new rider and this was her first bike. Fresh out of the safety course, she was still on her first tank of gas. It would have been the work of a second to offer to ride with her for a bit.

“Take care and good luck with the Suzuki,” I said, pulling out. Not knowing the back roads, I took US-9 to Route 47, which parallels the coast but not on the water. “That was stupid,” I thought. “What the hell did that gain me?” It would have been nothing to be chummy with that rider. I recalled the days when I was a kid, about 8-years-old, when my grandfather would buy me a huge ice cream sundae. It would always seem endless with the first few spoonfuls, but you could tell when the end was coming. I never thought about there being a day without ice cream. It never occurred to me that there could be a day without my grandfather.

Most of Route 47 north of Cape May is nondescript. Yet it has it moments, and its secrets. The firmament to the left is a kind of illusion. It is a band of land of varying width  between the road and salt marshes that line the bay. I made a left turn (west) at a sign that read “Reeds” beach. About two miles later, this road crossed in a sea of reeds. The salt marshes are endless tracts of cattails, rank with the aroma of aging fish stuff, with occasional glimpses of open water. In the distance, I saw houses buried in the tree line. Some of these were original bungalows and little more than shacks. Others were classic shore houses, but on less of a scale than beachfront property. Living on the edge of these marshes seemed the height of seclusion. Of course, the bugs would be murder in the summer.

Reeds Beach is one of the coolest New Jersey towns I have ever visited. The community is as wide as the width of one narrow road, with the bay-side houses on piles and barely out of the water. The marsh-side houses are almost in the cattails. You cannot pass a car on the road (if you are in a cage). The houses fall into two categories: a handful that are probably valued at $1.2 million or more, and some that were old travel trailers (one welded to a former school bus). I cannot imagine the building code that grandfathered this style of living, but I love its originality. The bay-side houses were too close together for my tastes, but had an incredible view of the water. One or two of the  more original dwellings out here were for listed sale — with a real estate company known for handling very expensive and exclusive properties.

There was an old black motorcycle (read “rat bike”), bearing distinctive, though battered, BMW side bags, parked in a driveway. I was amazed to see this rig was actually an old Honda, under a bizarre arrangement of non-Honda gear. I retraced my steps out to Route 47 and continued north. There are two or three places where the road edges open water or thousands of acres of salt marshes. Regrettably, you have about three seconds to take in the view and I do not recommend pulling over. In the town of Belleplain, NJ, there is a 100-foot high steel firetower on the right. I thought this was some kind of a museum and was surprised to learn it is a working firetower.

Above: The salt marshes of New Jersey are alive with wildlife and are hauntingly beautiful.

Route 47 takes a 90º left at NJ Route 347, and I banked left to pick-up a charming country road to Heislerville. This was a nice run at about 30 miles per hour. Heislerville is straight out of 1910, and not in the tourist sense. It is another absolutely original New Jersey community. Going straight, the road passes through some great stands of trees and dense forest, and then you are in the marshes again. This time there is only the asphalt and cattails. The beauty of this place makes even the muted sound of a prototype BMW seem like an intrusion. Then you find the lighthouse.

Above: The extent of the salt marshes is astounding. They are vast in places, and invite exploration by canoe.

Above: East Point Light House has an incredible charm... Photo by the author.

The lighthouse looks like a schoolhouse that got ambitious. The second oldest lighthouse in New Jersey, East Point Light was built in 1849 on the east bank of the Maurice River. The charm of this structure is overwhelming. It is located on one of the most dramatic views of Delaware Bay. You can look down the length of the bay right into the Atlantic. The wind was blowing at 40 miles per hour... yet aside from its whine, it was uncannily silent.  The road continues to a community of ten, or so, houses right on the water. One is in bad shape. The others are intriguing. Towering high on piles, the houses have an unusual degree of architectural incongruity. I loved all of them.

But on the other side of the lighthouse was a private lane of bungalows that were built to accommodate hobbits. Some were tidy and miniature versions of traditional shore houses. Others seemed to be seasonal party houses. The lane wasn’t eight feet wide and barricaded. This is the New Jersey I know and love. This is where the artists, the musicians, and the people who eat Sabrett hotdogs for breakfast live.

I retraced my steps to Heislerville, and noticed signs for a nature preserve. Following one, it led me to a road that wound through the marshes to an elevated viewing platform — in a community of nesting ospreys. Ospreys are beautiful, sleek, short-tempered sea eagles. Their nests are made in platforms provided by the State of New Jersey. The birds weave sticks and branches into nests about six feet in diameter. Some of these were right close to the road, as were signs that said “Do Not Stop.”  Ospreys are easily pissed, it seems. I stopped at a safe distance to view them from my binoculars (a gift from one of the two women whose kisses ran out), and saw the movement of a fuzzy little head in the nest. That fuzzy little head was probably ripping the guts out of a 10-pound sea bass.

Above: The osprey, a sea eagle, surveys its territory from a nest high in  dead tree on the salt marsh. Photo by the author. 

Above: A nesting osprey in a New Jersey supplied nesting frame. This is the nest in which I saw the baby.

I never got off the bike at any of these places. The pain in my legs was considerable and they seemed to sweating a bit. I turned the K75 around to head back, and my left leg buckled. That was new. I had taken my share of Celebrex and Tramadol for the day, so it was just a case of gritting my teeth. Except, I really was gritting my teeth. There is always an inspiring phase one can mutter to keep up appearances and I mouthed mine. “Fuck this shit,” I said in the purest New Jersey vernacular. I snicked the bike into gear and headed back to Cape May.

I had a sudden yen for forbidden ice cream, and I needed a few other things, so I hit the local supermarket. Parking the bike in the lot, I noticed my pants legs were soaked clean through, like I’d ridden through a puddle. “What the fuck,” I thought. I got what I wanted in the store, and grabbed a box of rock-hard Dove bars. My riding buddies would killed me if they thought I was eating ice cream. But it was less damaging that a bottle of whiskey, or so I reasoned. There was a 12-year-old car parked next to my bike in a sea of open spaces. “Stupid asshole,” I thought. I hate when anyone crowds my bike in a parking lot. I put my stuff in the side bags, and got ready for the last 5-minute ride back to the house.

That was when the driver of the car showed up — with her little boy in tow. He broke free from her grip and came skipping up to me.”I’m gonna get a red motorcycle too,” he said.

My first impulse was to say, “Don’t fucking skip if you get a BMW. It’s hard enough getting laid on this thing.”

But that’s not what came out of my mouth. “Would you like to sit on this one?” I said. And for the benefit of my shallow readers, I said this before noting that his mom was very pretty. The kid was impressed when I showed him the cool stuff on the K75. (You “R” bike guys can piss and moan in the  comments section. The K75 is cool.) I got on behind him and switched on the key. Everything lit up and the kid was delighted. Then I let him press the starter. “Fireballs,” the legendary K75, started with the whine of Valhalla in two seconds, and sent the needle skipping across the tach. I let the kid jazz the throttle and blow the horn. His name was Billy. He needed a haircut. So did I.

Billy’s mom thanked me and said they had to be getting home for dinner. Billy had a thing for macaroni and cheese. I could see several boxes of it in the bag his mom carried. “And tomorrow, we’re gonna get ice cream,” said Billy.

There were rust spots on the otherwise clean car. Billy’s mom wore no jewelry, and that included any rings. She was about 34, and just like I like ‘em: brunette, slight, and with the kind of eyes that can cut glass at 300 yards. She gave the kid a resigned smile and took him by the hand again.

The image of Dick Bregstein (my legendary riding partner) materialized. Actually, it was just his head, like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. Dick smiled and said, “You need a box of Dove ice cream bars like an elephant needs three asses. You already have the three asses. But that bike is going to need three seats at your current rate of butt spread.”

I pulled the ice cream out of the side bag and handed it to Billy’s mom. She refused it at first, but I told her she’d be doing me a favor.

“Do you live around here,” she asked. “My mom likes motorcycle’s too.”

Bregstein’s head started to laugh uncontrollably. “Her mom likes motorcycles too,” he said. “Her mom. You are such a presumptuous asshole.”

“Nope,” I replied to her. “Just passing through.”

I pulled up to the house 5 minutes later and poured myself four fingers of Irish whiskey. I swallowed a mouthful then dumped the glass in the sink. The last taste of ice cream... the last mouthful of whiskey... the last time I rode through the marshes or anyplace... the last time I kissed a woman who numbed me to reality... the last time I pushed a bike to 100 mph... the last time I walked without a cane... the last time my legs worked. I could only remember some of these last times... mostly the ones I didn’t want to remember.

I suddenly couldn’t recall when I had last spoken with a close friend, so I called Bregstein.

“Hello,” oiled Dick, the consummate riding buddy. “How are you, Jack?”

“Kiss my ass,” I said. "You can ride her mother." Then I hung up.

I’ll be dipped in shit if I have a last time for anything. I read that Liederkranz cheese is now available again after a 25-year absence. Someone will commercially brew India pale ale in oak casks again. And somewhere out there is a “K” bike that is going to carry me to the west coast, at fantastic speeds, to unbelievable adventures and to the arms of a future former love interest, who is going leave me gasping on a beach where the suns sets in the water. I may never again have the legs of a pole vaulter, but I am going to have the legs of a pole dancer. You can count on it, and you’ll read about it here.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012

Who Reads Twisted Roads?

Above: This is Rick Giroux (California) and his 2008 BMW GS1200R. The sexiest GS12005 that I have ever seen, this bike boasts Jesse Bags, Akropovic Titanum & Carbon Fiber Exhaust system, Bear Trap pegs, Garmin Nuvi GPS w/WCC mount, Corbin Custom made heated seat, Gerbings hook-ups, Custom Lasered extra battery mount in top bag,  Buchannons Black Wheels (2 sets, one w/spikes), Custom 3" risers, and a Full Custom Hot Dog paint job. You would think that Rick would wash it occasionally. Said Rick, "I ride it like a GS. It's not a museum piece." 

Above: This is Bill Singleton (Kosovo, currently) and his 2009 Buell Ulysses. Bill loved the Ulysses, but traded it for a 2010 K1300GT when Buell ceased operations. (Bill waited 6 weeks for a part.) Bill claims he reads Twisted Roads for its philosophical purity and serious approach to riding.

Do you read Twisted Roads? Send us a picture of your bike and tell us why you read Twisted Roads! Do you ride a Harley or a Moto Guzzi? We have two special issues of Twisted Roads coming up and we'd love to hear from you. Twisted Roads readers who send in their pictures are eligible for random drawings for cool prizes. This month, we are giving away a Cycle Pump! Send your photos to jack.riepe@gmail.com(.) Mark the subject line "Readers Photos."

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kim's Hot Little Surprise...

The party was on the periphery of a fashionable southern city, where women spoke in soft accents that made one think of bourbon and mint, and the scent of roses hanging in  the evening air. I arrived on a German motorcycle, preoccupied by the smoke trailing from the starboard engine of a relationship that was locked in an irreversible death spiral. Friends thought the atmosphere of a party, with the potential of meeting one or two women (who had yet to get the memo on me), might be the very thing to bring me around.

“Around what?” I asked.

“Around the fact that haven’t been laid in so long that a hooker would need cables to get you jump-started,” was their response.

I declined and opted to go on a motorcycle ride instead. However, I took a set of cables off the garage wall and tucked them in a side bag. There is no point in venturing out the door without considering every possibility. The gentle reader will not be surprised to find out that my route was s series of scenic loops with the party in the geographic center. While not a biker party, many guests did show up on two wheels. The chrome and leather crop was coming in thick, and the Squidabusa representation was fairly strong as well. This only made my K75 stand out all the more. In fact, it stood out like a llama in a herd of racehorses.

But this is part of the BMW mystique.

Every woman at this party was a blond. All had blue eyes. And each one was clairvoyant in that they seemed to sense they would never sleep with me in their lifetime. Not that this was the first question I asked them... but my facial expression lent itself to the “DSBUS” category — Deadly Sperm Build-Up Syndrome — common to death row prisoners and reporters afraid to leave political candidates in the event they may say something noteworthy. I was there for two hours, and I must confess my heart was not in working the room. If there is one thing a BMW rider must be prepared to face, it is rejection by the socially perfect. I was not in the mood for rejection.Yet it is the face of overwhelming adversity that Beemer riders come into their own.

In a distant corner of this party, three school teachers were engaged in conversation that nearly qualified as an oil thread on a riding club list. They were discussing the challenges of teaching the basics of written communication to the vapid youth of today. Specifically, they targeted rogue third-graders who had already learned to text each other for cigarettes and pictures of naked classmates, in a kind of code that used English only for three vowels and six consonants.

“Forgive me,” I said. “But I could’t help overhearing your conversation. I have developed a process that combines the outline and the first draft of a basic composition, in a concept called the ‘Magic 16.’ If a kid can chew gum, breathe, or eat paste out of a jar, than they can write a basic composition in less than a half-hour. “

I cut my teeth as a public relations writer crafting press releases for corporate leaders easily mistaken for cardboard cutouts or dead bodies seeking reanimation. Some of them had the attention span and vision of third graders. I was more than qualified to address this subject. One of these ladies had a mood ring that was set to detect DSBUS, and she slipped away when it turned red and started to beep. Another caught a pass from a guy with a tattoo of a dragon eating a kid. But the remaining one, the prettiest one, was interested in what I had to say. 

I explained that it is necessary to focus a third-grader’s attention, and that nothing works like starting up a chainsaw and carving through the class’s hamster habitat. She asked me to recommend a chainsaw and a source of stuffed hamsters. She noted that my jeans had a lot of seams in them, and I explained they were Kevlar® lined protection for riding a motorcycle. She was fascinated that I rode a BMW for its incredibly reliability, for the occasions when riding all night was required to donate an organ.

“Have you donated an organ?” she asked.

“Not lately,” I replied. “But I am working on it.”

Her name was Kim.

We left the party together but not with the intent of hooking up. Getting into her car, she discovered it was nearly out of gas. The gauge was solidly nailed on “E.” Now  my K75 had a full 5 gallons in the tank, and I had a gas siphon in my top case.

“How far do you have to go?” I asked.

Her response was an astounding 18 miles.

“Can you get gas someplace,” I asked.

She shrugged and said, “Not tonight.”

My first thought was to give her a gallon or two on the spot, but she said, “This happens to me all the time. I’ll be all right.”

“I have a thing about women and empty gas tanks,” I said. “I’l never be able to sleep tonight wondering if you’re stuck on the road someplace. Why not take the gas? You don’t even have to get out of the car.”

“I’m too tired and I don’t want to screw with it,” said Kim. “If you’re really worried then follow me home if you want. It isn’t far.’

I did want. Kim ran along some of the darkest, most desolate roads I’d ever traveled at night. I took a mileage reading as we left the party, and her car began to sputter at 16 miles on the clock. It rolled another 100 yards and stopped. I pulled up alongside her door, to tell her I’d give her the gas, when she said, “I live right up the road and I am exhausted. I’ll just leave my car here, Can you run me up to the house?”

She climbed on behind me and pointed down the road. Her house was less than a mile and half away. “Thanks,” she said, giving me a little squeeze. “Come in.”

Her house was a country cottage, nicely appointed in a homey sort of way. It wasn’t cluttered, despite its compact size, but it definitely had that lived-in look. Kim offered me coffee, or something else. It was after 1am, so I just said, “I’ll have whatever you’re having.”  She poured two glasses of wine, and went upstairs “to change.” The bottle was nearly full, and she set it out next to the glasses. I was suddenly hopeful at the direction this adventure had taken.

She was 42 and well-toned. There was a porch to this cottage and it housed a stationary bike, a road bicycle, and six pairs of running shoes by the door. Each was about a ladies’ size eight. Five different baseball-style caps hung on the wall. Kim wasn’t tanned, but had a subtle skin tone that went with every mood. Most of my moods anyway... certainly the current one. She’d told me earlier that she was divorced and found a lot of the guys she’d met to be on a par with the third graders she taught. From that moment on, I’d aspired to keep things on a fifth grade level. (I’d told her that I’d been married twice before, to cousins of Lucretia Borgia, but neglected to detail my current status, which would lowered by batting average to substandard levels.

The only sour note was the wine. I never developed a taste for it and I sipped mine only as a prelude to watching Kim sip hers. She came down the stairs wearing shorts and tee shirt. She had athletic legs that would keep me from screaming, if they were wrapped around my head. And in her arms was the biggest, fucking Persian cat I have ever seen.

My transformation was almost instantaneous. My face inflated like a life raft and my breath came in short gasps. I have a cat allergy that works like pulling a plastic bag over my head. It would have been far more merciful if Kim had just shot me. Within seconds, my eyes felt like they had sand in them and I started to sneeze.

“Oh my,” said Kim. “What’s happening to you?” She had a look on her face like a woman who’s date turned into a creature as the moon rose.

“The cat,” I wheezed.

A look of understanding flickered in her eyes and she ran back upstairs, presumably to sequester the cat in a bedroom that would be all but radioactive to me. She found me on the porch a minute or so later, rubbing my eyes raw.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I thought you’d like Charlie. How long does this last?

“A couple of hours, if I get into a cat-free environment pronto,” I said.

“I put him in the guest room,” said Kim. But the irony of the situation had her smiling already. Boy meets girl. Boy makes nice unintentional impression on girl. Girl begins to respond, then unleashes highly toxic environment to watch boy turn purple and die. It happens all the time.

Motorcycle riders can have gunshot wounds, knife scars, and prison tattoos. They can have whorehouse clap too.  What they cannot have is a cat allergy. It’s like having Aunt Pitty Pat’s vapors.

“I gotta go,” I wheezed.

“I guess so,” she said, suppressing a laugh.

The instrument cluster glowed with vitality when I turned the key. And in the split second before I thumbed the starter, I heard the motorcycle gods laugh.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012

Who Reads Twisted Roads?

Above: Daniel O’Connor (Washington) doesn’t doubt his BMW F800’s reliability, but he always packs a spare. The bicycle rack is the product of 2x2cycles.com, a company that also manufactures golf bag carriers for Harley riders. O’Connor is an avid cyclist (of the pedal type), who was broadsided by a pickup truck in 2004. While recovering in the hospital, he envisioned a campaign of bumper stickers urging stronger motorcyclist/bicyclist awareness. He makes the bumper stickers available to riders at cost. Note the stickers on the side bag.  Zap his website SeeBicycles.com, to get some.

Above: David Hardgrove (Pennsylvania) of the Mac-Pac Eating and Wrenching Society is pleased to announce his most recent acquisition of Triumph Bonneville. In exquisite blue paint with sinister black engine accents, this Bonneville is a knockout. David Hardgrove was mentioned in my last blog post. In addition to being a by-the-book motorcycle rider, he speaks Dutch fluently. David reads Twisted Roads for the technical riding tips and excellent boudoir advice. 

Above: D.H. Louie Wendland (the South) has been reading Twisted Roads for years. This is his current ride, a 2006 Yamaha FJR 1300. Louie’s put 1,500 miles on it since September. 

Alan Trask (Oregon), also known as RedBeemer, sent us several shots. The first is of his R1150RT. This is the modern version of the whale-oil cooled BMW “R” bike. (There may be one in my future.)

The second shot is of Trask’s 1973 R75/5 “Toaster,” in lime-green. He swears that’s the original paint. This machine is the iconic and timeless BMW bike. 

Above: Alan Trask, AKA RedBeemer.

Are You A Twisted Roads Reader?
Send Us A Picture Of You And Your Bike!

Readers who send in their pictures are eligible for valuable prizes in random monthly drawings. October’s prize is a pip! September’s winner was Harley rider Ben Sharp!
Send your photos to: jack.riepe@gmail.com (Please put “Reader Photos” in the subject line.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Signals From Dick Breed Confusion...

 The fog hung down to the road like a curtain, masking oncoming traffic, the hidden nature of curves, and the sinister Amish countryside. It added significant challenge to the second longest day of my career as a re-entry rider —360 miles. (This was in 2006.) The run was from West Chester, Pennsylvania to Summit Point, West Virginia, where a legendary BMW mechanic (and a member of my riding club, the Mac-Pac) was racing. (I would mention his name but he has threatened to beat the shit out of me if he is ever identified on Twisted Roads.)

My bike was a 1986 BMW K75 (with the rare Sprint fairing), known to my readers as “Blueballs.” I had posted my intention to make this ride and was joined by two highly experienced riders, David Hardgrove and Jim Sterling. Hardgrove mounted a BMW F650 (thumper), while Sterling sported the iconic BMW “R” bike. (Technically speaking, this was an all BMW run, with all three food groups represented, an “F,” a “K,” snd an "R."  This kind of ride is called a F*#K*R.) As the rider with the least experience, none recently in the fog, I was placed in the center of the line. Hardgrove led with his flashers on while Sterling brought up the rear, giving me a demonstration of how a headlight modulator worked. My own four-ways carved a reassuring niche in the mist.

Fog is one of those things that requires a degree of discretion. It can be as dense as Congress in one second as as wispy as lace in another. I closed on the bike ahead of me, and maintained a slower speed when visibility dropped. Even so, there were times when all I saw were orange blurs in the mist. Our route was the old Lincoln Highway (US-30) through Lancaster, PA, which is only one lane in each direction for some stretches. This was only my second experience with riding with multiple bikes, since I’d joined the club. I’d read all the data, however, and maintained my position in the staggered riding formation.

I don’t agree with the general consensus on the staggered riding formation when it comes to a personal preference. It may have been the correct thing to do for the immediate weather conditions, but the late, great moto-safety guru — Larry Grodsky — made a good case for the single-line formation. Horrific motorcycle crashes in recent years, in which groups of bikes went down like kingpins, support his conclusions. But I was very confident that day, mimicking technique from two accomplished riders. And as predicted, the fog broke giving us dry, clear conditions, with near unlimited visibility.

Hardgrove was a “by-the-book” technical rider, who adhered to posted speed limits. As the pupil on this run, I wanted to impress him by following his every direction. So I broke left when he extended his hand left arm and pointed in that direction. Jim Sterling took up his position on the staggered right. Two minutes later, Hardgrove bent his left arm to the right, and I changed position again. Jim Sterling swung back to the left. I could see him shrug in the mirror. Soon thereafter, Hardgrove raised his left arm and waved me forward. I cracked the throttle and cut the distance between our bikes by half. Jim Sterling was right there with me. And then Hardgrove reached back and scratched his ass.

What the hell did that mean?

I decided to just fall back and wait for better instructions. At a gas stop, Hardgrove explained he was just stretching his left arm, although scratching one’s ass means “you get the check for lunch” in BMW riding circles.

Hand signals between riders are generally self-explanatory. Tapping the top of your helmet signifies the proximity of police or a speed trap. Pointing at the gas tank indicates the need to stop for fuel.  Spinning one’s hand in the air usually means “start them up” or “We have to turn around.” Extending the middle finger on one’s hand is the international symbol for “Welcome to New Jersey.”

Yet some signals can be easily misinterpreted by those other than the riders, which may lead to widespread misunderstanding and general misconceptions about BMW bikers. I was participating in a spirited run to a remote part of West Virginia (one of my favorite destinations) with Dick Bregstein and Clyde Jacobs. By “spirited,” I mean insanely fast. We maintained a conga line in which we routinely traded positions, with one or the other taking the lead from time to time.

The legendary “Blueballs” had long since succumbed to a wreck (left-turning car) and I was on “Fire Balls,” a babe magnet of a red K75.

We were charging down a slab that had us in close proximity with herds of cagers (traffic), bunched up as they tend to get. It was in one of these stretches that we were briefly joined by a hot cookie on a Squidabusa. She was in black leather that rivaled Michelle Pfieffer’s costume as Catwoman for raw sensuality on a Japanese street screamer that probably had 7,000 horsepower. Her rear tire was twice as fat as my ass.

So here we were, attempting to squeeze through traffic, like toothpaste escaping the tube, with a hot tamale in our midst, when Bregstein indicated to Clyde that he had to take a piss. The signal for this was to aggressively point to his groin, moving the pointing hand up and down to suggest urgency. Clyde responded by pointing at the sign to a rest area, and nodding in exaggerated biker fashion.

This communication was noted by the occupants of five cars, who looked on with open-mouthed shock. They saw some guy point to his dick and another rider take the bait. A Volvo on my left was piloted by two blue-haired ladies, undoubtedly on their way to the LeBrea tar pits for a final dip. After the performance by Clyde and Dick, they looked at me with critical appraisal.

I didn’t hesitate. I pointed at the ass of the beauty on the bike in front of me, and nodded  my head vigorously. I then twisted the throttle wide open and went straight, when Dick and Clyde pulled off. Two miles down the road, the beauty saw me on her tail. She must have been confused about her location, as she welcomed me to New Jersey and took off.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012
All Rights Reserved

Thank You For Your Patience...
My new book is crawling through production and will ship shortly. This has been one hell of a summer. 

The prenumbered, advanced order list will cut off September 17, 2012. This weekend is your last chance to pre-order a hand-numbered, autographed, inscribed book. For details, click here.

Who Reads Twisted Roads?

Above: I got a nice note from Bud Meade trumpeting the benefits of the BMW “R” bike. He wrote, “You will notice that I ride a ‘real’ Beemer, one that has two cylinders and they stick out on the sides. Somehow, some other kinds of Beemers have hit the streets that certainly are an abomination and disgrace for the Knights of the Roundel. Is nothing sacred?”

Above: Bud Meade. Well, Bud... The new “R” bikes are out and they have a liquid-cooled engine now, and the liquid is no longer whale oil. That’s all I have to say. 

Above: Dan McKenzie. Dan (Minnesota) sent me a great picture of his rig on a run through the great American west. He wrote: “Here is a shot of me, Dan Mckenzie, a faithful Twisted Roads reader. I ride a BMW F800ST. This is from last months trip to Bear Tooth Pass, in Montana.

Hot Flash From A Twisted Roads Reader:

Above: Last week we posted a picture of Bob Leong (Canada) and his Vstrom 650. The word on the street is that Bob is planning a run from the west coast to Maine and he just bought a “Beemer” to pull it off. He wrote: “I am now the proud owner of a real BMW, not one of those fake ‘K’ models. It has ABS, traction control, computer, factory alarm, engine guards, bar risers, side cases, cheese-maker, heated towel rack, sock presser, and zeppelin mooring cleat. It also came with a two-year supply of whale oil. The whole package was $5 (USD) more than the best house in my neighborhood. Did I get screwed?" 

Above: See what happens when you drink the Kool-Aid, Bob? Bought any accessories yet? Here’s a technical hint: bring your checkbook and be prepared to write a few chapters. There should be a full account on Bob’s blog Wet Coast Scooting.

Are You A Twisted Roads Reader? 
Send Us A Picture Of You And Your Bike!

Readers who send in their pictures are eligible for valuable prizes in random monthly drawings. October’s prize is a pip! September’s winner was Harley rider Ben Sharp!
Send your photos to: jack.riepe@gmail.com (Please put “Reader Photos” in the subject line.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Three Things Every Biker Should Know Before Spending The Night In A Cathouse

All back roads look alike to me after a day in the saddle. The charm of the small farm, the lure of the bucolic stream, and the spell of the remote valley all begin to blur as the pain in my joints and the numbness of my butt make themselves known. (I have had the pain in my knees extend all the way to my teeth.) The whine of the BMW K75 starts to remind me of dialogues I’ve had with former wives, and calling it a day becomes pressing.

My perfect end-of-the-day destination is a 1950’s-style motel, where you can park the bike 7 feet from the door of your room; where the most important amenity is an air conditioner (the size of a harpsichord); where the television gets at least one good weather station; where a comforting country tavern is on the far side of the parking lot.

At the end of the day, I want a nice clean bed, in a decent room, where the temperature is zero degrees (Kelvin). I want a hot shower, a clean towel, and a sweat-free body for at least ten hours after the ride. I never worry about crawly things living in the motel closet. After I hang my riding gear in there ( and close the door), nothing could remain alive.

But man does not live by air-conditioned motel rooms alone. There is the question of sustenance. A country diner, where the cook is a somebody’s mother, is hard to beat. To enjoy the meal, however, means washing away the accumulated salt (from sweat), fumage (from trucks), insect residue (self explanatory), sintered horse shit (Amish country), and whatever else is in the atmosphere. So if the country diner is a few miles away, it means putting on the riding jacket from hell again, as well as the helmet that smells like mice have been nesting in it. Worse is trying to get my ass back on the saddle. It’s as if the seat and my butt have become magnetized and the polarity of each prevents them from touching. This is why my first preference is for a 1950’s style motel, with a bar at the far end of the parking lot. I love a good saloon with an interesting bar menu.

I had been more than six hours in the saddle on this particular run, a weekend in 2006, riding solo through a range of mountains that once played host to four-star hotels and a classy clientele. But those days turned to smoke in the mid-1960’s. The big hotels went into a death spiral and the small motels clung to a hellish survival depending on hunters, fisherman, foliage watchers, and bikers riding through the area. Each of these seasonal categories of guest accounted for minimal revenue. The few remaining open 1950’s-style hotels that meet my criteria are in bad shape.

The K75’s gas light came on for the second time that day and the pain in my knees was such that I just wanted off the bike. I felt like I had one more dismount in me. The gas light was designed with a Teutonic commitment to dealing with the bad news far in advance. I still had 90 miles left in reserve and I opted to take the first motel that came into view. I’d worry about gas the next day. The motel loomed on the left and I dropped a gear to take it in.

This place had originally been a mini-resort, offering motel rooms and cabins around a pool. A clothes line and trash cans indicated one cabin was occupied as a residence while the others were in tumbledown condition. The pool was filled with pea soup. It’s algae-stained sides leeched a greenish tint into water flavored by leaves, bugs, cigarette butts, and the detritus of summers past. But the 20-room motel unit seemed open. The structure had that down-at-the-heels look made popular by the “Bates Motel” in the Hitchcock movie classic “Psycho.” It sagged with the tired look of a property that was beyond the false hope of new paint. At parking lot level was a covered porch dry rotted in places. Yet there were chairs and tables on it that showed current use. There were a handful of cars in the parking lot though the buzzing neon sign said neither “open” nor “no vacancy. Painted on the sign was the faded enticement, “Color TV in Every Room.”

What appealed to me most about this place was the adjoining saloon.

The gin mill had a cabin look to it and an incongruous Japanese name. Two square windows, illuminated by neon beer signs, flanked a screen door that was at odds with its hinges. It was a cabin in the front with clapboarding on the sides, and a commercial vent  that spewed a delightful aroma of French fries and broiled steak. A battered sign proclaimed live music and dancers. This was the Riviera as far as I was concerned, and I banked left into a parking lot that was about 20 percent asphalt and 70 percent cinders.

The office was a converted guest room in the strategic center of the place. Faded decals of accepted credit cards colored a yellowed glass pane in the door, under a hanging sign that said “No Smoking.” The first thing that hit me when I opened the door was the unmistakable aroma of cigarettes. The desk clerk was an affable example of local inbreeding who seemed surprised that I had stopped. I explained that I was passing through the area and that my needs were basic. He advised me that the place was almost fully booked and got very noisy on the weekends, as the party invariably spilled over from the bar into the motel.

“Fully booked,” I thought. “This place is a shit hole.” It was then I noticed that the room keys were hanging on a peg board, where each room had a number, and the name of a flower. Number twelve, “Rose,” was marked as “available.”

The clerk advised me there was another place 40 miles up the road, next to a MacDonald’s and a gas station, that might be more to my liking. But I had a growing urge for a rum and Coke, so I told him I’d take “Rose.” He handed me a towel, a tiny bar of soap, and my key.

There was so much movement in the lock on the room’s door that the key was a mere formality. I pulled the bags off the bike and stepped in a hotel room that was a time capsule for worn out and dated artifacts of cheap living. The curtains were filmy, and may have been a rust tint or colored by cigarette smoke. The bedspread was threadbare and the headboard was tufted vinyl. There was one lamp in the room and television was unplugged. The air conditioner hung in the window and looked like a diesel model from the Soviet Union. I switched it to “max” and the compressor lumbered into life. It was louder than my bike.

The bathroom door was closed. I opened it and discovered two things in the tub: an inch of water and a huge fucking snake. I took a step backward, pulling the door shut like it was a hatch on a submarine. I’d left the room door ajar and it swung open to reveal the second surprise of the day:  a woman in her mid-twenties, wearing a form-defining “Danskin” and leg warmers. Her deep red hair was in a pony tail.

“Excuse me,” she said. “I thought this room was empty and I left my snake in the bathroom.”

She was the “headline” entertainer for the bar that night and the snake, whose name was “Leonard,” was an essential part of the act. She was warming up for the night’s performance while Leonard was cooling down. Her name was Angela. Not every bathroom had a working shower and another dancer was using hers. Leonard’s part in the show required him to move a bit more slowly than he would in normally swallowing a pig, or something, and this entailed cooling him off in the tub.

“Don’t give it a second thought,” I said, noting that this dancer oozed sensuality. “Does Leonard have a key to this room?”

“No silly,” laughed Angela. “Where would he carry it? He has no pockets.” 

She retrieved the snake and walked out wearing it like a fashion statement. My knowledge of snake dancers was limited at that point, though I was reasonably certain there were no rats in the bathroom. My shower was little more than a lukewarm trickle but I didn’t give a damn. This ride was already going to be one of my better ones. Wearing a stench-free change of clothes, I headed over to the bar at dusk.

The joint was jumping. The beer was cold. The steak wasn’t bad. The music was loud. And the dancers were steamy. Some actually knew a few dance moves but there was no need to be picky. I had dinner sitting at the bar. The barmaid was thin, blond, and pretty in a sassy way. And there was something else about her that I found absolutely riveting — she had an accent like mine.

“What part of Hudson County are you from?” I asked.

“Who said I was from Hudson County?” she replied.

“That accent.”

“It lies,” she said.

“It’s the same as mine,” I said.

“Where are you from?” she asked.

“Paris... 13th Arrondissement... France.”

“See,” she said. “We’re almost neighbors.”

The main event came on around 9pm, when Angela took the stage. She sashayed out in a flesh-toned Danskin that was far more erotic than if she’d been naked. Her pony tail had turned into a crimson cascade of swinging flame. Leonard seemed to take it all in stride, his head moving from side-to-side, with that tongue flicking in a sinister way. I would have traded places with the snake in a second. At one point, he looped around her waist, with his head emerging between her legs.

“I can do that,” I said to the guy drinking next to me.”

“Yeah, but the snake wouldn’t look nearly so good on you.”

The two of us laughed like hell.

The leg warmers were part of her costume. It never ceases to amaze me how a woman can wear more to help a man imagine what she looks like wearing less. The leg warmers drew your eyes to her calves, which were sculpted.

This was my kind of joint. There were other bikers, hot rodders, barflies, local color, and a few skin-headed guys that could only be off-duty cops circulating through the bar. There were also a number of very good looking women in this place too. They kept leaving with guys periodically. That’s when it dawned on me this beat-up motel was getting it’s last hurrah as a cathouse. Many of the women in this place were hookers.

“Do you have gumbo on the menu?” I asked the barmaid, whose name was Melanie.

“Nope. Why?”

“Because New Orleans has nothing on this place.” 

“Not everything is on the menu,” she said.

It was close to midnight when I staggered back to my room.  Music, voices, laughter, and a curious pounding reverberated through the old motel’s walls. I slept the sleep of the rum-soaked damned, until about 4am, when an insistent knocking at the door dragged me into consciousness. A charming brunette from room #11, named Ivy, wanted to know if I had any extra condoms. (She thought I was Rose.) I had one in my wallet. It was my lucky Trojan from high school, with it’s foil packet intact. At 5am, Angela knocked, and asked if she could leave Leonard in my tub for a while.

What could I say? She was standing there in her underwear and leg warmers, holding this frigging serpent. I told her “okay,” as long as the bathroom door was closed.

I was again disturbed at 6am by a drunk looking for “Rose.” She was the love of his life and he wanted to marry her. He was taken aback by my presence, and did not buy my story that Rose wasn’t there. Finally, I told him she was hiding in the bathroom. I shoved him into the tiny room and held the door shut on my side, listening to his screams. It got quiet after a bit and I assumed he either passed out or got swallowed.

I wrapped up in the threadbare blanket and dozed off again to the rhythmic jackhammer beat of the air conditioner. Angela woke me 4 hours later to reclaim her snake. I told her it had a new friend. The problem was that the friend had passed out on the floor in there, preventing us from opening the door. We could only get the door to budge a few inches, and I suggested she just call the snake through the opening.

“It’s a snake, not a Labrador retriever,” she said.

We ended up leaving the door open as far as we could get it. I switched off the air conditioning and left the room’s door open as well. My thought was that a higher temperature might set the snake to exploring. Angela invited me to breakfast with the ladies. They had a kind of buffet brunch on the porch.

There were six of them, plus Angela. There is a certain reality in this profession that comes to the surface at dawn, or what passes for the dawn of midmorning. Each was pretty in their own way, and each had an edge to them. Three were wearing robes. Two were in jeans and tee shirts. One was in boxer shorts and a work-out bra. They all looked tired. Brunch was bagels, cream cheese, donuts, eggs, bacon, biscuits, coffee and orange juice. I picked up the coffee and went to pour myself some, then realized three of the ladies had empty cups. I filled theirs first.

I wanted nothing more than to join them, to hear their stories of the night before, and to discover what it was they’d talk about among themselves. But I was an outsider and a man. My interest in their stories would be from the wrong perspective. I opted to go, carrying my coffee back to the room. The snake had left the bathroom and was poking among my side bags. “Angela,” I yelled. “Leonard is looking for you.”

The snake moved around my gear with slow purpose. The damn thing was about ten feet long and had that malevolent look so common among predatory reptiles and divorce lawyers. But Angela wasn’t afraid of it, and she was little slip of a thing. Snakes move in coils. One minute the majority of them is in one place, and then suddenly, most of them is in another. Leonard was taking an interest in my boots and was almost on them, when I yelled:

“Angela... Get in here and get this damn snake.”

Her voice came from the doorway, as smooth as silk;

“That’s not Leonard.”

I moved backward in a reflex action that carried the table and the lamp next to the bed, landing on the floor, at the feet of the dancer.

“Just kidding,” she said, looking down at me with a smile.

I wondered if the snake was a metaphor for sin, or bad intentions, or even just temptation. Angela was sultry, and I wondered if she was just a dancer or something else. It is impossible for a man to look at a woman like Angela and not see something of a snake in himself. Yet she’d held the snake in her hands, molding it around her, bending it to her purpose.

She  picked up Leonard; handling him with respect and affection; with confidence from experience. I wondered how broad that experience was. She left and I went about packing my gear. Banging the door into the corpse on the bathroom floor got a grunt. Some days a grunt is as good as a pulse and I had no regrets about leaving him.

“I’m taking Rose with me,” I said to the semi-conscious form.

“Rose,” he muttered.

The fuel warning light came on as soon as I turned the key, but the bike started up as if the gas situation was a rumor. The weather looked good, and I was sorry it wasn’t raining. That would have given me the excuse to spend another night. I wanted to begin this blog, “There are three things every biker should know before spending the night in a cathouse...” But I really don’t know what they are.

Who Reads Twisted Roads?

Above: Bob Leong (Bob Scoot) of Wet Coast Skooting on his classic V-Strom. This was taken at Riding Lolo Pass, Idaho last year when Bob met up with Domingo Chang in Montana.  

Above: Bob spent so much money equipping this bike that he could only afford one boot. Actually, he was cutting up rough in a Canadian neighborhood known for its tough characters, when a miniature poodle, named Francoise L’Eclaire, ran out and ripped his right boot to shreds. Bob sent us two pictures so we would know the first one wasn’t a fluke. This was taken in Baker City, Oregon.


Above: Derek Sadko reads Twisted Roads, not only for its technical content but for its redeeming social value as well. Sadko relies on the BMW GS for its ability to navigate boulevards, bogs, and lava flows with elan and panache. Here is waiting for the ferry at Hudson, Quebec.

Above: A native of Canada, Derek is an advocate of the two language system. The two languages he advocates are Gaelic and Sanskrit, however.   Here he is on the ferry at Quebec, Hudson.

Above: Morgan Frechie loves Italian style and wanted her first motorcycle to be a bit different from the other metric bikes. She got a paper route, babysat kids that other baby-sitters detested, and did pre-campaign analysis for a major political party. Now she’s the only kid in seventh grade to ride an MV Agusta Tamborini. She reads Twisted Roads for her daily horoscope and for make-up tips.

Are you a Twisted Roads reader? Send in a picture of you and your bike! Readers who send in Pictures are eligible for drawings for valuable prizes. We like Harleys, BMWs, Kawasakis, Suzukis, Ducatis, Moto Guzzis, Yamahas, Triumphs, Vincents, Aprilla’s, Vespa’s and Vintage. Void where prohibited. Drawings are random.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Best Ever Motorcycle Pick-Up Line?

Oldie But Goodie... This first ran on Twisted Roads 4 years ago.

There was a time when I didn't own a BMW K75, or any bike, as money was tight... But I still wanted to enjoy the benefits of riding — like hot women. This story is from that time. It also ran four years ago on Twisted Roads. I found it tonight and it made me laugh again. 

Middle-age creeps up on a man like a bad hangover. In your 20’s, it’s a rumor. In your 30’s, it’s like the land you think you can see when staring at the ocean’s horizon. But it begins to make its presence known in your 40’s. You don’t look as good in jeans as you used to, and your hairline may start to recede as your gut begins a definite downward droop. And even if you work out and play tennis, jog or pole vault, certain unmistakable signs give your age away.

I know a guy who does everything but pack himself in nitrogen every night in a futile effort to keep his stud appeal. He had a handlebar mustache like a moose’s antlers. It gave his face a distinctive character. And while he’s managed to stay fairly thin and keep a respectable head of hair, his signature mustache turned snowy white when he hit 56.

“I had to shave it off,” he said to me, crying into a low carb, invisible calorie, no-taste beer one night. “I tried everything. Shoe polish... Grecian Formula... Dye... Everything looked stupid. And without coloring it, I looked like Captain Kangeroo. No matter what I used, it would leave black marks all over the lips, neck, and bodies of cooperative, passionate women. They’d laugh in my face and kick me out.”

Since shaving off his mustache, however, he’s cut out the middle man. Without that distinctive mustache, women now laugh in his face and leave without him.

This guy — and a lot of others — make the mistake of trying to appear sexy and youthful by clinging onto props that can only weather and wither. They get tattoos, earrings, fake tan dips, and hair implants. And for what? They still look like scarecrows or fatties trying to be high school football stars. I have discovered the best approach to looking sexy and virtually immortal is to be identified with a symbol that is timeless: like a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

The Harley is timeless. Once the icon of lawless nomads, it has come to signify enduring youth with an undeniable sense of individualism and coolness. Nothing sounds like a Harley, and nothing generates the throbbing, pulsating power of sexual rhythm (if you catch my drift) like a Harley Davidson motorcycle. The main problem with Harley Davidsons is that they don’t give them away.  Those who sell Harleys understand they are selling Milwaukee Iron manhood extenders and price them accordingly. Induction into the club requires more than a little jack.

Successful middle-aged men occasionally have this jack to spare. Since I collected wives in my youth, the only jack I have is under the bumper of a rusting truck in the driveway. And yet I have developed a strategy that puts the Harly Davidson magic to work for me.

In the far reaches of Pennsylvania, there is a gentleman's establishment that attracts a certain class of exotic woman. (The type who under normal circumstances wouldn’t look at me twice. One, because I have that middle-aged beaten look; and two, because I am a middle-aged beaten man.) I put on my best pair of stressed jeans (accented with an oil stain and a few threadbare patches), tuck them into a pair of biker boots, and throw on a weathered leather jacket. I carry a Viking helmet (horns and all) under my arm and head out to this particular watering hole.

If you get there at just the right time, the crowd is inside and the bikes are largely unattended outside. I just stand around next to an unusual-looking one. Sooner or later, a passing hot tamale assumes the Harley is mine and makes a comment, which is generally an invitation to get to know her better. When the bar closes six hours later and the bikes have all left, I claim my Harley was stolen and we head over to my place to commiserate.

Last week, things took a different turn. The lady in question was as hot as lava from the source. Tanned, long blonde hair, and eyes the color of conspiracy, she asked, “That your Harley?”

“Yeah,” I said, looking away with staged indifference, thinking “Wow!”

“Does it throb?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Does it pulsate?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Do ya wanna make me throb and pulsate?”

“Yeah,” I stammered. “In about six hours, when this joint closes. Let's go in and figure out the route we should take.”

“Know what?” she asked. “You’re not gonna take me for a ride on this throbbing, pulsating, manhood extender.”

“Well maybe not right away,” I stuttered... “If you’d like to come inside for a while, however...”

“Know why?"

I suspected the punch line was going to feel like a kick in the balls.

"Because this Harley is mine,” she said. And in an instant, she was on it and revving it to a prehistoric growl.

“Wanna ride on my Harley?” she shouted over the roar.

It’s still the best pickup line I have ever heard.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2004

Who Reads Twisted Roads!

This story was brought to you tonight by a special Twisted Roads sponsor, Esther Sharp of Upstate New York, whose husband Ben is celebrating his birthday this week.

 Happy Birthday Ben Sharp!
First Twisted Roads 
Reader Picture Drawing Winner

Above: Ben Sharp -- Ben and Esther Sharp have had a love affair with Harley's spanning 31 years. Their stable includes a 1981 Sportster, a 1982 Low Rider,  and a 1999 Ultra Classic. They recently took a run through Nova Scotia and attended a wedding in neighboring Vermont on two of  these classic bikes. "To hell with pillion," said Esther. "The Sportster is mine." (I had a delightful conversation with Esther, to tell her that Ben was the first winner of the "Reader's Picture Drawing," on Twisted Roads, and has won a signed, hand-numbered copy of "Conversations With A Motorcycle," compliments of Shango Rider, the premier purveyor of Gerbings Heated Gear. Shango Rider is the sponsor who makes this blog possible month after month.

Diana Stover — Lady Rides -A-Lot — graced us with a shot of her newly acquired 2004 Harley Davidson Fat Boy. This is one slick ride. That backdrop suggests the Blue Ridge Parkway to me. Lady "R," as she is known in certain literary circles, published a blog called "Glider Rider."

Above: Reader participation is a fickle thing. You ask folks for pictures and they send nothing... Or they send three. Christopher Ross, of Texas, send us three dramatic action shots entailing fine-looking German motorcycles, otherwise known as BMW's. Ross used a distinctive K1200 for running about town, and picked up a wife one day. Luckily, he was dressed for the occasion. This K1200 was flattened by a soccer mom who backed over it thinking the "screaming obstruction sensors" in the van were wrong.

Above: This "RT" which Ross vowed never to sell as it was a great two-up bike, was sold to pave the way for a K1200RS. Now that he's married, who needs a two-up bike?

Above: "The Ross" sold this F650GS Dakar for an R1200GS Adventure, with a better defroster. 

Where Are The Pictures Of The Yamaha's, 
Honda's, Suzukis, And Ducati's?

Do you read Twisted Roads? Send us a picture of you and your bike! Readers who send in pictures are eligible for drawings for cool stuff. Once a month, a winner is selected at random.
Send your photo to: jack.riepe@gmail.com. Mark it: "Who Reads Twisted Roads" in the subject line.  

Got a great motorcycle pick-up line? Send in the best biker pick-up line you ever delivered or caught... And send it with your picture.  Pictures of hot women receive no extra consideration.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Three Pigs...

The decision to leave the three women sunning themselves by the side of the pool while we took the bikes through the back roads of rural Pennsylvania (June 1975) was an easy one to make, as they were the ones who made it. Each of the ladies, ranging in age from 19 to 21, looked like an ad for French fried derriere, as they stretched out in a buffet line of feminine perfection. They were equipped with books, magazines, baby oil, lotion, fruity rum drinks and sunglasses, ready to tackle the challenges of laying motionless in pursuit of the seamless tan.

We had a more aggressive agenda. Our host, Stitches, had uncovered a map dating to the 1860’s and thought it would be cool to locate some of the original roads that ran through the valleys surrounding the upper Delaware River. Obscure roads reveal the  character of a place through the architecture and artifacts that mark the lives of those who choose the anonymity of the path less beaten. By comparing the old map with a new one, we established that two or three of these old byways were now major thoroughfares connecting communities that not only survived the test of time, but thrived. Yet some roads disappeared entirely, as did the communities they once served.

One of these was a settlement marked “Landjager.” Landjager looked promising to five Hessian families fleeing the endless pleasures of life under Landgrave Frederick II of Hesse-Kasse, whose primary occupation was supplying mercenaries to the British Crown. (If he were alive today, Frederick II would be supplying lobbyists to the special interests trade.) These Hessian deserters were people of long-term vision. They realized that a tavern and a cider press would be very profitable when a road came through. The dirt road followed 125 years after the tavern went broke. The legacy of the place was alleged to be a few tumbledown foundations on the old Landjager-Oberst Road.

We decided to follow the most obscure roads we could find in search of Landjager, always heading away from familiar or popular destinations. Our goal was to discover the most run-down saloon or backwoods tavern, with the last bottles from failed distilleries still on the top shelf. My pal Stitches led on a Ducati 860 GT, accompanied by Fast Freddie on a Norton Commando, followed by myself on a Kawasaki H2. The first road was a nicely paved two-lane thoroughfare with a double yellow line. Fast Freddie referred to it as the “yellow double-dare” line. This led to a paved road that was about a lane and a half-wide, that had received less tar and more cow dung in the past year.

There were dairy farms along this road that went from highly manicured picture postcard bovine spas to  far more casual cow flophouses. There were once gracious country houses that needed paint, then some that yearned for clapboarding, and others that craved both, plus roofing.  I cautiously banked down a gravel road, following the other two riders. The first two houses we passed were long since abandoned, with saplings sprouting from the porches. We went by a small house that had a car parked next to it, but the barn roof had collapsed. Many of these places had ponds, some with tumbledown docks no longer connected to shore, and others choked by weeds. The house had collapsed on one old farm and it was obvious someone was living in the barn. There were four rusting Studebaker Larks parked outside, in addition to the hulking remains of an old fire truck.

Landjager-Oberst Road was barely the width of the tractor that had last traversed it, judging by the tire tracks. Even the gravel was spotty and overgrown with weeds. It seemed the perfect hide-out for Hessians on the lam, though it may have had an alternate charm in the 1770’s.

“You’d have to be pretty desperate for a drink of cider to find your way in here,” said Stitches, who’d paused for the refreshing gasp of a cigarette. “Maybe the tavern had live entertainment in the way of women.”

We speculated for a bit on the charms of Hessian women, and decided they were somewhere on a scale between the wives of Sparta and Amish pole dancers. If there were any standing ruins dating back to a Hessian enclave, we didn’t see them. There was evidence of someone carving out an existence from the land, however, as a tumbledown post and rail fence began to make a half-hearted appearance along the sides of the road.

The fence yielded to a traditional stone wall in spots and then to mad tangles of hedgerows. The right-of-way was less than 8 feet wide in some places, giving the impressions we’d turned down a private lane. The hardwoods were dense and tall, with branches arching overhead. It was here, at the narrowest part of the road that we discovered three large pigs rooting in the duff.

There is something about finding a pig going about its private business on a public road that brings peals of laughter to city punks on motorcycles. The fact there were three pigs only intensified the situation.

“It looks like the Hessians left the ladies behind,” said Fast Freddie. “There appears to be one for each of us.”

“This is the kind of menage a trois that calls for barbecue sauce,” said Stitches.

“Are pigs vicious?” I asked. “Can we squeeze by?”

Stitches snicked the Ducati into gear and tapped the horn. Freddie followed suit. The pigs snorted and squealed, then turned tail and started down the lane. We pursued them, jazzing the motors and hitting our horns. This was hysterical. And then we came upon a crumbling house with a broken gate on the lane. The pigs charged through the gate, climbed the steps to the porch, and bumped the front door. It opened, and the pigs went inside.

We were laughing to the point of speechlessness, and Stitches yelled after them, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff... And I’ll blow your house down.”

Then we took off, finding our way back to the ladies about three hours later. They were tanned, hot and pissed, demanding we take them out for dinner. And that is very nearly the end of this tale. Fifteen years later, I was a public relations practitioner working on a local land issue in Pennsylvania. Stitches and his family extended to me the exalted status of an invitation to hunt deer on their land (almost never given to anyone outside the family). They even hired a guide for me. The guide knew his stuff, and with ten minutes left to go on opening day, I shot a 6-point buck. My first.

I was elated. The guide knew tons about the behavior of White Tail deer. I asked him where he lived and if he raised animals.

“I live about 30 miles away on Landjager-Oberst Road,” he said. “I just have cattle now, but I used to raise pigs. Those pigs could escape from any enclosure I built for them. I came home one day and they were in the house. They crapped in every room.”

Who Reads Twisted Roads? 
 Who's really in charge on this iconic BMW "R" Bike?

Above: Richard Barnhart of Texas with his favorite pillion rider, grandaughter Trinity, on a beautiful black R1100RT.  Trinity tells him when to shift, and when the steam pressure is low. I wrote a perfectly clean blog tonight so Trinity could read this and show it to her friends. It nearly killed me.

From The Man Who Has Everything...

Ken Johnson of Pensylvania balks at doing his own work on the heavily armored BMW GS in the foreground. "The complexity  of today's motorcycles call for skills not always at hand for the average man," said Johnson. He is resting his hand on a flawless Glassair III, that he built himself, from scratch, in 1995. The aircraft is capable of speeds of 400 miles per hour. Johnson made headlines and raised eyebrows by flying the aircraft around the world. He has also taken the GS up to Prudhoe Bay. Johnson has offered a flight to Twisted Roads editor Jack Riepe, as soon as he completes his next project, which is rumored to be a zeppelin.

Top Dog from Top Gun Riding School Snatches Quote For Rally Shirt....

Skip Harrison, the top dog from the Top Gun Biker School in Louisiana, shows off his special commemorative BMW MOA rally shirt from Sedalia. The shirt proudly display's a failed slogan for the Sedalia rally: "Come for the onions!" Harrison heard Twisted Roads Publisher Jack Riepe respond to the question, "Why are you coming to Sedalia," with the answer, "For the onions," and had two shirts made. (The onions are actually grown in Vidalia, Georgia. Riepe got something wrong. Imagine that.) Harrison had a shirt made for Riepe, which is now being used as the outfield tarp for Yankee Stadium.  When Riepe last spoke with Harrison, Skip and his family was gearing up for Hurricane Isaac, which swept through the area 7 years to the day of Hurricane Katrina. Let us know how your doing, Skip!

Got a picture of you and your bike?
Send it in. Readers who contribute pictures are eligible for special drawings for valuable prizes. Tonight we got three Beemer Riders. Twisted Roads is not Beemer centric. Where are the Harley riders and the guys on the Hondas, Kawasakis, Suzukis and Yamahas? Guys who send in pictures of their hot girlfriends, wearing next to nothing, on equally hot motorcycles, receive no special consideration for prizes. It just works out that way. Void where prohibited. (Who would prohibit a hot woman on a hot motorcycle?)

Next episode: The Special Tour Cape May County Story... Monday Night: September 3, 2012. Lots of "Never seen before pictures!" And one that has been around.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012