Monday, October 11, 2010

Breakfast In The Boonies

How many people do you know who can argue with themselves and lose? That’s exactly how Sunday started out for me. I’ll get to that in time, but first want to say that I was delighted when I got home late Saturday afternoon to find an email from Ron Ye asking if I was interested in a Sunday ride.

For those of you who haven’t met Ron, he’s the guy who bought a BMW Boxer that had chipmunks living in it. When he took it on its maiden voyage the chipmunk nest, which was nestled lovingly under the gas tank, burst into flames. Fortunately Ron and the bike survived, because besides being a nice guy who doesn’t deserve incineration Ron’s a very good rider who swears he knows his way around the back roads of Pennsylvania.

My cat, Henrietta, protecting my bike from chipmunks
Yesterday he was put to the test. With the authority vested in me by The Halt and Lame Riders Guild of Southeastern Pennsylvania, I crowned Ron Sunday’s Ride Leader for a breakfast run to Jennie’s Diner, in East Lampeter Township. That’s the place that has pancakes the size of Jack Riepe’s ass.

Riepe, the erstwhile author of Twisted Roads, was not going to join us. Someone who doesn’t eat pancakes had just taken major bites out of his ass, and Jack was attempting to recover while learning to sit in a chair without leaning. This is a move he had long since perfected on his BMW K75 motorcycle.


As Sunday morning rolled around, I woke up to darkness and I too rolled around to get a peek at the clock on the cable box. It read 5:30am.

“That’s too early for a man to attempt to function unless he’s going fishing, hunting, or has an assignation with a sexy woman of means,” I thought. Not qualifying for any of the three, I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Ron and I had agreed to meet at the Wawa on Route 30, opposite the Wegman’s shopping center, at precisely 8am. I posted the ride to the Mac-Pac email list with the 8 o’clock meeting time.

Morpheus, Phanasos, and Iris
(courtesy of Wikipedia)
As Morpheus once again slapped his greasy hands over my eyes, I thought “I can grab another hour of sleep before I have to get ready to ride.” (Noto Bene to Jack Riepe:  Morpheus is the god of dreams, not a gay Greek lover).
The alarm went off at 7:00am. I jumped up,  mumbled, “Oh Shit, get your greasy hands off of my eyes. I’m running late!”

I ran to the kitchen, turned on the coffee pot, fed the cats, and drank some coffee. I brushed my teeth, got dressed and headed for the garage. I did this all very quietly, because Jane, the mother of my children who has put up with my crap for 42 years, was still asleep. She worked until 9:00pm Saturday night, and was due back hawking cosmetics by 10am. Waking her up early is like simultaneously stepping barefoot into hive of Killer Bees and a nest of Fire Ants. Ever since our helpful government banned DDT, there’s no good way to do it.

As the garage door went up I could feel cooler-than-usual air. “Hmmm,” I wondered, “Should I put the liner in my vented jacket?” My Field Sheer vented jacket has a warm, windproof and supposedly waterproof liner that makes it at least good for three seasons.

This time of year it’s difficult to know how to dress for a motorcycle ride. Sometimes it’s cool in the morning and cooler in the afternoon, and sometimes it’s not. I decided to check the weather.

About a week ago I downloaded an “app” (application for the Apple uninitiated) to my iPhone that gives me an instant five-day weather forecast at the push of a button. I also have a Weather Channel app and another one that gives me weather maps, 10-day and hourly forecasts and can be set to send alerts to warn of Tsunamis, Meteorites, and approaching visiting relatives.

My iPhone said the temperature was in the low 50s and it would hit the low 70s. That was clearly enough information upon which to base a valid executive decision, so I decided not to put the liner in my jacket. Besides, hooking up the zippers and little “snappy” tabs is a royal pain in the ass, and I was running a little late. I'm pretty lazy before 9am, so any excuse not to do something is valid.

As many of us have learned, executive decisions are not always the best.

As I pulled out of the driveway, I could feel the cold air make my eyes tear and blow through my jacket, swirling around my chest, tickling the hair in my arm pits, and numbing my back. I started singing a refrain from That Ol’Black Magic….”icy fingers running down my spine, that same old witchcraft when you’re teary eyes meet mine.” 

Luckily that’s all I could remember of the song, and my helmet singing ended as I pulled into the driveway at the Wawa at 8:03am. The four riders who had already arrived will never know what they missed. Maybe I’ll sing for them at the Christmas Party.

As I pulled up to a gas pump to top off my tank, I noticed that we were riding with the noteworthy: Ron Ye, Leader Extraordinary and Chipmunk Master, Ken Bruce, who makes “The Long Way ‘Round” look like child’s play, Renaissance Man, Doug Raymond, whose personal adventures would make Tolstoy’s War and Peace seem like a cheap dime novel, and John Fleischer, who admittedly had never ridden with The Mac-Pac before, and wondered why. We promised John that before the day ended he would understand how well providence had protected him in the past.

By 8:35am we were on the road following Ron to Jennie’s Diner, so we thought!

Since it was Sunday, we had anticipated coming upon Amish buggies shuttling the devout to their Sunday meetings. There were some of these hard-working rustic folks on the road. We also thought most of the Amish watching sightseers would not be on the road, because the Amish markets and shops are closed on the Sabbath.

What we didn’t anticipate was the Speed-Limit Drivers of America regularly scheduled Rally along our path.

Normally one can ride safely through the farm country at 50 to 70 mph or more, even though the speed limit may be 45. Motorcycle riders can be slowed by road conditions, such as gravel after a rain storm (we had a lot of this last week), road apples (horse shit – there’s always a lot of that – on and off Pennsylvania roads), or real apples, Osage orange tree droppings, pine needles, slippery leaves, Pennsylvania pot holes, dead branches, dead possums, dead foxes, dead cats, and the dreaded deer living or dead.

Amish Mule Power
Today we were slowed by folks out for a Sunday drive in the country to watch cows and mules, browning corn stalks and farmers cutting grass. But still it was a pleasant ride through very pretty country.

What became painfully evident to me was that I should have put “the fucking liner” in my vented jacket. Because, now twenty minutes into the trip, my hands were numb, my chest was frozen, and my nipples were as hard as a career politician’s heart and twice as cold. I hoped I remembered to pack a wind shirt.

In another twenty minutes we were pulling into the crowded parking lot at Jennie’s Diner. My frozen mind was playing tricks on me, so all I could think of was wrapping my numb fingers around a hot cup of coffee, and probably spilling a little on the front of my shirt.

We parked the bikes and began the disrobing ritual: First the gloves, then the helmet, then the sun glasses, then the jacket. Now open a saddle bag and take all of the junk out of the jacket pockets and put it into a lockable saddle bag. Then lock the helmet and jacket to the bike. Don’t forget to take the key!

While I was doing this, Ken walked over to the diner to get us a table. Two minutes later, we arrived and were greeting by two lines of at least twenty people waiting to get inside to be seated. Five hungry riders made a quick decision to move on and find a place where we could get into the eating mode a lot faster. Jennie’s Diner is small; we figured the wait would be up to an hour, and we didn't want to waste this beautiful day standing in a line for breakfast.

I found the wind shirt in my saddle bag and put it on. It’s amazing how much more comfortable motorcycle riding is with pliable nipples. I didn’t mind that Ron led us to what seemed like Canada and back to find a place to eat. The truth is I can probably live off of my own stored body fat for five or six weeks, and the ride through Lancaster County was delightful.

It wasn’t long before we ended a circuitous route in the parking lot of Hershey Farm Restaurant and Inn, in Ronks, PA. As we again dismounted our motorcycles and stowed our gear, I could hear a loud speaker on the building summoning the hungry to their tables, “Ahmadinejad party of 12. Pelosi, party of one. Obama, party while you can, Baby.”

“Looks pretty touristy,” I thought to myself, “but we’re all hungry. How bad can it be? And if I say anything, the other four guys will probably beat the crap out of me and set my bike on fire.”

Wisely, I chose to suffer in silence.

There was no suffering. The truth is it was pretty darn good. The restaurant serves a buffet breakfast with good French toast, corned beef hash, hash browns, scrambled eggs, waffles, biscuits, all kinds of wholesome berry toppings, and there’s a cool guy slinging outstanding omelets. There’s very little missing on this breakfast buffet, and the food is of good quality. The hostess who seated us and the waitress who took our drink orders and cleared our deceased dinner plates were delightfully pleasant, and the price was right – just a couple of bucks more than the buffet at your typical greasy-spoon diner.

I can’t remember which roads we traveled to return home, because my attention was focused on our surroundings. We passed a few buggies and weren’t held up by gawking tourists more than once or twice. We got do some gawking ourselves. At one point we rode by two Amish women on foot-powered scooters rolling down the shoulder of the road with their hair, bonnets and dresses flowing in the breeze. It's a sight I will long remember as a symbol of this ride. There were lots of horse-drawn buggies and carts and animals in the fields, and the air was filled with the fresh, healthy smell of rural America

With the smell of early Fall in the air, we covered some very pretty country with full bellies and broad smiles. It was a good day to be on two wheels with a fun group of riding buddies.

Doug Raymond, a Living Adventure
Ken Bruce who really wanted to ford a stream
Racoon fur embedded in Doug's tire
Two of those guys, Doug and Ken have been cross country and to Alaska on their bikes, and all four, Ron, John, Doug, and Ken, of have years of riding experience on me.

I am warmed by that wonderful feeling of being accepted as a part of riding group of highly experienced bikers who never once tried to kill me or burn my bike. I know Riepe’s thinking, “There’ll be a next time.”

Post Script: Sorry there aren't more pictures, but my camera crapped out right after I shot the photos of Doug and Ken. Not saying that's a cause and effect; you decide!


  1. Dear Dick:

    Well it seems you hgad a nice run with a great bunch of guys. I'm sorry I had to miss it, but the truth is that I am experiencing more trouble than anticipated wioth my right knee... And I would have taken the straightest route to the diner. Ron Yee is a great rider and I am delighted you guysgot some backroads Amish time in.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • Reep • toad
    Twisted Roads

  2. Nice story - those thin nylon pullovers do an amazing job blocking the wind.

  3. Dear Jack:
    You were missed. Hope you get your knees, hips, and ass in gear for the next time.

  4. Woody:
    I usually keep a "golf" wind shirt in my side case for those cool summer evenings sitting around the campfire at the Marriott. It really paid off this time. I was damned cold on the ride out. Once I put the shell on it provided just the right amount of wind protection without any bulk.

  5. Dick,
    This is the first time I've ever gotten this message when visiting a blog...

    Content Warning

    The blog that you are about to view may contain content only suitable for adults. In general, Google does not review nor do we endorse the content of this or any blog. For more information about our content policies, please visit the Blogger Terms of Service

    How come I haven't gotten this when I vist Jack's blog...he says Fuck a shitload more times than you!

    BTW...great ride report.


  6. Dear Pole Dancer:
    I took the Content Warning sign off of the blog, because I found it annoying. I hate fucking pop-ups. Just be sure not to let the kids look at the pictures of naked women and well-hung men. Don't you look either -- unless you just can't help yourself. Our weather is sucky today, and I'm waiting for my new tires. Even with ABS the thought of riding on a layer of wet leaves with balding tires has me visualizing disaster. Thanks for the kind comment.

  7. BMW-Dick, just catching up with your archived postings.....what an enjoyable article about the vagaries of changing weather and paying for one's decisions....

    "It’s amazing how much more comfortable motorcycle riding is with pliable nipples."

    Now that is good writing!


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner