Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sons of Agony

If you like Motorcycles and appreciate the “brotherhood” syndrome that delivers a sense of belonging to the emotionally disenfranchised, you may enjoy the TV series, Sons of Anarchy. Currently it can be seen on the FX Channel and on DVD and Blueray. I’m sure those with a larceny gene in their DNA or a teenager living at home can also find it in pirated files on the Internet.

The Series is pretty much like a soap opera about an International Motorcycle Gang that deals guns, rides noisy hogs, maims and kills adversaries, and loves its family and friends. It’s rated M for Mature, N for Nudity, L for Language, O for Offensive, B for Boring, and SS for Silly Shit.

Jane, my “life partner” of nearly 43 years,  is addicted to re-runs of game shows and to “Chick Flicks” on LLC (Lesbian Ladies Channel) about women who beat their husbands to death for the insurance money. She suggested that I DVD the show. Her exact words were, “then you can watch that inane crap when I’m not around.” I’ve recorded the series on Fios, and I think I haven’t missed an inane episode.

I know some you reading this might welcome spousal absenteeism as an opportunity to surf porn on the internet. Not me. When I'm not reading the Good Book I use that time to catch up on Sons of Anarchy and blood sport shows where a couple of guys with no body fat and Brussels Sprouts for ears beat the crap out each other. It’s a “guy thing.”

Watching a motorcycle show about guns, drugs, violence, and half-naked women got me thinking about starting a motorcycle gang. I could do nicely without the guns, drugs and violence, but the thought of riding with a gang that has it’s own colors, patches, and sexy women who are property of the club and whose only mission is to satisfy sexual whims of the “brotherhood” is appealing as long as Jane doesn’t find out.

As with any new project, I needed a working name. The Sons of Anarchy is called, “SAMCRO” in the series. I think that stands for “Sons of Anarchy Motor Cycle Riders Organization.”

I decided to call my motorcycle gang, “SAMECRAP.” In keeping with the current politically botched and intellectually absurd thrust toward clean energy, it stands for “Sons of Agony Motorized and Electric Cycle Riders Organization.” I'm trying to get Al Gore to be a founding member.

I settled on “Sons of Agony” when I considered who I would get to join the gang. When thinking about the people with whom I usually ride, the first person who came to mind was Riepe, whose picture is prominently displayed next to the word "agony" in the dictionary. Jack has major arthritis in his hips, knees, and back and endures incredible physical pain when he rides his motorcycle. Those of us who ride with him are in agony, too. For us it’s more mental and emotional than physical,  but we have learned to endure that hardship for the joy of consistently sticking him with the breakfast check.

To round out the membership I started thinking about others with whom I’ve ridden recently. The last trip, on Saturday, November 13th, was with four other guys, all members of  The Mac-Pac. Just to put things in perspective, the group of five riders has a total of three prostate glands, a series of operations, cardiac caths,  and travels with its own riding Cardiologist. Each, rider has at least one infirmity, so “Sons of Agony” is an appropriate name for the gang.

Riepe, the Grand PooBah of pains in the ass, was out of town for the weekend. Yet, we still honored him by meeting at 8:30am at his usual rallying point, Starbucks, on Route 30, in Exton PA.

Gerry Cavanaugh, who rides a BMW R1150GS capable of fording streams, jumping over piles of fallen timber, and climbing rock cliffs, took responsibility for planning the trip. We all arrived on time (Noto Bene, Riepe) at Starbucks.

The Military Police are known for their authoritarian stance and decisiveness. In another life, Gerry was an MP, so we expected that he would have the trip mapped out to the most annoying, minute detail. When he arrived, map in hand, he announced that we could go to Jennie’s Diner in the Lancaster area for breakfast, or to Chesapeake City, Maryland, or up Route 501 to Pine Grove, PA. It was then that we learned the motto emblazoned on the Cavanaugh Family Crest, “Humilitas per Iudicium,” loosely translates as “Indecision Is Mine to Administer To Those Foolish Enough To Put Me In Charge.”

Peter Frechie, our Cardiologist buddy, riding his spirited, 38-year-old, 1975 BMW R90S, suggested that breakfast at Jennie’s was too loaded with carbs and cholesterol for our band of broken brothers. He announced that he wasn’t hungry and wanted to forego breakfast for perhaps a late brunch or early lunch and get in some good riding before the roads got clogged like the arteries of those foolish enough to eat bacon.

Jay Scales, who had ridden his oil- and air-cooled 2009 BMW R1200RT from Allentown in just above freezing weather with his heated jacket liner ablaze grimaced and ran into Starbucks for a hot cup of coffee and to make an early morning dew deposit.

Ron Ye, riding his “Chipmunk Special," arrived with his jacket open and wearing a thin pair of leather gloves. Ron, who works with experimental drugs, wears surgical gloves under his leather ones to keep the heat in. Some suspect that he eats fiery Szchuean food before riding on cool days. Riepe told me that he doesn’t care what Ron wears or eats; he just wants some of Ron’s experimental drugs.

I arrived on my BMW R1100R which had been fitted with new Conti Attack tires and new front brake pads just this week, at The Rubber Chicken Racing Garage, in Yardley, PA. I was wearing my heated Gerbing jacket liner and gloves, and I had remembered to plug them into the bike. Tom Cutter, the irrepressible motorcycle legend who owns, runs, and does all the work at The Rubber Chicken Racing Garage told me that plugging in electrics makes them work better. Tom is always right; ask him.

With the temperature just near 40 degrees, I did not have to turn the heat on. The Gerbing gloves are well insulated and keep my hands warm in 40-degree weather. My Gerbing jacket liner worn under a leather jacket does a good job until speed or wind chill are factored in. Then a twist of the controller dial surrounds me in memories of prenatal warmth – if I remember to plug in the controller.

Within minutes Gerry had us on the road headed for someplace West and possibly North. With Gerry in the lead, we hit the Route 30 Bypass and ended up in a line of traffic that refused to climb above the speed limit. It got even more challenging when we hit every traffic light between the end of the bypass and Gap, PA, where we traveled West on Route 741. The objective was to take 741 to 896 and then Route 30 to 501 North.. For a while it seemed that even snails move faster during their mating season than we were going.

After riding for about an hour, we stopped for breakfast at a Pennsylvania Dutch diner. There was something familiar about our waitress, but we couldn’t put a finger on it. Gerry swore it was her smile.

(Photos Courtesy of Peter Frechie, which is why there's no picture of him)
Our waitress looking frighteningly familiar
 Gerry hid his bacon under the eggs
Ron's eggs needed more Chili Oil

Jay got Ron's uncooled Chili Oil 

Doesn't this look like a puppy with a bloody nose?
By the time we finished breakfast, the temperature was approaching 60 degrees, so we shed layers of clothing and prepared to head North. Peter suggested that we take Route 501 to Route 125, and it turned out to be a great suggestion once we got past Lititz and the Lancaster Airport area.

As we headed North, we got ahead of the traffic, and the road opened up as we passed through some beautiful scenic areas with rolling hills, green farmland, and forests painted in all the exquisite colors of Fall. I wanted to take pictures of everything I saw, but I was having too much fun riding the bike to stop.

Pennsylvania Woods Behind My House

As we reached the stop sign at the intersection of 501 and 125, Peter asked, "Have you ever been on125?"

None of us had. He smiled, snapped the visor shut on his helmet and took off with the four of us in hot pursuit. It was splendid ride.

Eventually we found our way to Route 81 and 72 and 322, and at about 3:00pm I pulled into my driveway with a big-assed smile on my face and more than 200 additional miles on my new tires as the sun was disappearing over the trees.

Gerry Cavanaugh called to make sure I made it home, and he told me he had spoken with all of the others who were home safe, sound, and smiling.

When  I booted up my computer to check email , there was one from Peter to all of us.  It read,

“It was a great day;  thanks for joining me on a much needed day off.
"Nothing else I would have rather done.”

Me too, Peter, me too.