Columns July 2020

       The Cloisters – A Paisano Party In Pennsylvania Dutch Country

These days the Ephrata First Sunday meet is held at the Ephrata American Legion Post #429 where they will serve you a hearty breakfast before you hit the road home. The Legion has sponsored the March through November event since 1999. The Ephrata American Legion Post is located at 300 Cocalico Street, Ephrata PA 17522. As of this writing (5/30), the first First Sunday Meet of 2020 will be held on June 7th and continue every month through the riding season.

            This story from the Way Back Time Machine rekindles fond memories of my RD350 Rider Days (which you can find on Tumblr). It was on the way to this meet in the late ’70s that I saw my first MV Agusta 750 America – a motorcycle I had only seen in magazines, but had dreamed about many times as a teenager after reading about the winningest Grand Prix rider of all time – Giacomo Agostini.

“Going to the cloisters” may connote a lifetime of seclusion for some, but to southeastern Pennsylvania riders it means the first Sunday of the month is already here. The Cloisters Restaurant is pretty plain looking from the front, but out back, in the large parking lot, is where the action takes place. For over forty years it has been an early morning gathering spot located at the western edge of Ephrata a medium-sized hamlet in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

     Originally a Ducati meet, with an occasional Moto Guzzi by invitation only, it expanded in the ’80s to include Japanese sport bikes and in the ’90s to the cruiser crowd. A couple of hundred riders faithfully crash the paisano party for the six to eight monthly opportunities that East Coast weather allows. In the beginning, it was a way for high brow Ducatisti to show off their exotica back when owning a Ducati was a real commitment and actually meant something special. Dealers were few and far between and spare parts were just something someone heard about one time despite being less than a hundred miles from Philadelphia where there was a Ducati importer. This was back before anyone in the States had ever heard the name Ferracci and a young Jimmy Adamo had just met Ducati (in the US) racing pioneer Reno Leoni (you youngsters will have to Google that one).

The restaurant is named after the Seventh Day Baptist Cloisters, founded in the 1730s by Conrad Beissel. Just across the street, the Cloisters is a historic landmark and looks like the setting of a college campus. It is said to be the earliest communal society in the United States. Located between Lancaster (tourist capital of the world) and Reading (outlet capital of the world) on US Route 222, Ephrata (EFF-rat-a) is a Mayberry-like borough (you youngsters may have to Google that too)  with a downtown shopping district along a main street lined with churches and grand old homes. It’s place where your bank teller is human, they haven’t heard of Ma Bell (it’s the Denver/Ephrata Phone Company), the post office lobby is open 24 hours a day without vandalism, and traffic still yields to pedestrians in crosswalks and buggies in the streets.

  The road through town, US Route 322 is known as the “28th Division Highway” and is the only continuous southeast to northwest route in the Keystone State. It covers almost 500 miles as it cuts across the Allegheny Mountains linking Philadelphia with Harrisburg (the state capital) and State College (home of Penn State) before it runs west just shy of Lade Erie, but it’s not this route they gather for. It’s the local roads that attract the riders. Like PA 897 as it winds through Amish farmland or PA 501 as it goes up and over Blue Mountain.  If you want to ride with any of the regulars that strafe the roads you’d better be there early because they are there by sunrise and the parking lot’s empty by 10:00 a.m.

If the good food at good prices breakfast isn’t enough, you can stop at any of the numerous family style eateries that the area is famous for. Good ‘N Plenty (Smoketown), Miller’s Smorgasbord (Lancaster), Blue Mountain Family Restaurant (Shartlesville), and Zinn’s Diner (Adamstorn) will all fill you up with home cooking until you plead for mercy. Try the Shoo Fly Pie or Tapioca Ball Pudding for dessert. This is also the area of the state with the curious town names like Intercourse and Bird-In- Hand. Ask if you dare.

         Watch out for the horse and buggies that cover the roadways and what they leave behind, especially on Sabbath Day. The Amish that populate the area don’t meet in in churches, but instead they gather at a different neighbor’s home each Sunday to observe their Old Order doctrines that require living without modern conveniences such as electricity and internal combustion engines. All their farming is done by hand or with horses and mules. Their close relatives, the Mennonites, are a bit more up to date with automobiles (that must be painted black including all the chrome) and tractors. Or as a fellow rider says, “They’re sort of like the Amish, but they have cable”.

Bob

Killer On The Road

By: Biker Billy

Cruising this past Sunday along one of my favorite mountain roads, I spent a few dozen miles behind a driver straight out of a B-grade slasher movie. I never saw the driver’s face, not even a glimpse in the mirror, but I am sure the eyes would have burned with the red glow of demonic possession. While the driver occasionally waved an arm out the window as if conducting a doomsday orchestra, the passenger seemed fixed in the seat as if by rigor mortis. They were piloting an older model imported pickup, in a faded color that spoke of many seasons of neglect and nary a touch of wax.

The truck sat high on a lifted suspension—struts and springs the powdery red of rust, or maybe the weary red of Carolina clay, or, more sinisterly, the dull red of dried blood. It was shod with oversized tires that are good neither in deep muck nor on pavement, but simply have “the look.” It was, in a word: a cliché. A low-budget wannabe monster truck, and riding in its wake you could smell the burning oil of a small motor long since whipped to within an inch of its maximum service life. The more I review the mental image of that truck going up the road, the happier I am not to have seen the faces of its occupants; I don’t need the nightmares, thank you very much. Yet this truck, parked anywhere in the country, would have blended into the landscape. It was a visual cliché because pickups like this are ubiquitous in real-country America. It was the driving style that made it stand out and scream Danger, Beware! Reckless would be too kind a description. But let me step back a moment and tell you about this road we were on.

It drapes across a mountain in rural Madison County, North Carolina, running through a national forest. Not as twisty as the famed “Tail of the Dragon,” it comes close enough to draw many a motorcycle on any Sunday. It differs from the Dragon in having a good amount of elevation change along with the sharp, often-blind turns. There is no shoulder and only a few places with a 1930’s-era guardrail and scenic pullouts. It is a narrow, winding ribbon of road that requires constant attention; you don’t really want to lose focus looking at the pretty mountains . . . unless they’re the last thing you wish to see in this life. The time I spent behind this truck was on the ascent and most of our blind turns were towards the right. Even when you could see through a turn into the next turn or momentary piece of straightaway, you never saw more than a couple hundred feet of road ahead.

I have traveled this road many times with many different vehicles; the ascents are much easier to navigate at the speed limit and even a bit beyond a lawful pace. Certainly this day, following this truck at a distance that kept it just in sight, we never reached speeds that were at all challenging. I kept it in sight for two reasons; first, my utter amazement at the cornering technique, and second, the same morbid fascination that makes people watch disaster videos. Actually, I should have said “lack of cornering technique,” since this driver was doing the double-devil-damnedest to make a straight line out of this twisty mountain road. The tighter the turn, the more the truck straddled the double yellow line—sometimes barely keeping a wheel on its own side, even in blind right-hand turns. Thank God in heaven that nobody was coming the other way during this wanton demonstration of murderous driving technique. Just when I had thought that they couldn’t do anything crazier, they went straight where the road makes a blind right-hand hairpin turn. The driver never touched the brakes—just shot straight off the road. I did not hear a crash so I can only assume that there was an unmarked road between the trees. Now, I have seen people wander in their lane, drift across the lines, and run wide from excessive speed or inattention. This was none of that. It was someone driving on both sides as if it were a one-way road. Knowing that stretch as well as I do, it was clear to me that anyone coming the other way was a potential crash victim; even at sub-limit speeds there would have been no avoiding a head-on collision. The most sobering thought was that there are several places where rough edges force a rider to choose a line through the center of those blind turns, and any rider doing that would meet a killer on the road.  As the world reopens from the pandemic lockdown, remember some folks still think they have the road all to themselves.

Painful Pesto

3 tablespoons dried basil

3 tablespoons boiling water

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons pine nuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese

1 pound tri-color fusilli pasta, cooked to al dente according to package directions, drained, and kept warm

  1. Combine the basil and boiling water in a small heatproof bowl, stir well, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, just until it begins to color, about 1 minute.  Add the crushed red pepper, white pepper, salt, pistachios, and pine nuts and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Reduce the heat to low, add the basil and its soaking liquid, stir well, and simmer for 2 minutes.  Add the cheeses, stir well, and remove from the heat.
  3. Pour over the hot pasta, toss well to cover with the sauce, and serve immediately.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Column copyright Bill Hufnagle 2020.  Recipe reprinted with permission from “BIKER BILLY’S HOG WILD ON A HARLEY COOKBOOK”, published by Harvard Common Press, Boston copyright Bill Hufnagle 2003.

EAT HOT & RIDE SAFE

Bill Hufnagle
Biker Billy

Mobile:       (828) 658-8130
E-Mail:      bikerbilly@bikerbilly.com
Snail mail:     Biker Billy Cooks With Fire
P.O. Box 1
Weaverville, NC 28787

Independent Spirit

By: Stevie Lynne

Things are…different. That seems to be the understatement of 2020. Especially when discussing the COVID-19 pandemic. Those conversations tend to involve a more thorough description with a sprinkling of expletives not suitable for print here. Frustrations over some of the safety requirements are certainly understandable. To me, it seems the restrictions we’ve had to follow have not only had a negative impact on the livelihood of so many, but tend to stifle human nature itself. Take masks for example. While they may help to limit the spread of the virus, the inability to see and share smiles with others is really starting to wear on me. I miss hugs, and although I enjoy riding on my own, I’m looking forward to the day when bigger group rides and in-person gatherings are possible. One of the joys of riding that I’m most drawn to is the feeling of freedom. On the bike, I’m not too fat, thin, rich, poor, old, or young. I’m just me, living in that moment, free from being categorized and judged.

I think most riders are attracted to not only that sense of freedom, but the actual freedom to move about and travel at will. The lockdown and social distancing have cramped that style and led to the cancellation of many events. I was stunned and saddened to hear Gettysburg Bike Week had been called off for 2020. A favorite rally in the Mid-Atlantic Region, it’s traditionally held over the weekend following Independence Day.

It offers the usual attractions of a motorcycle event, meeting others who love to ride, games, music, and vendors.  In addition the town is of course full of history, restaurants with fantastic food, and the surrounding areas provide gorgeous views to ride through. Another unique aspect in Gettysburg, the residents seem to enjoy the event as much as the bikers. I’ve always felt welcome, and discovered that the Saturday evening parade of motorcycles through downtown is yearly entertainment for a lot of the locals.

Luckily, the pandemic restrictions are easing in Pennsylvania and it appears the spirit of freedom can’t be cancelled. From what I understand through word of mouth as well as online communication, most people who were planning to attend bike week are still going. This is news that lifts my spirit more than I could’ve imagined. There are businesses like restaurants, campgrounds, and hotels that are reopening and need the patronage. After all, safety precautions are nothing new to motorcyclists. They’re considered in how we ride, the way we maintain our bikes, and what types of gear we choose to wear. I’m confident everyone is capable to make their own choices about what is safe for them regarding the virus too. So while things might be…different in that there is no “official” event scheduled, I have a feeling Gettysburg is still going to be full of fun the second weekend in July. Be safe, and Happy Independence Day!
Stevie Lynne

Helmets What Are They Really for?

By Geoff Uyehara

The Stars and Stripe helmet, what it means and how helmets represent what you are trying to say is often a topic of conversation.  Easy Rider Captain America wore his stars and stripe helmet, and is now an important symbol in cycle, pop culture and beyond.  Symbols like that are really in the news now. Riding with a USA stars and stripe helmet is vogue, but what really are people trying to say with their helmet? I am American. I belong here. I suppose it could be a Marylander helmet or a Godzilla representation if you are a sci-fi fan. I’ve got a flat black helmet and an old deep candy red one, and both are full-face. My first one was a full gold metal flake with a big reflective rosette on the back. I’ve had white ones, and black, and full and three quarter.

The No Helmet statement says something too, to be un-bound and unfettered from societal pressure.  Freedom to wear your helmet or to be your hair-style or lack thereof self is up to us, unless there is a law requiring some kind of head covering to protect the public. With the group or in it is often how it’s put. I’m not sure if Captain America would have the same panache if he had on some other stripes or stars on his helmet, I don’t know if he would have been looking for America as he did in the movie, maybe something else.

I’ve owned helmets for pillion riders too. I lost one extra rider helmet after hitting a really big bump in the road. I went back to find it but could not. I tried again much later and found it floating in a creek.  I bought a new second helmet. I used to carry a passenger helmet in the days of free hitch hiking. One hitch hiker passenger in a miniskirt said I was crazy as she climbed aboard. I’m not sure who was crazier.

Goggles and eye protection, are they required? Helmets are they necessary? I’m glad I have a windshield on my cycle because some bugs will try your smile. I was once pulled over in Arizona for not having eye protection on, but was given a how do you do and be on your way because I had rimless glasses on. Helmet bubble guards and straight face shields can really be great, but like helmet style are up to the rider to choose. A buddy said he could feel the gravel slicing up his bubble shield in a road field exercise. My dorm mate said his dad the plastic surgeon said no bike with/out a full face helmet with chin guard.

What does it mean if your face shield is yellow? Half helmets, Nazi helmets, US Army Kevlar helmets, even fashion skid plates say something. What-ever the helmet style you have it’s right out in front for everybody to see and make their call on and to either learn from or have some other emotion about.

Helmet or no helmet a statement has been made. Blue, black, USA stripes, and all sorts of crazy scary helmets and gear are out there to buy and or make (I made a Marvin the Martian helmet for Halloween) are great as long as only you are the one suffering for your taste. My divers Ed teacher said long ago, if you cause the other driver to slow down unnecessarily then u made a mistake. My next helmet will be great as long as I wear it. I would like to buy a Captain America stars and stripe helmet someday.  For the fourth of July and every day, USA flags of all sorts and shapes and sizes should be displayed, on your helmet, in your yard, and all sorts of places that you can imagine if you want it to be there and every-where else you might want to show it.

Happy Fourth of July!! 

Lifestyle

By Eva Kineva

            On a crisp February day, I was riding my newly purchased 2018 Street Bob with a 107 down the freeway towards my destination. I felt the vibration of the bike between my legs and the feeling of wind rushing through my Simpson Helmet. Within minutes of that feeling of adrenaline and peace, I was bucked off my bike at 80mph. I had been hit and now I am sliding on my hands and toes. I continually blacked out and woke up to a sharp pain in my left wrist causing me to flip on my back. My pants were shredding underneath me as I continued to slide into a boulder and finally landing in the median. My eyes slowly began to adjust as I lay in rubble and thick grass. I could smell blood and suddenly feel the sharp pain coming from my right ankle. People were shouting around me as a man with a buzzed haircut and formally dressed leaned over to me, asking if I was aware of what just happened. My first response that came out of my lips was “I’m not done riding!”. I could hear others shouting that I was going to die due to no cell reception in the area. All I could think of was those people could leave me alone because I was going to live.

The ambulance arrived an hour later, and all of my clothes were torn apart. I had a theory that if I ever went down, I wanted to be dressed appropriately underneath all my gear, Victoria Secret style. I had to laugh at the thought of my theory coming true with a sigh of relief that I wasn’t caught in granny panties. In the process of my gear being destroyed, I lost all my personal information. Upon arrival to the hospital, I was considered a Jane Doe. Yet within four hours of arrival, I was being released with bandages and no answers to why I had a swollen ankle or a damaged hamstring. The hospital released me with a new earned nickname of Eva Kineva as the ER doctor told me, they thought for sure I was going to be dead within hours of arrival.

Within a couple days of my accident, I was back in the saddle as a passenger of a bike ripping down the freeway at 90mph to my first motorcycle club event. My ankle throbbed in my heeled boot as I had yet to discover my ankle was broken. My own bike was in repairs, so I knew I had to forfeit to riding passenger for at least a few weeks. Fast forward three weeks later, I had my bike back restored from frame up and I was back to riding on my own. My bike had additional new features including a set of T bars, mag wheels, Two Brothers exhaust and air intake and a dyno tuner. All upgraded parts to improve the power and look of the bike. My broken ankle was finally diagnosed but since I could walk and ride on it, no need for surgery. So, in my heeled boots, in one year, I had put on over twenty thousand miles on my bike. Working full time and a single mom of two young girls, I still found time to ride throughout the state of California.

In April 2019, I decided to take my first long trip to Arizona for Arizona Bike Week. With a friend by my side we ventured out meeting obstacles and characters along the way. Word of advice remember to keep your tank filled as my friend ran out of gas at the border of Arizona. As two girls sitting alone on the border with no cell service, the first opportunity of help was from a solo male rider on his way to Arizona Bike Week. He stopped to help with advice on using a syphon for gas. The advice was good advice apart from the fact, that he had barely enough gas to make it to the next gas station. With no further assistance, the man rode off, once again leaving us stranded on the side of the freeway. An hour later a second opportunity was a man with a trailer who approached and offered for her bike to be trailered to a gas station. Immediately, I knew to take pictures of his trailer and him, as my gut was telling me that he may not to be trusted. Under the hot sun and sitting on the edge of the highway, we were running out of choices. Ultimately, the decision was made with her bike to be loaded into the trailer. Once her bike was loaded up, I told him to meet me at a gas station a mile and a half up the highway. He initially refused and said he would take her and her bike another 50 miles up the road because the gas station “was not his next stop”. I had only 40 miles left on my tank and told him outright, that if he did not take her to the next gas stop that I would continue to hunt him down until he pulled off. He recognized in that moment that I was not playing around, so he did exactly what I had asked. At the gas station, he responded that as a small blonde, I was the most intimidating woman he had ever met. So, I thanked him with a sandwich, and we moved on.

My trip home from Arizona was not without characters as well. At the end of the trip, I am independently riding from Phoenix, AZ to Sacramento, CA. My friend decided to stay behind with another group of riders, and I had no choice but to be at work the following Monday. I had a goal to complete the trip in twelve hours, tank to tank and exactly what the GPS had described. As I’m riding in the desert, I begin to pick up my speed and just fly, well above the speed limit. As I’m “smashing” along, I look at my tank and see that I have only 20 miles left before I needed gas in the vast desert. I pull off the freeway and check to find that only 10 miles up was the next gas station. I knew if I paced myself, I’d hopefully make it to the gas station. With my speed limit set at 70 mph (the highway speeds), I passed a cop hiding in a ditch with his radar gun in the middle of the desert. Luck was on my side as I had made it to the gas station without running out of gas and no ticket. Twelve hours later, I met my goal of riding home, exhausted from the mental games of lane splitting, wind and traffic. Yet, I had enough energy to turn around and ride another two hours to complete my 1000-mile challenge in under 24 hours. Reflecting, I was impressed with myself that I could ride the deserts of Arizona alone or with a couple of girls as company. Overall, this specific trip provided me with a new sense of confidence for my passion in riding.

Eva

Writing About Riding

By Jack Applebaum

This might fall into the category of “If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand”, yet I’ve seen many authors in this magazine (and others) do a masterful job of relating their riding experiences in print.  While the true, full experience is probably not conveyed to the reader, enough of the experience is relayed to inspire and motivate.  That’s why we do what we do.  Many of us just want others to join us and experience the freedom that comes from shedding a ton of steel/aluminum/plastic (whatever cars are made out of these days) and opening ourselves up to being really “out there” on the road.

Out of necessity, my first two forms of personal transportation were motorcycles.  After that, the first two cars that I owned were lemons (enough said there with no surprise that I prefer motorcycles).  Prior to that, I had worked in cities where I depended upon public transportation or my own two feet.  I easily went through a pair of sneakers in a year, and I was also in very good shape.  At first, I was using my bike to get to where I needed to go.  Then, I started using it to go where I wanted.  Then, I graduated to using a motorcycle to “just go” in the spirit of “it’s not the destination; it’s the journey”.  As a side note, I also stayed in pretty good shape when I only had a bike.  It was likely the lemons/cars (and the trucks, and more cars, etc.) along with my aging that softened me up.

On a motorcycle, you can only carry so much stuff.  You have to (get to?) leave stuff behind.  Riding is then, for me, a positive twist to the old adage of “you can’t take it with you”.  I’m thankful for the blessings in this life, and I’m looking forward to leaving them behind when I head towards greater things.  In a very real and present sense, I just let my supervisor know that I intend to retire at the end of this year.  I’m satisfied with what I’m leaving behind, while I look forward to the greater things to come (perhaps, you can relate).

The experience of being a believer in Jesus Christ is similar to the above.  We can talk about it and write about it.  However, the real benefits and blessings are in experiencing it firsthand.  To be free of sin and the things that burden us is at the heart of what God offers for us.  Those who have experienced Christ are often enthusiastic to share Him with others.  That’s why we do what we do.  Just as my motorcycle got me to the point of being urged to “just go”, so does God tell me to go and tell others.  As churches begin to open up again, I would urge you to “go” and listen to what is being conveyed.  You might have a burden lifted off of you as well.

In His Service,  Jack