After finishing a one hundred mile event, which I rarely do, I’m filled with a sense of ill-being. Whatever mental ability I have falls overboard after ninety miles and I finish on instinct: an arrow-programmed robot.
After my last triple digit run I found myself sitting in the doorway of my van trying to add up my score, thinking I had a good chance at Low-Score Finisher. After adding for a long, long time I realized it was impossible to lose 12,225 points. I was walking over to Jack Rainey’s van for some mathematical help before I remembered I’d forgotten to take off one of my boots.
This didn’t surprise me a whole lot because after one 100 miler I drove home and two hours later, I almost disemboweled my van looking for my helmet before I realized I hadn’t taken it off yet.
Jack was talking to a young bearded fellow. He looked familiar, but I couldn’t have dragged his name out of my rattled brain with a backhoe. While Jack was silent I said to the fellow, “Haven’t seen you for a while, aaahhh…”
“Two weeks ago, Ed,” he said.
Two weeks ago was the Beehive Enduro where I had a severe skill lapse that turned my speedometer into an ashtray and broke off the left handlebar. Actually, I “threw the motorcycle away,” a quaint phrase used by road racers but not exactly the maneuver I had in mind at the times. When the dust settled, the bike had my good leg pinned and it felt as if the toe of my boot was four teeth around the countershaft sprocket. I lay there in need of either a front-end loader or an entrenching tool when a 500 thumper stopped. The rider reached down, put a grab on my back tire, and lifted the bike high enough for me to grunt my leg out. I never saw who he was because I’d impacted under a reasonably thick blueberry bush which, from the bottom, looked like a bunch of little hock shop signs.
I rode on to the fuel stop sitting on the broken off handlebar with the clutch lever, which worked just fine, almost in my hip pocket. As I topped my tank the same 500 thumper, which were becoming rare, and this one had a sucking intake valve, stopped behind my back and the guy asked if I had any trouble at the sandy turn near the 30 mile mark. Half over my shoulder, as I couldn’t take my eyes off my 15 cent funnel or it would overflow, I told him I was taking a nap and my motorcycle had, somehow, fallen off its sidestand onto my leg.
He left laughing and I had the feeling he didn’t believe me.
There was a local rider at the gas stop, a wannabe who will probably spectate more events before jumping in with both feet. He was wearing a full-coverage helmet with a linebacker cage over the opening and a duct tape sunshade across the top. I asked him for directions back to the start line to get my bleeding leg treated by the cute lady fire department nurse who smokes small cigars and likes to tell dirty jokes as she slathers either antiseptic or high test gasoline on gravel rash.
The wannabe gave me so many left and right turns that I ran out of gas tank surface to write on with my felt tip pen.
I decided to just head south and turn left at the Mason-Dixon Line, which I can identify by the dialect change, and look for signs of civilization.
My definition of civilization is anyplace they sell bagged ice.
“Aaahhh, were you at the gas stop two weeks ago?” I asked.
“Nope,” he said and asked how I was handling my fried-egg sandwich and malted milk ball habit. This fellow certainly knew me alright, but my mind was just too far down the drain to give me his name.
“Say, aaahhh, were you asking me for my phone number last month?”
“Why no, Ed but we talked a bit the week before the Fourth of July.”
Still I couldn’t place this fellow, a week before the Fourth was the Ridge Riders enduro way up in north Jersey where the people talk funny and give directions starting with Turnpike exit 3.
Just then Ken Lather drove up in my old slant-six Dodge van. We loaded my Yamaha IT and I drove us back to where the first-aid folks were parked.
I didn’t let Kenny drive because he had probably been driving it in second gear all morning and used a half tank of gas.
My Dodge no longer has the “H” shift pattern. It’s advanced up the alphabet to an “R” pattern with the Safety Reverse feature.
You have to stop, turn the engine off, get out, reach into the front grill and slide the shift linkage into reverse. Since the van has no rear windows this is a good time to look and make sure no Volkswagen Beetles are stopped in the blind spot and in danger of being crushed.
I was really at a loss to identify this bearded fellow. Was I going senile all at once? Jack Rainey almost confirmed this when he told me my scoring addition was 11,912 points in error.
The scoring shack was a parked Fruehauf trailer into which the crew had wisely drawn up the boarding ladder. When one of the scorers came up for air at the entrance I asked how old 92B, me, looked for Low Score Finisher.
“No way; Tomlin’s got it in the bag,” he said.
“How the expletive can Tomlin have it?” I asked, because Tomlin was easily capable of winning the Overall.
“He went for it, hit every check 14 minutes early!”
There ought to be a law against this. Low Score is the last straw that we bums can grab—without that the only thing we can hope for is to get our gas can back.
Of course we can always hope we’ll get lucky and someone will return the tool bag we lost last month, but it never happens.
At this point I was hoping to get my memory back so I could stop calling this bearded guy “aaahhh” all the time.
“Say, aaahhh, where do I know you from. We didn’t share a lodge at the Corduroy did we?”
‘Why, Ed,” he said. “Don’t you know me? I’m your barber!!”
Moral of the story: if you’re going to ride a hundred-miler, always carry your wallet—then you can read the driver’s license inside to find out who you are.
Get Ed’s latest book, 80.4 Finish Check on Amazon.com.
This column originally appeared in our August 2018 issue.