Writer’s Cramp

The Beehive Enduro is the best- attended enduro on the East Coast Enduro Association schedule. I asked Shirley to go with me this year because I wanted her to see other motorcyclists beside those who park their motorcycles neatly spaced, identically angled on the side stands, handlebars turned just so, outside bars on Saturday when there is no threat of rain. I also wanted to ride to see if whatever I did to my right foot in a squeeze play with a tree stump was worth investing in another bottle of Demerol.

I was also hoping one of my tens of readers would ask for an autograph or something.

We arrived on Saturday at noon and parked at a prime spot—just far enough from the Porta Potties that you couldn’t smell them and close enough to the firehouse to fetch coffee and hot dogs home before they congealed. Ed Baker came over and told us everything that had happened to him in the past year.

He did not ask for an autograph.

They were telling me there were over 600 riders signed up already when I saw a rebel contingent from Virginia circling their wagons on, naturally, the south side of the road. I told Big George, one of the lead rebels, that the armistice ended the following midnight and he better get his confederate butt below the Mason-Dixon line before we opened fire. When I asked how many riders were with him, he told me “ten.” What he actually said was “tay-en.”

I took Shirley on a ride over paved, gravel and dirt roads, then onto a path across a salt marsh to watch the sun set into Delaware Bay. The last over-water sunset I’d watched was in Mexico. This time the seabirds flapping in to nest didn’t have Spanish accents.

I thought Shirley was looking at me with a rapt expression. I was wrong—she was watching two deer on the path behind me. This is a lady that always answers a question with a question. When I thought I’d pinned her to a yes or no answer to my marriage proposal, she hesitated a minute then asked, “When?”

Artwork by Mr. Jensen

It was dark when we returned and some troops had a canvas pop-top screened-in trailer under my stylish rear awning. Seven or eight riders were inside playing cards and using the “F word” an awful “F-wording” lot; the loudest was my adopted son. They were nice enough to turn the volume down after I leaned inside and threw a word or two at them a few times.

No one asked for an autograph.

Enduro folks bed down early, and those that don’t speak softly, as if there were sleeping grizzly bears around. Come to think of it, a rudely awakened heavyweight “A” rider might be a lot meaner than a grizzly. I know it’s dangerous to approach them if their motorcycle breaks.

Next morning Shirley was up and out early to beat the lines at the Porta Potties. When she discovered the empty two-gallon Mobil oil can I use as my private Porta Potty, she prayed that she would be reincarnated as a male, if for no other reason than to avoid head colds from sloshing in the grass in her stockinged feet first thing in the morning.

With 650 riders and their crews, the Beehive is a miniature Daytona—without the jammed traffic and exhibitionist-type bad asses who are always going somewhere. When I parked my big Honda on the edge o f the crowd, I revved before shutting off then yelled, “Form a line for autographs!” Four or five fellows turned, smiled, then gave me the finger.

It’s nice to be recognized.

A two-stroke was being pushed off the line and I unwrapped my tow rope as spectators pushed it down the paved road. With my motorcycle, I can tow it and the van it came in. The spectators’ legs, lungs and resolve were about gone when I pulled alongside and handed over the tow line. We went about a half-mile before the towee fired up and shot up past me, yanking my bike to the left and his to the right because the rope was still attached to his handlebar.

You can’t come any closer to crashing and not, believe me.

Before leaving, one kid asked for an autograph. I asked him why he wanted it. “Because,” he said, “Baker told me you were Terry Cunningham’s uncle.”

Taught him all he knows, too.

Get Ed’s latest book, 80.4 Finish Check on Amazon.com.

This column originally appeared in our November 2017 issue, which you can read in all its original high-res glory here.

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