Prologue

Fall, 1983
Cos Cob, Connecticut

Billy was backing his Jeep out of the driveway when Oso pulled up next to him on his bumblebee yellow BMW motorcycle. Oso inquired, “I was just swinging by to see you. I got my temporary tags. My big machine is fully reassembled and back on the road. Want to take it for a test ride?”

Billy challenged, “Way cool. You’re quite the grease monkey. That bike looks as good as new, man. Let me ride it after lunch. I skipped breakfast and I’m starving. Want to race me to Kassi’s Diner?”

“Sure thing amigo. Loser buys. I could use a free meal. This glorious machine has cleaned out my wallet, but it’s sooo worth it.” Oso patted his gas tank with pride as he offered the bet.

Billy was not one to back down. “Ok, three-two-GO!” He shouted as he hit the gas and cut across the neighbor’s lawn to begin the race with an unfair head start.

Oso answered Billy’s getaway by revving his engine up to 4500 rpm and then letting go of the clutch. The knobby rear on/off road tire spun before digging in. The sudden release of power and torque caused the BMW R80 G/S to lurch sideways as it accelerated on the edge of control. Oso swerved out onto the road and caught up with Billy a couple of turns later. Billy was stuck behind a car at the stoplight. Oso pulled up next to him and laughed. Pointing an accusing finger he boasted, “No way is that beach buggy of yours going to beat my bike, even though you’re cheating.”

Now Billy laughed too. He tried to look Oso in the eye through the tinted helmet visor and remarked, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”

Oso was not amused and stated, “No more games and no more shortcuts. This is a race, not a chase. Let me know if my taillight is working after the street light turns green.”

Billy looked for pedestrian traffic while he replied to Oso’s overconfidence. “You ain’t seen nothing yet. I hope you brought a credit card.” He turned the wheel and drove his right two tires up over the sidewalk, squeezed past the car in front of him, and made a right turn on red. Next, he accelerated through the speed limit just as fast as his six cylinders allowed with the pedal to the floor.

Oso hopped the curb slowly, using both feet for balance, and then raced down the sidewalk after Billy.

The startled driver who was still waiting for a green light just watched. Oso stood on the pegs as he hopped off of the curb. He shifted up to speed once he was back on the road and tried closing the gap behind Billy who was now racing like Gene Hackman in “The French Connection.” Oso watched Billy get his Jeep up on two wheels several times and worried that his roll bar might get tested. Finally, Kassi’s was coming up on his left and he wasn’t going to have enough time to pass. Oso realized he was going to have to solve his problem geometrically and Billy’s shortcutting strategy gave him an idea. He turned early; through the lot of a small group of stores. He had one more curb to hop as the lot to Kassi’s was not connected. He hit the curb as fast as he dared and almost spilled the bike but somehow managed to keep it upright. He stopped right in front of the entrance as Billy was jumping from his parked Jeep.

Billy yelled, “I win. I made it into the lot before you did even with your death defying entrance.”

Oso dropped the stand, hopped off, and opened the door before Billy. He stood blocking the entrance and proclaimed, “The first one inside is the winner, mi loco amigo. This is going to be the best burger I’ve tasted all year because you’re buying it.”

Billy knew he lost but still wanted to feel like he had the upper hand. So, he poked Oso in the chest and chided, “Where did you learn to hop a curb like that? I thought you were going down for sure. Blood and teeth wouldn’t make a very good lunch.”

Oso let Billy in the door and patted him on the back while replying, “I’ve done a lot of riding, mostly dirt bikes, but those were the first curbs that I’ve hopped. I really have no money so I had to beat you and you’re the one who made this an adventure race rather than a speed run.”

Billy conceded, “Well, at least I had fun. I’ll race you back after lunch to see who has to buy the first beer later.”

On to Chapter 1