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Gettysburg Bike Week - July, 2004 - Close Enough to Perfect - book excerpt

That night, The Pike, the restaurant next to our motel, hosted a pig roast. We walked over early so we could grab seats on the outside deck before they filled up. At only four o’clock, the DJ worked on the deck as he set up his equipment for the evening.

Hot and hungry, we ordered a round of beer and appetizers to hold us over before dinner. The place filled up quickly with bikers, and soon the overflow reached into the parking lot with thousands of motorcycles. We had parked our bikes safely in the trailer and knowing we would not ride that night. . . ”Another round of drinks.” The Pike had prepared well for the event with plenty of food, drink, and entertainment, although most of us made our own entertainment.

At some point early in the evening, the DJ started music and tossed out the occasional question and trivia. Our table won the “traveled-the-farthest-to-get-here” award, though it did not come without protest. Some riders contended that we had trailered our bikes, not ridden them there, therefore disqualifying us. We acquiesced and abstained from taking our prize.

It came up on nine o’clock when the DJ started picking out contestants for his “sobriety check.” We could tell he had paid attention to the crowd, as he picked out three of the most intoxicated men in the bunch. But he wanted one more. He looked directly at Al, pointed, and said, “You’ve been here for five hours drinking beer and you haven’t gone to the bathroom. I want you!”

Al grudgingly joined the three others in line. They started with the nose-touching test, arms straight out to their sides, eyes closed, touching the tip of their noses with their index fingers. The observing crowd became the judges, and after each test we would applaud when the DJ pointed to the person who we decided had done best. They each received lukewarm results with two more tests before the finale. The second test had them stand on one leg while keeping balance. However fun to watch, each contender got the same lackluster result.

The last test challenged each participant to walk the line. The DJ had stuck a ten-foot line of tape on the deck. He instructed each person to walk on the line, heel-to-toe for the full ten feet, then turn around and walk heel-to-toe back without faltering.

The first competitor wobbled his way to the end of the tape, turned, and walked back to finish upright. The second lost his balance partway on the first stretch and landed in the lap of a stranger at a nearby table. The steady third did a little better than the first. Then came Al’s turn, and he knew he needed to stand out from the others, so he turned around and walked the line backwards heel-to-toe both ways, never wavering.

The intoxicated judges went wild, clearly pronouncing Al the winner. He won two sixteen-ounce Budweiser glasses that I still have in my cabinet today.

At the end of the contest, Al went to the bathroom.

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