Tag Archive for bike

Garage Repair: I Am All That Is Man

I’m a big believer of do-it-yourself home repair. Whether we’re talking plumbing, electrical, flooring, or HVAC, most of the costs are tied up in labor: paying someone to come out and do the work. With the right tools and a good YouTube search, however, you should be able to handle most household repairs and many automotive repairs.

After that it’s just a matter of weighing the cost of your own time against the cost of paying someone else to do it.

A little over a week ago, this happened:

That’s an extension spring for a garage door. It snapped in half, which meant the garage door opener couldn’t open the garage. Fortunately whomever installed it had the foresight to run a safety cable through the spring, so I found it hanging in place rather than punched through a wall or window.

Most garages have a single torsion spring above the center of the door; the rest have a pair of extension springs. Torsion springs are not easy to replace, and they can hurt you if you don’t know what you’re doing or don’t have the right parts.

Extension springs, on the other hand, are easy to replace with nothing more than a socket wrench. Disconnect one pulley wheel, thread the cables, reconnect the pulley wheel, and you’re back in business.

Assuming you can locate the damned things. I hit three of the big box hardware stores and a Farm & Fleet looking for the right size springs, but they only stock springs for up to 160-pound doors. My door, apparently, is closer to 200 pounds. I ended up calling an overhead door company instead, and they were able to find me a new pair. The bigger springs cost almost three times as much as the 160s due to their size, but at least I still wouldn’t have to pay for installation.

I finally had enough time today to get to work. Half an hour later, this happened:

Score. Saved me a couple hundred bucks in labor, I’m sure. It works better than before, too; the newer springs pull the door open a few inches higher, even with the top of the doorway.

And because I was able to get the garage door open, I was able to make this happen at last:

It’s good to be the king.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Born To Be Wild

The family sat out on the porch yesterday, and we left the garage door open. The Squirt disappeared, and a few minutes later the Midget came and told me his brother was on my motorcycle. I went to check it out, thinking he’d just strayed a little too close or was fiddling with the grips or my helmet. As I reached the end of the porch, I heard a little voice saying “Vroom, vroom!”

I turned the corner and found this:

Vroom vroom!

He knows he’s not supposed to be on there, but I held off on tearing into him because I didn’t want him to try to jump off and have the bike fall on top of him. He also looked very excited to be sitting on it, and I didn’t want to break his little heart. Instead I lifted him off the bike and reminded him that he’s not to go near it when Daddy’s not around, and that he could get hurt.

It’s amazing how different the two boys are. The Midget knows to steer clear, and he does. I tell them they could get hurt, and he takes it to heart. The Squirt, meanwhile, is fearless. If you tell him not to climb a ladder because he could fall off and split his head open, he’ll be on the roof the moment you turn your back.

I half wonder if the temptation to climb the motorcycle overwhelms the fear. In the risk/reward balance system in his head, perhaps dim memories of his last experience on a bike tilts things to the reward side:

Born To Be Wild

The Squird is about 10 months old in that pic. When the Wife’s cousin Jarrod fired up his noisy Harley, the Midget ran for the van but the Squirt squealed with delight. We handed him over to Jarrod and his little face just lit up as he sat on the tank.

Do these memories really carry over? Or is it just some primal urge in the Squirt that says “bikes + noise = bad ass!“?

I’d like to think it’s a little bit of both. Either way, it’s obvious the Squirt’s going to be handful when he outgrows the moniker.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Just Like Riding a Bike

Daddy’s Little Biker Girl
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

Okay, maybe not quite that easy, but what little I do know about riding a motorcycle did come back to me.

The sun finally showed its shiny face this afternoon, so after a sausage and a burger off the grill I felt the urge to take Eve for a spin. I sat down and went over the controls one more time as I let her warm up, then spent a few more minutes getting a feel for the clutch, rolling off in first gear, and finding neutral.

The Wife watched me roll to the end of the driveway and back up in neutral several times, then asked “Are you actually going to go anywhere? Just take off, already!”

Yeah, time to suck it up. I put on the helmet and riding gloves, checked for traffic, and rolled off. I hit second and rode down to the end of the street, then turned around. A familiar-looking red van came in off the T intersection and followed me back to my house. I pulled over to let them pass, only to find it was one of my poker buddies as he stopped next to me.

“You’re going to kill yourself, Mike!”

Thanks for the support, Pat! We chatted a few minutes, and I assured him I’d be alive to take his money at the next poker game. After he took off, I did a few more circuits up and down the street and around the corner.

I twitched the throttle once, but other than that I did fine. I cornered without having to think about it, and I felt comfortable hitting 25mph. I didn’t stray far, but I only had a few minutes to kill and I just wanted to get a feel for the bike anyway.

I’d say I accomplished that much. As my father-in-law reminded me, if I respect the bike I’ll do just fine. If the weather holds up I’ll do some more zipping around this weekend.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Two Wheels of Terror

I’m giving serious thought to purchasing a motorcycle again. Specifically the Honda Shadow VLX.

The out-of-control gas prices are what made me think about bikes in the first place, and it’s become a stronger argument this summer as prices continue to creep upward. According to this chart, I should expect to get about 50 miles per gallon on a Shadow, which will make trips to our second campus at work or to things like karate class a lot cheaper than if I were to take the family van at 20-22 miles per gallon. It also lets me leave the van with the wife and kids should they need it, without the extra expense of a car as the second vehicle.

There’s still a nagging fear in the back of my head, though. I only learned to ride last year, and while the course put me at ease about my own riding, there’s always that concern about some pinhead pulling out in front of me or merging into me in traffic. On top of that, I have yet to get seat time on anything more than a parking lot course. My father-in-law offered to let me take his GoldWing for a spin, but I can hardly even get my stubby legs over the seat, much less get them to touch the ground while I’m on it. A co-worker offered to let me ride his Shadow ACE, but if I dumped it I’d feel horrible so I took a pass.

On the other hand, I know riders who have been on their bikes over 30 years without incident. What’s more, statistics show that the overwhelming majority of riders (better than 90% if I remember right) of motorcycle accidents involve riders who are self-taught and/or who are riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Just taking that $20 course put me ahead of most riders on the road before I even get on the bike.

I’m also told that fear is good for the rider. You stay more alert, more aware of your surroundings. When you’re expecting that pinhead to merge into you, you’re reacting before he even starts to move. It’s when you get tired or careless that you start to have a problem.

This morning it occurred to me I felt the same way when I first took driver’s ed in high school. I remember standing out front, watching people pick up their kids or watching other students pick up their friends, and being amazed at how easy they made it look. I used to wonder if I’d ever be that comfortable behind the wheel, even if I’d ever be as good at driving as they seemed to be. A year later, the car was just an extension of my body. I picked up my brother and one of his friends after practice one afternoon, and I realized I was doing the same thing as the people I had been watching. Driving really is easy, and I was as good as those other people.

I’ve been watching motorcyclists with the same awe. They’ve been out in droves with the warmer weather, and they cruise along just like the cars around them. It’s all about experience, and you’ve got to start somewhere. The good news is we have miles and miles of open road out here in the boonies, unlike the crowded suburban streets I learned to drive a car on.

I’d always wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle, and I’ve accomplished that much. Now it’s time to give some serious thought to taking it to the next level. What better time than spring?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.