Tag Archive for harley-davidson

A Productive Fourth

All fingers accounted for? Check. Both eyes accounted for? Check. Balls still attached? Check. House hasn’t burned down? Check. Excellent. Any 4th where everything survives is a good one, especially with neighbors setting off their own fireworks in the field behind us.

I had the day off at the day job, but I still had work to do. I wrote the last of the ancillary materials to go with “Bravo Four”, the short story I posted a cover for on Monday. I also wrote a column by invitation for a webzine, and if it’s approved I imagine it will go up soon. It felt good to be able to spend a significant chunk of the day at the keyboard.

Not that I didn’t get out and witness some Americana. Check out this Harley-Davidson:

Copper Harley

Copper-colored Harley. Gorgeous paint scheme.

If memory serves, this is an anniversary edition paint scheme, and a friend of mine has a die-cast model of the same bike with the same colors. He almost purchased the bike itself, but concerns of safety and family prevailed and he purchased a boat instead. Too cool to see the same bike out in the wild.

We saw the local fireworks display last night, and this afternoon we saw the flags posted all around the streets in neighboring communities and did a little light grocery and gas shopping like the good little consumers we are. I even managed to squeeze the day’s weight lifting in between reviewing the publication master for “Bravo Four”. All in all I’d have to call it a good day, and it felt especially good to be productive at the keyboard.

Tomorrow it’s back to the day gig. Given it’s the middle of the year, it will also be a good time to revisit the Exit Strategy.

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.

On Busted Thumbs and Heart Attacks

Most of you have met Lenore.

Brick Road

How're YOU doin', beautiful?

I took her to get her chain tightened—and, as it turned out, replaced—today, just as the Illinois weather decided to make up for the early warm weather it gave us by dropping back into the 40s and 50s. Ah, well. That’s what leather and sweatshirts are  for.

Then I learned it’s damn near impossible to manipulate turn signals with a busted thumb. Last night while sparring in karate class, I somehow managed to block my opponent’s knee using only my thumb. My thumb lost, and now the first knuckle doesn’t want to bend and it’s swollen like a sausage on a too-hot grill. My scream of agony every time I manipulated the switch probably did a better job of catching surrounding motorists’ attention than my turn signal did. I thought about switching to hand signals, but these days I’m pretty sure there’s only one hand signal that most drivers recognize, and that one won’t do me any good.

Then I stared death in the face.

I left Lenore in the tender care of the mechanics at Grayboy in the Heights and asked them where I could get breakfast. A big dude runs the service desk, and he pointed out the window to a shabby gray structure two doors down from their main building.

“Go there,” he said. “If you like meat, they’ll give you plenty. You won’t even be able to finish it.”

Challenge accepted.

Understand, I’m standing in a spot two blocks from downtown Peoria Heights with its high-end eateries like French Toast and Noir, and its array of trendy little boutique shops. The Silver Dollar, on the other hand, is a dark little bar in the other direction. On the plus side, chances were it would be more affordable.

I walked in and a friendly woman behind the bar handed me a type-written menu. A quick scan turned up Mikey’s Special: a toasted biscuit topped with a sausage patty, three eggs over easy, and cheese, all smothered in sausage gravy.

It looks like this:

The Mikey Special. Holy shit.

Holy shit.

If my doctor were sitting with me, he’d have punched me square in the face and tripled my cholesterol meds for the next six months. That plate is bigger than my iPad. I took out  a fork and cut into this thing, and it bled bright, golden egg yolk. I could already feel my heart cringing against my spine and begging me not to eat it. My brain reminded me I’m running the Warrior Dash in three weeks, and this wouldn’t help the cause.

My belly said “Pump it in!”

As evil as this thing looks, it tasted even better. The sausage patty was thick like a quality hamburger, and juicy without being greasy. Few places get gravy right, but the Silver Dollar nailed it: thick and peppery without being gummy. And yes, I finished the whole thing. When I returned for Lenore, the service guy was astonished. He advised me to not fall asleep while riding this afternoon.

Now my blood runs like sludge in my veins.

It’s a good thing I have at least two workouts coming today. I’m going to need them.

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.

Photo Friday: Motorcycle Show

The International Motorcycle Show came to Chicago last weekend, and I took a ride up there with a friend and one of my sons.

Gold Custom

I can't imagine how long it takes to polish this beauty

Things felt a little more crowded this year, making it tougher to get some good photos. We were also bummed to learn Indian didn’t set up a display this year.

However, we still had a good time looking around, and we were pleased to learn Triumph brought some new cruisers to show off:

Triumph Cruiser

The Triumph Thunderbird

The Triumph guys told us the closest dealership could be found in Milwaukee. Given they were priced competitively to similar Harleys, it would be worth the trip to have something a little more unique to ride around on. Assuming I could afford a new bike, that is…

We of course visited the Harley-Davidson display, and as current Honda riders, Steve and I had to drop by to look at their bikes, too. I meant to take a closer look at the Shadow Phantom, but by the time we worked around that direction I’d forgotten about it and only spent a few minutes drooling on the Fury and Stateline choppers.

And for the second year running, the Victory bikes took second place:

Blacked-Out Victory

A blacked-out Victory cruiser

Still an American bike with some great, modern styling on their cruisers, I wouldn’t rule out test-riding a few of these bad boys when it came time for me to get  a new bike. Their matte paints aren’t as sexy as what Harley has been able to pull off, but they make up for it with the sleek look. And the ape hangers on the bike in the photo are just about perfect.

The custom show returned, too. One that really caught the horror writer in me by surprise was a zombie-themed bagger with plenty of skulls:

Zombie Custom - Skulls

A close look at the left side of the bike

It’s a little overdone for everyday riding, but it’s a sweet ride.

You can see a lot more bikes in my motorcycle show set on Flickr. Whether you ride or you’re just a fan of bikes, the International Motorcycle Show is worth the trip if it makes a stop in your area. I just wish they wouldn’t come to Chicago in February when it’s too cold for the attendees to ride to the show!

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.

Wednesday Staycation

I couldn’t commit to an opportunity for a cheap vacation trip Thursday, so instead I took half the day today to do a small staycation to visit a vintage aircraft and the local Harley-Davidson dealership.

When I read a WWII-era B-17 bomber called the Aluminum Overcast was visiting the Peoria International Airport, I knew it would be a great opportunity for the kids and I to check it out. There are only 11 B-17s left in flying condition, and they were offering both tours and flights of the aircraft. Tours were only $5 for anyone over the age of 8, but flights started at $430. D’oh.

I took several pictures, which I’ll have online soon. For now I’ll say the aircraft was smaller than I expected, but still an incredible and humbling sight. The restorers had it loaded up with all 13 machine guns and a set of bombs, and a friend of mine and our kids were all able to walk through the craft and look around. The tail was blocked off and we could see into but not enter the nose gunner position and the cockpit. The belly gunner’s turret was open and we were able to stick our heads in and look around.

One area vet of several B-17 missions visited the plane and took the tour. You can read his story at the Peoria Journal Star. You can also read a separate article about the Aluminum Overcast itself.

Walters Brothers Harley-Davidson is right around the corner from the airport, so we headed that way next. The next thing I’d have bought if I had the cash? This nice Road King we spotted on arrival:

Road King

Some day it shall be mine

I could take or leave the whitewalls and I’d prefer a smaller windshield, but otherwise she’s perfect. I dig the fender, the bags, and the skull on the air cleaner. Black and chrome beauty. The price tag? $17,500. Well out of reach for now. Sad Mike.

I browsed boots, though. The shifter on my Honda’s wearing a hole through the toe box of my hiking boots. Nothing my size in stock, so they’ll be calling me when they get their next shipment. Meanwhile I drooled on some of the H-D work shirts, tried on a jacket, and picked up a Walters Brothers t-shirt.

I have to say, I’m very impressed with the way the ladies at Walters Brothers treated my kids. I see little kids wandering through expensive bikes, I start getting nervous. Especially when they’re my kids. They instead talked to the kids, even helped keep them entertained a bit, and generally made them feel welcome rather than like little bundles of vandalism and destruction. For that alone I’m sure I’ll visit again.

It also helps that the kids came away with free swag:

Captain America swag

Of course Cap rides a Harley!

I like my little Honda cruiser, Lenore. I really do. But man, I’m becoming more and more of a sucker for that Harley marketing. And that Road King is sweet.

I dunno. I guess I should finish Lie with the Dead, get rich, and buy all this cool stuff. (Yeah, just like that.)

Then we picked up my wife from work, bought some lemons, and mixed up some fresh lemon shake-ups. Excellent cap to the day’s staycation. It’s rare that we get to just hang out and chill with friends.

Tomorrow it’s back to the things that have been keeping me offline. No worries, almost through it. Stay tuned for Photo Friday with the bomber pics. Also, keep an eye out for news about a future novella.

 

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.

How Comfortable They Are Lying to You

We all know advertisers lie to us. It doesn’t take a genius to look at the Big Mac you were just handed, compare it to the one pictured on the menu, and realize something’s just not right. We also know women on magazine covers are endlessly Photoshopped to match them to some impossible vision of beauty.

But sometimes it’s the subtle things that stand out. Take, for example, this Harley-Davidson brochure I received in the mail the other day, advertising their new Blackline bike:

What’s wrong with this picture?

My first thought was They’re making a bike with pipes on the left? That can’t be right…

Then I noticed he’s riding on the wrong side of the road (I’m assuming he’s riding here in the States). Could they have mirrored the image? I looked closer at the tank, and sure enough, the text is mirrored. Some designer in marketing must have taken the original picture and flipped it to match the layout of his ad.

What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, for starters, you’re looking at the bike backwards. If you go to a dealership, do you look at the bikes’ reflections in the windows, or do you go look at the bikes?

But what really bothers me is they had to do it at all. Was there not a photo that matched the layout? If this is the best photo, should the designer not have just changed his layout? It’s like he said “Ah, nobody will notice” and clicked the button. Obviously he’s not a rider himself.

I also wonder who, if anyone, on the H-D side approved it. Surely the people in charge of marketing at H-D are familiar enough with their product they should have noticed something like this, even if they’re not riders. Or do they just let the ad designers fire things off without proofing?

Yeah, it’s a small thing, but that’s why it bothers me so much. I understand they’re going to tweak lighting, clean up blemishes, maybe even add gleam to chrome and make their bikes look great. Usually it’s not in your face. This is just a blatant, lazy edit that shouldn’t have gotten beyond the proofing stage.

And would it have killed them to put a much-needed comma in the headline? They have a period at the end, so can’t be a conscious decision to drop punctuation marks.

This is the kind of thing you expect in a poster advertising the three-man custom shop down the street, not a world-famous manufacturer.

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.

Bike Envy

I dig my bike. Lenore looks good, and she’s been good to me. On the other hand, she’s a bit small and has a tough time carrying both me and a passenger.

Not to mention those Harleys are frickin’ sweet. A Honda’s nice, but nothing turns heads like a Harley’s classic looks. Softails, Sportsters… it’s not hard to see why Honda copied their styling. There’s nothing wrong with Honda-Davidson rides like my Shadow: they’re cheaper, they’re reliable, and many tell me they’re a lot easier to work on. At some point, though, you realize you have to have that American original.

Dead Rider

Arr, matey! Put the hammer down!

There’s not a damn thing I can do about it right now, and I doubt there’s an upgrade in the cards for next year, either, but I find myself drooling over just about every cruiser I stumble across. My karate instructor gives me a hard time for gawking out the dojo windows whenever I hear a bike rumble by, and the Wife swears I must have spotted a girl in a bikini the way my head snaps when we’re out and about. Which one would I choose? Good question.

All I know is I’m not a big Electra Glide guy. Those big touring bikes are workhorses, but by the time you put a full-size passenger seat and the big bag — effectively a trunk — on the back, they just lose their charm. A Road King Classic, though, with the sleek back end, the bags, and the fat front fender? Yeah, that works. Black, of course. Cost may limit me to, say, a Softail Classic, but hey, I’m sure I’d live.

Then again, if money were no object? I’d have to check out an Indian. Dump the tassels from the Chief Dark Horse and I just might love it forever. Or better yet, buy a real classic, hire a wrench to restore it if necessary, learn to maintain it, and ride it ’til it falls apart.

Meanwhile I’ll have to content myself with customizing Lenore. She could use a good set of crash bars. Maybe some highway pegs, too. I wonder how tough it would be to get the decals off the tank and put a different pain job on it? Maybe find a fat fender at a parts shop, or off a junked bike… Yeah.

Damn. Guess I best start selling some books and make some money.

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.

Bike Envy

I love Lenore. I really do. But today I was idling at a stoplight when a dude rolled up next to me on a sweet, black Harley-Davidson Fat Bob. The rider looked over at me, looked down at my bike, gave me a nod. The light changed and he roared off.

It was like being in the boys locker room again, looking around with that awkward, inadequate feeling you have before you learn there are showers and growers and maybe you’re not so bad off after all.

Lenore’s a comfortable ride and I’m sure we’ll be together a long time, be it for financial reasons or otherwise, but man, I was sorely tempted to take the left turn onto I-74 and ride out to Walters Brothers HD to do a little Father’s Day drooling.

Instead I just reminded myself of the small bike mantra: It ain’t the size of the bike that matters; it’s how you ride her.

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.

Customer Service: Round 2

Got the call from Grayboy today, four days earlier than expected: my air filter came in. Sweet.

I went out to Peoria Heights to pick it up, and found the in-person service as friendly and helpful as on the phone. They got some more money out of me as I purchased an oil filter, filter wrench, and oil. Tomorrow I get to play amateur mechanic.

While I was there, I browsed the showroom. The Phantom, unfortunately, did not look quite as sharp in person. The Fury, meanwhile, looked much better, especially in black. Here’s a look at the Fury:

Still may not be the bike for me, but I do dig it. It was like the Harley Iron 883: the black denim didn’t grab me in photographs, but when I walked past one in a bar’s parking lot, it really caught my eye.

Which reminds me, I need to take a ride out to the local Harley dealership to sniff around sometime…

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.

Anything Goes

“What do you blog about, Mike?”

I’ve been asked this several times, and my answer generally goes something like this: “Whatever I damn well please.”

I blog about things that interest me, period. If they interest you, too, you’ll keep reading. If not, you’ll wander off in search of something more interesting. Sure, I could separate out my interests, maybe start a dedicated karate or motorcycling page, dump my cigar reviews into a Tumblr blog, and leave my pictures on Flickr alone, but why? Those things are all me, and what is my only product?

Me.

Yes yes, I sell books. But unlike artists, pro photographers, movie studios, and so on, I can’t sell you a book at a glance. If I post a sample chapter, it still takes a commitment on your part to read the whole thing and make a decision. Instead, I sell myself. I post all this other craziness and hope you say “Wow, this guy’s pretty cool, I’m gonna buy his book.”

Craziness like this cool Harley commercial:

Not to mention I don’t have to worry about saying “this is my way-cool karate blog” and looking like a liar when the first karate post is three pages deep following photo after photo of puppies and tacos.

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.

Itching to Ride

I think the motorcycle obsession has finally taken hold.

Every time I pass Lenore in the garage, I feel the urge to fire her up. Wet, cold Illinois weather is not always conducive to riding, however, especially for a relative rookie. I can’t tell you how jealous I am right now of friends like Weston Ochse, Nate Southard, and Paul Legerski, who all live in comfortable riding weather year-round. Note I qualified that as comfortable riding weather. If I have to dress up in layers of clothing just to get on two wheels, that’s just not a good trade-off to me because lugging and stowing all that extra gear would be a pain in the ass.

Right now the idea is to explore my limits of comfortable. After an unusually cold Halloween, we’re now getting a bit of an Indian summer. Last weekend the temps crept up to the low 60s, so Saturday morning I zipped up my leather jacket (probably the first time I actually unsnapped and closed the lapels), busted out the leather riding gloves for the first time since my riding class, and rode Lenore out to breakfast and then to karate class.

It was probably around 50 when I took off, and a stiff wind blew across the fields. I thought I’d feel most of it in my legs, but as it turned out the worst was a cold spot along my jawline. The wind came right in under the rim of my helmet, concentrated on that one spot, and after just a few minutes it started to sting. The few minutes of irritation was worth it come that afternoon, though, as temps climbed up to 68 and I spent a little more time on the road.

We should be seeing mid fifties and sunshine this week, so I ordered myself a simple balaclava to keep the wind off my neck and jaw. Another rider friend, Eric Masek, rides all the way down into the 40s, so I’m going to give that a shot as long as it stays dry enough. I spotted a pair of fleece-lined, Kevlar riding jeans that may help keep me on the bike longer, too (I’ve never been a big fan of long johns, but I suppose that’s an option I should consider).

Meanwhile, I’ve got another reason to be jealous of Nate: he just picked up a Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Sportster he’s dubbed The Late Late Show. I wasn’t particularly taken with the Iron 883 after seeing it on TV and in magazines, but then I spotted one in a parking lot in Peoria and it got me drooling. That black denim paint and blacked-out engine looks much sharper in person, and I’ve been eyeballing them ever since. I think Nate also made the right move adding the forward controls, and those ape hangers look damn good on his bike.

Like I said: jealous.

Of course, now I see Honda is putting out the Shadow Phantom for 2010. With its blacked-out engine and $7999 price point, I’m guessing it’s a direct competitor to the Iron 883, and will add to Honda’s “Honda-Davidson” rep. It’s got a smaller engine but already has the forward controls and it has glossy black paint instead of the matte black the Harley sports.

That’s not to say I’m in a hurry to ditch Lenore anytime soon. The last thing I need is another payment right now, and Lenore is a solid, comfortable ride. I have a few more customizations in mind for her, too, including a set of crash bars for that inevitable day she goes down on her side.

In the meantime it’s fun to drool while I get this weather thing figured out.

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.

The Secret Lives of Teachers

Most people don’t think of teachers as bikers, but as it happens five of us at the school district I work for ride. We’ve been talking about getting a picture since the school year started, and today we finally made it happen.

The Rocket Riders

The Rocket Riders MC

The Rocket is our school’s mascot, so we thought it would be fitting to take the picture in front of it. We have three of the major bike manufacturers covered: Yamaha, Honda, and Harley. Honda dominates with a Rebel (Jessica forgot to ride it in so it’s not pictured) and two Shadows.

My 250cc Virago felt a little wimpy next to these guys, but it’s cool. It’s a fun picture, and it may even show up in the yearbook.

Now you know who the principal calls when he needs to lay down extra discipline in the halls.

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.