Tag Archive for honda

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.

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.

On Customer Service

Customer service is simple: make it as easy for customers to hand you money as possible, and make them happy to do it so they keep coming back.

A local bike shop doesn’t seem to understand that. I bought my helmet there, happened to see Lenore at the same time, and bought her about the same time. Those were a matter of convenience and luck, respectively, and by the time I added new tires and saddlebags to Lenore, I dropped a good buck there. Return visits have been for simple things, but asking simple questions about those simple things appeared to be an inconvenience for the owner.

This week I cracked open Lenore and decided I need to replace the air filter. I called the same local shop, asked if they have them in stock, and got a quick negative and the guy started to hang up. I asked if he could order it. An impatient yes. I said I’d stop down and order it, and the answer was pretty much “Okay, *click*.”

Alright, then. Time to find someone actually interested in my money.

I called Grayboy on Prospect in Peoria Heights, got their parts department. I told the guy what I needed. He asked if I needed any other parts, then checked their stock. When he returned he politely informed me it was out of stock but he could have it in three or four business days. I asked if he could order it right away, and he said I could order it over the phone. They even had my name in their system already from when I bought some gloves a few years ago.

Now I’ll be stopping in there on Tuesday to pick up an air filter and spend even more money on oil, an oil filter, and an oil filter wrench.

That wasn’t so difficult, was it? I don’t need my ass kissed, but I’m more than willing to hand over money to someone who’s willing to find a way to take it.

What’s more, it will give me a chance to drool on a 2010 Honda Shadow Phantom:

I have no reason to upgrade yet, but I kinda dig that blacked-out look. I’m just reserving judgment until I see it in person.

Word is they have the Fury in stock, too. The faux-custom thing doesn’t do much for me — I prefer a beefy cruiser to the stripped-down chopper — but it might be fun to kick the tires.

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 Christening

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.”
– Edgar Allen Poe, “The Raven”

The bike has a name at last: Lenore.

Making it official

Making it official

The name wasn’t on my list of candidates. Instead, like every good name, it just popped into my head and it clicked. (For those of you who missed why a name is important, read this.)

Now to finish that cigar (a Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real) and get some writing done.

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.

New Ride

I rode the new bike home today, and man is she sweet! Eve’s a fun little ride in town, but this bike felt far more comfortable on the open road. The throttle response was about the same, but she held her line much better and even the winds from the open fields and from passing semis had little effect on me. The Wife followed me home, and after about 15 miles I was throwing her the horns over my shoulder.

This Shadow has a nice, throaty rumble. At 600cc she’s far from the biggest and loudest gal on the block, but at 55-65mph she continued to purr right along. Eve’s 250cc engine revved high at those speeds, and as such she could be a little hard on the ears (more the pitch than the volume). It’s like going from Fran Drescher to Sally Kellerman, something my neighbors will be thankful for when I warm her up in the morning.

I haven’t named her yet, but that will come soon. As I discussed before, that’s something I feel is important. I’ve got a few candidates (and suddenly Sally is on the list), but none have leaped out at me yet. I’m sure she’ll pick one over the next few rides.

Pictures to come tomorrow, then I’ll shut up about her for a while.

Maybe.

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.

"You're Gonna Need a Bigger Bike"

One of my co-workers has a Honda Shadow that I’ve envied for a while. Its 750cc engine is three times the size of my bike’s engine, and it outweighs my bike by about 150 pounds. I asked him how different it felt from my bike. He promptly handed me the keys, so I took her for a test drive.

Boy was that a mistake. Because it was terrifying? Nah. It’s because now I want a bigger bike.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my bike. However, strong winds blow me around more than I’d like, and the narrow tank leads to sore hips and inner thighs on extended rides. My bike’s comfortable up to about 40-45 miles per hour, but I hit 55 and she starts to feel a little shaky. It’s not so much a feeling like I’m going to fall over, it’s more like Scotty’s in the tank screaming “I cannae hold her together, Captain!” and the not-so-warp drive is going to fly apart.

The Shadow was a whole new experience. I felt like I was sitting on something of substance, and the wider tank and higher seat made for a comfortable fit. There was no choke to play with on startup, and her throaty growl had a very different voice from my Virago. I had to lean her a little harder to keep the tighter turns, but she felt a lot steadier despite the heavier weight. I didn’t get her much over 40mph, but when I did I hardly noticed it. (I probably should have taken her out on a back road and opened her up, but I get real nervous driving other folks’ cars, much less their motorcycles.)

That said, the differences in the controls also surprised me. The brakes weren’t as touchy, and the foot shifter had a more tangible click between gears and across neutral. The biggest difference was in the clutch lever. On the Virago, I let it out most of the way before first gear engages and the bike starts rolling. On the Shadow, I hardly had to let up at all. There aren’t many things more embarrassing than killing an engine twice at a stop sign with two guys watching from a nearby yard. Fortunately the engine kicked in and drowned out their witty remarks as I rolled off, thus sparing my pride a bit.

All in all, I decided I definitely need to get into the 650-850cc range for my next motorcycle. It’s a lot more comfortable, and probably better suited to my frame. Now to see about selling some more books to pay for my engine lust…

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 Honda Rape Robot

I dug up some info on the Honda FCX Clarity today. It’s their hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that emits nothing but sunshine and rainbows when you drive it, and apparently there are several test cars on the road in California. The biggest problem is the infrastructure, of course, and I kept wondering where one would get the hydrogen to power the vehicle.

Turns out the owners can generate the hydrogen in their own home with a natural gas co-generator. Dubbed the Home Energy Station, this cool gizmo will provide heat and power to your home as well as keep you on the road. Not too shabby!

Then I took a closer look at the accompanying illustration, which appears to be some Honda vision for the future. There’s the co-gen station, solar panel roof, the car, and of course an ASIMO robot.

Just when you thought it was safe to leave your daughter alone...

Just when you thought it was safe to leave your daughter alone...

Does nobody else see something sinister afoot? Take a look at Mom and Dad: she’s busy doing the dishes or cooking or something, and Dad’s busy messing with his car. Shouldn’t the robot be handling those tasks? Little Jimmy is busy in the shower. Kinda odd, Honda, but whatever. This means ASIMO has the run of the house…

…and little Jenny.

Yeah, I’ve seen Saturn 3 and I know how this works! ASIMO shirks his duties, creates his opening, and attacks! Little Jenny never knows what hit her, and two hours later she’s showing the social worker where the plastic predator touched her.

No thanks, Honda. You keep your pervy future to yourself.

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.