Tag Archive for shadow

Shadows

It took five months, but at last the weather is getting to the point I can ride the motorcycle consistently. Today I rode out to our second campus at work and discovered a friend rode his Shadow to work as well. I parked next to him and took a quick photo.

Shadows

Lenore and Steve's Shadow ACE basking in the sun

I did a little work on Lenore tonight. I intended to tighten her chain, but I couldn’t budge the axle nuts and I don’t have the right tools to break them loose. Instead I ended up filling the tires, checking the oil, and then I adjusted and reversed the saddle bags. They sit a little more level now, and should prevent an issue I had where a heavy load pressed one bag down onto the exhaust pipe. That didn’t turn out well for the bag or the payload.

Because of the tools and consequences of failure involved, I’ll probably have the professionals just go ahead and replace the chain and sprockets. The chain looks like this adjustment will put it past the safe operating range, and I have no idea when they were last replaced. Then I’ll take care of an oil and filter change and check/replace the spark plugs myself, and she should be good to go for a while.

I thought about using this picture for Photo Friday, but ultimately decided I didn’t like the background. I’m sure we can fix that in the future.

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.

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.

Lady in Black

’03 Honda Shadow
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

Here she is, the lady who’s already drawn a few envious stares from folks around the neighborhood.

I’m still surprised she’s as clean as she is for being six years old, especially since the folks at the bike shop referred to the previous owner as a kid. There’s a tiny chip in the paint on the tank and a scuff on the top exhaust pipe, but other than that, she’s spotless. I’ll be trying to get those touched up before long.

I already have a few ride invitations, too. A co-worker has an ’03 Shadow 750 ACE, and we plan to ride down to Peoria’s Burger Barge in the coming weeks. Another friend has an ’07 Shadow, and he told me about a couple of groups he rides with. I’m sure this bike will be much more comfortable on longer runs and able to keep up with a group, so it may be time to give that a shot.

Eve, meanwhile, has been doing her own flirting from the front yard. A few have stopped to check her out, and there’s been an offer of a trade, but nobody’s decided to snap her up yet. The surprising thing is my insurance rates actually go down with a second bike instead of up, so I won’t be heartbroken if I have to hang on to her a bit longer.

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.

It's Like I Shot My Dog

I just posted Eve on Craigslist. I did consider hanging on to her, but I really have no use for two bikes so there’s no sense keeping her in the garage when I should be picking up the Shadow within the next couple days.

People often ask me why I gave her a name. They say there is magic in naming things, but in this case it’s a bit simpler than that: I did it for safety. Giving the bike a name gives her a personality. Thinking of her in that context, I’m going to take better care of her, and thus will drive a bit safer so I don’t wreck her. Not wrecking her means I don’t wreck myself. See? Simple.

It works the same way with animals. If most people see a random dog wandering the street, they remain nervous or scared. If they later find out it’s the neighbor’s dog Fido, it becomes a different story. People will kill mice and rats in their house, but if it’s their pet rat Richie, he’s a cute little member of the family. If Shamu wasn’t Shamu, he’d be just another killer whale. Get it?

We don’t just name these things, we anthropomorphize them. The real power is in the personality, not in the noun. We make objects and animals more human, more like us. As a result, we develop attachments.

I know damn well Eve’s not a human being, but she’s got a personality now. As dumb as it sounds, I felt a little bummed as I took her pictures for the ad. Sure, I’ll take the cash and hand over her keys, but I don’t have to like it!

And that, my friends, is the downside to anthropomorphization.

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 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.

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.