Archive for June, 2007

A Few Days of Pain…(Non Motorbike Related)

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

Well, it happened again. After this little horror episode in my life last December, I had hoped that the problem with my sinus was cured.

No such luck.

Last Thursday, an hour before I would have left work, a blood vessel ruptured way up in my sinus cavity, (probably that same one…), and I had to go to the hospital again.

I’ve since spent this beautiful riding weekend flat on my back in bed, with not just one, but TWO horrible devices shoved up my nose, like a pair of fists balled up behind my eyeballs, putting constant pressure on the bleed until I can get in for surgery Monday morning. This is the kind of pain that can drive you mad, were it not for the Percoset and Valium thoughtfully prescribed by my doctor.

The surgery they are going to perform tomorrow has me a little freaked-out. Apparently, to fix this problem near the top of my head, they have to start by inserting something into an artery in my groin? Then, under the guidance of x-rays, they will undergo the Fantastic Voyage all the way up to the faulty vessel, where they will plug that sucker up for good.

The procedure is called “Embolization”, and I have Googled it enough to give me nightmares. I’m REALLY not looking forward to this…

What if they miss the target? The only thing back-stopping it is my brain! What if they kick loose a couple of little blood clots along the way and send them upstairs?

The same imagination which allows me to write like I do can be a real curse in these situations.

Never mind. I hope to be back to work on Wednesday or Thursday of next week, and hopefully this blog will resume normal operations next weekend. Until then…

Wish me luck.

Blind Lizard, Ought-Seven, Part One

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Weather: 93°F (34°C) and humid, under partly-cloudy skies.
Road Conditions: Crowded with classic, eclectic, and exotic motorbikes.

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Andy Goldfine of Aerostich meets Blind Lizard Man, aka Tom the Tailor.

Father’s Day… For most people, those words conjure images of family gatherings, usually a picnic or barbeque, centered around paying homage to the paternal figures in our lives. But for some of us, Father’s Day is also Blind Lizard Day.

Here, we honor our local motorbike paternity; those two-wheeled hippies of the sixties and seventies, who blazed a trail both exotic and obscure. The two gentlemen at the top of the page exemplify this spirit.

At Blind Lizard, we celebrate the cool and the quirky, both fast and slow. Everything from antique bicycles to a modern diesel/hydraulic hybrid motorbike were in attendance at this year’s event.

Since a quick Google search reveals the location, I guess there is no point in keeping it a secret any longer. But if you decide to go to Nicollet Island for this event, please keep in mind that it is a residential area with no parking lots, and loud pipes are definitely not welcome here.

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I suspect this Mod Mo-sheen belongs to the ubiquitous Kent Aldrich.

I have been seeing this mint-green Stella all over town lately. It’s owner, one Kent Aldrich, is promoting his “Rattle My Bones” scooter rally. He seems to ride all over town distributing tags which can be tied to a handlebar or wedged under a seat strap, on any scooter he finds parked.

He’s not shy about getting your attention, either. One day, as I was riding down Robert Street, I saw him coming up behind in my rearview mirror, of which Rose only has two. Imagine the sight of that chrome porcupine chasing you down on a crowded avenue… He drew abreast and shouted “Pull over! I want to invite you to a rally!”

I did so, and said, “Thanks, Kent, but you’ve already invited me!”

We had met while I was still riding Scarlet O’Baron. So, can you guess what I found when I returned to Rose after taking that photo? Tag number two, invitation number three. I guess I’m going to a rally…

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Speaking of ubiquitous: Honda 750 SOHC pressed into chopper service.

This bike caught my eye because of the Felix-the-Cat logo on the fuel tank, and the bulletproof Honda powerplant. Also because it looks like the kind of thing that most of us could knock together in our garage, should we be so inclined. The Blind Lizard crowd appreciates something like this, and is much more impressed by it, than any fat-tired, over-chromed, fifty-grand chopper.

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My research indicates this is a McKenzie “Popular”, circa 1921.

Here’s a prime example of the old and obscure. When I was standing there looking at it, I thought it had been built around the turn of the century. As it turns out, it was built in 1921, with well-established technology, as a sort of everyman’s motorbike.

The McKenzie was manufactured by the Hobart Cycle Company, Ltd., of Coventry, England. If you click on the link in the caption above, you can find out a lot more. This old moped was not on static display. I saw it’s owner riding the McKenzie down the street about a half-hour after I snapped that photo. “Pukka-pukka-pukka…” – it sounded like nothing else on modern roads.

The fact that he has left the patina intact while tending to the functional parts makes it even more amazing. If there was an award to be given out for the bike which best conveys the spirit of Blind Lizard, I would vote for this venerable old classic.

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Lovely Lissa rides a mean motor-cooler!

Lissa is President and Queen of Marty Mataya’s household, or so he tells me. On Blind Lizard Day, she was riding around on this electric motor-cooler, handing out flyer’s for their new Baron dealership in Osseo, Minnesota. I will be visiting them in the near future, to see how things are going.

There were so many cool bikes at Blind Lizard this year that, for the first time since I’ve been blogging, I completely filled the memory stick on my digital camera! That’s why this entry is Part One. This weekend I will post Part Two, which will be mostly photos.

Ramble Plan Mike: Manning’s, Minneapolis

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Weather: 93°F (34°C) and humid, under hazy Summer skies.
Road Conditions: Broken up by gratuitous road destruction.

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Manning’s Cafe and Bar has been a Minneapolis institution since 1932.

Hennepin County, Minnesota seems to be trying very hard to kill off it’s living history, in favor of modern development. I have witnessed this on three separate occasions now, and it really is taking on the dark countenance of conspiracy.

Ramble Plan Mike was supposed to have been routed through a small town called Carver, west of where I work. It was going to be a long ride down county roads, through hobby farm country, to a small town where most of the buildings are on the National Historic Register, and an old Mobil gas station was preserved in all of it’s 1950’s glory. A beautiful photo-op for my new Vespa, and some welcome exposure for a town with an uncertain future.

Unfortunately, ALL main roads into town were closed for dubious construction projects, undoubtably connected to the insidious march of Condo-topia, as envisioned by the monied bureaucrats and developers in their penthouse offices in downtown Minneapolis. By the time Rose and I found our way to Main Street, we had lost the light, and most of our enthusiasm in the bargain.

So I decided to route Ramble Plan Mike through the heart of the Twin Cities, down some of the roads we charted on Ramble Plan Bravo, but continuing on down Como Avenue all the way to Marion in Saint Paul. Our dinner stop was a place that just celebrated it’s 75th anniversary; Manning’s Cafe and Bar at the corner of Como and SE 22nd Avenue, in one of Minneapolis’ old millworker’s neighborhoods.

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This is the second year in a row they have choked off Como Avenue.

Today, Manning’s has that classic family clientele and happy-loud ambience that only a long-time neighborhood fixture can achieve. The bar portion is small and toned-down in favor of the cafe, which serves up local favorites and takes special pride in their burgers. These are made with prime ground beef, and they are not afraid to serve it rare, if you so desire. That was exactly what I was looking for, tonight.

I perused the menu, ticking off the usual hamburger, cheeseburger, California, Mushroom and Swiss. All the staples were there, no surprise. But when I came to the Patty Melt, the next entry threw me. Manning’s Patty Melt is your usual large beef patty smothered in fried onions and melted cheeses, served on pumpernickel bread. I like pumpernickel better than regular rye, so that was a point in their favor. But the next entry was Mexican Patty Melt!

What the…?

This is their normal P-M, smothered in homemade chili, served with a side of tortilla chips and salsa, rather than the usual potato chips. This sounded like something that could be absolutely sublime, if they could pull it off, or completely horrible if they couldn’t. Naturally, that’s what I ordered.

No disappointments. My server Renae brought it out to me, almost before I was even ready. When I separated the halves, the beef showed bright pink and juicy underneath all those delicious embellishments.

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Manning’s Mexican Patty Melt, you have to taste it to believe it…

The photo hardly does it justice. I ate this delicacy with knife and fork, although the way it is served might invite the knuckle-dragger amongst us to wrap a fist around it and plunge right in.

I skipped the tortilla chips, and the canned salsa, just as I would have the potato chips on any other selection. The half-pound of Mexican Patty Melt was enough to last me until at least lunchtime tomorrow, all by itself. Well worth the $7.95 they asked for it.

After dinner, I spoke briefly with Helen, one of the managers and the senior waitress (You wouldn’t ever call Helen a “server”…) present. She has been at Manning’s for over 20 years, and everybody in the place seems to treat her like Mom.

Even though the city and county keep closing down their street, Helen tells me that business at Manning’s is not suffering. They welcome motorcyclists, bikers, scooterists… whatever your particular two-wheeled persuasion. The parking lot is visible from one of the dining rooms, so you can keep an eye on your ride while you eat. This is a Big Plus, I told her, for people like us.

The remainder of Ramble Plan Mike was more of the same old city traffic, but on roads less travelled. Vespa Rose and I had a relatively easy time of it, all the way to Kellogg Boulevard, and across the river at Robert Street. Those “No Thru Traffic” signs actually benefit us, because we don’t have to deal with random car traffic. So the construction zones keep the casual SUV/GPS-weenies out of our way.

Hey, when it comes to getting around city traffic, I’ll take whatever I can get…