Chrome Don’t Get You Home

by Bill Hufnagle
aka Biker Billy

With all the talk of old school vs. new school, high dollar custom choppers seemingly as common as factory bikes, and the steady influx of newly minted bikers, it is enough to make a grey beard wonder. One thing is for sure, we’ve come a long way baby. The memories of old days are fading away like the brain cells of the people who actually lived the lifestyle in the old days. Ever hear the saying that goes something like “if you were there in the sixties you probably don’t remember them”?

Not being a moto-historian, I won’t attempt to draw lines in time were old school passed or when new school was born. Besides that is not what I am concerned with here. I want to focus on one of the things that I was wondering about. Back in the day, somewhere in the late sixties or early seventies, when I had my first personal encounters with choppers, the expression “chrome don’t get you home” were words to live by.

In those days there was no such thing as sanitary upscale custom bike shops located in the good neighborhoods. The few bike shops around didn’t offer shiny brochures for you to read while sipping decaf lattes and relaxing in soft leather chairs in the air-conditioned waiting room. No one trailered their high-five-figure custom bike to the shop for an oil change and detailing. You don’t think it happens like that today? A guy I know just bought a new Harley. The first day that he rode it to work the crew there played a little joke on him. Before he could get everybody outside to look at it, one of the girls poured a little oil on the ground under it. He was upset to say the least; his new bike was leaking oil. He called home to ask his wife to come by with the trailer after work to tow it to the shop, all twenty miles away. Well they let him in on the joke after a while and now he laughs about it too.

Put aside the fact that new Harleys are as likely to leak oil as Exxon- Mobil is likely to start selling gas for less than a dollar a gallon. Now ponder that parking lot joke for a moment. Any old timer would know the difference between oil fresh out of the jug and oil that has dripped out of their bike. He did examine the bike to see where it was leaking from, but he couldn’t find a source. The workings of the bike are still a mystery for him. An old-timer would have known by just smelling the oil whether it was motor, tranny or primary oil. Of course as soon as he would have looked at it on his finger he would have known it was fresh from the joker’s can.

Fading brain cells remember back when old school was getting old that if you rode a custom bike, you built it yourself, if not entirely, at least in part. Most folks were not skilled and blessed with owning the tools needed to bore cylinders, true cranks and do all the heavy duty work of building their own motor. Nor were they likely to be able to chop and weld their own frame. However, since there was no such thing as the bountiful aftermarket of bike accessories, they had to make their own custom doodads. I remember my friend who had a 1939 knucklehead chopper carefully fitting parts, removing them and taking them to the combo bike and head shop to send them off to be chromed. Weeks later they would come back, then after carefully refitting, on the bike they would go. I believe it was from that process of acknowledging the art and science of the engine and transmission builders and the personal involvement in creating the bike that the true meaning of the saying derived. After all, no matter how much chrome you added, it was the work that went into the drive train that got you down the road. And in those days you knew your bike and had to be mechanically adept and creative enough to deal with problems by the side of the road, no cell phones to call for help.

While I am not sure this grey beard is ready willing or able to return to those “good old days”, I do always carry some tools and roadside repair supplies so I can get’er home or to the shop. Maybe somebody will get rich making a kit of fashion duct tape, chrome plated bailing wire, premium color coordinated zip ties and pleasantly scented sanitary hand wipes all packed in a fancy pouch made by Gucci or Coach, perfectly fashion coordinated to that high-five-figure custom and matching pick-up truck trailer combo.

French Bread Pizza from Hell

Why is it that this pizza, made on Italian bread, is call French bread pizza? Who cares? Enjoy it on Italian bread or any kind of bread.

Olive oil
2 fresh red jalapeno peppers, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored and julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and julienned
1 orange bell pepper, cored and julienned
1 green bell pepper, cored and julienned
1 Italian green frying pepper, cored and julienned
3 medium onions, julienned
5 teaspoons chopped garlic
Salt and ground black pepper
1 loaf Italian bread
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, or to taste

Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the jalapenos, bell peppers, Italian frying pepper, onions, and garlic and fry for 6 to 10 minutes, or until the peppers are tender. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Cut the Italian bread in half lengthwise, cover with a generous amount of the shredded mozzarella, add a layer of sautéed peppers and some oil from the frying pan, and top with a light layer of cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 6 to 8 servings


Column copyright Bill Hufnagle 2005. Recipe reprinted with permission from “Biker Billy Cooks with Fire” published by Whitehorse Press, Center Conway, New Hampshire copyright Bill Hufnagle 1995, 2004. Biker Billy hosts a syndicated television cooking show, “Biker Billy Cooks with Fire” and has authored three cookbooks. Check out where you can acquire autographed books and also find information on Biker Billy’s touring schedule.


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