Sunday, June 11, 2017

Centralia, PA

In 1962, a mine caught fire in Centralia, PA and it has been burning ever since. The government oredered the evacuation of the town, and, in a form consistent with humanity, a few stalwart citizens refused to move, living there to this day. The mine continues to burn, and upheavals and fissures billowing smoke and steam are not uncommon, though we didn't see any that day.

One of the more interesting parts of the town is the Graffiti Highway, a section of road that has now been closed off. People have taken to spray painting messages and images on the roadway, and it continues to change and evolve.

A walk along the road reveals a thought tableau as diverse as the people who traverse the road. Profane? Beautiful? Vulgar? Thoughtful? Sad? Ironic? It's all here.

The walk is short, but can be surprisingly introspective. Why did this phrase impact me? What was this person thinking when they spray painted that? I wonder if they're still together? Happy? What does that even mean?

It's also a good place to sit and cool off, on a hot day. Or, if you're riding with my buddy Brad, whom I only half-jokingly refer to in equal parts as "The Rainmaker" and "The U-Boat Commander", get out of the rain.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Got Screwed on My Ride Today

I picked up a screw on my ride today. There is no telling when I picked it up, or where, but I discovered it about 50 miles from home.

I was with my buddy, Brad, and decided I could get it home, and he decided to follow me. I started to ride, and it felt fine, at first. But, as I continued, it just felt a little "squishy" in the back, like the tire wasn't making good contact. It was misting out, but I have ridden in the rain and it felt different, so I decided to stop. Fortunately, Brad had a patch kit, and for the low, low price of a half-gallon of diet iced tea, I was up and running like it never happened.

Then, we were off and riding, again, trying to beat the worst of the rain. But, if there's one thing I know about riding with Brad, it's that it's going to rain and we're going to get wet. Every. Single. Time.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Barrick's Oliver Museum

Took a run out to Barrick's Oliver Museum in Newville, PA. It's an interesting museum/graveyard for some pretty cool stuff.

Monday, May 22, 2017

BullHawg Sammiches & Dirt Roads

Went for a ride with my buddy, Brad, to get a Bullhawg Sammich from the Frontier Barbeque in Fairfield, PA. It's old-school Barbeque and they start making it early, so that by the time we got there, it's just an all out OM NOM NOM Fest.

If you go, bring cash (they don't take plastic) and know it's also okay to bring a firearm.

On the way home, find some dirt!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Susquehanna Spring

I took a ride along the Susquehanna River. It's beautiful this time of year, with Spring just beginning. I started by heading up to the Carsonville Hotel. Carsonville is a bit of a misnomer because it's really just the hotel/inn and about ten houses. Still, there are some great roads up that way.

There's a pretty park in Millersburg, PA. It's always a good place to stop and stretch, and also get a couple of snaps. There is also a ferry to cross the river there, but it will have to wait for next time.

I got home, let the bike cool off, then gave it a bath and lubed the chain. Good times.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Rener Gracie Seminar

I went to a Rener Gracie seminar in Baltimore last night at Baltimore City Gracie Jiu Jitsu. I rode down with my coaches, Dave and Monica from my school, Harrisburg Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as well as fellow students, Holly and Rick. Not knowing what to expect, it was good to be able to ask them what it might be like, and what to look for as the seminar unfolded.

Rener taught us moves from the guard, and it was, in a word, incredible. I am only a one-stripe white belt, so I REALLY wish I had a broader range of knowledge to build on what he was teaching. A large part of it focused on transitioning from "obvious" moves to surprising the opponent when they react to defend based on that assumption. I really liked the way he taught the technique, but also explained the theory behind the moves. Rener's passion for Jiu Jitsu clearly shines through, and he took time with every single person in the gym. And, he gave us tools that we can carry forward for the rest of our Jiu Jitsu journey.

The entire experience, like Jiu Jitsu itself, is its own koan: "I learned so much. I have so much to learn."

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Top 10 Signs You Might Be Getting Better at Jiu Jitsu - A New White Belt's Guide

10. There is an area of your house designated for drying your gear. It looks like something out of West Side Story.

9. You've used the phrase, "This one time, at Jiu Jitsu camp..."

8. You used to wonder "What the hell just happened" every time someone passed your guard and now you wonder "How the hell did he/she do that" every time. And, you know there is a difference between these two sentences.

7. Coach knows your name. Kidding. That doesn't happen until blue belt.

6. You have a move. And, this one time, when you were rolling, it worked!

5. North-south used to inspire a Luke-and-Leia-in-the-trash-compactor-OHMYGODWEAREGONNADIE-like-panic, and now you find that the tiny pinpoint of light as the darkness closes in is a sign you can still breathe.

4. You know a kimura is not a Japanese robe. You don't yet know what it is, but you know what it isn't.

3. Your belt wraps around a little farther, now. And your other belts are one notch smaller, too. Yet, for some reason, that caribou you ate for lunch didn't fill you up.

2. They call someone with the same name as you to come get your first stripe, then you wonder why everyone in the class is looking at you, then you realize that name IS your name.

1. Instead of your body being one gigantic bruise, it's now an interconnected network of medium-sized bruises.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Ready to Ride?

Let's just say It's been a rough motorcycling off-season. I broke my hand in jiu jitsu, which, apparently, really hampers the clutch action (probably could have ridden if it was my right hand - who needs brakes, anyway?).

It used to be they'd put a full cast on, or even think about surgery for a break like this, but now they put you in a relatively simple brace and just let it heal naturally for 4-5 weeks.

And, while the weather in Pennsylvania has been relatively mild, it did drop off a bit just as I was getting some mobility in my hand.

Still, as sure as the sun comes up, the weather begins to warm, if ever so slightly, the snow begins to melt, and riding season approaches. Get on your bikes and ride...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Uncovered Ride - Look What I Found

I was going through some pictures from last year and found these snaps from a ride I took at the end of Fall. It was a great ride, but then they all are.
I took an old bicycling route down through Boiling Springs, PA, one of my favorite places in the state of Pennsylvania.

Boiling Springs is a charming town with a great restaurant, coffee shop, duck pond, and fly fishing shop, set on a naturally spring-fed lake. It holds trout and ducks, and is nice place to just walk around.

I rode down to Michaux State Forest, outside of Mt. Holly Springs, PA.

I found some dirt roads and decided to check them out. FUN!

There is so much beauty in this state.

I AM smiling!

Winter Riding

Twenty-five degrees for one hour might be the limit of my endurance for cold weather riding. I enjoyed how crisp and clear everything was, but unfortunately came back to fork seal fluid all over my front tire and left boot. Before I bought the bike, it sat for three and a half years, getting only 1800 miles of use. I am guessing that sort of thing tends to dry out parts that should be more elastic.

I ended up needing pretty much every jacket in the packet.