Url, Irl, We All RL

The first quarter of 2022 is about wrapped up. It’s been a long time since this blog was started with some very long pushes of the pause button throughout its tenure. I’ve said it before, but I’m hoping to change that. 

Saying the pandemic (or great hoax in some eyes) has changed things greatly. It hasn’t been the first worldwide disruption of normal, nor likely will it be the last. Arguably though (and a lot of folks really like to argue these days) it seems like it’s apocalypse time.

I’m guessing the disruption seems a bit excessive because we have more information at our fingertips than ever before. More data = more data to be confused by.

Being a mid-pack Gen Xer I grew up with the real boom of the information age. I’m old enough to remember life before video games started taking over (our first system entered the house about age 7), but young enough that I’ve had to deal with it for most of my life. So I refer to ATMs as MAC machines, had cassettes, records, cds, mp3s, and now mostly just stream my music, and still wonder the answer to the timeless question- “Where’s the Beef?” (deez next, svimwear). 

My observation has been that most of this revolution resulted in a net gain of just over 0 for mankind so far. It seemed early on when I moved out of the shared computer lab and into an email address that the future was shiny quarter bright. Fast forward over 2 ½ decades and it seems those jets have cooled significantly. Maybe I’m just bitter that we never got those rocket packs we were promised in the 80s. Maybe not. 

I think the tech has been neutral, but it has amplified what was already in us. Well, I guess neutral is somewhat debatable once we factor in the algorithms of Youtube, FB and the like. If you want a bit more on this, check out The Rabbit Hole podcast series. 

 Humans are social creatures. When we have bonds, I feel we look out for those we share those bonds with, whether they be family, neighbors, or friends. When we don’t have those bonds, we look to maximize our personal gain and lose empathy in a hurry. America 2016 has been labeled by some to be the turning point. I don’t think Americans have changed a whole lot since that year, it’s that we pulled back the curtains and gave our ids a megaphone. And we lost some filters. If you want a bit of insight to how we got here, The Coming Storm podcast on BBC was something I found that offered a bit of insight. This storm’s been brewing for a while. 

After processing 2020 and 2021, I’ve been pulling a bit back from some tech as of late. I still respond to emails and messages fairly promptly. And just within the past 2 years started communicating via text. If you need those digits to reach me, shoot an email to the namesake with the @gmail.com on the end of it and I’ll likely get back to you if I know who you are in the real world. 

I’ve really cut back on fb. The account’s not deleted, but I don’t look at it much. It just seems to frustrate me when I see people double down on difficult situations with a quick meme-like response followed by a mic drop. Like the price of gas being tied to The President. It’s not. End of story. 

Misinformation and shallow thinking doesn’t restrict itself to a particular political affiliation.There’s more than enough stupid to go around and I get extremely frustrated with it in a hurry. It bothers me when things are wrong. I moved to improving my dealings with it by getting back to more face to face interactions. It’s shrunk the circle of communication, but at this point, at least for me, it’s the cost of doing business. A few less friends maybe, but a lot less of losing my mind at acquaintances and strangers.

So, I guess overall I’ve reverted to the late 90s as far as online use goes. The only update would be the addition of texting, but it’s pretty close to email especially since I don’t have a sim card.

I would like to think we’re getting better overall, but it’s too soon to tell. 

One thing I do know is that the music of the 70s was truly amazing. Sure, it’s the music of my childhood, but there’s really something there largely due to the landscape. That’s a topic for another time.


Read or Red

Your choice.

In the name of love or hammertime? (It’s in the middle)

The sign in the middle is down to 5 words- TRAIL CLOSED, STOP, TURN AROUND.

The message seems simple enough, and much like a good middle school dance song (‘Gonna See You Sweat, Cha-Cha Slide, and The Cupid Shuffle) tells you what to do (TURN AROUND).

You would think.

But, it seems not all people on mountain bikes can read. Weird how that works though as they seem to post to social media.

This has been a round about way to get to an actual story.

Two weeks ago we finished work on a flow trail that took several weeks of machine work to build. That’s not cheap. So, as we waited a bit for the dirt to set we posted the 5 words signs on the trail- 2 at the beginning and one at the end.

Within 6 hours I caught the first person who rode around the sign and through the dirt. I actually tracked him down, literally, by his tread.

His explanation? “I just got curious. I only rode in a bit and then turned around. I didn’t ride the whole thing.”

Within another day a trace was found on a popular tracking app- right down the map of where the new trail is. His explanation?

“Curiosity got the best of me and I should have known better.” This case at least seemed like the person realized the mistake. They offered which seemed to be a sincere apology. Not 100% cool overall, but an OK ending and hopefully a change of ways.

Within another day- caught another poacher. No resolution on that either way.

And then, a few days later, caught one with 2 traces down the hill. Once the time was figured out it was during an absolute downpour to boot. Here’s the word for word explanation:

“I didn’t ride it rolled around everything and missed any wet wet spots im not an ass I saw it was closed and was nice about it promise”

And after being asked about the second trip down: “Same thing rolled beside the jumps cuz it started pouring and we were checking out a couple of the sweet jumps you guys have in there”

This guy should know better. He works in a major name bike shop. So 3 thoughts before I move on: 1. It’s tough for me to not go all nuclear at this point. 2. You might be saying “Big deal. What’s it hurting if people run STOP signs?” Or 3. “It’s public property so I can do what I want. You can’t stop me!”

If you are siding with 2 or 3, I would encourage you to please leave me alone. Please realize I’m Defcon 1 on this topic.

Those who run the Closed signs, whether they get caught running them or not, are damaging the reputation of all cyclists in the eyes of those who put the signs there in the first place.

As a matter of fact, a sign runner might just be what causes someone who invests a whole lot to just give up. It’s a HUGE waste of time to try to help folks follow those 5 simple words and call them out privately. Nuking and public shaming would be a less time intensive route.

Last thought- If you feel the need to tell someone “I’m not an a—.”, you might want to reconsider your species.

The Happy Place

About 12 miles from my doorstep

I know people have great adventures in far off lands. I’m not typically one of those people (just yet).

The way the schedule works around here time is typically at a premium. While I have seasonal unemployment, my actual time off amounts to 3 days a year I get to choose my own adventure outside of Summer. My better half is the owner and sole employee at her place of employment, and she gets a weekly Sunday/Monday weekend and that’s about it.

These restrictions lead to us taking short vacations together.

But this post isn’t about one of those vacations either. Because this is about camping. And, she doesn’t camp.

Oh, and did I mention I don’t really like to drive?

While many people desire to venture to far off places and recharge, I’ve found I can do this from home.

Pedaling for me has always been a restorative experience. Daily rides are great. But to take a vacation from that routine, pack a whole bunch of crap on a bicycle, and meet a few friends for an overnight in the woods just makes it all next level fun.

The paved path portion of the first day. Fortunately roller blades aren’t in season.

What even makes this better is that I’ve got a repeatable plan that pairs all the local terrains with an overnight in a hammock. A plan that takes around 32 hours to execute and includes 3 rides. The to and fro the bike is loaded for pretty much bike glamping as having mountain pies for meals sure beats most single serving packages. So I tend to offer to pack breakfast for the group. The menu usually consists of bacon, eggs, sausage, and cheese to pack in to pie irons in the sometimes late AM. Oh yeah, and Aeropress and coffee for several is packed as well.

Among handy things packed- a folding saw. This is the before pic.
And the after.

The magical middle ride is well, just that. The trails involved with that aren’t visited by a lot of folks who ride mountain bikes regularly as these trails are quite technical with ALL the rocks. Most folks hitting this sweet singletrack have some squishy bits attached to both wheels to soften the blows a bit. The number of riders with little or no suspension who ride these trails sometimes overlaps with self proclaimed Old School riders too. In that subset there are some folks who just enjoy the masochism (I’m looking at you my single speeding brethren), and some who troll the Internet leaving comments about how it was all better before trails were designed to flow and drain water. The last group is firmly planted in the Glory Days of biking when a trip over the bars was so common many of them accumulated frequent flyer miles.

Wait, this was the way in with all the foods and accessories. This is not the third ride just yet.

I’ve digressed here a bit. There’s a lot to unpack in the rider demographic. Maybe later. Back to this trip.

The middle ride outer loop (along with the first of 2 inner trails) was only about 8 miles, but it took about 2 hours with minimal stops to complete. It’s that rocky.

The part that really makes it all magical for me is doing the middle ride on the bike that got me to the camping spot (along with food and slingshots) in the first place. It’s not an ideal bike for any surface, but entirely capable on every surface. Utility with a capital U.

2 out of 3 riders rode 40 miles fully loaded to get here the day before. A brief stop in a non-rocky spot.

For me, this 32 hour getaway is about as perfect as I can imagine. I get to ride my bike a lot (in some challenging situations), eat things cooked in fire, sleep in a hammock, and not start a car.

Full disclosure: This picture was the trip before at another location as I forgot to take at the campsite pics this time.

I’m so thankful my happy place is within pedaling distance of home.

A big thanks to those who provide the space to camp and those who share the experience with me. This trip was extra special on that front in that one of the folks on it will be moving back to Italy in a month. Safe travels, Marco!

Digging in the Dirt


Moving into the next phase has been the 2021 trend. This likely is going to involve dropping content here. My social media tolerance isn’t high. I’m in a good place with it and am not angry or upset about it. Cliche drop- It is what it is.

With new memories being added there infrequently I’d still like to have a spot where I can scamper up a platform, mutter a bit, and then shake a stick at the sky. Being that this account wasn’t closed out, it’s the path of least resistance.

So, for today, here’s a pic from yesterday:

Private Property Trails of Awesomeness – I only did final inspection and bits of finishing

Yesterday I kicked off the summer season with a glorious 10 hour session of cutting roots, raking, and doing a bit of final tread shaping. It was almost 90 degrees all day, and there was rain. Fortunately the latter was buffered by the beautiful canopy.

We all have our things we like to do. Digging in the dirt is one of mine. If it’s a good day, I can see progress. If I do my job well, in a bit the new path through nature will look like it’s been there for a while.

The Peter Gabriel video is from an album that’s 29 years old. I remember that year. As much fun as that was, I’m a better human now than I was then. If I’m around in another 29 years I hope to look back and have the same sentiments.

Ice- D

This past Thursday night and Friday morning we were pummeled with a crazy ice storm that switched to heavy snow midway through. It ravaged the region dropping trees and parts of trees everywhere a tree could be dropped- with a strong tendency to aim for roadways and utility lines.

In the game of “Fight the Power” it set a new regional high score. Over 60,000 people ended up juiceless. Refrigerator bacteria clapped their hands as the no flow of electrons is still going on for some 4 days later.

Our small part of the story started around 5am Friday when I noticed our internet, and subsequently our phone was out. So I took the dog for the usual morning lap. Upon return we noticed a few trees down across the lines just down the block. One of those lines had adopted a nice glowing look. And by 7:45am our power was off.

Since we were lacking internet and phone I didn’t know that the place of employment was without power as well, so I reported to work as usual. Me and about 5 other people. And 3 vans worth of copy repair machine guys.

I’m not sure what they were going to get done as work was out of power as well. This was REALLY weird to me as the building is designed for 2000 people and with the main power out, it gets switched to back up lighting and Wi-Fi and phones still being able to work. But no air handling. Which makes things eerily quiet.

Since I obviously going to be bothered I found a window seat, poured a cup of cold brew coffee, and set about getting some work done for a couple of hours.

After that got old and cold, I bailed and went home. Before doing that I checked our estimated power on status: Sunday, 10pm.

So I packed the freezer and fridge contents, a few sets of clothes, and the dog and headed for a place that still did have power and heat- Darn Yarn Needles and Thread. It’s my wife’s place of employment, and we figured we’d hole up there for a while. Well, at least 2 of the 3 of us thought that through. The dog has fur and wasn’t too disturbed by the lack of light or heat at the house. He was just happy to take a car ride.

Fortunately for me, there was space in the loft with a railing that would be adequate for Hammockville. Hammockville is a nomadic town with a low population count that springs up occasionally when sleeping in a bed isn’t a solid option. I’ve populated Hammockville 9 times since early July. Always a great place to visit. Although, this time the setup was less than ideal from a geometric standpoint. The railings are low and didn’t allow me to get a nice deep U shape for the hang (well, more gentle parabola, but you get the picture). This made it less stable than usual. No biggie, just a note.

So we spent Friday night, all day Saturday, and part of Sunday in the shop. Saturday I disappeared during business hours and headed to THICK Bikes (for some holiday shopping) and The Wheel Mill for some rad riding- after stopping at Target and buying some underpants as I’d packed everything else…

By Sunday morning I was itching for an outdoor ride so I headed home to wait for the power to return. I hopped on the fixed gear Cross x Check and roamed around the county for a few hours surveying the damage.

When I got home close to dark I took a nice hot shower (we have a gas water heater- HOORAY!). It was around 5:30 so I did what I usually do in a currently hopeless situation that I have no control over- I took a nap.

And then, around 7:30:

I heard the furnace fan kick on. Hooray! I called the other 2/3 of the household population and messaged a neighbor to let them know we could return to our first world status.

Knowing at this point that the food was not here to be cooked I ducked out to refuel the Toaster and grab some grub. In the gas station/ convenience complex that rhymes with “heats” I saw a couple of utility trucks in the lot. When I went inside I saw 3 guys standing by the MTO area awaiting their food. I felt compelled to ask them about the truck and thank them for doing their job. Seriously, I know I take the convenience of electricity and heat on demand for granted. I really appreciate these luxuries. Especially when we had been without for 60 hours. And I felt the least I could do was talk to a random group of guys who were doing their best to get these utilities back on line for us in the midst of a natural disaster.

So I figured I could thank them for their service. We both had to wait for our food anyways.

I came to find out they were from Raystown Lake Area, a fantastic outdoor destination, and had been putting in 13-16 hour days. They said our situation was bad, but nearly as bad as what they saw after Irene and a crazy snow system pummeled New Jersey last year.

Their food came up first, and got around to saying our goodbyes and asking them about their specific day. They said they had a couple of more jobs to go and just finished a job in town.

It turns out, they were the guys that restored power to our house.

Super cool.

A big thanks to the people who do their job in spite of the weather so we can have heat, water, and electric on a regular basis!




Mmmm Doughnuts

One of the fun things I ran across today (yeah, it’s been out for a while but I’m a bit behind) is that The Flat Earth Society has expanded their waistline to include the possibility that the earth may be better than just a pancake.

It may be doughnut shaped.

I see this as the culmination of a room full of 12 year olds playing the “But, What If” game where they endlessly refute science and logic with ridiculous practically impossible scenarios.

Regardless, this led me to construct some early morning haiku:

Our doughnut shaped earth

Some people believe it’s true

Hope we have sprinkles

Simply Stupid

Riding a bike to Mars always sounds cool. This bike and I have spent tens of thousands of miles together.

Recently, I’ve been revisiting parts in the basement. The Cross x Check was pretty much part of the mess. We hadn’t spent much time together for at least 6 months. I’ve been digging the versatility 3in tires and a few gears provide. Quite frankly, I’ve been struggling with a bit of neck discomfort as well.

So I went to the parts pile and grabbed another set of bars to put me in a bit more of a neck friendly position. And I ditched the clipless (that you actually clip into) pedals.

Lo and behold, I’m back in this saddle again.

Why simply stupid? One gear with no coasting. 42×18 fixed. It’s not racer fast- especially downhill.

Riding 80 miles in 40 sone degrees over 2 days supports the cause as well.

All in all though, I can ride a bike to Mars.

It’s cheaper than therapy.

Not Staind

It’s been a while. So long in fact that I forgot my password.

Alright, so that happens on a regular basis. Not as often as I change my socks, but pretty frequently. (FYI: I change my socks a couple of times a day. Before you judge, I also use a bike a couple of times a day too. Biking doesn’t necessitate a sock change, it’s just the road that the brain train was on.)

It’s been one of them days. Or a couple of the years. For reasons which may be come apparent over some future posts, or not, I’ve decided I need to- for now, get back to typing. And writing with far too many commas and side tangents.

Last I checked, the world contains 7.7+ billion people. I remember when 4 billion was the norm. Actually, I don’t remember that well, but 5 billion- yes.

Things have indeed changed. And they haven’t. With well over 3 billion people added in the last 30 years you’d think we’d evolve a bit. Or at least get the personal jetpack figured out.

Come on people.

I guess I don’t have a lot of room to talk. I’ve been reminded of ghosts past recently. There have been some pretty rad times in my life.

And they’re not over. That’s why I’m again putting words on a virtual page. I need to spread a few more breadcrumbs to be able to find my way back if I need to.

Then again, I’m not great at looking back. Or remembering passwords.

In all of this though, I really think Hip-Hop peaked in the 90’s. Argue with me if you like after you’ve listened to the facts:

I Love My 90’s Hip-Hop

Sampling legality can be a crazy debate, but the consumers definitely benefited when the past could be integrated into what was then current making something new.

That being said, this year’s had some notable music. This one caught me by surprise:

One last thought for the day. If you haven’t checked out Hip-Hop Evolution on Netflix, you haven’t. It’s an fascinating take on a few decades of recent history.

One thing for sure: if we as humans survive the next few decades the documentary should be interesting viewing for a couple future generations.

A Loaf of Bread, a Container of Milk, and a Stick of Butter

Many folks don't realize just how useful a bicycle and bike trail can be. Yesterday I Big Dummy-ed (or Dan Wilson-ed) somewhere around 60lbs of foodstuffs for 17miles (1/2 the trip).

The Butler Freeport Community Trail connects not only the endpoint towns, but makes it convenient to get to communities in the middle as well.

The trail allowed me to not have to deal with auto traffic for half the trip, but also average the climbing out over a longer distance- a welcome respite when I use a 34×30 as my low gear (Who's the Big Dummy?).

The takeaway? Bikes and local rail-trails are useful for MUCH more than pure recreation. You don't always NEED to drive someplace to get some exercise in. And, in my case, if I factor in the time the trip I would have spent driving a car, I saved about an hour of the day.


penn st.png

On March 21, 2016 a Nissan Altima showed me and my Karate Monkey just who’s boss.  We had quite the lesson in physics that evening. F=u+cked. This is a pic I snapped last night from the car’s perspective.

It took a fraction of a second for the whole thing to go down. The inattentiveness of the driver to STOP before left hand turning started me on a journey that has already taken hundreds of hours of my life.

I don’t honestly believe the driver set out to hit a fellow human. There was no cyclist hate. He was simply in a hurry to get his daughter to an activity and wasn’t entirely focused on piloting a 2-ton vehicle for a few moments.

I couldn’t do anything differently. I was wearing hi-vis clothing and there was ample daylight. I had stopped, determined it was safe to proceed, and was starting. I was ½ way through an offset intersection heading eastbound (from the left) as the car was traveling westbound (from the right.) I was hit on the left side from the head-on direction.

penn st 2

penn st 3

It’s now been a year and a day. I’m not angry at the driver. Truthfully though, I am disappointed. And really confused. The way insurance works, there’s no room to admit fault or offer a true condolence. I should not have been hit by this person (I know more about the situation than I’m willing to disclose on the internet). I don’t know if his life was altered from this experience. I do know mine has.

I get tired of people telling me “Change is good.” whenever a situation doesn’t go as one would like. Change is change. It’s not inherently good or bad. It’s just makes things different. The change in my life as a result of this experience has been mixed. I definitely can’t say it’s all been good.

One of my first rides back was with a friend. He said, “Sometimes we have experiences for no apparent reason other than to test what we’re made of.”


The above picture was from my ride last night- March 22, 2017. I broke out the ungeared 36″ uni and put in over 30 miles. The shot is blurry as I was running out of daylight and was still several miles out so I snapped it while riding.

As frustrated as I’ve been from being hit, I’m thankful I can still ride.

Cars are dangerous.