Well, for our first annual Keystone Rally we had a lot of "firsts" and not all of them good. But do you know what, God is faithful way beyond what we thought. This rally began in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's state capital. Rick J and I met up @ my place and rode out to the starting point, a Cracker Barrel restaurant north of Harrisburg and we almost missed the exit! Rick and I had enough time for a big breakfast of pancakes, eggs and bacon. There we met up with PA SV who came up from Virginia. We exchanged greetings, small talk, and the route to come. From there we went off in search of mountain passes to go roaring through. At the top of the first mountain we stopped for a picture. Sadly within three turns and 20 miles from our start we would have a crash.
Rick J came into a down hill left hand turn, grabbed both front and back brake to trail brake into the corner, but the rear wheel locked up and he began to slide a bit sideways. He then let off the rear brake and the bike promptly high sided him off of it. He landed on the asphalt, slid between a guardrail and a tree then fell about eight feet down an embankment. His bike followed him down the embankment and landed in on its side in a shallow stream. I was leading and realized he went down when no one came around the second corner. For those who have ever led a ride, that is the worst feeling ever when you know someone has gone down. This could have gone much worse with either the bike landing or hitting Rick or with him smacking into the guardrail or tree. So thanks be to the Lord for His hand of protection. You may be wondering why did the Lord allow this to happen, so do I. But He doesn't always reveal all of His plan to us and His ways are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Once I returned to the scene I came down to the stream and joined up with PA Sv as he tried to figure out what to do with both Rick and the bike. Rick was breathing and in pain, so we weren't moving him soon. Thus, we worked on the bike. Step one, lift the bike upright out of the water. Step two, lift the front wheel out of the stream, (the rear wheel was resting on the far bank already) and onto the bank. Step three, start the bike and get it into neutral. Step four, ride the bike out. Darn, that didn't work. Okay step four A, have one guy ride and one guy push from behind. Step 5 go check back on Rick. Well, he's standing but in a LOT of pain. By the third time he asked us what happened we knew he needed medical help and he was NOT going to finishing this ride. When PA SV called 911 the dispatcher asked what township we were in, he didn't know. So he described what roads we were on and where we turned and the dispatcher knew exactly where we were. Thanks God for having that dispatcher available when we called. While PA SV was calling, I was helping Rick walk out of the stream, up the bank, and to the road; by his insistence.
Within about five minutes a EMT showed up in her personal car to put a cervical collar on Rick and check his vital signs. Once the fire company showed up, they secured the scene, and assisted the ambulances in getting a back board on Rick. Once again, God provided both EMT's and paramedics for this call, even though it was only an accident with injuries both ambulances were available for the call. The state trooper showed up last, because he was the shift supervisor and his other two troopers were both busy with other calls. Once again, God's hand was it that as well. The trooper used to ride, and called specifically for a tow truck that could pick up motorcycles. He also didn't cite Rick, and said simply, "accidents happen". He helped us locate information for Rick and transfer belongings into the ambulance, the guy was very cool and a total professional. You would think God would be done, but NO, you would be wrong. We were waiting and blocking a guy's driveway. He stopped at the end of it and hung out with us, he didn't mind having to wait at all. He even gave PA SV and I an entire box of Tastykakes! Now you know that's from the Lord! So, once Rick was on his way to Hershey Medical Center, the tow truck came and took great care loading Rick's bike on to the truck. We bid all farewell and resumed our ride over an hour and a half behind schedule. Thankfully the weather was great and the traffic was light.
At our first gas stop, PA SV and I decided to cut out a portion of our ride to get up to State College for lunch sooner. A friend lovemykawi (lmk) was going to meet us up there but had to turn around since the day was getting late and he had evening plans. The roads up were really cool, but it was a bummer because Rick wasn't able to be there with us. Lunch at The Diner in State College, PA went well and we both left full and happy. After another gas stop we were on the second part of our journey. We cut through some more mountain passes and were enjoying the ride. We went through a cool town that had hanging baskets of flowers that hung off the light posts and plywood signs that were painted green that had Scripture on them, Allendale I think it was called. We also went through other interesting towns and saw so much neat stuff. It was hard to know what to take a picture of and what not to! Rktec and XIII, you guys need to come next year to shoot the pics. Anyway, the evening was getting late and the sun was in our eyes. I was also wearing a do rag that was digging into my forehead for some reason, so we stopped for five minutes to discuss our next gas stop and the route. We did fuel up one more time and checked into the hotel. It was so nice to get our leathers and boots off we didn't even want to leave for supper, so we had pizza delivered. We hung out for the rest of the night talking, calling family, and watching some TV.
Saturday started with overcast skies and the coming threat of rain later in the day. My friend lmk, met us there since he lives in western PA. When he lived in central PA he attended a number of our functions. PA SV and I packed up our stuff on our bikes and started out the ride. After a short patch of highway, we hit the twisty roads. We stopped later for gas a bathroom break, and a snack, then got moving again. We were almost at lunch when we went through a bit of drizzle. By then we had gone through some awesome roads and we were almost in Maryland. PA SV turned south to go back to VA and lmk & I went north. While we were there, stopped at a closed gas station a couple pulled up and asked directions. I sent them on their way and got ready to go. As we went we missed a turn and we were off the route. As lmk looked at directions, I went back into town to find someone to ask directions. I saw a lady with a chocolate Brown Newfoundland dog crossing the street as I turned onto it and she told me where to find a gas station. Attached to the gas station was a neat pizza place with really good food. Talk about how God just provides for you when you need it! After lunch we continued north and lmk and I parted ways after churning up some good roads. I stopped at the mini market we ended the Southern PA Screamer at two years ago. I sent Rick a text to see if I could visit him in the hospital and opened the map to figure out how to get there. As I am eating a tastykake, a man comes up to me and asks if I need directions. I told him I was going to HMC (Hershey Medical Center) and he said he knew the fastest way because he had been there many times. The directions were great, once again, the Lord provided just when I needed it. I did get to visit with Rick and he sends his greetings. I only got stuck in a downpour on the Turnpike once, but I was one mile from a rest stop that had a broken gas pump where I could park my bike and put my rain gear on uninterrupted. Again, God provided when I needed it. Besides I wouldn't be a CSBA rally with out rain. The way back home was dry and uneventful.
I already have plans for next year, you all have to come. This year, even with the crash, was great. Next year will only better, don't miss it. Thanks to lmk for helping with recon and leading the second day, Sandy for road suggestions, plasticweld for support, PA SV for coming up, and Rick for riding along with me. This rally was a success thanks to those who helped and their families who supported them it it. May God be glorified!
I did share a piece of Scripture with the guys before PA SV went south and we went north. It was out of Nehemiah chapter one:
1 These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.
3 They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
4 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. 5 Then I said,
“O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6 listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! 7 We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.
8 “Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. 9 But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’
10 “The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants. 11 O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer.
A few things: a cup bearer tasted the king's food and drink before he ate it to ensure it wasn't poisoned. In Nehemiah's time the majority of Israel had been taken by the Assyrians and those Jews had been sold into slavery and never heard from again. Nehemiah was part of the tribe of Judah and other remnants of the tribes of Israel that had stayed faithful to God longer, but then turned to idols and along came the Babylonians and took them into slavery. The Persians have taken over and we are now at the start of chapter one. Nehemiah neatly and succinctly summarizes the Old Covenant with Israel that was made with God in verses 5-9. It mirrored a "servant-vassal" covenant that was popular at that time. A Vassal or "lord" would make a covenant with a servant. For his (servant's) service he would provide protection, food, shelter, etc. If the servant obeyed and was a good servant the vassal was obligated to hold up his part of the agreement. If the servant was wicked or lazy, the vassal was allowed to withhold the above good things or do bad things to the servant. This was all spelled out in the covenant. Deuteronomy chapter 28 is a good reference that describes blessings/curses spelled out in the covenant God made with the nation of Israel. Nehemiah will later in the book have the people renew this covenant with God after having the Law given to Moses read to them. Anyway, verse 11 really stuck with me, and I wanted to highlight it. All the above needed to be known to appreciate the depth of this verse, thanks for your patience.
In this verse the word translated from the Hebrew that was used was "delighted". We all knows that's when you are so happy with something it fills you to overflowing and it goes out to others who can see it and even share in it. In what did Nehemiah delight in doing? Honoring God. We know how to honor people; we give them awards, certificates, and ceremonies. We introduce them favorably to others and have them sit in prominent places when we eat. There are other ways, but I think you get what I am trying to say. It made Nehemiah so happy to honor God that if filled him to overflowing and it when out and blessed others. Do I do that? Is that I how I am delighted, by honoring God? Do I honor God so much that it blesses others and serves as an example/inspiration for them also? These questions are rhetorical, so don't answer them here; answer them in your heart, mind, soul and spirit. In that may you also come to delight in honoring God and keep His commands as Nehemiah did. I pray that this blesses you and I hope to see you again next year at our second annual Keystone Rally.
Firsts for the rally: first crash, first out of state attender, first non member attending, first random encounter with nature (there was two), first time getting lost and off the route, first message preached, first time on new roads, and God once again revealing His grace and provision so faithfully. The end!
A shot of Mark, Rick, and Jon's bikes near St. Peter's Mountain