The Honeys Sweep the Season

For 11 years, the Providence Roller Derby Home Season Championship trophy has eluded the Old Money Honeys. A different tale was told this year as the Honeys went undefeated and topped last year’s champs, the Sakonnet River Roller Rats, 226-142. 

PRD’s alumni were in attendance to watch the showdown, in which the lead score changed four times in the first half between the two teams. The Rats’ #1216 Jane Austentatious capitalized with a 20-point jam, assisted by high-end blocking from #1230 Prince Sparklefists, #1688 Mistress Mischief, and  #917 La Bibliowrecka. Twice the Rats would lose their lead after power starts to the Honey with #83 Delta Bravo picking up 12 points in one of the jams.

The halftime originally started with a tie of 88-88, but was later corrected by officials 88-86, giving the Honeys the lead.  Honeys’ #013 Monswoon started the second half with a 20-point jam that was later matched by Honey’s co-captain #1860 Oakley. Rats’ #078 Pez DispenseHer fired back a 14-point jam, but the Rats couldn’t recapture the lead against the Honeys’ strong defense including #40 Milla Low Life, #206 Cindy Lou Screw, and #2350 Freak’n Awesome.

Earlier in the night, The Mob Squad took on the visiting team, Central Jersey Roller Vixens. The Mob opened strong with #014 Can’t Catch-A-Torie scoring 20 points in the second jam. Aiding in the big gains were #138 Scarlette O’Scare-A and #12 Varla Gunz. Vixens never gave up with a huge rotating lineup of jammers that included #0 Higgs Bosom, #18 Misty Meanor, #19 Ivanna Exposya, #549 Principal Rooney, and #92 Huntress.  Defensively, the Mob held the lead from the start, aided by blockers #187 Bootiful Banshee, #218 Mini Meat, #247 Hot Sauce, and #718 Black’nBlue Dahlia. Mob closed the year out with a 239-130 win.

The derby year might be over, but PRD will be making one final appearance. You can watch a derby demo and interact with the league at Oktoberfest in Wakefield on Saturday, October 5. If you are interested in joining the league as a skater, official, volunteer or announcer, you can reach out to PRD through social media or going to ProvidenceRollerDerby.com




Take a Hike! Bring leaf peeping to a whole nother level

RI offers a variety of hiking trails, each with its own style, terrain and level of difficulty. Some trails are ideal for fishing, while others are popular for bird watching or dog walking. Some showcase the area’s wildflowers, while others are more accessible to children. The weather has to be pretty severe to keep me out of the woods on my day off, so you can find me wandering around many of these trails in the rain, shine or snow, but the cool air and the colorful landscape of fall make it my favorite time to be outside. 

Hiking gear can be fun to shop for, but it can also be expensive. You don’t need much. Basic supplies, appropriate clothing and decent footwear will do. I recently emptied out my traditional hiking backpack and moved all of my gear into a sling-style bag. The single strap makes it easier to slide on and off at rest stops. The prolonged weight on one shoulder would likely be a hindrance on a longer excursion, but for an afternoon jaunt, the sling has been ideal. 

I always carry a long-sleeved t-shirt in my bag in case the temperature unexpectedly drops. I also bring water, food, a small first-aid kit, sunscreen and various fire starters. A handkerchief is useful to place items on when the ground is wet, and I never go anywhere without a pocketknife. 

Appropriate footwear is key while hiking. Running shoes or heavy-duty sneakers have proven to be ideal for most of the marked trails in the area, which are pretty well groomed. If you venture from the beaten path into rugged terrain, you might need hiking boots.   

Before tying on those boots and venturing off of a designated hiking trail, go over the lay of the land on a map or your GPS. Familiarize yourself with some landmarks before and during the hike, and orient yourself to them.  Drop a pin on your GPS where you park your car in case you get lost. 
A body of water is a great marker if there is one nearby. Just be careful that you are oriented to the right body of water. I once got lost in the woods around Carr’s Pond because I was standing by the nearby Tarbox Pond, thinking it was Carr’s pond on my GPS. That’s not the first or last time I’ve been lost in those woods. 

If you ever find yourself lost and in a state of duress, stop where you are and take a minute to assess the situation. Try to not let panic send you in circles. Remember that you can hear the highway from many hiking places if you listen closely, and you always can follow the sound of traffic. 

If you plan a longer excursion, I recommend buying a parachute hammock because they are sturdy, comfortable and easy to put up and pack away. Purchase straps separately to hang the hammock. Rope will do the trick, but the straps are ideal and not too expensive. And what better way to enjoy the fall than swinging from the trees?  

If you’re ready to venture into the woods this fall, find hiking spots at alltrails.com, and dem.ri.gov. Remember that you don’t have to go it alone! RI has plenty of hiking clubs.

Hike It, Baby caters to toddlers and their grown-ups: fb.com/groups/hikeitbabyprovidenceri

The Rhode Island Hiking Club for beginning hikers to the more experienced: meetup.com/rhodeislandhikingclub

Providence Outdoor Adventures for all sorts of outdoor excursions: meetup.com/providence-outdoor-adventures-ridj-it




Providence Roller Derby: Rhodey Robin Roundup

The second ever Rhodey Robin tournament is in the books with Providence Roller Derby’s A and B teams claiming three out of four impressive victories. The A Team — the Rhode Island Riveters — faced off against Roller Derby Quebec’s Les Duchesses in an intensely physical game. PRD’s #013 MonSwoon cashed in 109 of the 255 total points against Quebec’s 132 total points. While both Swoon and Quebec’s top jammer, Fifi Vât’Bécher (#988), jammed clean with zero penalties, Riveters’ captain Shreddy Roosevelt (#26) closed out her final game with PRD, blocking with an impressive +91 point deficit. The Riveters also defeated the Long Island Roller Rebel All Stars in a huge 442 to 19 win, which will impact the end of travel season rankings coming out soon on WFTDA.com. Dominating the scoreboard was Jane Austentacious (#1216) with 154 total points.

Playing alongside the A-teams, the Providence Killah Bees picked up a 260 to 100 victory against Long Island’s Rock-A-Betty Bruisers. In a return match from last year’s All Eight On The Floor Tournament finals, the upsetted Roc City B-Sides got a win back from the Bees in a hard-fought game with a score of 218 to 137.

The next home season game at the Alex & Ani Skating Center in downtown Providence is on Saturday, July 27, at 5pm. The double header will open with an expo game featuring Providence Junior Roller Derby, and then followed by The Old Money Honeys vs. the Sakonnet River Roller Rats. The Rats already lead the season 1-0 with a victory over the Mob Squad with a score of 161 to 199. Details on dates, time and locations can be found on the league’s Facebook or their website, providencerollerderby.com




Rollin to the Rhodey Robin

The Rhode Island Riveters of PVD came out of the Battle of Bunker Hill tournament with another strong two out of three victory. Skating through June 8 and 9 in Auburn, MA, the joint women’s and men’s round robin tournament showcased several memorable moments that can be viewed on replay through NerDerby on Twitch.TV. One of the standout moments was PRD’s own #042 Flyin’ King picking up the highest scoring jam of the entire tournament with 31 points  in a game that PRD maintained an 8-straight lead jam streak. PRD defeated Muddy River 283 – 230 and beat Maine 133 – 241, but lost to Twin State in a very close 172 – 157 game.

Coming up next on the weekend of June 22, PRD hosts their second ever Rhodey Robin tournament at the Longplex in Tiverton. This features skaters from Long Island, Roc City (Rochester, NY) and Quebec, and many tiers of tickets are available through ProvidenceRollerDerby.com. Both the RI Riveters and the Killah Bees will be on hand to compete, sign autographs and participate in events with the audience.

The next home season game at the Alex & Ani Skating Center in downtown PVD is on Saturday, July 27 at 5pm. The double header will open with an expo game featuring Providence Junior Roller Derby, followed by The Old Money Honeys vs. the Sakonnet River Roller Rats. The Rats already lead the season 1 – 0 with a victory over the Mob Squad with a score of 161 – 199. For all the dates, times and locations, details can be found on the league’s Facebook or by going to Providence Roller Derby.com

Speaking of junior roller derby, the next 12-week  junior roller program starts Saturday, June 29 at PRD’s practice space in Coventry.  Juniors who started out last year are already competing at PRD bouts this season. Open to ages 7 to 17, you can sign up your future derby star by reaching out to juniors@providencerollerderby.com.




World record for speed pretzel eating set at PVD Fest

Saturday around 3:45 pm something happened in Kennedy Plaza that will go down in history. Well, if you count the Guinness Book of World Records as history. At an eating event sponsored by The Malted Barley, which provided the pretzels as well, the world record for speed pretzel eating was set.

Geoffrey Esper downed 26 pretzels in 8 minutes, with a little juice to help them go down. Other participants included one of the founders of The Malted Barley (and head honcho at the Westerly location), Colin Bennett, Newport naval maritime warfare instructor Ralph Lufkin, and local comedian, podcaster and Motif contributor Chuck Staton. Miko Sudo of Nevada, currently ranked the #1 female in the country in competitive eating, was on the roster. So were a number of other professional competitive eaters from as far as Florida and Illinois.

Eight minutes isn’t a long time for most things. But for eating as fast as you can, it can seem like an eternity. Most of the professionals took the approach of squishing down the pretzels, dipping them in a beverage (each contestant brought their own pre-selected drink of choice) and then cramming as much in as possible. All this while being egged on by a Major League Eating host who seemed to have been abducted directly from a World Wrestling Entertainment event.

The final results saw some contestants complete as little as two-and-a-half pretzels. Esper ran away with the championship belt (and first place purse of $2,000) with 26, and the real drama was between second (18.5 pretzels for Nick Wehry) and third (18) where third place Miko Sudo lost based on judges’ penalties (half a pretzel, twice) for allowing crushed pretzel bits to land on the ground. The close result, decided by those penalties, left the contestant in tears.

Esper is a vocational high school teacher near Boston by day, and eats competitively on the side, especially during the summer. Forty-four years old, he had just come from a win the day before eating mini-donuts, but apparently there was still room in him. Esper certainly doesn’t look like you might imagine a professional eater would look – smaller and svelter than most of his competitors, and clearly in good shape, one has to wonder what happens, metabolically, to all that food.

We caught up with him briefly after the contest, where we found him still eating one of the pretzels (like a normal person, no crushing involved).

Mike Ryan (Motif): How do you train for this?

Geoff Esper: I have a whole bunch of YouTube videos about that! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7hqQ5P02r0fgAfQxd5bbUQ

MR: Why are you still eating a pretzel? Didn’t you just have enough?

GE: I wanted to see what they taste like when they’re not soaked in fruit juice.

MR: How is it?

GE (still munching): Really good!

MR: So if I were going to go eat 26 pretzels in one sitting, you would recommend that kind?

GE: Well, no I was talking to the owner and they have dessert pretzels with cinnamon and sugar and nutella and all kinds of stuff. I’m going to swing by and try some of those!

The informal award for best coaches went to Staton, who was rooted on by Motif food editor Jenny Currier and podcast partner Brad, whose advice included, “Eat more, Chuck!” and, “Don’t be so delicate!” Despite these considered strategies, Esper’s all-consuming prowess proved unassailable.

The event is expected to be the first in a new annual tradition twisting together pretzel consumption and PVD Fest.

eater
Backstage

esper
Geoff Esper with his championship belt, still eating pretzels

pretzel3
Eaters do their thing!

pretzel4
Eating out.

ron
They’ve got the pretzel consumers’ backs!

pretzel5
The date of the event.

pretzels
Mascot!




Go Left, Young Man! Racetracks abound just over the border, so pack a lunch and get out

It shouldn’t be surprising that the country’s smallest state would be the only state in the US without a racetrack to call its own. On the other hand, being the smallest state means you don’t have to travel far to see motor-racing, because there’s more than one choice within an easy drive, even by the typical RI driver’s standards.

More than that, if you judge racing by the endless hours of racecars chasing each other in a giant circle you see on TV, you might be surprised to see more cars side by side, more challenges to leads, more passing – in short, more racing – in one evening at a “short track” around here than you’d see in half a season on the tube.

Seekonk Speedway might as well be in RI, for all the Ocean-Staters in the crowd or in the pits getting ready to race. This wide bowl of an oval hosts four different divisions of racecars on summer Saturdays plus a few entry-level groups who race and learn on Fridays.

For decades the place has been billed the Action Track of the East. That’s more than a slogan. Go to Seekonk any Saturday and count on seeing fender-bangingly close racing from the start of a race to the finish – three or four times every night. Drivers run a heat-race to qualify and set their starting spots for a longer “feature.” Most of the races are over in a few minutes, so drivers have no time to pace themselves, no time to settle in. It’s last-lap passes from the start of every race.

It’s amazing how much different the racing is out at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut. Thompson has an oval, but it’s not like Seekonk’s. It’s more than twice as long and the extra distance is found between the corners, meaning Thompson requires big power and bigger braking to go fast there. And they do go fast.

Oval-track racing is a special event at Thompson as opposed to a weekly show. Many events happen on Sundays, there are a couple of midweek shows, and as with Seekonk, seasons end on October weekends loaded with action from visiting divisions as well as track-regulars.

Thompson offers way more than just oval-track racing. Many of Thompson’s oval-track events have drifting-competitions going on a short walk from the oval for those who like their motorsports to move at a slower pace. And the oval is part of a larger road course for race fans who insist that racecars should turn right as well as left. Again, these are special shows, so check Thompson’s schedule before setting out on that long journey of 20 minutes away from the home state.

It’s worth it. You haven’t watched racing until you see some guy slide his pristine Chevy Corvette though a broad corner at better than 100 mph. Or maybe you head out to see antique racecars roar around the place or check out the vintage motorcycles doing the same, all the while as classic cars and bikes burble around the grounds.

Connecticut’s the destination for motorcycles fans; Thompson will host you on your street bike more than once if you want to scuff the toes of your boots. For spectators, Central Village Cycle Club hosts motocross racing on a natural-terrain “real” MX track. It’s said that motocross racing is more physically demanding than any major sport besides soccer. The track’s just off Route 14 a few minutes out of Rhode Island. See it and believe it.

Trials-competition is another form of motorsports that slows the action down. Yet you might not believe what you see a trials rider do – even after you see it. Trials is about riding your bike over and around natural obstacles you wouldn’t think anyone could climb with ropes. It’s about control, not speed, as riders ride established trails on their way to the “observed sections.”

The New England Trials Association hosts events in the region, including a couple right in Exeter as well as nearby in Wrentham, Mass. Admission is free. You just stroll down the same paths the bikes are using to get to the sections where the magic happens while you stand close enough to hear each rider’s handler provide advice. Think of it this way: What motocross is to speed skating, trials is to figure skating – though it’s hard to do a triple-axel in a Honda. Oh, and these bikes don’t tear up the woods. Again, trials is about control, not speed.

Every venue listed here has a website with their schedules as well as the latest news in the sport. Of course, you knew that. So go check out the racing at any of these venues. And count on the fact that none of them are moving to Worcester.




Give it a Try, Just Don’t Die: Slacklining for the noob

GiveItATryPrepare yourself to learn the pinnacle of balance, the wobbliest of walks … the slackline! Simply put, a slackline is a cross between a tightrope and a trampoline, hung high between two immobile objects, such as trees. Let’s take that high and mighty feeling and run with it. Maybe start with walking first, though.

Step 1: Unlike most hippies, slackliners will tell you not to hug the tree — the tree will be your downfall. Start farther into the line with no tree to rely on for support.

Step 2: Slackline is all about balance and equality on all sides. Keep your feet mostly parallel to the line or suffer the inability to vote, or abort, or have equal pay.

Step 3: Once you are ready to stand, just go for it; hop up like Richard Simmons using an aerobic stepper.

Step 4: Once you mount the line, it’s time to stop what you are doing. You may feel your feet wobble and your whole body might mimic a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man. But just stay on it for as long as you can! Tip: It’s a waiting game; the line wobbles, you wait, then the line stops wobbling, you take a step.

Step 5: Now that you’ve learned how to be patient again, you can gradually shorten the waiting period in between steps until this action resembles walking.

Step 6: Don’t rush; afterall, once you make it to the other side all that’s left to do is turn around and walk back.

ScottRolllAnimatedSmallStep 7: We need to talk about falling. It’s bound to happen, and our motto is, “When in doubt, bail out.” This is how you avoid breaking something vital like a spleen or appendix. The generally preferred approach is to tuck your shoulder and roll out. My preferred method is to go limp noodle and pray for the best. Tip: If you can’t do either of these methods you will probably figureWillFallAnimatedSmall them out soon after your first big wipe-out. This is when most people quit. But not you, you resilient and brave soul!

Step 8: Rinse and repeat, mostly because you’ll probably be dirty after falling. So dust off and hop back on.

Step 9: Get tricky with it, and learn something extra. Some people keep it simple, and others push the boundary and test to see just how far 2 inches of slack can go.

That’s it! You’ve learned all the fundamentals! Now get out there and bust your ass a few times.

 




Smokin’ Skates

Providence Roller Derby has been skating strong this season with their travel teams, the Rhode Island Riveters and the Killah Bees. After winning two of their three games at the Siege of Central New York, the Riveters were coming in hot to the Thayer Arena in Warwick on April 27. In a double header against Connecticut’s All Stars and Yankee Brutals, PRD flexed in the light of the scoreboard with big back-to-back victories. #042 Flyin King and #013 MonSwoon picked up a combined 128 points of the 183 to 145 victory over the All Stars. Locking down Connecticut’s offense was thanks in part to great blocker pairings, especially #350 Wrex and #26 Shreddy Roosevelt.

The sting from the Bees could also be felt by the Brutals with a final score of 213 to 94. #12 Varla Gunz and #014 Can’t Catch-A-Torie both capitalized on penalty advantages for high scoring jams backed up by great defensive plays from #917 La Bibliowrecka, #218 Mini Meat and newcomer #1216 Jane Austentatious.

While travel season remains hot into the early summer, the home season kicks off with a double header in downtown Providence. On Saturday, June 1, at the Alex and Ani City Center, the Mob Squad will do battle with last year’s champions, the Sakonnet River Roller Rats. Before that, the Bees will take to the flat track against Boston Roller Derby’s Boston Common.

Home Season passes are available for access to all three games plus the championship double header. For all the dates, times and locations, go to the league’s Facebook or providencerollerderby.com

Don’t forget, as summer approaches, the next 12-week junior roller program starts Saturday, June 29, at PRD’s practice space in Coventry. Juniors who started out last year are already competing at PRD bouts this season. Open to ages 7 to 17, you can sign up your future derby star by reaching out to juniors@providencerollerderby.com.




Derby Roundup: Rolling fast into the 2019 season

The temperature is rising, which means a new year of Providence Roller Derby (PRD) is upon us, and what a year it’s shaping up to be! The travel team roster has been announced. Home season dates are set. The junior skaters are groomed and ready for battle. And PRD will make a huge return to a classic rink this summer.

But first, may I introduce you to your 2019 travel team? They are Black Widow, Boones Harm, Can’t Catch-A-Torie, Clawed Monet, Dr. Steelgood, Flyin’ King, Goldie Glocks, Hellderly Spinster, Hurrikahn, Jetta Von Diesel, La Bibliowrecka, Milla LowLife, Mini Meat, MonSwoon, Nutritional Beast, Oakley, Oxford Coma, Princess Sparklefists, Puma Thurman, Retro Rocket, Shreddy Roosevelt, Sinnamon Splice, Sis Boom Bonnie, Smashley Olsen and Susie Homewrecker.

PRD will not only compete away from home against other leagues, but they will host a few at-home games, including one on April 27 and the return of the Rhodey Robin tournament on June 22 – 23. If Auburn, Mass, isn’t too much of a hike, you can cheer them on as they compete at the Battle of Bunker Hill 2019 on June 8 – 9.

In between jams, the non-profit charitable league finds plenty of ways to engage with the community. PRD skaters will don the horned helmets once again on April 28 for the annual Get Gored for Good “Running of the Bulls” for the Amos House (watch this space for details!). Then on June 15, PRD will represent their inclusive sport with a special meet-and-greet at RI PrideFest.

The highly anticipated home season begins in the second half of the year. The league divides into three teams to compete against one another, with the winner claiming the championship trophy. Come see the Mob Squad, the Old Money Honeys and the Sakonnet River Roller Rats on
June 1
, July 27, August 31 and September 21 as they make their grand return to the Alex & Ani Skating Center in the heart of downtown Providence.

After a great showing in their first expo last December, Providence Junior Roller Derby is moving forward with upcoming bouts during the home season. More information will be revealed throughout the year, but it’s never too late for girls and gender non-conforming people between the ages of 7 and 17 to join. To register or for more information, go to the official website or send an email to juniors@providencerollerderby.com.




Adventure Within: Stir-crazy kids? Warm weather not coming fast enough? Urban Air Adventure Park has you covered

BluePit Climbing Walls George Eliot wrote, “Adventure is not outside man; it is within.” At Urban Air Adventure Park (UAAP), just north of Woonsocket in Bellingham, Mss, it is both, depending on whether you are child or caretaker of said child. Part trampoline park and part ninja warrior playground with an arcade, rock climbing wall and dodgeball court, UAAP has an adventure for everyone, although for parents, it may be the kind from within if you’re watching your child zoom by on the Sky Rider.

The Sky Rider, also called the Indoor Coaster, is much like a zipline: A pulley with a built-in harness is attached to a metal track in the ceiling of the park. From the top of a massive play structure, an employee locks one child at a time into the harness, instructs said child to hang on to the appropriate parts of that harness and then sends him or her for a ride around the track. Minutes later, the ride ends on another level of the play structure, where a different employee unlocks the child from the harness. My 11-year-old daughter and her friend found the Sky Rider thrilling. “Mom, it’s awesome!” my daughter informed me, eyes gleaming and cheeks flushed with excitement. “You should do it!”  I didn’t, but someone else’s father did, and he howled the whole way around the track to the amusement of everyone there. SpiderWeb

In addition to the truly unique Sky Rider, UAAP offers an impressive ropes course, which also requires a harness, as well as a ninja warrior obstacle course, which does not, because it is built over and around a massive ball pit that is staffed with employees. As sixth-graders, my daughter and her friend found both the ropes course and the ninja warrior course appropriately challenging and exciting, but I did see one much younger child get rescued from the ball pit when he couldn’t seem to climb out on his own. Unperturbed, he raced off to his next adventure.

OrangePitOther attractions include a large trampoline area, where the standard rule of one person to a square applies, and a running track that allows for multiple flips and back handsprings. There’s also a huge arcade, a rock climbing wall and a dodgeball court. The in-house cafe offers much better fare than a standard food court, including some gluten-free options as well as beer and wine. There are plenty of large cafeteria-style tables on the main floor as well as a number of smaller tables and chairs on the second floor, which offers an aerial view of the entire facility, which is enormous and entirely indoors. My husband and I managed to snag one of the second-floor tables, thereby allowing us to watch the kids from above while enjoying a snack; with better planning, it is possible to have something resembling a date while your kids are having a blast. Another unique feature of UAAP is the soundproof rooms for parents with both couches and work stations for those who want to work remotely or enjoy the adventures at the park from within, as George Eliot noted. For this reason alone, Urban Air Adventure Park deserves a spot on the family bucket list.

189 Mechanic St, Bellingham, Mass. urbanairtrampolinepark.com/locations/massachusetts/bellingham