Saturday, April 15, 2017


Late last week I got the news I'd been waiting (and hoping) for.  With the blessing of my surgeon and family doctor I was given permission to get back on my bicycle!  I'll admit that I've been just as nervous as I've been excited.  I was told that I could "ease back into it" by my surgeon, Dr. Salotto.  My wife, who is pretty convinced that I'm incapable of easing into anything, held her breath as I clipped in for the first time in six months.

A little pre-ride celebration!  My first ride since October...and I wouldn't have done it with anyone else!  Thanks for coming with me, Sweetheart! -- April 9, 2017

I think she was surprised when I suggested a short 3 mile ride home from the middle school where I teach after we dropped my truck off for my son.  As far as I'm concerned...that's "easing into it."  What a feeling it was getting back on my bike.  I really missed this...the sense of freedom...the wind in my face...the simple joy of riding my bike!  I made that trip from school twice this week...the second time coming when I commuted home from school on Wednesday.  

The best 5 miles of mountain biking ever!  Mark, Glenn, and I at the Lakes.  Thanks for waiting for us, Mark! -- April 11, 2017

The real test came on Tuesday when I met Mark and Glenn at the Lakes for the best 5 mile mountain bike ride I've ever taken.  Pulling into the lot near the Lake Redman dam I could feel the nervousness in my stomach.  An easy ride home from school is one thing...but a trail ride (even the easiest trail ride I could possibly imagine) is a whole different beast.  Mark, Glenn, and I took trails 4 and 2 around Lake Williams with no problem whatsoever.  

All smiles with Glenn at the Lakes...Glenn because he had a new bike and me because I'm back on my bike.  It's great to be out riding! -- April 14, 2017

2B (or not, 2B).  Yep...let's ride trail 2B at the Lakes.  Glenn Medice & Dave Raymond -- April 14, 2017

Glenn and I returned to the Lakes on Friday morning for another ride.  The pace was slow...but the ride was amazing.  We rode the same loop the we took with Mark on Tuesday and added a little more to the mix.  I was happy to be out and not in pain...and Glenn was happy to be out on his brand new carbon Epic 29er (which, he claims, will be the last bike he buys...this year!)  Ultimately, we added an extra 3 miles to the 5 mile loop we did earlier in the week.  It was a perfect morning to be out on the trails mountain biking...and, with each pedal stroke, I could feel my confidence growing and my nervousness dissipating.  

First ride on my Roubaix.  A quick 7 mile ride around Manchester, PA -- April 13, 2017

The view from my road ride up Starview Road.  Through the blossoms on the trees you can spot Three Mile Island (on the left) and PPL Power Plant (on the right). -- April 15, 2017 

My road bike managed to come down from the wall in the garage this week, too!  Again...not many miles...but who cares.  I forgot how amazing I feel, both mentally and physically, when I'm on my bike.  I made it out for two road rides.  On Thursday I managed to sneak in my first ride since October before my son's baseball game.  It was an easy 7 miles around the industrial parks near my house.  Today, I got out for an easy 10 miles...highlighted by the view of the blossoms in full bloom in the orchards overlooking Three Mile Island nuclear power plant and PPL Power Plant.
  Spring is definitely taking over south central Pennsylvania...bringing with it a sense of new beginnings.  I can't help but see the parallels.  This Spring season I can definitely feel a sense of renewal and rejuvenation.  A kind of rejuvenation that only comes from the simple joy of riding a bike.  It's great to be back!

I've been allowed to ride my bike now for a week.  I managed to turn my pedals 6 of those 7 days.  I couldn't think of a better way to end the week than to take a bike ride to the BOBCAT CREAMERY with my wife, Robin, and my son, Alex, for one of the Creamery's amazing root beer floats.  Yep...ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM! -- April 15, 2017

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- April 15, 2017's great to be back.  Just soaking it all in at the Lakes. -- April 14, 2017

Here's a list of GARMIN maps and stats from a few of the rides featured in this post.  I know they are short (mileage wise) but hey...I'm easing back into it!

April 11, 2017 -- Best 5 mile mountain bike ride...EVER!  With Mark & Glenn at the Lakes.

April 13, 2017 -- First post-surgery road ride on my Roubaix.

April 14, 2017 -- More mountain biking fun at the Lakes with Glenn.

April 15, 2017 -- Road ride up Starview Road to the orchards.

Sunday, April 2, 2017


"Bike Envy" isn't something that I get.  Sure...I might do a double take at the latest bikes on the floor of Gung Ho Bikes...but it's not like I ever get that "I need to have that and I need to have it now" feeling.  If you are that person (Glenn, I'm speaking to you) then March and April, when all the new bikes are on the floor of the shop, have the potential to be better than Christmas.  Last March (2016), for the first time in five years, I purchased a new mountain bike...and I love it: 29 inch wheels, hard tail, carbon fiber, and orange.  No sir...I don't think I'll be experiencing any bike envy this year. 

My 2016 Stumpjumper on it's maiden ride in Swatara State Park -- March 5, 2016

That's not to say that I haven't had my fair share of mountain bikes over the past 22+ years.  They haven't all been Specialized...but they ALL have been purchased at GUNG HO BIKES...the BEST BIKE SHOP AROUND.  Over the years, my bikes and biking gear have run the gamut from no suspension to full suspension to some suspension...bright colors to flat black and then back to bright colors...biking gear straight out of a Seattle grunge scene to spandex to baggies & t-shirts.  I've had some really great bikes, a couple that I absolutely loved, and two that I couldn't wait to rid myself of...but each has a story to tell.  Here are, in the order I owned them, the mountain bikes that have taken me on more journeys than I can count.  Enjoy...


My first mountain bike was a 1995 GT Timberline.  No suspension...but after a massive crash in the summer of 1996 I added the front suspension (visible in the pic on the right).  I owned the bike until I donated it to charity in 2006 -- Left: Riding now "Forbidden Four" at Rocky Ridge County Park --1995.  Right:  Riding Rocky Ridge County Park -- 1998.

2001 GT AGGRESSOR 2.0 


Two of my least favorite bikes.  Top:  My second mountain bike was a 2001 GT Aggressor 2.0.  It was too big and cumbersome for me (for some reason I purchased an XL frame).  I have no pics of me actually riding the bike.  I sold it to some college kid back in 2003.  Bottom: My third mountain bike was a 2003 Gary Fisher Tassaja.  I didn't hate it...but I had no love for it.  For some reasons (and my friends will have a hard time believing this) I have zero pics of this bike.  I sold it on EBAY in 2006.


One of my all time favorite bikes...and I parted with it too soon.  I bought my first Stumpjumper in July of 2006.  It was the first bike I raced with and it helped me navigate the swamps of West Virginia in June of 2007.  It had a SIMPLICITY about it that I loved and that I missed when we parted.  Pic:  Sugar Loaf Trail in Ohiopyle State Park -- 2007


The only time I was talked into a bike was in the summer of 2007 (not that it was anyone's fault but mine).  I purchased a 2006 green Specialized Epic that the bike shop used as a demo bike.  It was a step up from Stumpjumper and it was the first full suspension bike I owned.  I raced that bike hard and it served me well. Left: my new 2006 Epic in the back yard.  Right: racing in the 2007 M.A.S.S. Relay Race in Marysville, Pennsylvania -- April 2007


My 2009 carbon Epic was the first carbon bike I owned, up until that time the nicest bike I had owned, and by far the most expensive bike I have ever owned.  I can trace my love for red and black color schemes back to this bike.  I had the bike for a little more than a year....for that was the year that a s**t load of personal problems took center stage.  I parted with it in September of 2010 for far less than it was worth. Left:  Bringing home my new carbon Epic -- April 2009.  Right:  Riding the rocks in Michaux State Forest -- May 2010.


I hated this bike from the moment I brought it home.  It was a shadow of the red carbon Epic it was meant to replace, it constantly had mechanicals, and it was the last full suspension bike I would own.  I parted with my black 2010 Stumpjumper FSR in June of 2011...brighter and better days were ahead! --  Left: resting on the Cumberland/Adams County line on the "Easy Button" in Michaux State Forest.  Right:  Coming through a waterlogged tunnel at the Lakes -- May 2011.


Back to the basics!  My 2011 Stumpjumper 29er brought me back to the days of hard tail simplicity.  My first 29er...and yes...I was forced to admit how much better it was than all my 26 inch wheel bikes.  I rode this mountain bike more miles, through more mud, up more fire road, and over more rocks than any other bike, to date.  I loved how it rolled, how it moved, and how it looked.  This bike gave me 5 years of mountain bike was a bitter-sweet moment when I parted with it in April of 2016.  After five years, it was time for something new... Left:  My 2011 Stumpjumper resting on the Deadwoman's Hollow Trail sign in Michaux State Forest -- May 5, 2012.  Right:  Riding rocks in Michaux State Forest -- April 12, 2012


...and now, the new. last year.  My 2016 Stumpjumper Carbon Comp is hanging in the garage and has patiently been waiting for my back to heal.  I was pretty nervous about parting from my 2011 Stumpy...but one ride on this bike cured me of that!  I'm completely blown away at how smooth this bike is on the trails.  No regrets and absolutely no bike envy lurking on the horizon.  Left:  My final ride on my 2016 Stumpjumper (in Michaux State Forest) prior to my second back surgery -- October 30, 2016.  Right:  Riding down through THE GUT in Rocky Ridge County Park -- October 14, 2016.

With high hopes of of getting back on my bicycle within the next month (it's been a long road) I can't help but feel grateful, hopeful, and a little humbled.  Sitting on my butt for the better part of the past year has really made me take stock of all that is good surrounding me.  I'm a pretty fortunate guy with a lot of good things all around me and a new appreciation of it all.  I love my wife...I love my family...I love my friends...and yeah, I love my bike.  I'm really looking forward to that next first ride.

Love my road bike, too!  My 2012 carbon Specialized Roubaix...super sweet ride!

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- April 2, 2017

Thou shalt not covet thy best friend's mountain bike...unless that friend leaves it in your garage overnight! Thank, Mark! -- November 2016

Do you have a favorite bike (past or present)?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Here's a list of GARMIN maps and stats from a few of the rides featured in this post:

MARCH 5, 2016 -- Riding Swatara State Park with Mark.

OCTOBER 14, 2016 -- Riding Rocky Ridge County Park with Timmy.

OCTOBER 30, 2016 -- Riding Michaux State Forest with Mark and Kristian.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Glenn showed up to ride Michaux with Tim and I this past June with a button down short sleeve "hiking" shirt.  It was a new look for Glenn.  Gone were the bibs and super cool cycling jerseys.  He said he was going for comfort.  (Personally, I'm convinced his new mountain biking gear is doubling as his "teacher" gear!)  Let me be clear...I'm definitely not making fun of Glenn.  I have absolutely NO room to talk when it comes to mountain biking fashion (if you go back and read THOSE FIRST TRAILS you'll know exactly what I mean).  Glenn wasn't the only one who was sporting a new look last summer.  With the purchase of my "highlighter orange" Stumpjumper, I completely updated my mountain biking look and decided to move away from the red and black color scheme I'd been sporting the last few years. 

Showing off my green Brevard, NC t-shirt while riding Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland -- October 15, 2016

Last summer marked the beginning of a new chapter for our I thought, like Glenn, I'd make a fashion overhaul.  Bag to baggies (super comfy gray and black shorts that could be worn with just about anything), a new florescent green helmet, and whatever t-shirt grabbed my fancy that day.  I don't worry about matching my bike anymore....but it's still ALL ABOUT THE COLOR.  As for the rest of the guys...Kristian loves sporting the camo shorts (and, for one ride in August, a new mohawk hair style)...Mark's sleeveless cycling shirts will be all the rage with the kool kids this summer...and Timmy wins the award for "MOST CONSISTENT FASHION" with his white tank tops.

Glenn riding the Allegrippis Trails in his button down dress...uh...mountain bike shirt -- August 2, 2016

I have always been jealous of Kristain's desert camo cargo shorts! -- October 15, 2016

Taking a break in Michaux State Forest.  The most consistent of us all...Timmy and his white tank tops -- June 28, 2016
Today is Timmy's 44th birthday!  Happy birthday, bud!

Mark's fashion is all about comfort.  Whatever works, my friend! -- July 26, 2016

Mikey is the "King of Kool Cycling Shirts"...but my favorite is his "I JUST WANT TO RIDE MY EFFIN BIKE" t-shirt!

So, with winter fading away...with Timmy's recovery from shoulder surgery winding down...with my back getting stronger and stronger after my last back surgery...with Glenn now in possession of his brand new mountain bike (we ALL saw that one coming)...and with more of Mark's cycling jersey sleeves left lying on his living room won't be long before we will be back out on the trails.  We might not be riding fast...but one thing's for sure:  we'll be riding in style.

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- March 26, 2017

Oh dear, God...this summer may be interesting.

GARMIN  MAPS and other DATA from the rides I featured:

-Michaux State Forest with Timmy and Glenn (June 28, 2016)

-Michaux State Forest with Mark, Glenn, Timmy, and Matt (July 26, 2016)

-Allegrippis Trails with Glenn and Kristian (August 2, 2016)

-Patapsco Valley State Park with Kristian (October 15, 2016)

Sunday, March 19, 2017


I had a good childhood.  A really good childhood.  My mom (God rest her soul) stayed at home with my brother, Jake, and I.  Dad says she did a great job raising us.  Dad was a high school teacher and also worked evenings at the Gateway Restaurant in Breezewood, Pennsylvania to make sure that my mom, brother, and I had everything we needed.  He's happily retired now (and recommends retirement for everyone).

Riding my bike behind Harry's barn.  Just beyond me is the Henderson's yard.  The tall bushes belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Brown.  Love the "All Kids 12 and Under free Pirates Hat" I got at Hat Night at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.  I still have it and it is still my hat of choice. Let's Go Bucs! -- 1980

I grew up in Bedford, Pennsylvania.  South Juliana Street to be exact.  We rented a house on the south corner of South Juliana Street from Mrs. Witt.  Harry Keller lived next door to us.  His house (which my parents would buy in the  early 1980s) was the original farmhouse in the area.  He had a barn in the back yard with a large driveway behind it.  Harry worked for Bedford  Borough and, based upon how he treated my mom and dad, was a really good man.  Going down the street...the Henderson's lived next to Harry...Mr. and Mrs. Brown lived next to the Henderson's...Mrs. Witt lived next to Mr. and Mrs. Brown...the Showalter's lived next to Mrs. Witt...the Heming's lived next to the Showalter's...the Clark's lived next to the Heming's...and the Corle family lived on the north end of the block.

Harry and Francis Keller -- 1977

David Raymond standing in front of Harry Keller's house on South Juliana Street.  The sidewalk on South Juliana Street would be the place all the neighborhood kids rode bikes on long, hot, summer days -- June 1976

Jake and I weren't the only kids on the street.  Beau and Lacey Henderson lived two doors down and Robbie Clark, Chris Corle, and Heidi Corle lived at the end of the street.  Robbie, Heidi, and I were the same age.  Rob and I played high school football together.  Two years behind us were my brother Jake and Heidi's brother Chris. Beau was one year behind Chris and Jake in school...and Lacey was two years behind Beau.  There were other kids in the area, too.  Charles and John Koontz lived near Jake and I.  Shannon Rogish lived near Robbie, Heidi, and Chris at the other end of the block.

Jacob Raymond, Beau Henderson (sporting IRON MAN Underoos), Robbie Clark, David Raymond -- Summer 1979

Jacob Raymond (yes...ROBIN Underoos), Robbie Clark, David Raymond -- 1979

Mom would allow us to sell the cucumbers she grew in the garden to people driving by on South Juliana Street.  10 cents each.  What a bargain!  Lacey Henderson, David Raymond (wearing ultra-kool AQUA-MAN Underoos), Jacob Raymond, Beau Henderson -- August 1980

Top Row:  Beau Henderson, Jacob Raymond, Sheila Rogish, Lacey Henderson, Heidi Corle, Shannon Rogish
Bottom Row:  Chris Corle, Robbie Clark, David Raymond

My first real bike was  sparkly blue and had a red banana seat.  I loved that bike. We kids would spend our summer days riding bikes "down the hill" from my parent's house to the Clark's house.  We had a Big Wheel, too!  The kind that had a side hand break...which allowed us to spin in circles as we careened down the side walk!  To this day, I still remember how uneven and bumpy the sidewalk was in front of the Showalter's and Heming's house.  We'd ride the sidewalk...our own little piece of South Juliana Street...all day long.  Over and over and over again.

My father, Dave Raymond, resting  behind Harry's barn -- Summer 1977

Thanks, to Harry, we weren't just regulated to the sidewalk.  Harry gave us permission to ride our bikes "behind the barn" on his big driveway.  Sometimes mom and dad would come back to supervise...but not always.  Hell, it was the 70s and 80s...we drank out of garden hoses, let our feet dangle from the back of pick up trucks, and used Big Wheels with side brakes...none of which killed us.  Yeah...I had a really good childhood.  Parents who loved me...friends to hang out with...neighbors who were good to us...bikes to cream cones...push up popcycles...and a street that connected all of it together.  Growing up in Bedford was really good.  Growing up on South Juliana Street made it extra special.

David Raymond in the Henderson's back yard.  You can see part of Harry Keller's driveway on the left.  Loving my authentic YODA t-shirt -- 1981

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- March 19, 2017

David Raymond (age 3).  Riding my tricycle on South Juliana Street -- September 1976

Where did you ride as a kid?  Tell me about it in the comments...I would love to hear your story.

Saturday, March 11, 2017


A couple of years ago, Mark and I were mountain biking near State College, Pennsylvania.  We began our ride from a parking area in Penn Roosevelt State Park.  I'm not sure if Mark's car was the only car there when we began our ride...but for some reason, as we wrapped up our day on the trails, I took notice that it was.
Mark Lentz and David Raymond riding near State College, Pennsylvania.  We began this amazing ride in Penn Roosevelt State Park -- June 28, 2014

With the bikes on top of the car and with less sweaty clothes on, Mark and I walked down below the parking are to explore the near empty lake and the dam that contained it.  I remember Mark walking towards the lake and I headed out to the dam.  All around me I saw empty picnic tables and signs put up by the DCNR which were meant to educate the  public on the plant life and wildlife which is native to the area.  My mind raced back to my childhood and the amount of time my family spent at Shawnee State Park in Bedford County and Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County.  Memories of picnics, charcoal grills, hiking, exploring, and family time.  Again...the realization that our car was the only one there came to the front of my head...and I asked, out loud, if people still made use of the state parks like we did 20-30-40 years ago.  Was this park always this empty now...or is it possible that we just happened to be there late in the afternoon on a Tuesday?

My bike and Mark's bike in the parking area of Penn Roosevelt State Park -- June 28, 2014

Mark's Mini is the only car there -- June 28, 2014

An empty Penn-Roosevelt State Park -- June 28, 2014

 If you live in Pennsylvania then there's a pretty good chance that you are currently within 50 miles of one of the Commonwealth's 121 State Parks.  I'm not sure if that is most in the nation...but it's got to be near the top.  Combined, Pennsylvania's State Parks offer over 200,000 acres for hiking, camping, picnicking, fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, and yes....mountain biking!  From my house in Manchester, PA, I'm only 18 miles from Sam S. Lewis State Park, 22 miles from Gifford Pinchot State Park, 24 miles from Codorus State Park, 52 miles from Swatara State Park, and 57 miles from Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  That's pretty cool!

This map shows you the 4 regions in which Pennsylvania is divided and the locations of Pennsylvania's State Parks.  Click HERE to access the DCNR website that will help you locate a State Park near you!

Valley Forge State Park (now Valley Forge National Historical Park) was the first state park in Pennsylvania.  In 1893, Pennsylvania's governor, Robert E. Pattison, signed Act 130 "for the acquisition of ground at Valley Forge for a public park."  This act also created a commission that would work to acquire more land for public use.  In the early 20th century, Joseph T. Rothrock headed the Commission of Forestry.  As a medical doctor and a forester, Rothrock set up camps in the parks for people suffering from respiratory illnesses.  Following the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps established 113 CCC camps in Pennsylvana (2nd only to California) and, along with helping to fight fires and build roads, helped to create many of of Pennsylvania's State Parks.  

So...back to the question I had while exploring Penn Roosevelt with Mark on that June day in people still use the parks like they use to?  The answer, in my opinion, is a resounding YES...and here's the proof:  
  • I have no trouble remembering the first time Mark took Timmy and I to Michaux...Memorial Day weekend 2006.  After a hard mountain bike ride we passed through an extremely crowded Pine Grove Furnace State Park (I can still remember salivating when we pedaled through the smell of the hotdogs cooking over charcoal grills).  
  • I dare you to try to find a parking spot near the Natural Water Slide in Ohiopyle State Park on a Saturday or Sunday!
  • Go ahead, just try to find an empty camp site anywhere in Pennsylvania on Memorial Day weekend.  Good luck with that.
Over the past 40+ years I've been to a bunch of State Parks for a variety of reasons with a variety of people.  Here are (in no particular order) all the Pennsylvania State Parks I've been to (so far)...with a few of my memories attached.  Hope you enjoy!


Penn Roosevelt State Park is a small, 41 acre park, located in the Seven Mountain Region near State College, PA.  All of the pictures are from a ride Mark Lentz and I took in Rothrock State Forest which surrounds the park -- June 28, 2014


For me, Pine Grove Furnace and mountain biking go hand-in-hand.  Since 2006, we've used the parking lot and picnic area of the park, as a launching point for 99% of our mountain bike excursions in Michaux State Forest.  This 696 acre park is located in an area known as South Mountain (the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains).

Top to Bottom//Left to Right:  Our mountain biking gear after one of our first rides in Michaux (2006); Bill Graves and Mark Lentz washing up after a day of riding (2006); packing up the vehicles after our last summer ride (August 2016); Dave Raymond & Mark Lentz on a ridge overlooking Pine Grove Furnace (July 14, 2014); Post ride grilling (July 24, 2014)

Check out this photosphere which shows the Furnace Stack Area of the park.


I'm not sure where to begin!  Ohiopyle has been a family tradition for more than 70 years!  My parents began bringing my brother and I to Ohiopyle when we were very young.  I've made a point to continue the tradition and it's become a favorite place for both my wife, and my son.  Located on the Laurel Ridge in southwestern Pennsylvania, Ohiopyle State Park is 20,500 acres of pure awesomeness!  Hiking, camping, mountain biking, white water rafting...if you want's probably there!

Top to Bottom//Left To Right:  Me mountain biking Sugarloaf Trail (2006); Taking on the Natural Water Slide (July 18, 2014); My son, Alex, and I near Cucumber Falls (July 14, 2015); Cooling off in the Yough! (2006); Hiking with my wife, Robin (May 24, 2015); Amazing pic of me near Cucumber Falls (July 14, 2015); Robin and I (July 20, 2014); A visit from Mary Jane and my Dad while camping (June 17, 2016); "Hiking" with my daughter, Emma, near Cucumber Falls (July 18, 2014); My son, Alex, taking on the Natural Water Slide (July 18, 2014); and Alex skipping rocks (July 14, 2015)

Videos Below:  Taking on the Natural Water Slide (July 18, 2014) and the main falls at Ohiopyle (July 19 & 20, 2014)
To see how much of a family tradition Ohiopyle has been be sure to read:  PASSING ON OHIOPYLE


Shawnee State Park is the park of my "growing up in Bedford" childhood.  I remember summer mornings, boarding a school bus, and heading out for swimming lessons at Shawnee Lake...the focal point of the the 3,983 acre park.  As an adult, I've ridden my road bike out there from my dad's house in Bedford and taken hikes with my wife, son, dad, and step-mom.

Left to Right:  My bike near Shawnee Lake (July 10, 2015); Fourth of July hike with dad, Mary Jane, Alex, and Robin (July 4, 2014)


Poe Valley State Park is a 620 acre park located near Bald Eagle State Forest in Centre County, Pennsylvania.  Mark and I were just a couple of "poe" boys mountain biking there on our last day of riding in the forests around State College, PA -- June 29, 2014


Point Park State Park is located at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in Pittsburgh, PA.  Known as the "Forks of the Ohio" this ground was the site of France's Fort Duquesne and then Great Britain's Fort Pitt.  This strategic piece of North America was key to the control of the fur trade in North America and was fought over by the French and the British in what we know as the French and Indian War (globally known as the Seven Years War) -- July 2014


Encompassing 2,338 acres of land in York County, Gifford Pinchot State Park is ideal for boating, fishing, and camping.  I've ridden my road bike through the area numerous times.  I've been part of quite a few summer time "teacher debriefings" at Pinchot with colleagues.  My wife, Robin, and I also took my nieces Jackie & Sophie there on their first camping trip!

Top to Bottom//Left to Right:  Mike Ritts & Pedro Mena winding down after a long school year (June 2013); Preparing dinner (June 2013); Mike Ritts & David Raymond (June 2013); Sophie, Aunt Robin, Jackie, and Uncle Dave enjoying the campfire (July 2014); Sophie & Jackie Raymond (July 2104); Robin and David Raymond (July 2014)


Swatara State Park is a favorite mountain biking destination for the guys in our group.  Miles and miles of twisty, turny, fun single track!  The 3,520 acres that make up Swatara State Park are nestled in the Swatara Valley north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Top to Bottom:  David Raymond & Tim Sindlinger (July 1, 2014); David Raymond, Tim Sindlinger, Matt Linnane, and Brent Shirk (September 5, 2015)

Below:  Video of David Raymond & Tim Sindlinger mountain biking in Swatara State Park (2015)


Greenwood Furnace State Park is on the western edge of the Seven Mountains in northeastern Huntingdon County.  The park covers 423 acres, including a six-acre lake, campground, hiking trails, and a historic district. The park provides access to backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, hunting, and fishing in the surrounding 80,000-acre Rothrock State Forest.  Mark and I passed through the park on multi-day mountain biking trip in the area around State College, Pennsylvania -- June 28, 2014.


Caledonia State Park straddles Adams and Franklin Counties.  The 1,125 acre park is surrounded by Michaux State Forest.  Just west of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Caledonia is a favorite destination for hiking, camping, and picnicking.  Mark Lentz and I explored the area on our mountain bikes on Columbus Day 2015.

Left to Right:  Robin & David Raymond (Memorial Day Weekend 2012); My 2011 Stumpjumper resting on the Thaddeus Stevens Iron Furnace (October 2015)


I first experienced Trough Creek State Park as a kid.  My mom and dad took my brother and I there for a picnic after a day of riding the water slides near Raystown Lake.  The 541 acre park, which cuts through Terrace Mountain, includes some super kool attractions such as a balancing rock, water falls, an ice cave, and a swinging bridge.  I've revisited the park twice as an adult.  First with Mark and Mikey after mountain biking the Allegrippis Trails near Raystown Lake and then on a brief hiking trip with my wife, Robin.

Top to Bottom//Left to Right: David Raymond on the swinging bridge (August 8, 2015);  Robin and I hiking in Trough Creek State Park (August 8, 2015); David Raymond, Mark Lentz, & Mikey Nardelli next to the balancing rock (October 14, 2013)


Promised Land State Park includes approximately 3,000 acres and is located on the Pocono Plateau (about 1,800 feet above sea level).  I was only there once...and I don't remember much.  In June of 2009, Kristian Hains, Jay Zech, and I participated in the Cradle of Liberty 24-hour Adventure Race.  It began in Promised Land State Park and was one of the toughest events I've ever participated in!


French Creek State Park is the largest block of contiguous forest between Washington, D.C. and New York City.  Located in the Schuylkill Highlands, the 7,730-acre park is perfect for hiking, fishing, camping, and biking.  The mountain biking in French Creek is some of the toughest around and it was the sight of the French Creek Fling 2-man adventure race.

Top Right:  Dave Raymond mountain biking the trails in French Creek (2009); Remainder of the pics:  Bill Graves and David Raymond in the 2010 French Creek Fling Adventure Race (October 10, 2010); 


Mark Lentz, Mikey Nardelli, and I spent 3 fun days mountain biking and camping in Raymond B. Winter State Park in July of 2011.  This 695 acre park is located within the extreme eastern edge of Bald Eagle State Forest.

Below:  Mikey taking on a wooden bridge near Raymond B. Winter State Park


Okay...this one brings out the complete NERD within me!  Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park is an 18.5-acre park nestled in a gap of Tuscarora Mountain in Franklin County. It is the site of the the birthplace of our nation's 15th president, James Buchanan.  I visited the park just last week with my wife, Robin, on our way home from my dad's house in Bedford.  No mountain biking... this small State Park offers picnic areas, trout fishing in Buck Run, and a chance for history teachers, like me, to completely get their NERD on!

Check out this ultra kool photosphere I took while I was there!

Pennsylvania's state parks have been such a big part of my life.  Ohiopyle has been, and continues to be, a family tradition.  Shawnee brings back so many childhood memories.  Pine Grove Furnace has become, for me, synonymous with mountain biking.  The parks are beautiful...they are convenient...and, best of all, they are free to the public (even for all of you out-of-staters)!  Today, they are run through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  Improvements are constantly being made ( more smelly green bathroom at Pine Grove Furnace).  So...whether your thing is camping, or hunting, or hiking, or mountain biking...whether it's with your family, with your friends, or on your own...check out a state park near you.  The only money you'll need is for the ice cream on the way home because, in Pennsylvania, the OUTSIDE IS FREE!

Just me and Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park -- July 14, 2015 

Life is a journey...not a destination!

David A. Raymond -- March 11, 2017

My mom, Kathy Raymond, helped PASS ON OHIOPYLE to my brother and I -- 1980

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Here's a list of GARMIN maps and stats from a few of the rides featured in this post:

(JUNE 28, 2014) Riding Penn Roosevelt State Park and Greenwood Furnace State Park with Mark Lentz

(JUNE 29, 2014) Riding in Poe Valley State Park with Mark Lentz

(SEPTEMBER 5, 2015) Riding Swatara State Park with Tim, Matt, and Brent